From Gothic-style church to infamous nightclub

Recognize this solitary Gothic Revival church, set on what looks like the countryside of an older New York City?

Churchoftheholycommunionnypl

It’s the Church of the Holy Communion, an Episcopal church built between 1844 and 1846 on Sixth Avenue and 20th Street.

Churchoftheholycommunionwiki2010But it might be better known as the church that from 1983 to 2001 housed the Limelight, the notorious nightclub famous for its celebrities, club kids, and bridge and tunneler crowd (and a link to a gruesome murder in 1996).

This sketch, from the New York Public Library, isn’t dated. But it appears to depict the church during its early years, when 20th Street was at the outskirts of the city.

Churchoftheholycommunion1907mcnyDesigned by Richard Upjohn (he also built Trinity Church in 1846, among others), Holy Communion was architecturally groundbreaking at the time.

“Holy Communion was the first asymmetrical Gothic Revival church edifice in the United States and was the prototype for hundreds of similar buildings erected all across the country,” states Andrew Dolkart’s Guide to New York City Landmarks.

“Upjohn designed the building to resemble a small Medieval English parish church; the rectory and other additions complement the church in style and massing.”

Churchoftheholycommunion1933nyplAs the area developed, the church blended into the urbanscape.

Here it is in 1901, in a photo from the Museum of the City of New York, and again in 1933 in another New York Public Library shot.

Since the Limelight shut its doors, the space had been configured as an upscale Limelight-branded shopping mall.

It now serves as a gym, a monument to the preservation of the physical over the spiritual.

[Second photo: Wikipedia]

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7 Responses to “From Gothic-style church to infamous nightclub”

  1. JaxRobyn Says:

    Reblogged this on JaxRobyn.com.

  2. Linkage: Airbnb Renters Harassed by City?; Making NYC Better in 2015 | Pistilli Realty Group Says:

    […] claim city harasses Airbnb renters [NYP] · Here’s a New Years Eve timelapse [Gothamist] · The history of Limelight [ENY] · Meet the voice of the NYC subway system [UTC] · How the ferry made Brooklyn NYC’s […]

  3. Linkage: Airbnb Renters Harassed by City?; Making NYC Better in 2015 | LIBERTY ALLIANCE Says:

    […] city harasses Airbnb renters [NYP] · Here’s a New Years Eve timelapse [Gothamist] · The history of Limelight [ENY] · Meet the voice of the NYC subway system [UTC] · How the ferry made Brooklyn […]

  4. The church before the club | BK Flatbush Ave – RE Says:

    […] the club closed in 2001, it served as a Limelight-themed mall. Today, it serves as a gym. [Ephemeral NY] – Christopher […]

  5. Linkage: Construction Forecast For 2015; Long Island City Hotels; More! | Pistilli Realty Group Says:

    […] in Midtown East [FC] · Public transit access is correlated with earning power [Gothamist] · On Sixth Avenue, a former church journeys into a gym [ENY] · Construction work went wild in 2014; even more ahead [Crain's] · So private investigators […]

  6. Walk About New York Says:

    Richard Upjohn not only designed Trinity Church Wall Street and the Church of the Holy Communion, but his first church, the Church of the Ascension, is a highlight of our Greenwich Village Walking Tour (http://walkaboutny.com/the-tours/greenwich-village-art-and-history-walking-tour/). His church is a National Historic Landmark.

    Along with his son, also named Richard, they designed the fabulous entry gate to Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark in Brooklyn. Our Gay Graves Tour (http://walkaboutny.com/the-tours/the-gay-graves-tour/) at Green-Wood includes it at its starting point.

    Thank you for these great photos and the info about the Church of the Holy Communion. I do mention it at the start of the Gay Graves Tour.

  7. Christmas sidewalk vendors of Sixth Avenue | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] isn’t that the house of worship once known as the Limelight? These New Yorkers would have called it the Church of the Holy […]

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