The Church of the Ascension (127 Kent Street) is one of Greenpoint’s oldest buildings, but its Parish Hall (120 Java Street) will soon find new life as residences. The Church sold the Parish Hall, and air rights for the building, in July 2015 for over 4 million dollars.
For many folks, attending church is an annual event. Luckily we have some pretty cool houses of worship right here in our neighborhood, if you’d like to dabble in holiday worship this year. Continue reading →
85 Calyer Street looks like many other frame houses in Greenpoint, but it was the home of the greatest mechanical genius to ever live in Greenpoint, Thomas Fitch Rowland, and one of the most important short conversations in American history took place in the parlor there. First, though, lets get a little background on the owner of the house, Thomas Fitch Rowland.
Rowland was born in Connecticut in 1831 and became a railroad engineer, quickly becoming one of the leading experts in the design and construction of steam engines. However, he decided to leave railroad engineering, switching to the construction of steam engines for sailing ships and also developing an expertise in metallurgy. He was soon invited to come to Greenpoint to build ships because of his twin areas of expertise. By 1859 he founded his own company, the legendary Continental Iron Works on Quay Street. Two years later, he would help make history when visionary Swedish naval engineer John Ericsson approached him about building a revolutionary ship in Greenpoint, the ironclad Monitor, which would revolutionize warfare making wooden ships obsolete. Continue reading →
One of Greenpoint’s oldest buildings, the Episcopal Church of the Ascension (127 Kent St.), although beautiful, does not feel as if it belongs in Greenpoint. It feels more like a church from North London transported across the Atlantic and placed on Kent Street. It is also not hard to imagine the structure in some quaint English country town.
The British feel to the building is not an accident, as it was designed by Englishman Henry C. Dudley just at the end of the Civil War and dedicated in 1866. Dudley, a major American ecclesiastical architect who built in the English Gothic Revival style, designed a few churches so lovely that they were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although Dudley built a number of American churches, Ascension is one of only four remaining Dudley churches in New York City and the only one in Brooklyn. Dudley is most famous for his buildings in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his partner Frank Wills designed the elegant Church of the Holy Trinity, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Continue reading →
The holidays are over, but now that the swell of volunteers has come and gone, extra hands are always needed. The Church of the Ascension (127 Kent St) is moving their Hunger Program to Saturdays, serving meals for over 80 men and women in need every week. Volunteers (including children of all ages) can chip in from 9am to 1:15pm, with the option for early or late shifts. Don’t be deferred by the Church location; you don’t have to be Catholic, or any religion for that matter, to participate.
Father John Merz (not Misty) explained, “Greenpointers know about the needs of our community. Everyday we run into familiar faces in our neighborhood who don’t have enough to eat. Our team of volunteers work to provide a meal, a warm space and hospitality to these familiar faces.”
So if you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to be a better person or do good deeds or all of the above, this is your chance.
Register for a time slot here. And check out their site for more info about the program.
Church of the Ascension on Java Street has been Occupied. The church, which began helping coordinate relief efforts (with Councilmember Steve Levin) for Hurricane Sandy survivors immediately after the storm, has just been more formally Occupied by Occupy Sandy, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street. The Greenpoint site is largely replacing the 520 Clinton Street location at the Church of St Luke and St Matthew in Clinton Hill, after a December 23rd two-alarm fire at that location which fire officials have called “suspicious” and Church Father Chris Ballard called “arson.”
The church, Occupy Sandy’s first Greenpoint location, will serve as an office hub for the various Occupy Sandy locales in the city and as a headquarters for “volunteer dispatch operations” to the Rockaways, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, Coney Island, Staten Island, and Sheepshead Bay, where survivors continue to struggle with little help aside from volunteers like Occupy Sandy and others.
Occupy Sandy will also use the locale to offer a regularly scheduled orientation for new volunteers interested in helping in the ongoing long-term relief effort. More information is available on the Occupy Sandy website.
Greenpoint’s response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath began immediately after the storm through City Councilmember Steve Levin, and both Church of the Ascension and Greenpoint Reformed Church.
As reported in the Greenpoint Star and DNAinfo, there are Greenpoint residents still suffering the affects the storm including moldy basements and problems getting insurance or government to help with necessary cleanup funds.
Written by: The Reverend John Merz Priest-in-Charge Diocesan Missioner to Greenpoint and Williamsburg
127 Kent Street
“When we arrived Naomi Klein was addressing the crowd. There were about 3 or so thousand people it seemed in the entire park and environs…that kind of thing is hard to tell. There is no public address allowed since the group has no permit to actually be in Zuccotti park, a private piece of property next to the building that houses Brooks Brothers at the base off WTC site. The manner people use to amplify the speaker is that the speaker speaks a line and then it is re-said in concentric circles out from the speaker by the crowd.
She spoke for a while about the inequalities in the economic structures and stressed the need for people to remain disciplined and non violent during demonstrations. She also took questions from the crowd.
The General Assembly Meeting started at 7pm in a corner of the park and the same manner of vocalizing was used. These meetings happen 2x per day, 1 and 7. There was a facilitating group and several ground rules for participation including an agenda. It is both highly structured and inclusive of anyone there, there is a clear process by which people can be heard and even for perceived violations of the processes of the meetings.
The agenda had several reports from working groups: Media, Public Relations, sanitation, Consciousness, Medical, Arts and Culture etc to state what is happening in their areas.
The park is broken up into various areas as you probably know from the press: food, media, camping, sacred space for prayer and mediation, a drum area and area for recycling and sanitation etc. The whole endeavor is super duper organized.
It is very much bottom up in terms of ideas and input. It would be hard to generalize on the age but the dominant age seemed to be 20’s 30’s although people right up through 70-80’s could be seen. The general message seemed to be a redress of wealth inequality and the “corporatization” of the public and political discourse.
The General Assembly meeting was still going on when I departed at 10:15pm which was somewhat painful….kind of like a vestry meeting or board meeting that would never end but at that point it was taken up with people from other occupy movements…..DC and LA etc sharing thoughts and experiences.
We spoke to a young man who was up from North Carolina and was part of the Catholic Worker movement. I spoke with a young woman who worked on wall street late every night but said she had been there every night after work for the last 8 days. In another instance I spoke with a young man who was a Roman Catholic Priest who had been silenced in that denomination for various what he called liberal social practices and criticisms of the hierarchy: he said he had been there every day for 2 weeks inspired that he found such a peaceful and hopeful community of people. Bob and I were warmly received by various people who took note of, appreciated and desired greater clergy presence (or people in various Official Religious Garb).
All in all an interesting and inspiring evening was had. I also might add that the food that they were cranking out in the food station looked really great. I was tempted to chow down and shouldn’t get too greedy. One serious problem is the issue of bathrooms and people seem to use the local restaurants. I, fortunately am armed with a book an old NY acquaintance wrote which gives you ideas in such situations (enough with the levity, I know). Actually I did find a bathroom at a local bar.
Anyway, this thing is clearly not going to be snuffed out and it looks like it is just getting started. Especially on weekends and other times when larger groups join in like Unions for demonstrations. To my mind from what I witnessed the issue is one of disgust with the inequities tolerated by our market culture and not with the idealistic and unrealistic vagary of scrapping a whole capitalist system.”