Inside All Saints

As the Catholic church and school, All Saints is transformed into the home of Capital Prep, we took a peek in and got a few photos of the work in progress.

The original wood doors and vestibule remains – if coated in plaster dust.

Further inside the vastness of the nave is emphasized by the relative size of the scaffolding in the background.

24 Hours in Harlem

Travel Noire has recommendations for spending 24 hours sampling the food, drink, culture, and vibes of Harlem:

Is anything here on your shortlist for a staycation?

Little Pumpkin Today!

Family Activities on West 120th Street, Today

All Saints > Capital Prep

Last winter I snapped a picture of the Gothic script that made the 130th Street entrance to the former All Saints Elementary School #52 so charming. The gilt letters, hidden behind a protective mesh still glowed.

This week I noticed that Capital Prep – the charter school that will occupy both the former Catholic All Saints school, as well as the former church itself, had not only replaced the text, but faithfully put their name in equally impressive gilt Gothic font.

A wonderful detail showing that someone truly cared.

Charter School Coming

Signs are coming up for Capital Prep Harlem Charter School at the former All Saints Church – Madison and East 129th Street:

Learn More About MMPCIA’s Oversaturation Tax Protest

Join us on Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 6:00pm for a 1-hour information session.
Harlem has over 20% of NYC drug treatment and homeless shelters, the majority of which are concentrated within .4 miles on 125th street. This hyper-concentration of social services is having a deleterious effect on all who live, work, worship, and go to school in Harlem. Why is a community that makes up only 4.3% of NYC’s population carrying over 20% of the burden? We support fair share meaning every community in the city, including Harlem, should support the social service needs of their population within their community.
MMPCIA is vigorously working to force NYS and NYC to recognize the damage being inflicted on our community by sponsoring actions like the protest rally on October 9, 2021 that garnered media coverage from all of the major outlets and over 250 participants.
Our next protest is different. We are going to exercise our annual right to contest our real estate taxes using the exact same reason – our market and assessed values are 50% too high because of the concentration of social services programs in our community.
We need all property owners to join this protest, even if your taxes are low. Remember, we are protesting the oversaturation and the accompanying increase in crime, open drug sales and use, and poor sanitation. We may not experience a reduction in taxes, but if enough Harlem owners contest their taxes, it will be another successful effort in our quest for equitable distribution of services throughout the city.
Meeting ID: 868 4723 49171 646 558 8656 (New York)
Meeting ID: 868 4723 4917

Quick Facts:
Notice of Property Values is sent to each owner annually every January. The owners of 1, 2, and 3 family homes have until March 15, 2022 to argue that their taxes are too high. The deadline for all other properties is March 1, 2022. 
See for more information.
Property tax information is public knowledge. Everyone can find out how much tax any property is being charged by going to
NYC cannot raise your taxes if you challenge the amount. They can only lower it.
 You still have to pay your taxes, in the same manner, you do now. This is not a withholding of taxes protest; it is an amount of taxes protest.
You may have other legitimate reasons to lower your taxes that you should pursue with our protest.
The information contained in this message is for general information purposes only, MMPCIA makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, services, or related graphics. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

Shuttered Churches

For years, one of Harlem’s major flashpoints has been, and remains, the sale of Black churches. For many, the decline of a church and its sale, represents a dissolution of the Black presence in Harlem. For others, there is the loss of a cultural as well as religious space. Some focus on the material presence of the church – primarily as manifested in the architecture or interior decoration/design.

The Catholic church has undergone a remarkable shrinkage in the last few years. In 2007 the archdiocese decided to close or merge 21 parishes. Then, in 2014, the archdiocese — which encompasses Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, and seven other New York State counties — embarked on another deeper series of cuts, including parish closings and mergers. This striking consolidation was driven in part by financial constraints (partly due to the financial challenges of defending and paying out in sexual abuse cases. In other parishes, the changing demographics and dwindling church attendance influenced the archdiocese’s decision to close/or merge.

The consequence of all this is not only a surplus of buildings to be sold – Harlem’s 118th street St.Thomas Church (shown below) was sold and deconsecrated – but also a surplus of religious art and decoration, like the stained glass that once adorned St. Thomas’s facade windows.

In a warehouse on Staten Island, the Archdiocese of New York stores altars, statuary and other relics that can be reused in churches around the world. The 17,000-square-foot storehouse stuffed to the rafters with artifacts salvaged from scores of churches deconsecrated and sold since 2004. Known as the Patrimony Warehouse, the facility was established to preserve the sorts of relics that sometimes wound up in antique stores, the homes of parishioners or the trash.

In addition to storing sacred items like altars and incense censers, which according to canon law are permitted to be only in places of worship, the warehouse is a repository of secular artifacts like stained-glass windows.

The pieta (above) is one example of material rescued from St. Lucy’s Church in East Harlem after the church’s deconsecration in 2017. Laypeople are not permitted to shop at the warehouse, and there are generally no listed prices. When an artifact is transferred to a parish, the archdiocese typically asks for a donation commensurate with that parish’s means.

The New York Times notes that:

Since 2007, the number of parishes in the archdiocese has shrunk to 284 from 403. In that time, 30 churches have been deconsecrated for secular use in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, leaving 172 Catholic churches in those boroughs. And the consolidation continues.

Whenever possible, new religious homes are found for salvaged relics. In 2008, some 30 stained-glass windows from the imposing neo-Gothic Church of St. Thomas the Apostle on West 118th Street in Harlem, designed by the Mayer of Munich studio in Germany, were removed and reconditioned after a preservation campaign failed. Those windows were later installed upstate, in the new Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Church, in LaGrangeville. Other windows went to St. Brigid’s Church in the East Village. And last year, 14 smaller windows from St. Thomas depicting angels were shipped to a church in Taiwan. (As for the 1907 church complex of St. Thomas the Apostle, it was sold to Artimus Construction for $6 million in 2012; the church was truncated, and its remaining front portion now serves as a vaulted event space called Harlem Parish.)

A Crucifix from All Saints Chruch in East Harlem.

Two of the most striking items in the warehouse are a pair of white-marble angels that once flanked the high altar at the Church of All Saints, on Madison Avenue and 129th Street. The splendid Italian Gothic Revival-style church, built starting in the 1880s after designs by the architect James Renwick Jr., is sometimes called the St. Patrick’s of Harlem — a reference to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, which Mr. Renwick also designed. All Saints is a city landmark, a designation that protects its exterior, but not its interior.

In 2015, the parish of All Saints merged with that of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo, on West 141st Street, and in 2017 All Saints was deconsecrated.

That’s when the Patrimony Warehouse came into play. After a church is deconsecrated and made available for secular purposes and possible sale, canon law holds that all sacred relics and furnishings must be removed for use in other sacred edifices or stored in ecclesiastical custody. If the church’s altars cannot be removed, they must be destroyed.

After the deconsecration of All Saints, a comprehensive inventory of its valuable objects was made. Before disassembly, the component parts of large items like the high altar were carefully labeled, photographed and documented, so each artifact could one day be put back together like a giant, sacred jigsaw puzzle. Photographs and descriptions of each item were compiled in a binder that serves as a shopping catalog for warehouse visitors.

The dismantling of the church’s interior was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and finally completed early this year. Workers disassembled the great marble altar with power saws fitted with masonry blades. To reach the clerestory windows high above the pews, some four stories of scaffolding were erected inside the church, and most of the stained-glass windows were taken out — over the objections of preservationists — and replaced with clear glass. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the removal of stained glass and exterior sculptural masonry associated with religious imagery.

The altar and stained glass now reside in the warehouse. The 16-foot-high gilded crucifix is stored in crated sections, is shown, above.

“The pipe organ” — built by the Roosevelt Organ Works in 1892 — “was the last piece to go out” of the church, Mr. Amatrudo said. “It’s being reconditioned and will go to St. Paul the Apostle,” a church on West 59th Street.

In addition, a small wooden altar of sacrifice was sent to Moore Catholic High School, on Staten Island. The church’s richly carved pews, among the city’s most elaborate, went to a church in Chicago. And marble statues of Joseph and Mary landed in Bridgeport, Conn. (The All Saints complex, which includes an attached parish school and parish house, was sold in March for $10.85 million to the developer CSC Coliving. A modernization of the school and conversion of the church into a school auditorium, designed by Tang Studio Architect, is underway, and the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School plans to move into the two buildings next fall on a long-term lease.)

Back in the warehouse, Mr. Amatrudo is eager to use two darkly varnished vestment cabinets from All Saints to enhance his merchandise display. He has arranged the cabinets — neo-Gothic beauties made of quarter-sawn oak — in a felicitous manner in the entry chamber and plans to leave their doors open, filling them with vestments to make a good first impression on shoppers.

“These cabinets have style,” he said proudly. “So when you walk in the front door, this is what greets you.”

As Seen On East 120th Street


Ancient Greek stone architecture with its bleached symmetry and powerful ornamentation often looks as though it’s survived for more than 2,000 years simply through force of presence. A closer look, however, at the stones that make up classic Greek architecture reveals curious channels and depressions inside the centers of the stones that were carved to make up columns.

As the Smithsonian Magazine notes:

When the current restoration [of the Parthenon] began in 1975, backed by $23 million from the Greek government, the project’s directors believed they could finish in ten years. But unforeseen problems arose as soon as workers started disassembling the temples. For example, the ancient Greek builders had secured the marble blocks together with iron clamps fitted in carefully carved grooves. They then poured molten lead over the joints to cushion them from seismic shocks and protect the clamps from corrosion. But when a Greek architect, Nikolas Balanos, launched an enthusiastic campaign of restorations in 1898, he installed crude iron clamps, indiscriminately fastening one block to another and neglecting to add the lead coating. Rain soon began to play havoc with the new clamps, swelling the iron and cracking the marble. Less than a century later, it wasclear that parts of the Parthenon were in imminent danger of collapse.

The use of lead to hold iron in stone persisted in Harlem through the early 20th Century. The former All Saints Church at 129th and Madison is surrounded by a substantial iron fence – mostly to protect pedestrians from falling into the moat-like window well that permits sunlight to enter the basement level of the building.

A close look at the fence (embedded in limestone kerbs) shows that the builders of All Saints understood the peril of embedding iron in stone. (The danger is mostly in the process of oxidization, or rusting, which swells larger than the original iron with pressures that can split the stone while simultaneously rotting the iron.)

In the image above and below you can see the grey/white lead (think of the paint color – now not made because of its toxicity – lead white, which was made from oxidized lead…) around the iron fence vertical – which is itself rusting, but not splitting the soft limestone in which it is placed.

Today, quality contemporary construction embeds a non-ferrous vertical rod (typically aluminum) in the ground/support and then joins the ferrous fence (steel, now, not iron) which remains susceptible to rusting over the decades, to the aluminum post.

The example, below, shows the Choir Academy school’s fence, steel attached to embedded aluminum.

70’s Nostalgia

Classic TV commercials from the 70’s

Join Your Community Board Meetings

CB10 and CB11 Human Services and Public Safety committees meet on a monthly basis and regularly cover topics related to #FairShare4Harlem. Join to share your voice

Meetings next week:

CB10 Health + Human Services, Mon. Jan. 17 @ 6:30
CB10 Public Safety, Tuesday, Wed. Jan. 19 @ 6:30

Upcoming meetings:

CB11 Human Services, Mon. Feb. 7 @ 6:00
CB11 Public Safety + Transportation, Tues. Feb. 8 @ 6:30Find your Community Board. Have events to add? Email us.

Holiday Lights on The Harlem Meer

Celebrate the season at our Annual Holiday Lighting in Central Park. Meet Santa and friends, sing carols on the Plaza, watch an ice-carving demonstration and take part in other seasonal festivities.

The event concludes with lighting a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer. In the meantime, check out our seasonal recipes and activities below before caroling into the night at this festive evening hosted by the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy.

Thursday, December 2, 5:30 pm at the Harlem Meer’s Charles A. Dana Discovery Center

Goldleaf Signage

Walking past All Saints School (which is going to be converted into space for a charter school) I noticed the gorgeous goldleaf rendering of the school’s name (well protected behind steel mesh).

Let’s hope they keep this artifact even if the charter school takes over the space.

Church at 129/Madison

If you’ve wondered what is going to happen to the church, school, and rectory at 129/Madison, October’s Land Use meeting for CB11 revealed some of the plans:

Essentially the church and school have been leased to a charter school, and the rectory will be converted into a rental building. Capital Prep will take over the entire church complex, including the main building and also an adjoining school. Its move, coinciding with the 2022-23 school year, will allow the school to expand capacity from 500 to 700 students.

For more, see:

Harlem’s Renaissance Man

The CW series: Over the last century 4400 people who were overlooked, undervalued or otherwise marginalized vanished without a trace off the face of the planet. Now, inexplicably, they’re back, returned to Detroit having not aged a day and with no memory of what happened to them.

CB11 Votes for a 12 Month Drug Program Moratorium

Nick Garber reports in Patch on the vote in Community Board 11 to try a 12 month moratorium on the siting of new drug programs in the districts.

The moratorium also asks for more data from the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to explain why East Harlem has been packed with addiction programs that other wealthier communities have rejected. Similarly, the moratorium notes that 80% of the people served by these programs in East Harlem don’t live here, but are drug treatment commuters who travel here for their programs.

The Church of All Saints

The landmarked Church of All Saints in East Harlem may have found a buyer. The New York Post reported recently that this church (which has been up for sale for a few years now, and includes the All Saints School complex to the north of the church which was closed in 2011) is negotiating with a potential buyer.

Historic All Saints Church — called the “St. Patrick’s of Harlem” — is about to be sold, The Post has learned.

The Catholic Archdiocese of New York shuttered the church in 2015 and the landmark building, along with its adjacent school and parish house, which occupy an entire block, have stood empty since.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese would not provide any details on the pending sale.

“There is no final agreement in place; things are in process,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

There certainly has been a flurry of (scaffolding) activity at the site in the last month or so. You can see a huge vertical scaffold section that has allowed workers to examine and repair the topmost facade cross.

While it’s unclear if the church will be sold or not (many a deal has fallen through before finalized), and once sold, we have no idea if the buyer will warehouse the complex or develop it, still, there is local hope that this building will see new life in some form or another.

The building has been deconsecrated and stripped of religious items in 2017, and as with 98% of landmarking, the interior is not landmarked – a new owner could do whatever s/he wants with the inside.

Note the amazing organ and decoration back when the church was in use.

This church was built for the large Irish Catholic population in this part of Harlem and East Harlem at the turn of the 20th century. More recently, it served a primarily African-American and Nigerian parish base and was run by Franciscans.

Timeline of Our Annus Horribilis – 2020

The Museum of the City of New York has a fantastic timeline out that chart our collective Annus Horribilis – 2020.

Scroll down the page to see what happened and when. Here is an explainer video:

And here is the timeline itself:

MTA Public Hearing re: NYS Eminent Domain Procedure Law

Tue, March 30, 6pm – 7pm

DescriptionThe Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”), on behalf of itself and its subsidiaries, will hold a Virtual public hearing under Executive Order 202.94 and pursuant to Article 2 of the New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law (“EDPL”) on the proposed acquisition of permanent & temporary property interests in properties in the Borough of Manhattan for Phase 2, Contract 2 of the Second Avenue Subway Project (“Project”). 

The hearing will review the public uses, benefits, purposes, and location of the Project, the impact the Project may have on the environment and residents of the area, and will give the public an opportunity to comment on the Project and the proposed Property acquisition. Description of the Project  The Second Avenue Subway, when complete, will provide a subway line with 16 new stations extending from 125th St. & Lexington Ave. to Hanover Square, will link MTA New York City Transit facilities with Metro-North Railroad at 125th St. & provide connections to buses. Acquisition of public & private real estate interests along the project route will be necessary for the construction and operation of the Project.

Phase 1 of the Project has already been completed. Currently, the line runs from E. 96th St. to E. 63rd St. along Second Av., where it joins the existing Broadway Line. Phase 2 of the Project will extend the line north to E. 125th St. turning west along E. 125th St. towards Lexington Ave.

Contract 2 consists of construction of the launch box for the Tunnel Boring Machine(s), bored tunnel north from 120th St. at Second Ave. and tunnel & cavern mining for the 125th St. Station and future entrance and ancillary facilities.

This public hearing includes property interests needed for Contract 2 only. Date, Time and Place of the Virtual Hearing Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Hearing begins at 6:00 p.m.  Registration to speak can be made in advance by visiting, which will remain open through the hearing date.  Registration will close at 6:30 p.m. Please note this Public Hearing is being conducted in a Virtual format under Executive Order 202.94.

The public may join the hearing by visiting or by calling 877-853-5247 (Meeting ID 82605599788).  A link will also be provided on the MTA website.

A Tribute to Women’s History Tickets, Sat, Mar 27, 2021 at 7:00 PM |


Click link to the YouTube livestream for March 27th at 7pm