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St. Thomas the Apostle

Central Harlem

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This Harlem church, St. Thomas the Apostle, is an exquisite piece of neo-Gothic architecture, its spiky terra-cotta crown resembling a wedding cake. Finished in 1907, the church first served Irish parishioners and then a black congregation that waned and withered, its Sunday Mass sparsely attended, its building in dire need of repairs, until closing in 2003.

Now it faces demolition.

  • St. Thomas the Apostle, designed by Thomas Poole and completed in 1907, is often cited as a classic local example of Neo-Gothic architecture. Located at 118th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, the church was originally built for Irish congregants. It is recognized for its unique German pipe organ and stained glass windows designed by the world-renowned designer Frantz Meyer Studios of Munich. Over the past century, it has served generations of immigrants and played an important role in Harlem’s African American heritage.

    The Archdiocese of New York closed the church in 2003 citing dwindling attendance and the need for $5 million in repairs. The current battle between preservationists and the archdiocese has stalled plans to demolish the church. The Preservation League of New York State recently named St. Thomas one of the seven most important New York State sites to save.

  • The current battle between preservationists and the archdiocese has stalled plans to demolish the church. The Preservation League of New York State recently named St. Thomas one of the seven most important New York State sites to save.

Sites & Attractions: Churches Sites & Attractions: Historic Sites & Attractions Central Harlem

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