simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Model for Decorum
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Friday, 30 May 2008

Model for Decorum

Gothic meets drugs, sex and rock and roll. Not such an unusual mix actually, it's just that we generally don't think gothic church. This place has actually been a neighborhood problem and has had a sordid history. It has been a night club since 1983, when it opened as The Limelight, owned by Peter Gatien and designed by Ari Bahat. Gatien owned a number of Limelight nightcubs - read about it here. And you can visit their website here.
The space benefits of course from the incredible architecture - huge rooms, soaring ceilings, stained glass widows and a labyrinth of chambers.
In 1996, club attendee Michael Alig was arrested and later convicted for the killing and dismemberment of Angel Melendez, a drug dealer based at The Limelight - you can read about Alig here. Opened and closed in the 1990s for drug trafficking, it was reincarnated in 2003 as the club Avalon.
The brownstone structure, at 47 W. 20th Street and 6th Avenue, was built in 1846 as the Church of the Holy Communion for an Episcopalian congregation. It was designed by renowned architect Richard Upjohn, cofounder and first president of the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Upjohn, a British immigrant, was most well known for his gothic revival churches. Trinity Church is one of his best known works.
This church building was saved in the 1960s when it became designated as a landmark. It was subsequently sold and used as a drug rehabilitation center.
It's not the idea of a church being converted to a den of debauchery that is so disappointing, it's the state of decay that graces the exterior. I thought the lone figure of an older woman eating her lunch on the steps of the church was an appropriate statement.
Its such a shame for an important historic structure to deteriorate this way. But then, a rock and roll club can't be expected to be a model for decorum ...


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