St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church

262 West 118th Street (at St. Nicholas Avenue)

Opened: 1907

Seats: 800

Architect: Thomas Henry Poole

This parish was established in 1889 by Rev. John J. Keogan just as this area of West Central Harlem was being developed and when the church opened the parishoners were predominantly Irish. As the demographics of the area changed through the years, the building and parish slowly declined. By 2002, the church only had around 250 parishoners each Sunday and with the aging building needed an estimated $1 million in repairs. (reference)

The archdiocese closed the church in 2003 with plans to demolish the building and construct apartments for seniors. A 2004 lawsuit by former parishoners was dismissed the following year and calls for landmark protection fell on deaf ears. The German stained glass windows were slated for removal and transfer to a new church being built in Dutchess County.

The efforts of preservationists were a partial success when the developer Artimus purchased the church for $6 million in 2012 with plans to preserve much of the church as a community arts center while converting the associated school building and vacant lot into 147 housing units, 20% of them affordable.

The facade of this neo-gothic building is the most acclaimed feature of the church with a Venetian Gothic projecting front porch and a spiked terra cotta headdress. The paired front staircases lead underneath a green-tile vaulted ceiling to an unusually long sanctuary which was also richly ornamented.

Architect Thomas Henry Poole is also responsible for the the 1891 Holy Name of Jesus Church (96th/Amsterdam), the 1894 Lady of Good Counsel Church (232 E. 90th) and the eclectic 1905 Harlem Presbyterian Church (122nd St/Mount Morris Park West).

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View from the Northeast
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View from the East
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Facade
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Rectory
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View from the West
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View from the West
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Street level
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Front porch staircase
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Front porch staircase
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Front porch staircase
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Front porch staircase
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Front porch staircase
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Facade
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Rear view
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Rear view
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Rear view
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Still there
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School of St. Thomas the Apostle
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School of St. Thomas the Apostle
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School of St. Thomas the Apostle
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School of St. Thomas the Apostle
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Harlem Hospital building
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Community garden
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Community garden
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Mr. Crack van