Friday, September 14, 2012

Looking at the Church of Saint Emeric on East 13th Street

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.

But!

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

5 comments:

pinhead said...

Nice ideas. And diners can watch their meal cook itself through the magic of electromagnetic radiation!

(Of course it's not dangerous, but please finish eating leave the premises within 3 minutes.)

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

In the early 1960s 13th Street was a dead end street lined only with shuttered warehouses which was a cool place to go and make out with some chick wearing a short skirt with nylons and garter belt. A church on the site? I was in heaven all the time ;)

glamma said...

yesterday i was walking home and there was, on the curb on e4th st, a couch with a dude passed out on it, surrounded by garbage bags which were being emptied for cans (quietly) by a chinese lady, literally 3 feet from the open air seating of in vino where patrons were enjoying $14 glasses of wine and i was like yo bro that is sooo east village.

eswillie said...

i was there in the mid-1950's and sat with the european (i think german, but i could be wrong) artisan, who did the entire stained glass window thing right there in the church; those windows alone should be worth the price of admission, religion excused or exempted.

Anonymous said...

I went to school there from 1974 to 1976 (7th and 8th grades) before heading to High School... This was my first private school experience after graduating from P.S. 61 on 12th Street. St. Emeric School closed one year after I graduated 8th grade in 1976. Father Doyle had been the pastor of the church and Sister Joachim the Principal of the school before closing in 1977. However, the church remained open. The neighborhood and school were a mix of the Irish from Stuyvesant Town and the Latino community of Alphabet City - and a mix of classes as well (the haves and the have-nots). The school and parish were always cash poor... They never had benefactors or big donors, and the school's enrollment declined during the economic stagnation of the 70s. $35 a month tuition was a lot of money back then! But, it bought some security and safety not found in LES public schools, not to mention some discipline and respect... a/k/a Code-of-Conduct. With Haven Plaza a newer complex at the time (circa 1966), that 12th-13th street area from C to D was actually the nicest area of all of Alphabet City. Avenue D was always known as "Deadly D", you had "Needle Park" (Thompkins Square Park), and you couldn't find a restaurant south of 14th Street (and north of Houston) anywhere east of Avenue A, except for an occasional pizzeria. Yep, times may change, but there's always a history to reflect upon. Somehow, in memory, those days of yester-year had a certain fondest and perhaps even a bit of soul from the grit of it all. Despite the despair and dis-repair all around us, everyone seemed to be cheerful, and believe it or not, hopeful. I will say this... Thank God for Section 8 Housing (Haven Plaza). Where else could a working family with limited resources move that wasn't a project? Stuy Town was too expensive despite that it was rent-stabilized and considered affordable for low-income earners. Anyway, sorry for the long post... I guess I'm just reminiscing. Thanks for listening.