Clinton Hill Convent to Close

You may have noticed the fortress-like building on Willoughby Avenue near the Clinton Hill-Bed Stuy border and wondered what it was.  It's been a convent for nearly 150 years, and is now closing. The NY Times offered an interesting profile on it recently, including a photo slide show.  Sadly, the building isn't landmarked so there's no telling what will happen to it.  It's also sad to think about the remaining women there being split up.  I wish them well in their new homes.

This just in from the Society for Clinton Hill:

As you will see in the information below, the Sisters of Mercy Convent is soon to be closed and the property sold and possibly demolished. This property is one of 5 recommended for Individual Landmark status in our 2007 Cultural Resource Survey, which was submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in August 2007 and recommends an expansion of our landmark district. Our report is still under review by LPC and we are now asking LPC to address our request as soon as possible. In just the year and a half since we submitted our report, there have been losses to the fabric of our unique architectural community, including some of those especially unique properties which are recommended for consideration as "Individual Landmarks." The loss of this intact nineteenth-century religious complex to yet more "luxury condos" would be a sad thing for our neighborhood on many levels. We would much prefer to see this historic religious compound preserved and put to adaptive re-use.

We hope you will help us save the Sisters of Mercy Convent!

The Sisters of Mercy Convent is located in Clinton Hill at 237 Willoughby Avenue between Classon Avenue and Taafe Place. The buildings represent an intact nineteenth-century convent complex. The motherhouse on the property was designed by Brooklyn resident Patrick C. Keely, the most important Catholic-church architect in America in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Sisters of Mercy first came to Brooklyn in 1855 and moved into the Willoughby Avenue building in November 1862. A substantial addition, St. Francis of Assisium Female Orphan Asylum, was built in 1883.  By 1891 there were 510 girls in residence.  Many were taught at St. Francis Industrial School at Kent and Willoughby Avenues.

Now with dwindling numbers and an estimated $20 million in needed repairs, the convent is closing. This complex is an important part of Clinton Hill and Brooklyn's history. Religious institutions across the city are being demolished and with their loss, neighborhoods are losing significant community anchors. The Sisters of Mercy Convent should not be demolished and can be adapted into any number of uses including housing, educational facilities, retail, office, medical and/or community facilities, including affordable housing.

The petition is sponsored by the Society for Clinton Hill and our friends, the Historic Districts Council.

Please use the link below to sign our on-line petition to LPC.