The parish of St. Patrick was founded in the early 1840s, prior to the establishment of the Diocese of Brooklyn. The origins of the church are a bit obscure, but it appears to have been founded as a parish for Irish Catholics in East Brooklyn (Wallabout), with the first services held in private structures near Wallabout Street and Flushing Avenue. Early secondary-source references to the church call it the Wallabout Church. In 1843, Rev. Hugh Maguire was appointed as the first priest for the parish.
In 1843, Bishop Hughes of the Diocese of New York established the parish and appointed Rev. Hugh Maguire as the first priest.1 St. Patrick is thus the fifth parish in Brooklyn in Diocesan records (although sixth, after St. Mary's (SS. Peter & Paul), which was already established at the founding of St. Patrick's).
According to an 1897 parish history, the church originally occupied a former Methodist Church on Kent Avenue near Myrtle.2 Construction on the church at the corner of Willoughby and Kent Avenues started in 1848, with the cornerstone being by Bishop Loughlin of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1854. According to an article in the Eagle at the laying of the cornerstone, the church was designed by James J. Lyons. 3 Construction was completed and the church dedicated on August 17, 1856.4
James J. Lyons was listed in the 1856 Brooklyn city directory as an architect, living at 197 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn.5 Design of the church is often attributed to Patrick Keely, the prolific architect of Catholic churches in the mid-19th century, but based on the contemporary account in the Eagle that appears to be in error (though a plausible one - Keely's first church was that of SS. Peter and Paul in the Village of Williamsburgh, less than two miles to the north of St. Patrick - also an Irish congregation). Keely's relationship to the church was an extensive renovation carried out in 1873.6
The church and related structures were recently sold to a developer, and the future of one of the oldest churches in the City of Churches does not look bright.
- 1“St. Patrick’s Parish,” Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page (website), accessed November 26, 2023, [http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Worship/St.Patricks.html](http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Worship/St.Patricks.html).
- 2“St. Patrick’s Parish,” Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page (website), accessed November 26, 2023, [http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Worship/St.Patricks.html](http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Worship/St.Patricks.html).
- 3“Laying the Corner Stone of a Catholic Church,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 6, 1854. The reason for the delay is not clear.
- 4“Church Dedication,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 18, 1856, 2.
- 5Smith’s Brooklyn Directory (Brooklyn, N.Y.: William H. Smith, 1856), 201.
- 6“St. Patrick’s Church,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 10, 1873, 4.
285 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205