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Church of the Holy Innocents (Albany, New York) facts for kids

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Church of the Holy Innocents
An ivy-covered building with a pointed roof and a small green dome with a cross seen from across a street, with a car parked in front. There is a chainlink fence around it and the ground slopes downwards towards its rear. A street sign at the corner reads "Colonie" and "North Pearl".
North profile and east elevation, 2011
Church of the Holy Innocents (Albany, New York) is located in New York
Church of the Holy Innocents (Albany, New York)
Location in New York
Church of the Holy Innocents (Albany, New York) is located in the United States
Church of the Holy Innocents (Albany, New York)
Location in the United States
Location Albany, NY
Area less than one acre
Built 1850
Architect Frank Wills; Wollett & Ogden
Architectural style Gothic Revival
NRHP reference No. 78001836
Added to NRHP January 31, 1978

The former Church of the Holy Innocents, later known as Church of the Nativity of our Virgin Lady, was originally an Episcopal church located on North Pearl Street (New York State Route 32) in Albany, New York, United States. It and an adjacent chapel were built in the mid-19th century in an early Gothic Revival style designed by Frank Wills. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

A small garden surrounding the church and chapel gives it the feel of an English country parish church despite its urban surroundings. Its interior has several stained glass windows designed by John Bolton, brother of William Jay Bolton. A century after its construction the Episcopal congregation moved to a newer church and sold it to a Russian Orthodox church, which renamed it and added an onion dome. They have subsequently moved out and the building remains vacant.


The church and chapel complex is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of North Pearl and Colonie Street, roughly one half-mile (1 km) north of downtown Albany and a few blocks east of the Arbor Hill neighborhood. It is located at the point where the terrain, flat all the way to the Hudson River one-quarter mile (500 m) away, starts rising to the west, creating a dropoff at the east end of the property. The surrounding neighborhood is mostly residential, showing the varied effects of past urban renewal programs.

Across Colonie, to the north, is a large vacant lot and some unused railroad tracks. To the south are some other older commercial and residential buildings. A pair of modern high-rise apartment buildings, with a complex of small, newer ones to their north, are across North Pearl to the west.

Some other properties listed on the Register are nearby. The small Broadway–Livingston Avenue Historic District, is to the east and southeast, with the Broadway Row a block to the south of it. A block to the southwest is the northern end of the Arbor Hill Historic District–Ten Broeck Triangle and one of its contributing properties, Ten Broeck Mansion.

The church and chapel are connected by a small hyphen. Both buildings are "T"-shaped two-and-a-half-story structures built of coursed rubble masonry. They are trimmed in Portland stone and topped by steeply pitched slate covered gable roofs. The main church building is currently covered with ivy, obscuring the view of most of its decorative features. At the top of the front is a green onion dome topped with an Orthodox cross.

Underneath that vegetation on the west (front) facade are heavy corner buttresses, an arched central entrance, four lancet windows on the second story and a single triangular window in the gable. The nave is five bays long, with an additional entrance at the northeast. A smaller projecting gable on the east with two small shed-roofed wings is the chancel.

Inside the church's decor is restrained. Wooden wainscoting runs along the lower portion of the walls. Above there is a small wooden gallery and a beamed ceiling. The original pews have been removed and chairs line the sides. Screens and icons block the view of the altar. A modern counter is next to the entrance. The stained glass and grisaille windows remain.

The chapel is a similar, smaller building. The dropoff in the terrain exposes its brick basement in the rear. The wall above it is also brick. Inside, it too has partitions, screens and icons, but it has been extensively renovated. The floor is linoleum and the ceiling has had skylights added.

On May 4, 2015, a section of the church collapsed. In December 2016 a developer purchased the church, saving it from possible demolition. The developer reportedly planned to stabilize the structure and eventually open it as a community center or restaurant. In 2019, as no renovations appeared to have taken place, the Historic Albany Foundation placed it on their “Dirty Dozen” list of Albany’s most endangered historic structures.

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