Tag Archives: Harlem

Church of St. Thomas the Apostle

Church of St. Thomas the Apostle in Harlem is stunning architecture, even without its stained glass. Abandoned by the Catholic Church and once destined for demolition, the former church has found a new life as a community arts center.

The Archdiocese of New York closed the church in 2003 in the wake of declining attendance and ballooning maintenance costs. Although community groups sued to prevent demolition, the church transferred its German stained glass windows to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church in LaGrangeville, NY in 2008. Meanwhile, the crumbling Harlem edifice was in limbo until 2012.

That’s when Artimus, a developer, purchased the church, its school and a nearby vacant lot from the Archdiocese of New York. The developer has since restored the front and rear walls and the ceiling. Additional restoration is continuing. Artimus is also converting the church’s school to affordable housing, and is to build a 10-story apartment house on a nearby vacant lot.

Church of St. Thomas the Apostle Vital Statistics
Church of St. Thomas the Apostle Recommended Reading

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Graham Court

Graham Court is sometimes called “Harlem’s Dakota,” but it’s actually much closer in style to the 1908 Apthorp Apartments, on Broadway at W 78th Street.

The building’s grandeur stems from its sponsor: Graham Court was commissioned by William Waldorf Astor, and designed by the firm of Clinton & Russell. Before joining the firm, Charles Clinton was the architect of the Park Avenue Armory, Manhattan Apartments and New York Athletic Club, among others. With William Russell, the firm went on to design the Apthorp Apartments, Langham Apartments, and Astor Apartments (and a score of important commercial buildings).

The last 50 years have been hard on Graham Court: Successive owners haven’t been as quality-conscious as the original builders. One commentator after another (see Recommended Reading list) has lamented the security problems, disrepair, and financial problems of the landmark.

But beyond the unfriendly iron front gates and crudely hand-painted “No Parking” sign at the service entrance, Graham Court is still mighty impressive. I hope I look as good when I’m 113!

Graham Court Vital Statistics
Graham Court Recommended Reading

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