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Scaffolding Prompts Concerns at Mary Help of Christians

Workers were spotted carrying scaffolding into Mary Help of Christians Church last Friday, prompting concern among some neighbors as to whether there were any developments about the church’s future.

Mary Help of Christians ChurchSuzanne Rozdeba

Around 3 p.m. late last week, “There was a huge Penske moving van and several workers in front of the church. The church doors were open,” an eyewitness told The Local. “I was concerned because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the church.” The church property was purchased by developer Douglas Steiner, who’s bringing a residential development to the lot between East 11th and 12th Streets.

“I saw the workers bringing in scaffolding into the church, and I thought, ‘Uh oh,’” said the eyewitness. “I asked one of the guys to please be careful with the remaining relics. I thought they were moving the rest of the stuff out. But he said, ‘We’re not taking anything out. We’re just putting up scaffolding in the church. It’s in rough shape. We’re putting up support for the church. It’s an old building.’” It was unclear whether there was work being done to the church’s interior, or whether it had anything to do with work being done at P.S. 60 next door.

Last month, The Local reported that preservationists would like to meet with Mr. Steiner to discuss the church’s future, and the possibility of preserving the church. Several neighborhood preservation groups, along with a neighbor and a former parishioner, have asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider protecting the church. A source close to the project had said it was too early to know what the developer’s plans are for the site.

Alarm Bells at Mary Help of Christians

photo-292Daniel Maurer Sunday, workers transported items from the church
to their new home at Immaculate Conception.

The bells – alarm bells, that is – sounded at a recently shuttered church on East 12th Street.

Around 11 p.m. last night, a security alarm went off at Mary Help of Christians, seemingly in the rectory. The sirens sounded the same day acts of apparent vandalism were discovered inside of the church, but were no cause for concern: a police car pulled up in front of the church only to depart minutes later.

Jo Messina, a secretary at Immaculate Conception, told The Local there was no break-in. “Sometimes the sensors will detect if there are rats or mice,” she said.

Yesterday a source told The Local that the church’s alarm hadn’t been set when – sometime between Sunday and Monday morning – marble around the main tabernacle was smashed, a smaller tabernacle above the side altar was also damaged, and a hole was punched through the wall in the sacristy.

Suzanne Rozdeba contributed reporting.

Developers Eye Mary Help of Christians (Plus: A History of the Church)

Mary Help of ChristiansChelsia Rose Marcius Mary Help of Christians on East 12th Street.

With few parishioners attending only one service per week, the nearly century-old Mary Help of Christians Church is officially on the market and making preparations to be sold.

After what seemed like several years of rumors regarding the fate of the church on 12th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, Pastor Kevin Nelan confirmed that developers have recently expressed interest in purchasing the parish. Read more…

Steve Simpson

Steve Simpson photographed by John GalaydaJohn Galayda Steve Simpson.

Just last month, vendors celebrated the re-opening of the Mary Help of Christians weekend flea market on 11th Street and Avenue A.

Among the happiest was vendor Steve Simpson, who until the market’s closure in 2006, had been “bringin’ the goods” for more than a decade. “Where do you get all of your stuff from?” we asked. Some are bought, he replied, some are donated, some even come from estate sales.

Amid an ever-changing array of goods on Mr. Simpson’s table, music is one constant. Hat on backward, holding his red, white, and blue guitar, Mr. Simpson plays while being backed by tracks on an old boombox. He writes and records his own music and finds the market a great place to sell his CDs and whatever other interesting commodities he finds along the way. — Gabbi Lewin