At the corner of Van Ness and Broadway is a beautiful church, St. Brigid’s. The parish was established in 1863, construction of this building was begun in 1900. Back then the builders, as well as the congregation, were mostly Irish immigrants. Though parts of the exterior were made from recycled curbstones, no expense was spared on the stonework, metalwork, and stained glass.
Way up on the buiding, in front, is a sculpture of St. Brigid flanked by the Twelve Apostles. When famed Irish sculptor Seamus Murphy carved the faces of the Twelve Apostles, his models were the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising, a rebellion in Ireland against British rule. Unfortunately they are so high up I wasn’t able to get a good picture of them.
St Brigid’s was closed in 1994 by the archdiocese as a cost-saving measure because of declining attendance, repair costs for damage caused by the earthquake in 1989, and the need to pay court judgments resulting from the misbehavior of priests. In 2005 the Archdiocese sold the church to the Academy of Art Universty for $3.7 million. After a seismic restoration forecast showed that $7 million was needed to shore up the church building, the academy petitioned the City of San Francisco to remove the church from the historic landmark registry to proceed with restoration of the building. Several parishioners, who wanted to preserve St. Brigid Church, petitioned the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board to prevent the academy from making changes to the church’s exterior and interior features and preserve the whole of the church as a historic landmark.
During discussions about the landmark designation for St. Brigid Church, the academy agreed with the former parishioners that the exterior of the church should be preserved in its present form, although the academy continued to disagree with them regarding landmark status for the church’s interior. According to the academy, “landmark status for the interior was never part of the plan,” and it was caught in the middle of a dispute between the former parishioners and the Catholic Church over the closing and sale of St. Brigid Church. (Thanks Wikipedia and other internet sources- hope THIS one’s accurate).