Wythe Avenue near South 2nd Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
Wythe Avenue near South 2nd Street (1848-1957)
► II/20 Henry Erben (1849); reb. (1902)
North 8th Street & Kent Avenue (1840-1848)
KEELY SOCIETY: This was Patrick C. Keely's first designed ecclesiastical edifice. Dedicated in 1848, it had been begun in 1847, and with the mild winter of 1847-1848, construction was able to continue. It was ready for dedication by May of 1848. During the time of the, "No-Nothing's" anti-immigrant resentment, the Mayor of Brooklyn, prevented its destruction by fire. Later the Keely steeple was removed, and also, a bow-bay facde was constructed. Facing declining parish enrollment in the 1950's the structure was demolished in February of 1957. Ironically, at the same time in Hartford, CT, Keely's "Completed Masterpiece," St. Joseph Cathedral, on Farmington Ave. was also being demolished as a result of the fire of December 31, 1956. By the mid-1960's immigrant groups from Central America, settled in Williamsburg, and a new Sts. Peter and Paul Church, was constructed. The sacristy case, and a pre-dieu from the original Keely edifice were placed in the new 1960's church.
|Interior in 1888
This 1888, view of the interior of Sts. Peter and Paul, gives one an understanding of the detail in the great carved reredos, completed by Patrick Keely. The two stained glass windows in the sanctuary area, were crafted by the Morgan Brothers. Although members of the Dutch Reformed Church, this first installation began a relationship that would last for years, especially in Cathedral commissions that Keely received. Bishops and priests from far and wide attended the dedication of this gothic style church in Williamsburg. The result was that Patrick Keely's design services were sought immediately for Cleveland, and the new Cathedral at Albany, NY.
An article from the Irish World, September 19, 1896 entitled, "The Late Architect Keely," contains a description of a requiem Mass celebrated at Sts. Peter and Paul Church the month following Keely's death. It mentions the description of the decorations in Sts. Peter & Paul's Church for the requim Mass.
"The altar was draped in purple, and in front of the altar, in the centre aisle, stood a handsome catafalque and candelabra. Two palms surmounted the catafalque, while the candeabra contained twenty-six lights. A special musical programme was rendered under the direction of the organist, Frederick Bradles, and the choir of the church."
He emigrated through Castle Gardens to Brooklyn, New York in 1842. He arrived at a time when Catholicism in the United States was expanding from its initial footholds in Baltimore, Maryland, New York City, and Boston Massachusetts. Initially, he worked as a carpenter and builder since there were few trained architects practicing and most structures were erected with the design assistance of the client and builder alone. Common practice held that the builder, whether trained as mason or carpenter, crafted his own plans, and details were often executed without even the aid of drawings. For a number of years Keely worked at his trade without attracting attention. During this time, he met the Rev. Sylvester Malone, a Roman Catholic priest his own age. Father Malone was sent to form a parish near the waterfront at Williamsburgh in Kings County, New York in 1846. Together with Keely, he worked out a plan for a Gothic church possessing pointed arches, pinnacles, and a few buttresses. Working as a carpenter, Keely produced designs the new Roman Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul (Brooklyn, New York) in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn in 1847.
Saints Peter and Paul, Williamsburgh, was considered an epoch in Catholic building in America. The much-praised work (demolished in 1957) established him as a competent architect and builder at a time when a number of new Roman Catholic churches were being planned "but a relative scarcity of competent architects of the Roman Catholic faith, and Keely's reputation for honesty and integrity quickly made him a popular choice among the hierarchy and clergy throughout the eastern United States."