New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, May 30, 2008

Model for Decorum

Gothic meets drugs, sex and rock and roll. Not such an unusual mix actually, it's just that we generally don't think gothic church. This place has actually been a neighborhood problem and has had a sordid history. It has been a night club since 1983, when it opened as The Limelight, owned by Peter Gatien and designed by Ari Bahat. Gatien owned a number of Limelight nightcubs - read about it here. And you can visit their website here.
The space benefits of course from the incredible architecture - huge rooms, soaring ceilings, stained glass widows and a labyrinth of chambers.
In 1996, club attendee Michael Alig was arrested and later convicted for the killing and dismemberment of Angel Melendez, a drug dealer based at The Limelight - you can read about Alig here. Opened and closed in the 1990s for drug trafficking, it was reincarnated in 2003 as the club Avalon.
The brownstone structure, at 47 W. 20th Street and 6th Avenue, was built in 1846 as the Church of the Holy Communion for an Episcopalian congregation. It was designed by renowned architect Richard Upjohn, cofounder and first president of the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Upjohn, a British immigrant, was most well known for his gothic revival churches. Trinity Church is one of his best known works.
This church building was saved in the 1960s when it became designated as a landmark. It was subsequently sold and used as a drug rehabilitation center.
It's not the idea of a church being converted to a den of debauchery that is so disappointing, it's the state of decay that graces the exterior. I thought the lone figure of an older woman eating her lunch on the steps of the church was an appropriate statement.
Its such a shame for an important historic structure to deteriorate this way. But then, a rock and roll club can't be expected to be a model for decorum ...


Rahul V. Chittella said...

brilliant, brian!!!:)
amazing composition!!:)

Anonymous said...

i was just there yesterday but light was too low for handheld pic

Brian said...

Thanks! Let's give some credit to he subject too - the set was such a photo-op when I was at the church. It was crying out to be photographed.

marlow said...

it looks a little bit like the church from the movie "Dogma" where angels fly and sinners fall

great shot

• Eliane • said...

That's Club Avalon? I had no idea.
I passed in front of it a couple of times and always found it intriguing. There's something about churches with bright red doors that I find kind of weird. As if you really could miss it.
I loved to learn about the history of this building. About converting spaces, I read on the tv elevator the other day that you could buy an old jail in Maine for $200K. Imagine all the secrets contained in those walls!

Rahul V. Chittella said...

:) Yes Brian, I too agree!!:)
looking forward to much more!!:)

btw, do check my site...although I've just started!:)

angie said...

Hey Brian, your blog is fabulous! I feel like I just visited your city and had a great time!

Krystian (Poland) said...

The photo is excellent! I'm new to your blog but I like reading it very much already.
There's one thing about this church which I don't get - why is it so special? Are such buildings with 200 years of history so rare in NYC?

Kanter Constandse said...

Great capture, well framed ! Love your postings brian, I've been following you for a while now. Keep up the good work !

MmeBenaut said...

I couldn't agree more. Stunning photo though and the capture of the woman in front of that amazing red door (which one would never see on a church still in use as a church) does make its own statement. Well done, Brian. I love your posts, even though I haven't been here for a while. I've been busy with my own blog these days. I do hope you will come down to South Australia and have a peek at our lives which will seem quite alien to you, I think.

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