If you think that all pastors are uptight, judgmental, straight laced, bores, that only shows you never met Reverend Ann Kansfield. I spoke with Ann for an hour and a half and the time seemed to whiz by. She is a great conversationalist with a disarming sense of humor, most of it self-deprecating.
I took careful notes on our conversation, but experienced writer’s block when trying to write about her. Suddenly, I had an aha moment, and realized why. Ann very rarely speaks in first person. She avoids the pronoun I, and invariably shifts from saying I to we. I realized that Ann is one of the least egotistical people I have ever met. Even though she was chosen as the New York Times person of the year in 2016, Ann is the personification of humility. As the old saying goes, “There is no I in team,” and Ann is the consummate team builder. Continue reading →
For years I passed the graceful façade of Saint Anthony of Padua church (862 Manhattan Avenue) and admired its beauty, but never really thought much about the man who built it. Recently I researched the life of the amazing man who built this Greenpoint landmark and his story is every bit as amazing as the church he built.
Patrick Keely (1816-1896) was the most prolific church builder in American history, constructing, by some estimates, seven hundred churches stretching from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico and from New England to Iowa. He built St. Anthony’s in 1876. It is like many of his churches built in the neo-gothic style. Keely’s prolific career is all the more shocking when we consider that he never received any formal training as an architect.Continue reading →
For many Greenpointers there is no more iconic local image than the façade of St. Anthony of Padua church on Manhattan Avenue at Milton Street. The 240-foot-high church steeple is a landmark and the church is angled in so that it commands a sweeping vista of Milton Street. It is one of the most elegant churches in all of Brooklyn, and was built by one of the most prolific church architects in American history, Patrick Keely of Ireland, who designed at least six hundred other churches around North America—but few with the simple elegance of St. Anthony. Many say that the church on Manhattan Avenue is, in fact, his finest creation.
The Manhattan Avenue structure is not the first St. Anthony of Padua. The original church was built on India Street in 1858, but it proved too small for the mushrooming Catholic population and the famous Bishop Loughlin sought to buy a site to construct a much larger church. In 1865 Samuel Tilden sold five lots along Manhattan Avenue to the Catholic Church, generously charging the church for only one lot, even though Tilden was not a Catholic. The church acquired more land on Leonard Street in 1873 and in the same year the cornerstone was laid. Continue reading →
Perhaps no local building defines Polish Greenpoint than St. Stanislaus Kostka Church at 607 Humboldt Street. St Stanislaus Kostka is home to the largest Polish Catholic congregation in Brooklyn. Each weekend nine masses are celebrated, five in Polish and four in English. This parish also has an elementary school with 300 students and another 300 who attend Sunday school. Each Sunday thousands of the faithful attend mass there. It is where many locals were christened, received their first communion and were married. When Pope John Paul II, the Polish Pope, visited New York he had to visit his people’s church. John Paul II, still as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, prayed in the parish during his 1969 visit when he spoke from the marble pulpit, prayed near the altar and received the heartfelt wishes of hundreds of local Catholics. There is a statue of John Paul II outside the church, which implores the faithful, “Nie Boj sie,” Don’t be afraid. Continue reading →
It’s Sunday. You and your pals had brunch (and a couple-three mimosas) at Nitehawk to catch the 11:45 screening of Jingle All The Way. Schwarzenegger rules. Now there’s a celeb who can successfully transition from superstardom to politics. And after the flick, you continued drinking at Luckydog—well not really continued but just started because those mimosas didn’t really count—in protest of Santacon. Screw those amateurs. Afternoon drinking with NO agenda is where it’s at.
You go out for a smoke and suddenly it’s dark outside. Then after a beer-and-a-shot or two more you and your pals are starving again so you hit up DuMont for some burgers, while devouring a shared mac and cheese and slinging back a few Brooklyn Lagers. On your way to the next bar—you could do Skinny Dennis or maybe The Abbey, but let’s just see where we end up—one of your bros decides it’d be fun to pose for some Insta pics next to some religious church statues. After all, you proclaim, Jesus is the reason for the season!
You and your buds climb up on the display, snap a few pics—and this is where the events in question get pretty hazy. You were in the moment so it’s really hard to say exactly what happened or whose fault it was. But you’re pretty sure it was Sammy who knocked over the statue as he was climbing down from taking a pic. Either way, there was a loud crash, a sense of panic, and definitely time to hightail it over to The Abbey. Holy shit, man. Literally Holy Shit. What a night. What an epic day. Praise.
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 →
One of the oldest buildings in Greenpoint and a landmark is struggling for survival. These days the 160 year-old Union Baptist Chruch at 151 Noble Street is closed and surrounded by a fence. It’s fighting demolition, but it has a champion. Pastor Mike Newberger is fighting to raise the money to save the church and its amazing historic legacy. Continue reading →
Do you have a voice that clears a bar during karaoke but you always wanted to sing in a church choir? Take a hint and ring some bells instead.
Greenpoint Reformed Church is starting a Greenpoint-style handbell choir. If you’ve always wanted to participate in a musical ensemble playing beautiful music on magical bells – come out on for an informational meeting this Sunday 6/22 at Greenpoint Church (136 Milton St) at 12:3pm0. Beginners welcome – all you need to know is how to ring a bell! They’ll start with easy songs, then work up to THIS….Tchaikovsky – whatever.
The next love story in our Valentine’s Day series is courtesy of Rev. Ann Kansfield and Rev. Jennifer Aull, who are co-pastors at Greenpoint Reformed Churchon Milton Street. Jen is also a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in North Brooklyn and midtown. Read on to hear more about how they met and established roots in Greenpoint. Continue reading →
Just when you thought film crews on our streets couldn’t get any more annoying, the producers of “The Knick” decided to dump all of their waste into the sewers on Milton Street after filming a storm. Well they got an unintended stormy scene from the Milton Street Block Association who were justifiably upset by this illegal action. Dear Steven Soderbergh, we are especially sensitive about illegal dumping in our neighborhood!
Walking over the Pulaski Bridge will get a lot safer next year when a new bike lane will replace a lane currently being used by speeding drivers. In the short term, this may actually lead to more accidents for bicyclists, but let’s hope it works itself out. (Daily News)
As most of you probably know, Banksy spent the past month putting up his legendary street art throughout NYC. Some people love it, some people hate it and others just don’t understand, but every property owner in NYC who got their building painted by the famous artist cashed in on the new addition except one guy in Greenpoint. (Gothamist)
In addition to not enjoying free famous street art, some Debbie Downers in our neighborhood made a big deal about silencing our friends at Adelina’s “quietest DJ night in Brooklyn” because absolute silence is what you should expect when you move into an apartment above a restaurant on Greenpoint Avenue.
In local foodie news, move over Cronut lovers, this article from Brooklyn Based about made to order cinnamon buns from Greenpoint’s River Styx looks amazing and I want one of these right now!
And finally, in developer news, have you seen this Leonard Street church that got transformed into expensive condos? Regardless of what you think about the changing neighborhood, can you at least admit that the restoration from drab vinyl siding to beautiful bricks at least brightens up the block? (Daily News)