St. Patrick's R.C.
The stately Gothic Victorian-style structure at the corner of Bramhall and Grand Street is St. Patrick's R.C. Church. It is the largest church in Jersey City and the third largest in the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. The church is not only known for its role in the community but also for the theater within its elementary school that was placed on the state and national registers of historic places in 1980.
One of the foremost ecclesiastical architects of his time, Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896) of Brooklyn, NY, designed the corner church. He had emigrated to the US from County Tipperary, Ireland, in 1842 and became the major Catholic architect of the nineteenth century for his work on reportedly over 600 churches and cathedrals over his 50-year career. There are claims to Keely's design of some thirty churches in New Jersey. Locally they include St. Bridget's (1882-1890) and St. Michael's R. C. Churches (1869-72) in Jersey City and the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel (ca. 1875) in Union City. The Keely Society was founded in 1996 to document the life's work of the architect.
St. Patrick's Church was constructed with blue flintstone taken from the railroad "cut" in the Greenville section of Jersey City by the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The "cut" is presently used by the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System. The silver-colored hammered granite from the Hallowell quarries in Maine highlights the door jambs, windows, buttress caps and cornices. The interior of the Gothic church features ribbed vaulting, with sixteen granite columns support the clerestory walls, a nave of 86 feet, side aisles, channel, side chapels, woodwork of black walnut and white ash, and stained glass windows, but no transept. The extreme length of the church is 272 feet and the extreme width is 138 feet; the spire rises to a height of 225 feet with a base 33 feet square.
The impetus for the
founding of the congregation was the arrival of Irish immigrants. During
the 1860s, Jersey City's Irish-Americans began to settle in greater numbers
in the southeast section of the City of Bergen (prior to the formation
of the municipality of Jersey City in 1869). The new residents attended
St. Joseph's R.C. Church almost two miles away in Hudson City. This imposed
a hardship for most to attend services. Bishop James R. Bayley then had
St. Joseph's start a mission at the intersection of Communipaw Avenue
and Bergen Point Plank Road (now Garfield Avenue) in 1868. The site later
became the Tivoli Theater.
Father Hennessey also
started an elementary school for the congregation in 1871, but it was
discontinued in 1877 due to a shortage of funds. The Second Renaissance Revival style school with a theater, located at 509 Bramhall Avenue, was begun in 1901 but
was not completed until 1910; it was staffed by the Sisters of Charity. St. Patrick's merged with Assumption/All Saints School but was disbanded in 2011. The school building is now the Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School.
True to its social mission, St. Patrick's continues to to serve the local neighborhood and new immigrants of Haitian and Central American descent.
a Church." New York Times 20 August 1877.
|By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub