Elijah is an Amazon best-selling author, blogger, previous columnist for an award-winning blog, past creative editor, socialite and traveler
When I was 16 or 17 years old, I had photographs of me taken on a train track near Albany Central Warehouse (an abandoned place I covered in one of my articles. Check the link below). I passed by an abandoned strip of houses and on the top of the hill stood the sad remains of a once beautiful church: The Church of the Holy Innocents. I had no idea what the name of the church was or it’s history, and I didn’t know any of these details until recently... five years later. I didn’t want to venture inside, it was broad daylight and I didn’t want to get caught.
When I first entered the church, it was with a group of friends filming an artistic project. There wasn’t much inside; the bricks were crumbling, rusted metal, but there was a large amount of beautiful ivy that coiled around the church’s architecture. There allegedly is a giant (still working) organ player inside. Unfortunately with many abandoned places, there can be homeless people that pose a danger. A homeless man came down the stairs and we booked it before getting to see the organ player.
Return To The Church Of The Holy Innocents
Over three years later I returned to The Church of the Holy Innocents, armed with my Canon camera, and my artistic photographer friend. One of the friends included in the artistic project of 2017 passed away tragically a year before revisiting the church. It was incredible (yet sad) to visit a place with such fond memories of a late friend. Sadly, I still could not get into the room with the organ player: there were cameras watching us.
The Church of the Holy Innocents was built in 1850 and was designed by architect Frank Willis. Architecturally the church is Gothic Revival and served as an episcopal church before it was renamed the Church of the Nativity of our Virgin Lady. All of the stained glass windows were designed and made by John Bolton, the younger brother of William Jay Bolton who was the first person to manufacture stained glass in the U.S.. It was later sold and turned into a Russian Orthodox church; they added an onion dome to the top of the church ( a classic and common addition to Orthodox churches and Russian architecture). It is currently on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the Historic Albany Foundation has named it one of it's most endangered historical buildings.
As with many abandoned places, pipe dreams circle around them, produced by overly-ambitious investors (mostly young with unrealistic ideas) about turning them into restaurants, parks, etc.. Similar to Albany Central Warehouse, an abandoned warehouse right across the train tracks from the Church of the Holy Innocents, a foolish and out there investor bought it in hopes of turning it into a rooftop restaurant. A project like this would cost millions, and have you seen the place? It is hard NOT to see the place, it is an incredibly damaged eyesore with no hopes of restoration. There is so much fire damage that the place is unsalvageable. Unsurprisingly, the pipedream never came to fruition, the eyesore still sits there years later with no progress, and no taxes paid on it by the hopeful new owner.
The same thing is to be said for the Church of the Holy Innocents: an investor bought it in hopes of turning it into a restaurant, but that never happened. His purchase of the property, however, did save the church from being demolished.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Elijah DeVivo