Yesterday evening after mass I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Church of Our Lady of the Scapular – St. Stephen located on 28th street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues in Manhattan. The church was built in 1854 by the architect James Renwick Jr., famously known for his work, including but not limited to, the Smithsonian Institution Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grace Church, Renwick Gallery and the elegantly crumbling Charity and Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island.
Recently the archdiocese decided to merge the parish from this church with another parish, ten blocks away. This would leave the church without a flock. In that state, while the exterior is landmarked, the interior is in danger of being destroyed.
The interior was designed by Constantine Brumidi, whose work, widely appreciated and acknowledged for his artistry, can only be seen at a few places. Such as the U.S. Capitol and Church of Our Lady of the Scapular – St. Stephen.
Time has not been kind to the interior. Water damage, dirt, grime, crudely painted over has covered much of Brumidi’s work. Painstakingly, some of his work has reemerge from the various projects to preserve his work. Sadly that work has stopped as funding has ceased to be provided to continue such efforts.
With the merging of parishes and lack of funding, the interior is exposed to potentially being lost to history. Awareness of the issue is important but also organizations who can find a way to save the interior. Below are pictures I took last night. Let’s save this jewel for generations to come.