Some East Villagers, as they're strode up Lafayette Street, may have noticed this someone grandish, red-brick back end of a building hiding behind an unlovely parking garage on Great Jones.
If you think it looks like it was once part of something important, it was. The arched structure was long ago the aspe of an old neo-Gothic church known as the Mission Chapel of the Immaculate Virgin. It was founded by the Rev. Father John. C. Drumgoole.
Drumgoole was apparently a remarkable fellow. For 21 years, he was the Janitor and Sexton for St. Mary's Church, where he let many poor children living on the streets use the basement for shelter. He trained them as altar boys and educated them. Drumgoole was ordained in 1868 and jot a job at his old employer, St. Mary's. In 1871, he took control St. Vincent’s Home for Homeless Boys of All Occupations, calling it "Newboys Home." Soon it was full of boys paying 25 cents a night for lodging and board.
In 1881, Drumgoole established the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin for the Protection of Homeless and Destitute Children, a then-humongous, 10-story building at Great Jones and Lafayette. It has classrooms and libraries on the 2nd floor, living quarters were on the upper floors and the 1st rooftop playground in New York. Again, 25 cents was the fare.
And he kept on. In 1882, he purchased a 138-acre farm off Raritan Bay on the southern tip of Staten Island. It was named Mount Loretto. It was home to hundreds of kids and was a working farm. 1,000 quarts of milk were produced daily. The barn housed 300 head of cattle and 50 horses, and the pen kept 600 pigs. Drumgoole died in 1888. Apparently, a statue was erected in 1894. Who knows where that is.
In the late 19th century, the congregation broke up and the Great Jones church building was sold. Whoever bought it redid the front for commercial purposes, but left the back as is. And there it remains today, the Mission Chapel of the Immaculate Parking Garage.