The Roman Catholic Community of
Most Holy Trinity – St. Mary

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

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 Our Neighborhood: East Williamsburg

 


Williamsburg Brooklyn today can be divided into three distinct areas:  The North Side, The South Side and East Williamsburg.  Historically, East Williamsburg is the newest section of the area (the two older sections were developed sometime after 1800 while development in East Williamsburg did not begin to appear on the maps until at least the 1830s).  Today most of East Williamsburg is located within Zip Code 11206 while a portion of the neighborhood is located within Zip Code 11211.  The following is a bit of our neighborhood's history and some current-day images of some of the places around us.


 

The Map of Our Neighborhood:  East Williamsburg

Go to the Yahoo map showing Trinity's location
We are located at 138 Montrose Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11206

           The neighborhood in which we are located has always been home to immigrant people; for many years our immediate vicinity was populated by German speaking Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish people and was colloquially known as "Germantown" or "Dutchtown."   Another area of East Williamsburg within a very close distance was called "Irish Town" for similar reasons.  After the heyday of the German and Irish presence in Williamsburg, more diverse ethnic communities settled in the area.  For a significant part of its history, especially during the mid-twentieth century, the neighborhood was home to many Italian-Americans.   It has also been and is now home to those who have immigrated from other parts of Europe and from Asia; it is home to African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Mexicans and people from other Spanish-speaking countries.  In recent years the neighborhood has seen the arrival of people from Poland, one of the newest immigrant communities to settle here.  Looking to the future, it is evident that our neighborhood continues to attract a diversified community of people, the newest of whom are known as "young urban professionals" and  "hipsters." 

 

 

          According to historical accounts, the first Most Holy Trinity Church was built by Father John Stephen Raffeiner in 1841 "in the middle of a cornfield at the top of a small hill."  He had purchased a section of a farm that had been owned by Abraham Meserole (for whom nearby Meserole Street is named).  The original neighborhood that grew in the area was populated mostly by German speaking people who had immigrated to New York from Germany, Austria and other parts of German speaking Europe.  In those days the second largest population of people were of Irish descent.  The immediate neighborhood in which Most Holy Trinity, and nearby St. Mary's, were located was part of the village of  Williamsburgh (originally spelled with an "h" at the end of the word).  Williamsburgh had been incorporated as a village in 1827, received its own charter as an independent city in 1852 and then was absorbed by the City of Brooklyn in 1855 (by that point, Williamsburg was spelled without the "h"); as part of Brooklyn, Williamsburg was consolidated with the area known as Bushwick and called "the Eastern District."  The entire area, as part of Brooklyn, was later absorbed by the City of New York in 1889.  Today the neighborhood is part of Community Board #1 which comprises both Greenpoint and all of Williamsburg.

Construction of the first church, a simple frame structure, began in July of 1841.  The first church stood in the middle of a corn field; on the spot where the present, and third structure stands today.  When the church was constructed, Montrose Avenue, then just a dirt road, had not yet been given its name.  Looking around the neighborhood today, a densely populated urban area, it is hard to imagine its rural and agricultural past.

 


Click here to read more about the history of our parish and its surrounding area on the "history" page of our web site.

Click here to go to an explanation of the history of Williamsburg and an explanation of local street names.


Our Neighborhood as it Appears Today:
 

This is how our towers appear as they stand over our neighborhood.  This view is looking south from Manhattan Avenue between Maujer and Scholes Street.

This is another view of our great church looking east from the ball field in Sternberg Park (known to many by it former name, Lindsay Park).

Sternberg Park (formerly known as Lindsay Park)

The children's playground in Sternberg Park (Lindsay Park) was completely renovated and reopened in 2008.  The park, while small compared to others in the city, is an oasis within our heavily populated area.  The towers of the church are barely visible through the trees in this photo (look to the right of center).

The ball field in Sternberg Park (Lindsay Park) was completely renovated and given a layer of artificial turf in 2005-06.  It is the scene of both little league and adult softball games throughout the spring, summer and autumn.  In the background are two towers of the Lindsey Houses, co-op style apartments built in the 1960s.
 

Sternberg Park is just a little over four acres in size.  It was originally called "Williamsburg Park" until 1925 when it was renamed "Lindsay Park" after a Brooklyn Congressman; the park was renamed again in 1990 in order to honor Frances Hamburger Sternberg (1920-1990).  She had been a community activist in the area and at one time was the chairperson of the "Friends of Lindsay Park Committee."  In the 1960s, when the Lindsay Houses were built, the park was more than doubled in size as part of the massive housing project and urban renewal plan.

This is another view of the children's playground in the park.  The Lindsay Park Houses can be seen in the background.

 

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The Subways

Above is the entrance to the Montrose Avenue stop on the "L" subway line.  It is located at the corner of Montrose  and Bushwick Avenues, just two and a half blocks from the front door of the church.  To the right is the entrance to the Lorimer Street stop on the "J" and "M" elevated lines.  It is located at the corner of Broadway and Lorimer Street, just four and half blocks from the church.  Many of the people who live in our neighborhood and who belong to our parish work or go to school in Manhattan (or "in the city" as people around here like say),  just fifteen minutes away by either train.

 

Above is the entrance to the Broadway stop on the "G" subway line.  It is located at the corner of Broadway  and Union Avenue, just five blocks from the front door of the church.  This subway line is the only one that does not go into Manhattan, rather it connects Brooklyn and Queens.  Typical subway trains are eight cars long, but the "G" train, because it does not have a high volume of passengers, usually has only four cars.  Some people call the "G" train the "stepchild" of the subway system.

 

SUBWAYS:  Most Holy Trinity -- St. Mary is conveniently located near three subway lines: the "L", the "J" & "M" and the "G"

BUSSES:  Most Holy Trinity --  St. Mary is conveniently located on three M.T.A. bus lines: the “B60”, the “B43” and the “B48”  Additional M.T.A. bus lines are nearby as well.

 

 

Click here to go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website

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The Williamsburg Houses

This historical marker, located near the administrative offices of the Williamsburg Houses on Maujer Street, reads:  "The Williamsburg Houses were built by the Federal Public Works Administration and the New York City Housing Authority in 1935-38.  Designed by a team led by architects Richmond H. Shreve and William Lescaze, the Swill born architect who helped introduce European-style modern architecture in the United States, the twenty-three acre complex is notable for its generous communal spaces and human scale, oriented to the sun and prevailing winds, the twenty free-standing buildings are turned at fifteen degree angles to the street grid.  The facades are distinguished from earlier public housing developments by their use of light colored brick and concrete, with multiple entrances enlivened by dark blue tile and projecting stainless steel canopies.  During the late 1990s, the New York City Housing Authority undertook a sensitive and award-winning restoration of the buildings.  New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation  2003.

The Williamsburg Houses, some of the oldest, yet perhaps most enlightened public housing projects ever constructed in the United States, are home to many of our parishioners.  This photo was taken looking northeast at the corner of Leonard and Scholes Streets.

 

 

 

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New Construction: A Changing Neighborhood

It seems that on every street and around every corner there is a brand new building being constructed in our neighborhood.  This has dramatically altered the size of our local population and has further diversified the type of peoples who live here.  In this photo looking south and taken on Scholes Street between Graham and Manhattan Avenues you can see just the very tops of our two towers, now obscured by these new buildings.
 

This vacant lot on Bushwick Avenue between Montrose Avenue and Meserole Street seems to be one of the last in the neighborhood.  As you can see, they are preparing to excavate the property for the construction of yet another new building.

This building is being constructed on the corner of Leonard and Stagg Street.

These brand new buildings are on the southeast corner of Leonard and Meserole Streets.

Local Businesses

Nearby Grand Street is home to many flourishing businesses.  Graham Avenue also is home to many businesses.  Just about anything you could need, from food to health care to furniture to banking, can be found in our neighborhood.
 

This McDonald's Restaurant is located on Broadway at Whipple Street.  In this photo, the "J" train can be seen passing on the elevated tracks above Broadway .

A Food Bazaar supermarket is located just a few blocks away from the church.  In this view, looking north from the supermarket's parking lot, you can see part of one of the Lindsay buildings and the top of our towers (just above the AR in the word bazaar).
 

 

 

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Florama Hardware Store, located at the corner of Graham Avenue and Seigel Street, has been a fixture in our neighborhood for many years.  Whenever we need a key made, a new tool or some paint we run to Florama! 
 

Our neighborhood is home to many "99 Cent" stores.  This one is located at the corner of Broadway and Union Avenue.  It is hard to visit these stores without picking up a few bargain items.
 

This Walgreens Drug store is located on Union Avenue between Meserole Street and Montrose Avenue.

Danny's Cafe, located near the corner of Bushwick  and Montrose Avenues, is a nice little Italian restaurant; it is associated with Danny's Pizzeria located right next door.  There is nothing better than New York style pizza found at Danny's and in numerous pizza shops and restaurants located in our vicinity.

On the corner, just up the street from our church, is El Brillante Restaurant.  They, like many other "ethnic" restaurants in our neighborhood, serve food typically served in Latin America and the Caribbean.
 

 

 

Pfizer Inc., one of the worlds largest pharmaceutical companies, was founded in our neighborhood in 1849 by two German speaking Pfizer cousins.  This building, located on Flushing Avenue between Tomkins and Marcy Avenues, is very close to the original location of the company.  The Pfizer company has announced that this location will soon be closed.

The Johan Food Corp (pictured to the left) is one of the many "bodegas" located in our neighborhood.  It is not unusual to hear Spanish music playing in these wonderful neighborhood gathering spots.

Public Services and Utilities

City owned Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, simply known to the locals as "Woodhull Hospital" is an enormous building that dominates the neighborhood's landscape. It is located at the intersections Flushing Avenue and Broadway. The building's construction was completed in 1978, however because of bureaucratic mishaps it sat empty until it opened until 1982.
 

The Verizon Building, located at the corner of Lorimer and Meserole Streets, is perhaps the most unattractive "modern" building in our neighborhood.  This building could easily be mistaken for a jail house.  Question:  Why don't telephone buildings have windows?

 

Local Schools

This high school building, that opened in 1981, was formerly known as the Eastern District High School (which officially closed in 1995); it now houses three distinct high schools: the High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology,  The High School for Legal Studies and another known as Progress High School.  Together the schools are known as "the Grand Street Campus."  
 

This enormous public school building, known as Ten Eyck School/Public School 196, is located on Bushwick Avenue between Scholes and Meserole Streets.  Our neighborhood is served by numerous public schools, many of which are housed in grand old buildings such as this one.

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Other Notable Buildings and Locations

This is the local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the "Bushwick Branch," which is located at 340 Bushwick Avenue"   This building, a "Carnegie library" first opened in 1908.  There are thousands of Carnegie libraries throughout our country; they were built through the generosity of the wealthy businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  Visible behind the library is the twenty story tower of the Mayor John F. Hylan Housing project; to the right is one of the low rise buildings of the Borinquen Plaza Housing project. 
 

The Borinquen Plaza Housing project consists of fourteen buildings spread throughout the neighborhood.  Ten of the buildings are located between Graham and Bushwick Avenues to the west and east, and between Humboldt and Seigel Streets to the north and south.  The four buildings located to the west  of Graham Avenue (between Seigel and Varet Streets) have been knick-named "little Borinquen;" perhaps they have this name because they are located a few blocks away from the majority of the other buildings of the project.

The Moore Street Retail Market, known locally as "La Marqueta" was dedicated by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in July of 1941.  Recently it has been threatened with closure, as the city has hoped to build "affordable housing" on the site.  Community activists have worked hard to keep it open and for now it seems like they have succeeded.
 

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There are many different kinds of restaurants in our neighborhood.  In addition to a few new places that offer table service in a more upscale setting, we have a great selection of "ethnic" food and "comidas tipicas."  We have places that serve Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, and others that serve typical "American" food such as hamburgers and pizza.  Like any other urban area in the world, we also have a good variety of Chinese take out places.  This one, "Nine Dragons" is located at 83 Humboldt Street (between Moore and Seigel Streets).  General Tso chicken anyone?

 

Louis Tommaso Funeral Home is located at 264 Bushwick Avenue (on the corner between Johnson and Montrose Avenues).  According to their advertisement on the back of our parish bulletin, they have been "serving the community for 80 years."  Many families of our parish have used the services of Tommaso Funeral home when their loved ones have passed away.  Notice the brand new apartment building to the right of the funeral home; not long ago, there was one story garage-type building located in that place.   
 

Like any other neighborhood in New York City and Brooklyn, we would not be complete without the constant presence of ice cream trucks passing up and down our streets.  These two trucks pulled up outside of P.S. 250 just before dismissal on a beautiful September afternoon.  No doubt, quite a few parents would soon be cajoled into treating their children to an after-school snack.

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Nearby Catholic Churches

Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei Church, located at 225 Siegel Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206, was established in 1900 and originally ministered to people of Italian decent; it is our closest neighboring parish.  There are very warm ties between our two congregations.  The priests at "Pompei," as the parish is commonly called, are of the Society of Catholic Apostolate, (a Catholic Order of brothers and priests known as the "Pallotines".  Our parish and Pompei are the only parishes in Williamsburg served by men of religious communities; the clergy of the two parishes have always had a very friendly and warm rapport with one another.

 

All Saints Church, located at 115 Throop Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206, was established in 1866; as a "daughter" parish of Most Holy Trinity, All Saints originally ministered to German speaking people.

Transfiguration Church, located at 263 Marcy Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, was established in 1874.  The parish had a largely Irish population in its earliest days.

St. Mary's Church, formerly located at the corner of Leonard and Maujer Streets (five blocks away from Most Holy Trinity Church), was a good neighbor to Most Holy Trinity for more than one hundred and fifty years.  This photo was taken in September of 2005.  The two parishes merged under the name "Most Holy Trinity--St. Mary" in September of 2007.  This building is slated to be demolished.

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Neighboring Protestant Churches

El Eden Asemblea de Dios (Eden Assembly of God) literally falls under the shadows of our towers.  The church is located on Montrose Avenue between Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street.

St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church (of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) is located at 195 Maujer St. Brooklyn, NY 11206 (between Humboldt Street and Bushwick Avenue).  The current pastor is Rev. Jonathan Priest.  The congregation and its pastor are very welcoming to visitors.  They have a nice web site that can be found at: http://www.sjebrooklyn.org/
 

 

The Love Chapel, located at 167 Graham Avenue (between Montrose Avenue and Meserole Street), is housed in an old movie theatre.  The building, formerly known as "The Rainbow Theatre," was affiliated with film producers RKO Radio Pictures Inc.,  Lately it appears the the church has been closed as there are "For Rent" signs on the front of the building.  For more information and discussion about the Rainbow Theatre, visit this site: http://cinematreasures.org/theater/6055/.
 

The Little Zion Baptist Church is located on Scholes Street between Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street.  This church ministers to a largely African-American congregation.  Interesting to note is that the church is housed in a former Jewish synagogue; in the basement of the church is the former synagogue's mikvah, a small pool that was used for ritual purification.  The church now uses the mikvah for its baptism rituals.

 

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Accion en Cristo Church is locate on Leonard Street just around the corner from Little Zion Baptist Church. 

The Iglesia Pentecostal El Buen Pastor is located on Moore Street between Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street. 

Both of these churches are also housed in former synagogues.


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The Salon del Reino de los Testigos de Jehova (pictured above) is located on the corner of Maujer Street and Union Avenue

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (pictured to the left) is located on Humboldt Street between Graham and Manhattan Avenues.  This building once housed the "Daughters of Zion" as indicated by the inscription above the top floor windows.

It seems that Pentecostal churches are sometimes located practically right next to each other.  There are two Pentecostal churches located at two ends of the same block on Union Avenue between Stagg and Scholes Streets.

The Iglesia Pentecostal Abrigo del Altisimo is pictured above.  It is on the corner of Union Avenue and Stagg Street.

The Iglesia Pentecostal Misionera is pictured to the right (this church building used to house St. Peter's Evangelical German Church).  It is on the corner of Union Avenue and Scholes Street.
 

 

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The Mt. Calvary FBH Church is located on Varet Street just east of Bushwick Avenue.  "FBH" stands for "Fire Baptized Holiness."


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In our neighborhood there are very many small churches located in commercial spaces on the first levels of apartment buildings (some call them "store-front churches").  The Primera Iglesia Getsemani, located at the corner of Scholes Street and Graham Avenue, is one of these kind of churches.  The pastor of this church, Bishop Julio Mercado, is the current president of the 90th Precinct Clergy Coalition.

 

 

 

 

This collage of photos shows just some of the small churches that can be found in our neighborhood.  They are:  Iglesia Bautista (a small Baptist church on Montrose Avenue), Iglesia de Dios Evangelica (on Meserole Street), Iglesia Evangelica Samaria (at the corner of Montrose and Manhattan), Iglesia Pentecostal Nazaret (on Manhattan Avenue), Iglesia Cruzada Evangelica (at the corner of Meserole and Bushwick Avenue), Iglesia Pentecostal Rosa de Saron (on Humboldt Street between Johnson and Montrose Avenues), Iglesia de Dios, Inc. (on Manhattan Avenue), Iglesia Valle de Jesus (on Meserole Street), Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, Inc., El Lirio de los Valles (on Manhattan Avenue),  and Iglesia de Dios de Williamsburgh (on Johnson Avenue)  Notice the last church listed spells Williamsburgh with the "h."

Apparently, those who live in our neighborhood are very spiritual people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And at all times our majestic towers keep a solemn vigil over our wonderful neighborhood!

 

 

 


We hope you enjoyed this visit to our neighborhood.  Please come and visit us in person sometime.  You will always be welcomed by the people of the parish of Most Holy Trinity--St. Mary.


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