Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Group raising funds to save crumbling landmark church

Summer parties planned to match $300,000 grant

First Published Monday, 6/12/06
BY ELI FANNING Gazette Reporter

A series of summer cocktail parties may help save a 150-year-old former Roman Catholic church.

The historic but deteriorating St. Joseph’s Church is located off Ten Broeck Street near the Palace Theatre in downtown Albany. The landmark building was decommissioned in 1993 and 10 years later was transferred to the Historic Albany Foundation by the city of Albany, which took possession of it from a private owner. In the interim years, however, its condition deteriorated badly, and it now needs critical roof work and protection from pigeons.

The foundation has obtained a $300,000 matching grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and it has managed to raise about $100,000 to match the grant. With help from a new group called Committee 150, the foundation is hoping to raise $150,000 to $200,000 by September.

"We are a neighborhood advocacy group and we want to put ourselves out of business," said Committee 150 organizer Colleen Ryan. "We are trying to save that building for that next use. We are trying to help people realize the possibilities."

The committee’s goal is to raise money through a string of invitation-only summer cocktail parties. Two parties staged thus far have netted $2,500 in pledges to save the Gothic-style church, which was designed by the noted American architect Patrick Keely and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was built in the 1850s for Irish parishioners helping to build the Erie Canal.

The former church is surrounded by a fence and two small parks. The inside is largely vacant, and Ryan said the foundation is seeking good ideas about a future use of the building.
Much of the stained glass remains in place, though nesting pigeons have destroyed some of the panes, said Erin Tobin Bearden, executive director of the Historic Albany Foundation. Slate is falling off portions of the sloped roof, Tobin Bearden said.

“The term the engineer used is that roof is in a dynamic mode of failure. That strikes fear into my heart,” Ryan said.

A main support pillar was restored in 2003 but the roof is still leaking, allowing water to slowly destroy to church. "Water is the worst enemy of old buildings and that’s what took its toll," Ryan said.

The church hosted an open house Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Similar open houses will be held at the church at the same time on July 9, Aug. 13 and Sept. 10.

MEREDITH L. KAISER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER John Szypulski, of Niskayuna, left, his mother, Diane Szypulski, of Colonie, and Dan Gallucci of Thompson, Pa., share memories of St. Joseph’s Church and its school during an open house Sunday at the 150-year-old church building.


Post a Comment

<< Home