Protesters Gather at Catholic Charities to Save Beloved Ocean Hill Church From Demolition


With chants of “corporate greed we must fight, landmarks are a people’s right,” about 15 protestors marched and waved signs Wednesday in front of the Catholic Charities offices in Brooklyn Heights in support of Our Lady of Loreto church.

The protestors, many affiliated with the Brownsville Cultural Coalition, gathered around the entrance to 191 Joralemon Street as part of the continuing battle to save the historic house of worship at 126 Sackman Street in Ocean Hill from demolition, landmark it, and turn it into a community cultural center.

our lady of loreto ocean hill 126 sackman

Our Lady of Loreto in April 2017

Our Lady of Loreto church was shuttered by the diocese in 2009 and advocates have been fighting off demolition of the building ever since.

After the closure and subsequently abandoning initial plans for demolition, the diocese leased the land to another Catholic organization, Catholic Charities.

An agreement was signed with the State Historic Preservation Office not to demolish the church, and to build affordable housing on part of the land. The housing was built, but a plan to reuse the church as a community center never panned out.

Then, unexpectedly, in March the city issued a demolition permit, as we reported at the time, and it appeared destruction was imminent.

Brownstoner took what we thought might be a last photographic look at the historic church in April.

our lady of loreto protest catholic chartities

Then Jillian Mulvihill of the Brownsville Cultural Coalition filed a lawsuit over the breach of the agreement, resulting in a temporary stay of demolition. Defendants named in the suit include the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation.

our lady of loreto protest catholic charities

The stay of demolition was recently lifted, although the suit has not yet been decided. There are plans to appeal the lifting of the stay, according to Christopher Slowik of Klein Slowik PLLC, the litigation attorney working with Mulvihill on the suit.

our lady of loreto protest catholic charities

The Renaissance style church was completed in 1908 and designed by architect Adriano Armezzani, an Italian immigrant who worked with fellow Italian craftsmen to complete the project. The sculptures, including those on the pediment, are the work of artist Gaetano Federici.

Protestors carried signs extolling the history of the church as well as calling for Catholic Charities to serve the community by saving the historic structure.

“If you want to save money, tear down the Vatican,” they cried.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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