02 February 2010

The Ironwork of St. Agnes

It has been observed that South Brooklyn contains some of the most interesting and decorative ironwork in the City. The cast-iron fences, bannisters and gates on the various brownstones and churches are remarkably detailed and varied, if you take the time to notice.

Some of the most flamboyant ironwork in the neighborhood encircles the Church of St. Agnes on Hoyt Street, between Degraw and Sackett. The design includes a number of striking shapes, including fleur-de-lis (far below), crosses, quatrefoils (below), orbs (above) and what I believe are artistic renderings of the three nails (also far below), which symbolize the crucifixion.

The lamppost below is perhaps the most ornate piece of work outside the church. There were once several examples, but, as you can see far below, some of the heads have been lopped off.

This is actually the second church names after St. Agnes to stand on this spot. The first opened with great pomp and circumstance in 1888. It burned to the ground on July 2, 1901, when a bolt of lightening hit it. The present church was built in 1905 by Thomas Houghton, son-in-law of Patrick Charles Keely, who built about a million churches. I assume Houghton is semi-responsible for the ironwork. I can not find out who the actual ironworker was.

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