Catholic churches are coming and going these days in the East Village. Parishioners held the last mass this past Sunday at Mary Help of Christians on East 12th Street. (The Villager has a nice farewell feature in this week's issue.)
The Catholic Archdiocese is selling the church property, which includes the Don Bosco Salesians rectory adjacent to the church and the church's former school on East 11th Street. No official word just yet on the new owner.
Meanwhile, renovations continue at St. Brigid's on Avenue B at East Eighth Street.
And then there the Church of Saint Emeric. As The Villager first reported in June, St. Emeric’s, built in 1950 at 740 E. 13th St. at Avenue D, will close and merge with St. Brigid's.
Per The Villager, Father Lorenzo Ato, priest in charge at St. Emeric for the past four years, will be the pastor of the new parish and has already moved into the Brigid's rectory.
Joseph Zwilling, archdiocese spokesperson, said there weren't any immediate plans for the St. Emeric’s church building or the two-story parochial school built in 1952 next door on East 12th Street and Avenue D.
In any event, I figured this was a good time to visit St. Emeric's ... located down a rather lonely stretch of East 13th Street, which dead ends at the Con Ed power plant. The church sits next to the Manhattan Pumping Station that's currently being refurbished ...
... and across the street from the Con Ed power plant...
On the morning that I walked by here, there were a handful of men huddled atop the sidewalk bridge sleeping...
... and here's a look from the East 12th Street side...
The church building itself is fairly unremarkable (I haven't been inside) and the chunk of real estate is in an unglamorous spot — surrounded by the Con Ed plant, pumping station and public housing. Not sure what would work here outside of some utilitarian purpose or nonprofit use. In other words, no dorms or condos.
Things being what they are these days in Manhattan, I could see some enterprising restaurateur open an eatery and offer an East-River-to-table small plates Tasting Menu for thrill-seekers who desire a real "gritty" East Village meal (don't worry — the eel with be flown in fresh daily from Nihonbashi) ... or a developer launch a boutique hotel with Super Charged Weekend Packages for travelers who yearn what it's like to work at a power plant. Other authentic "street" touches include the housekeeping staff who push their supplies in imitation C-Town grocery carts (for sale in the gift shop for $1,695) and the bar that sells craft beers in brown paper bags.
Yeah, anyway — this is the Church of Saint Emeric