26 SEPTEMBER 28, 2017 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
A church grows in Ridgewood
and Brooklyn (Part 1)
BY THE OLD TIMER
More than 130 years ago, in
March 1882, the Ridgewood
area was seeing an increased
demand for building lots for residential
housing and also for land for offi ces,
car houses and stables for the horse
car railroads and the steam dummy
railroads that were using Ridgewood
Depot at Myrtle and Wyckoff Avenues
as the hub for their activities.
Several hundred men, primarily
Irish immigrants, were employed in
the area by the railroads as conductors,
horse car drivers, engineers on the
steam trains, offi ce workers, stablemen
and maintenance men on the equipment.
They wanted to live with their families
near where they were employed.
The nearest Roman Catholic churches
to Ridgewood were St. Leonard’s of
Port Maurice at Hamburg Avenue
(now Wilson Avenue) and Jeff erson
Street, which was founded in 1872, and
Our Lady of Lourdes at Broadway and
DeSales Place, founded the same year.
John Loughlin, Bishop of the Diocese
of Brooklyn which covered all of Long
Island (Kings, Queens and Suffolk
counties -- there was no Nassau County
in 1882) perceived the need for another
parish to be established in Ridgewood.
In May 1883, he announced that St.
Brigid Parish had been organized for
Ridgewood, with Father John McCloskey
as the pastor. He was a young man
who had been ordained in 1876. St.
Brigid was an Irish saint who lived in
the 7th century with the name selected
refl ecting the origins ofma ny of the
residents in the area, which was still
In June 1883, the cornerstone of
the church was laid with appropriate
ceremonies with newspapers, coins,
church documents and a list of public
offi cials placed in the box in the
cornerstone. Bishop Loughlin, in his
speech to the audience, said that St.
Brigid Parish would have a grand
opportunity for doing good, as it
was in a sparsely settled community
where children were growing up
in ignorance and vice, and it was to
educate and make better the coming
generation and to furnish a religious
home for the present, that inspired the
building of the church in the area.
As the population grew in the area,
so would the parish church, and it
would indeed become strong.
The new church was to cost $10,000,
with the foundation of brick and
stone, and the balance of the building
would be of wood frame construction.
It would be 50 feet wide, 76 feet
long and 35 feet high, and would
accommodate about 600 persons,
with the basement being used for a
Apparently, the new parish had
diffi culty in raising funds as the construction
of the church proceeded
slowly on Linden Street near St. Nicholas
Avenue. Finally, on Sunday, June
21, 1885, the new church was dedicated
by Bishop Loughlin.
In 1902, Father Patrick Farrelly of
St. Agnes Church in Greenport, Long
Island replaced Father Carroll as
pastor of St. Brigid. By 1906, he had
two assistants and there were 5,500
parishioners and 1,000 children attending
In 1909, Father Farrelly started construction
of a large school building on
Grove Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
The school opened the following year
with almost 400 students. The Sisters
Photo via PropertyShark
of Mercy accepted Father Farrelly’s
invitation to staff the school.
The parochial school was built at a
cost of $150,000 and was one of the largest
parochial schools, with a capacity of
1,600 pupils. The sisters who were living
in the school had a chapel, a community
room, a dormitory and a kitchen.
In early February 1914, Father
Farrelly died; services were held on
Feb. 5, 1914 at St. Brigid Church. The
crowds were so large that people were
required to maintain decorum. Distinguished
prelates and priests from all
over Long Island kept arriving until
over 100 were in the church.
Reprinted from the March 3, 1988
issue of the Ridgewood Times.
Editor’s Note: The second half of our
story of St. Brigid Church, which will
appear in next week’s issue, focuses
on the parish’s continued growth
under a new pastor; the construction
of its second church; and the arrival
of a pastor who continues to shape the
neighborhood’s growth to this day.
If you have memories of Our Neighborhood
that you’d like to share with
us, email The Old Timer at editorial@
ridgewoodtimes.com (subject: Our
Neighborhood, The Way it Was), or
write to The Old Timer, ℅ Ridgewood
Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY
11361. If you include photos, please
mark the envelope PHOTOS: DO NOT
BEND; all mailed pictures will be carefully
returned to you.
St. Brigid Church in Brooklyn, as shown in 2015.
The original St. Brigid Church as it appeared in the early 20th century.