Closed: February 26, 2007
Wikipedia: Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
Alone in a seemingly abandoned city this morning, I trekked out early in the cold, snow still sticking to various areas of streets and sidewalks. I was headed towards two churches I wasn't sure existed any longer, and Our Lady Of Vilnius was one of them. Arriving at 32 Dominick street (the former site of the OLV rectory) I found the doors shut, the area lifeless, the building abandoned.
I needed further proof. Heading around the corner (and over the Holland Tunnel) to locate more of a church, I saw the steeples and was relieved to have found something.
There it was. A lonely church building. Desolate in the cold. A police office stood watch by his patrol car near the entrance of the Tunnel as I walked up to the dead doors of Our Lady of Vilnius, and I felt watched, suspicious.
I tried the old wooden doors. No go. The old cracked red paint should have been enough of a giveaway, but I continued. All three double doors were locked, shutting out the city and any parishioners from entrance.
As far as I could tell, this was a closed church. Closed by the diocese because of money - its sanctuary and mystery lost to us forever. I feel the need to post about it here, because it was one of the original churches on my list of 96. Had I visited it sooner, perhaps back at the latter part of 2007, I would have found it still open, fighting against its own closure. Now, it is dead to us, its light shut off, a beacon no more. Gone.
Following are a few links relating the news about the closing (should have read these a little closer before my visit:)
Information About the Closing
Save Our Lady of Vilnius NYC Online Petition
"Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC" Blog (a blog about OLV and other church closings)
Jeremiah's Vanishing New York
New York Times
The New York Observer - "Cardinal Egan Paints Himself an Unhappy Ending"