Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Neighborhood Treasure: Stepping Inside Saint Agnes Church On Sackett Street

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I have always admired the architecture of Saint Agnes Church located on Sackett Street and Hoyt Street here in Carroll Gardens, though I have to admit that I never actually stepped inside in the thirty years that I have lived in the neighborhood.
When I learned that St. Agnes would be participating in New York Landmark Conservancy's "Sacred Sites Open House" this past week-end, I made sure my camera was ready and joined one of the tours of the church that was given on Sunday.
I did not regret it. Above are some of the photos I took of the interior, which is stunning.
The 8 stained glass windows depicting the life of St. Agnes, which were made in Munich by the renowned firm of Franz Zettler, are worth the visit alone. If you have a chance to walk inside, you should seize it.

Here is a brief history of the church and its congregation
The formation of the parish of Saint Agnes began in 1878. Its congregation included about six hundred, mostly Irish parishioners.  Under the direction of its first pastor, Rev James S. Duffy, a temporary. modest wooden church was constructed at the corner of DeGraw and Hoyt Street. It was inaugurated on the last Sunday of May, 1878.
Barely three years later, the cornerstone for a much more impressive structure was laid at the corner of Sackett and Hoyt Street.  The neo-gothic brick church was designed by Brooklyn architect Thomas Francis Houghton.  It was officially dedicated in 1888 and consecrated in 1893, the date corresponding to the congregation having paid off  the debt associated with the church's construction.

Unfortunately, on June 2, 1901, the brick structure was struck by lightening, and burned to the ground.
Undeterred, Father  Duffy and his congregation  enlisted the help of Houghton once more to produce plans for a replacement. 
St. Agnes, as we see it today, is constructed of granite and Indiana limestone. The church was began in 1904 and were completed in 1913.  Its alter was designed by the architect, and made by famed McBride Studios out of Carrara marble. The walls surrounding the alter feather painted panels by the Rambusch Decorating Company.
Directly above the alter, a stained glass window by the German firm F.X. Zettler depicts the Sacret Heart of Jesus.

Father Duffy saw the completion of this 'new' Saint Agnes Church. The parish had grown to 7,500 parishioners by then. Duffy suffered a stoke in 1918.   His funeral Mass was held at St. Agnes.

The architect, Thomas Francis Houghton, however, passed away on March 5, 1913,  just month after St. Agnes was completed.  Incidentally, he lived at 311 President Street right here in the neighborhood.



Anonymous said...

im a relative newcomer to the neighborhood - but we attend mass at st. agnes, and my son was baptized there...its a great place - and i love the attention that you show it...

Katia said...

Glad you are enjoying the photos. What a beautiful church.

Esther said...

Thank you for sharing, you made my heart soar. I loved that church and always will nothing can compare.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! Last time I was in the area it was closed and we could not go in. Just beautiful!

Unknown said...

I was baptized at this church in the 60s, I would love to go back and enjoy the beautiful church. Brooklyn was my hometown.

Anonymous said...

I'm researching my Great-grandfather, born 1889. Would he have been christened in the old St Agnes Church, or the new one? Do you have records that far back? His name was Frances Aloysius Kelly. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures.