St. Augustine: Savior or Bringer of Death

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ARCHITECHTURE 

St. Augustine is a Church located at 166 6th avenue in the bustling downtown Brooklyn. There are many churches in the area but I can assure you that St. Augustine has a lot of great gothic qualities. When I first came upon this church, I thought it was a castle at first because it is really tall and rather large in size with several pointed roofs and made out of stone. Even the dingy old color of the stone make it feel more out of touch with the surrounding area. Not to mention the colossal doors all around that make you feel significantly small when walking through them. Having the dead trees around gives it a spooky look as if you shouldn’t come close to the place.

This churches has key gothic architecture to it such as numerous flying buttresses, vaults, pointed arches, and tall stained glass windows. There are also a few cherubs’ faces on the outside walls. Inside the church is just as gothic as the outside. Inside is all white with gold accents. It consists of high ribbed vaults ceilings, more flying buttresses, old chandeliers and several religious statues.

From the book, Saint Augustine Church, guide to the catholic church of saint Augustine Brooklyn, New York. Photography by Monte Allen and written by Robert J. Whelan.

From the book, Saint Augustine Church, guide to the catholic church of saint Augustine Brooklyn, New York. Photography by Monte Allen and written by Robert J. Whelan.

St. Augustine can be compared to the castle in Castle of Otranto since it does take place in well a gothic castle. So seeing the church it immediately reminded me of the book and how the castle would be portrayed as.

History of the Church: gothic from the beginning
From the book, Saint Augustine Church, guide to the catholic church of saint Augustine Brooklyn, New York. Photography by Monte Allen and written by Robert J. Whelan.

From the book, Saint Augustine Church, guide to the catholic church of saint Augustine Brooklyn, New York. Photography by Monte Allen and written by Robert J. Whelan. The Church when after it was first built in the 19th century.

Fitting to its gothic atmosphere, this church also bares an interesting history of itself. Purchased by Reverend Edward W. McCarty as vacant lots, he announced an architectural contest in 1887 for the construction of the church. Of the 10 entrees from prominent firms, one of them won with their 14th century English gothic design. So even when it was first built, it was conceived as an old castle-like building as its construction started in 1888.

A school was built in and open in 1895, adjoined to the church and known as the St. Augustine Academy. In December 16, 1960, an event that no one foresaw occurred. 2 planes, a United Airlines plane and a TWA aircraft, collided into each other over Staten Island. The United Airlines plane narrowly missed the church, crashing a block away killing 6 people on the ground and all 128 of its passengers. Not only people attending the church but also 1,500 students from the Augustine Academy were spared from possible deaths and the destruction of the church.

Statue of Gabriel

From the book, Saint Augustine Church, guide to the catholic church of saint Augustine Brooklyn, New York. Photography by Monte Allen and written by Robert J. Whelan.

It is said by those people that the copper statue of Gabriel, standing on the eastern apse and holding his horn, protect the church, school, and the occupants inside. Could this be possible that the stature came to life to use its powers to do so or perhaps, angel channeled their power through the statue and church as a whole to steer the crash away?
This related to Sigmund Freud’s works on the uncanny as it refers the strange and mysterious, which is fitting for a statue that has a power to protect the people under it from possible doom. Also similar to the events in The Castle of Otranto such as the Alfonso the good, the original owner of the castle, coming out of his painting to confront Manfred or the giant helmet falling on Manfred’s son which is belonged to a statue of Alfonso inside the castle.

THEORETICAL CONTEXTS
St. Augustine _ Creepy
The Uncanny is something that arouses dread and horror. When we think of a church we think of light, prayer, forgiveness, a close relation to a deity, innocence. It is very odd that most churches tend to follow a gothic style of architecture.

“As we wound on our endless way, and the sun sank lower and lower behind us, the shadows of the evening began to creep round us….By the roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves.” – Dracula, Bram Stoker

The architecture of the church itself makes the surrounding areas so much creepier that people have to cross themselves in order for respect to the church and as a blessing to them that nothing bad happens to them.
The Sublime inspires awe, an emotional understanding that goes beyond rational thought. For this theoretical concept I would like to turn to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

‚ÄúThat night I had come to the fatal cross roads. Had I approached my discovery in a more noble spirit, had I risked the experiment while under the empire of generous or pious aspirations, all must have been otherwise, and from these agonies of death and birth, I had come forth an angel instead of a fiend.” –¬†The Strange Case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Lewis Stevenson

This paragraph stands out because when you go inside a church at least for some people a new person comes alive inside of them, a person filled with hope and love. This is the one place where some find refuge from the ugliness of the outside world. That is how they leave the church with renewed purpose and the will to keep going.
Written by: Harold A. Fachin, Charyssa Morgan and Aneita Torres

YMCA Park Slope Armory

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Are you looking for a place to have fun? You should go to the YMCA Park Slope Armory. Wait… When you arrive there its a huge building. YMCA usually associates with fun and promotes activities with people but in this huge castle like building? Today me and my classmates wandered around and this huge armory caught our attention and we decided to choose this for our research.

castle black and white

When we first saw this huge building we doubled checked and made sure we were at the right place on google maps it told us YMCA Park Slope Armory which we looked at this huge building right in front of us and we couldn’t believe that this was an YMCA place which YMCA places usually promotes fun with kids and other stuff, however when you look at this huge building it seems slightly off.

History of the Armory.

The YMCA Park Slope Armory was built in the Late Victorian Era. It was built in 1893. The original name for this building was called the 14th Regiment Armory, but nicknames are given to it which were called Eighth Avenue Armory and the Park Slope Armory. Originally this building was built for the New York State Militia. The Armory was designed by William Mundell who decided to built this like a medieval military structure in Europe. The building itself was taken over in 1980 by CAMBA a non-profit organization who used it to operate for Women’s Shelters. In 2007 the armory was rebuilt into a sports complex. The armory became an landmark in 1998.

Gothic Architectural

The armory itself can be decided as a Gothic Architectural because the designer himself William Mundell built the armory like a military structure. It was also built in the style of the Late Victorian era. However even if it was built like that we found other evidence that indicate that it is Gothic.

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The windows themselves are Gothic because the side of the armory shows that it’s surrounded by metal bars, but when you see the entrance itself the windows aren’t barred at all. In the photos you can see the fences surrounding it with the pointy tip on it. Another¬†example the building itself is made out of bricks and cement. The parapets show that the armory is like a castle.The windows and the fences show that they don’t want anyone in, but with the windows on the side blocked off if you go in you can’t leave. The armory is similar to a castle although the creator built it like one. The other Gothic Architecture in the photo shows how the window style makes it Gothic architecture. Mostly the way the windows look from the entrance are very similar to the ones in Cathedral. The way they made the building is also Gothic architecture. They made one building taller than the other one typically in Gothic architecture they have several of buildings and some buildings aren’t exactly the same height one is built completely different. The building style is another example of Gothic architecture. The entire armory is Gothic architecture because of how it’s built like a castle, The fences that surround the entrance some cathedrals have it, the windows are the similar style to other places like a cathedral, and lastly the parapets on top are usually on castles which associates itself with Gothic architecture. The entire building shows the Gothic architecture due to its unique style of building and in the modern day no buildings really look like that.

Theoretical Concept and Literary Text.

The Theoretical Concept that applies to this castle is the uncanny. When you arrive at the entrance its all open arms with one entrance you see the fences around it. However when you walk around the building you see that the windows itself is barred. The fences themselves have the a pointy tip which represents a sharp object. If you didn’t know that it was the YMCA Park Slope Armory you would ask why is there a castle in the middle of this area and the size is different from, the house close to it. When you look at the building from a distance you realize it could be something scary inside because of the windows being barred on the side which is strange but the entrance windows aren’t barred at all and there is only one entrance.

The literary text that our Gothic space can be related to many texts.¬†The windows with the metal bars could be viewed as being trapped like Jonathan from “Dracula” by Bram Stoker who finds himself as the prisoner in Dracula‚Äôs castle. One of the quotes from Dracula says¬†“But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further:doors, doors, doors everywhere and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. The castle is a veritable prison, I am a Prisoner!” Another quote that relates is how Jonathan calls it a castle where the YMCA Park Slope Design was designed medieval times.¬†“The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything.” Lastly when Jonathan is inside the castle he hasn’t seen the daylight he says ” I must have been asleep, for certainly if I had been fully awake I must have noticed the approach to such a remarkable place. In the gloom the courtyard looked of considerable size, and as several dark ways led from it under great round arches it perhaps seemed bigger than it really is. I have not yet been able to see it by daylight……” The quote can be compared although size wise the armory isn’t as big being inside would block you off from the¬†daylight.

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St. Ann’s Warehouse

Gothic it pic

One day while touring the Brooklyn Bridge, Me and my classmates came across a building that seemed out of place. It was located under the Bridge and lay on water St. It was divided in to two parts, one part a garden/courtyard and the other half seemed like a warehouse. It looked like an abandoned warehouse to us because of the half finished windows, gates, there not being a roof on a certain part of the building and the way others treated the building. ¬†Everyone in that area just walked by the building and didn‚Äôt even acknowledge that it was there. The building it’s self looks really old and run down. There were many black X marks posted all around the building aswell.¬†.

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When we got close to the building, we saw that no one was in either part of the building. We tried to get inside the building but could not because everything was blocked off. We could tell that this building is trying to isolate itself from the world because everything is blocked off. The warehouse part of the building had windows & doors but the glass that was used was really dark and we couldn’t really see inside the building. This building is being converted into a theater currently. When we looked into the garden, we saw a bunch of plants and trees that were planted and still growing. The walls that surrounded the building were really old because the bricks that were used were turning white. “This is known as Efflorescence. It is an accumulation of minerals and salts on masonry surfaces, such as brick, cement, and sometimes stone.”(Decker 1). There was a lot of this white material on the inside of the building which meant the building has been there for along time. This meant that this building has been here for a very long time and is getting old. Another characteristic that stood out was there was a black cloth on certain windows and gates. This warehouse was trying to block out something from the outside world or just trying to isolate it’s self from the outside world.

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History

“The building was originally built in 1865 as a warehouse for Tabaco by¬†the Lorillard family.”(Creative 1) ¬†“The total size of the warehouse is approximately 25,000 square feet, offering an 18,000 square-foot, column-free footprint.” (Frost 2). “The tobacco arrived via train or boat from the south and was stored at the warehouse before being distributed.¬† All though many of the surrounding warehouses and buildings were demolished in the 1940‚Äôs, this particular warehouse was spared a similar demise.¬† In 2013 the building was gutted leaving only the original walls, making space for a theater. inside.” (Creative 5)

“St. Ann‚Äôs Warehouse launched a $31 million campaign¬†to transform the Tobacco Warehouse into a year-round performing arts facility and community hub. It was designed by a¬†team of Marvel Architects and theater consultants. The Structure includes:¬†A large, versatile theater space that can hold¬†300‚Äď700 people for St. Ann‚Äôs core theater and music programming, festivals, and special community events. A¬†clerestory ribbon of clear glass bricks¬†bridges the original¬†brick walls and the roof of¬†the new theater.¬†A multi-use Studio, dedicated to local artists and community groups to help them with¬†smaller scale programs and events.¬†An open-air Triangle Garden forged within the existing brick walls will be open to the public during Brooklyn Bridge Park hours. It is Designed by the Brooklyn Bridge Park landscape architects,¬†Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The Garden will provide¬†shade in the summer and shelter from the wind in winter.” (Creative 2)

How It’s Gothic

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The reason St. Ann’s Warehouse is Gothic is because of the characteristics of the building. The major one is how it is isolated or cut off from society. You cannot enter into the building in any way and there is no one inside the building either. Everything is blocked off. We can relate this to the creature in Frankenstein because he was isolated from society and felt lonely when his creator left him when he was born. The creature felt lonely and isolated from society and this was a major reason why he becomes a monster in the book. Another characteristic that stands out is the black X marks all over the building. Those black X marks all over the building tells us that this building is old because buildings in our time don’t have this. These marks give of a darkness/stay out kind of vibe to the audience/crowd looking from the outside to the inside.

Theoretical concept & Literary Texts

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The Gothic Theoretical concept that relates to our Gothic space is ‚ÄúLooking Awry‚ÄĚ. There were many characteristics of the building that could fit in with this. The one that stands out is a window located on the back side of the building. Right on top of the window, there is a¬†outline of a person hanging off something and there is a lot of blood coming out of him/her that was formed by¬†Efflorescence. This was formed naturally and was not physically made¬†by someone. It’s not an obvious picture but if you look closely, you can see it. The blood seems to be coming out of the neck area. When you look at the back side of the building from a far, you won‚Äôt see this image right away. Once you get to a certain distance, you will be able to see the image and it‚Äôs very hard not to notice it once you see it. Another example of Looking Awry in our space is the walls inside the courtyard/Garden. When you see the brick walls from a far it looks somewhat normal but once you get closer to the building and get a better view of the inside, you can see that the brick walls are starting to turn white due to¬†Efflorescence. Once you notice this about the brick walls on the inside, it’s something you can’t Unsee and you will always look at.

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The text me and my group are going to use to compare it with is ‚ÄúThe Castle Of Otranto‚ÄĚ. In chapter 1, the son of Manfred, Conrad is killed in the courtyard by a Helmet. ‚ÄúManfred, less apprehensive than enraged at the procrastination of the nuptials, and at the folly of his domestic, asked imperiously what was the matter? The fellow made no answer, but continued pointing towards the courtyard; and at last, after repeated questions put to him, cried out, ‚ÄúOh! the helmet! the helmet!‚ÄĚ (Walpole 28). In our Gothic space, when you look inside the part of the building¬†with no roof, there is a courtyard inside of the building. There are trees and flowers growing all around the inside of the building. There was also a helmet laying down on the floor all the way in the back of the courtyard and also a few around the outside of the building because of construction that was taking place near by. This relates to the Castle of Otranto because the setting is very similar. The courtyard is a¬†major setting in the book because it is where the helmet killed Conrad. Just like the novel, The courtyard in our space plays a big part in the gothic atmosphere.¬†The characteristics of that half of the building is one of the key reasons why it is a Gothic building.

Work Cited

Creative, Flyleaf. “History – St. Ann’s Warehouse.” St. Ann’s Warehouse. Medium Rare Interactive, 3 Dec. 2015. Web. 04 May 2016.

Creative, Flyleaf. “Tobacco Warehouse – St. Ann’s Warehouse.” St. Ann’s Warehouse. Medium Rare Interactive, 3 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

Decker, William, Nick Gromicko, Rob London, and Kenton Shepard. “Efflorescence, Causes, Problems and Solutions | Decker Home Inspection Services.” Efflorescence, Causes, Problems and Solutions | Decker Home Inspection Services. Decker Home Services, 2 Feb. 2010. Web. 04 May 2016.

Frost, Mary. “Designs Unveiled for Theater at Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 May 2016.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Diana Gibson. Frankenstein. Madrid, EspanŐÉa: Edimat Libros, 2000. Print.

Walpole, Horace, George Gordon Byron Byron, E. F. Bleiler, William Beckford, and John William Polidori. The Castle of Otranto. New York: Dover Publications, 1966. Print.

Brooklyn Navy Yard: War, Death, and Destruction

 

A decrepit house.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park was first established by President John Adams in 1801. President Adams wanted a Navy that would be able to protect American citizens during a time when the country was seen as a threat to many nations. The Brooklyn Navy Yard was one of the first five naval shipyards to be established. The navy yard is of great historical value due to the generations of people that labored in it. It was used by the Native Americans, as well as the American Revolution where the waterfront site was used in order to build merchant vessels.Today, it is a place for private manufacturing and green businesses in New York. The park takes up approximately 4 million square feet of space.

The history of the Navy Yard can be compared to the gothic novel,¬†A Rose for Emily because it is a breakaway from the olden to a more modern society. Although the navy yard was built to protect the citizens of America over one hundred years ago, we are still benefiting from the park but in a different way. In the Rose for Emily, the setting changes from an agricultural society to a more industrialized society by the time Emily dies. ‚ÄúWhen the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction.‚ÄĚ This quote shows the evolution of an agricultural society to a industrial society that is causing many changes that were unpleasant to some people. As time has passed, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has also changed from being one of the nation’s former leading naval fleets to becoming more of an asset to individuals involved in green businesses. It still has an essential role in our community, but no longer for military purposes. In 2014, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic places as a historic district. This reminded us of the time Emily finally passed away. ¬†‚ÄúThe men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument.‚ÄĚ This quote shows the significance of Emily’s home to the people in her community. Her house had so much speculation surrounding it. Emily represented the remnants of a high class society breaking away to a modern way of life which would be influenced by different factors. Although we no longer need the Navy Yard for defending American citizens in terms of fighting wars, green businesses still help keep Americans productive.

Brooklyn Navy Yard circa 1941. 1,777 people killed.

History of the Navy Yard

The Brooklyn Navy Yard was built in 1807 by President John Adams authorization nearing the end of his presidency. The Navy Yard has a rich history, but we are going to recall on the years after the battleship era in 1889. In 1941 during World War 2, the Navy Yard first begin its dark history. The USS Arizona was launched and protected the yard until a Japanese plane ignited the ammunition and sank the ship, killing 1,177 men. Years later, the death scythe struck again in 1960, causing the USS Constellation Disaster, an incident that was caused by a forklift hitting a fuel tank and igniting the navy ship, killing 50 lives and injuring a little over 320. Six years later, the Navy Yard was closed to be reopened in 1987 and re-purposed to become an industrial park. The next and final remodel to the Navy Yard was in 2004. The U.S government expanded the yard twice, creating the largest facility in the United States today. As of 2016, the yard has added many new modern buildings and is home to the first green industrial building. Throughout all those years and remodeling, the one aspect that didn’t change are the apartment buildings located on the east side of the yard. The buildings have been there for years . Through all the history of the Navy Yard, these buildings were never mentioned. Maybe the government never needed the area or maybe there is more than meets the eye. The only thing we know for sure is that these buildings have been through a battle that history never recorded.

A tree branch has grown into one of the rooms of the house, thanks to its missing wall.

A tree branch has grown into one of the rooms of the house, thanks to its missing wall.

In Relation to the Gothic

The term ‚Äėuncanny‚Äô was first coined by the famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Freud defines the uncanny as ‚Äúthat class of frightening which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar.‚ÄĚ Experiencing something foreign yet familiar is something almost all of us go through each day without even realizing it, which could signify subconscious fears when inspected closely. ¬†

The Brooklyn Navy Yard contains many different iconic structures which highlight a specific time period in the borough’s history. While some of it has modernized, many old structures are still standing. They feature several aspects of gothic uncanniness which invoke sort of an unconscious fear that we cannot realize until we actually try to interact with these structures.

A good example of this is the fact that all of the structures are gated off to the population, which are plastered with signs that say ‚ÄėNO TRESPASSING‚Äô or ‚ÄėDO NOT ENTER‚Äô, which could imply menacing¬†behind those gates.

Turnstile with a 'No Trespassing' sign above it, threatening prosecution to violators.

Turnstile with a ‘No Trespassing’ sign above it, threatening prosecution to violators.

However, these signs are just icing on the cake, as the fences and gates around the structures are uninviting themselves. They are pointed on top and are a dark black color, plastered with signs of death. Should one decide to look past these, they will discover more of the uncanny in the actual structures themselves. Behind one of the fences are decrepit colonial-style buildings, reminiscent of an older time where life was harder to live, and one had to worry about death at an increased rate versus how often we worry about it today.

A fence which barricades the building with a reminder of death upon trespassers.

A fence which barricades the building with a reminder of death upon trespassers.

In addition, these buildings are dilapidated and pose the risk of destruction at its own peril at any time, which should be a warning to any who consider entering.

Extras:

A building missing its roof, walls, and windows.

A building missing its roof, walls, and windows.

A Castle entrance to the remainder of the area.

A Castle entrance to the remainder of the area.

A blocked entrance to this dilapidated building, forewarning trespassers of the impending danger.

A blocked entrance to this dilapidated building, forewarning trespassers of the impending danger.

Greenwood Cemetery

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When searching for a gothic space in NYC, Green-Wood Cemetery located at 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232, which doubles as a National Historic Landmark, is a must see. Stepping past the metal fence and walking up to the main entrance of the cemetery you can’t help but notice the grand gates of Green-Wood.

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As you can see here the entrance was built in a Gothic Revival Style. The high pointed arches are reminiscent of medieval structures such as castles and churches. The intricate styling of the structure depicts the picturesque complex design work often seen in roofs and windows of Gothic structures. Also, the sculpture here on the gate displays religious scenes from the bible which are also common in Medieval Architecture. The scene on the gate illustrates the death and resurrection from the New Testament. And structures similar to this can be found throughout the cemetery; and despite the consistent upkeep, many often have signs of decay.

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Continuing into the landmark, with its many twist and turns, you discover that it’s not only grand in nature but also eerie and gloomy. The many graves which happen to be worn with decay are often missing body parts as well. Also, the life-like sculptures that signify a grave-marker gives off a very uncanny feeling of helplessness, especially the ones of young children or entire families.

Link to Map:

http://www.green-wood.com/html/wp-content/uploads/apdf/green_wood_map.pdf

The park itself has many rolling hills, twisting paths, massive trees and underground catacombs to explore. If one is not careful it is easy to feel lost and trapped within its gates. Overall the park can inspire sublime and uncanny feelings during the day, but you may not want to be caught in it at night.

St Ann & The Holy Trinity Gothic Church

Link

History

Church ~ 1787

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church ~ 1787

This grand church is located at 157 Montague St. Brooklyn, NY 11201. The history of the church says that it is the oldest Episcopal congregation in Brooklyn. Originally it was located on Washington street but was moved several times until in 1969 it was moved to Holy Trinity building. The founders were an Anglican-minded Ann and Joshua Sands who established a prayer place in their living room starting 1778. During this time the American Revolution was on the mist and this group decided to sought services of their own practices rather than attend the Dutch Reform Church. As the congregation grew it found home in a church located at the High Victorian Gothic building still standing at Clinton and Livingston streets, built in 1877. Following that it moved to the building of the church in which it now stands at opened in 1847, although following years on controversy it closed in 1957.

Church ~ 2016

St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church ~ 2016

 

The building says to have been mostly empty for the next 12 years that followed; till in 1969 it became occupied.This building is now called St. Ann & the Holy Trinity to honor the history of the building. The church was declared a Historic Landmark in 1987.

 

 

                                      Church Website: http://www.stannholytrinity.org/                                   


Architecture 

DSC09361DSC09397The Gothic architecture of the church is clearly seen to be the type of style that flourished in the high and medieval period. Through a series of Gothic revivals this DSC09349DSC09379type of architecture evolved through the 19th century. The designer of the Holy Trinity building was known to be a prominent American architect, named Minard Lafer. He was known to be an influential American architect of churches and houses during the early 19th century. Passing by and entering the church the first thing that will strike you its grand scaling height. Its appearance contains flying buttress allowing it to spread to even greater heights. The buttresses around the church are elaborately designed and the decor gives you the sense of movement. Its Gothic arches also add to make forDSC09403 an aesthetic value and beauty. Both of these Gothic attributes were written in myths, stating that churches were made in grand elevation in attempt to reach the heavens. The great scaling of the church is topped on the ceiling also known as vaulted ceilings. This type of delicate detail is a common attribute of Gothic architecture. Being that the vaulted ceilings of the church is so detailed it can be perceived to be a skeleton, running from the front to the back. You will find yourself in an airy space in the center with balconies on the left, right, and center.Stained glass windows line the church with magnificent artwork that is depicted on each window. It is noted that these windows were created DSC09378by William Jay Bolton, with the help of his brother John Bolton, between 1845 and 1848. The windows allow light to enter the church during the day and at night chandeliers ornate the church. This giving off a dark, dim lighting that will cause for chilling but thrilling ambience. Walking through the church the Gothic elements through the architecture are evident. All this in combination will leave you with a wanting to continue exploring the church in its entirety.


Decaying Grandeur

As you continue exploring¬†you’ll learn that it is not simply exquisite Gothic architecture, but it is a decaying one. Decay is one of the most prominent Gothic atmospheres. It encloses¬†you as soon as you walk in. You see and smell the decay everywhere. Peeling paint from the walls, broken stairs, water dripping from the ceiling and the stale air – it is all the physical representation of degeneration of the past, the 18th century America. There is only one visitor and not even one priest in the church. Why is it so empty, cold and decomposing? The reason is that¬†our values and standards have changed.20160308_142310

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This physical falling apart structure is a representation of shifts of our values and social norms. Reading the changes of this church as a story through New Historicism and Cultural Studies opens a new dimension in looking at our times versus¬†the past. New Historicism looks at a cultural context of a literary work, but let‚Äôs apply it to the actual physical structure. This decay can be used as a symbolism of how American started to change and leave¬†the old beliefs behind. Historically immigrants¬†used to come to America for freedom of religion.That is how this church came to exist. Now we want other freedoms and don’t need old rules.¬†That is what was once a holy place now is empty and decaying. This church was¬†built¬†when¬†women¬†couldn’t vote, when racism was¬†acceptable, and¬†homosexuals were perceived¬†as mentally ill. And mentally ill were treated as animals.¬†Now it is not the same America. We like the way it is now, and those old ways will never be resurrected. Even faith is not as¬†strong and powerful as it was in 18th century. The decaying church is also a symbol of this degeneration of faith. Today one third of young Americans don‚Äôt belong to any religion.They prefer to spend money on technology rather than going to church and donating for its reconstruction. Every year less children are brought to church by their parents. As these children grow up they are further away from faith and now don‚Äôt bring to church the next generation. William Faulkner, in his short story¬†A Rose for Emily, also uses an example of children that never wanted to return to Emily‚Äôs house to learn to draw and how they are distanced¬†themselves from her. Faulk20160308_142843ner uses Emily as a representation of the old south, and the children are representing the new generation that¬†does not want to go back to pre-war¬†times and values. ‚ÄúThen the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies’ magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good‚ÄĚ (Faulkner IV).

They shut the past to never come back and were relieved by it; just like people deny their heritage when they have nothing to be proud of. Emily all her life tried to cling to the long gone pre-war south. There is always some one like Emily in each town. The only lonely visitor in a modern suit in thisDSC09388 decaying church only emphasizes the difference between the past and the presence. This church is not only an architectural marvel. It is also a monument to the past. Once strong and powerful symbol now slowly is deteriorating with every piece of paint.

 

The plate says ” I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”. Will the faith ever be resurrected?

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But don’t let the decay scare you yet, there is more to explore here…

 

 


The Uncanny

The church has many doors and subterranean passageways inside as well as outside the church. There is a opening which leads down to the subway with just stairs. As night falls the only guidance you have is an ominous green light that flickers in the distance. This subterranean passage is a boundary between old and new technology (the church and the subway tunnel) have been crossed. And as well, as out of the church there are passageways in the church. As you walk into the church that is where the real feel fun begins…

As I walked into the church, the doors shut behind and there was a staircase which lead nowhere.

Which pictures show, there was a bigger tower that was once a part of the church which, now no longer existence. Yet, why keep the a staircase if it leads no where? As you walk further in the church there are two staircases on either side of the church, which lead to two separate balconies.

As I walked down the aisle, some of the pews were covered with tarps. The alter was the only thing to still be perfectly preserved. DSC09391All the crosses in the church are covered; everything around the church seems to be falling apart. As I looked around, there are lots of doors and few of them are locked. For a place of worship that is open to those in need and guidance.Its normally neat, proper, warm and open. Instead this church was dark, dusty with spiderwebs all over as if it wasn’t in used in some time.

This is uncanny, something that is familiar suddenly becomes unfamiliar. The uncanniness of the St. Ann’s and Holy Trinity church is unshakable. Every church as a pastor, a father, a person of the cloth, yet, there was no one to be found but ¬†a strange man who was sitting alone in one of the pews. “Pushing open the door gently, he saw a person kneeling before the altar. As he approached nearer, it seemed not a woman, but a one in long¬†woolen¬†weed, who back was toward him. The person seemed absorbed in prayer“(Chapter 5, The Castle of Otranto).Frederic the long lost father of Isabella was looking for Hippolita, the Queen of Otranto. When he stumbled in the church he taught he had found Hippolita and to his dismay he was mistaken as he walked closer to the figure that was praying. “Then the figure slowly turned around to Frederic the fleshless jaws and empty sockets of a skeleton, wrapt in a ¬†hermit’s crowl” it was a specture (demon) who was praying in the church. I’m not saying the strange man was a demon but not once did he turn around to notice what was around him, and from every angle his face could not be seen. And left without a trace or sound. Afterwards, I walked up the stair case to one of the balconies, they were poorly lit,which made it’s really dark aside from the few pieces of light which came from the windows. The moral windows almost look as if their eyes are blacked out and were watching you as you moved. With this observation, the windows meant to show you Jesus’ life and death to create this feeling of prestige and appreciation, just became creepy instead. On the other hand, there was quite as many shadows and more dust and cobwebs. Which created an eerie feeling, and a chill down my spine yet the doors and windows were not open. Then, as I started to leave I heard the floor slightly creak with every step that I took. As if at any moment the floor could give or maybe it did to hear where you were going…. ” I can tell you one thing, said the doctor, “if it was the younger sister sneaking around this house at night, she had nerves of iron. It watches,” he added suddenly (Haunting of Hill House, Chapter 2). Hill house and St. Ann’s both are similar as they both seem to be watching your every move while something or somebody is lurking within the shadows, waiting, watching.

Yet there’s no one around

….That you know of…

 

The gateway between life and death, The Brooklyn Bridge.

Bridge

The bridge itself holds many dark history……..

A lot of things that looks simple on the surface may not be so simple when you take a closer look. Today, we are here to visit the Brooklyn Bridge, which seems innocent enough on the surface, but contains many deep, dark secrets within. During its initial construction that began in 1869, its designer, Augustus Roebling, had suffered a major accident where his foot was crushed by a ferry when it pinned against a piling, and died later due to a tetanus infection. His son who took charge of the project afterwards, but also suffered due to an unknown disease at that time along with many workers, and later was paralyzed physically in 1870. It was finally officially opened to the public in May 23, 1883.

The Brooklyn Bridge can be seen as Gothic in both architectural and theoretical. Since ancient times, bodies of water has been believed to be the gateway to the afterlife in many cultures, and the bridge, possibly being built on such a spot, possibly invoked the haunting upon its designer and workers, causing their unknown illness. Furthermore, in Asian myths, there were Chinese river rituals that involved human sacrifices to river deities. Koreans also had various river and water deities that are pleased by human sacrifices. Among southern Chinese and Siberian Khanty people, there was a time where the floating and burning of boats were practice by the Taiwanese 18 deities Royal Lords temple cult, showing how that there is always a correlation between bodies of water to the supernatural. While the deaths of the workers and the designer can be seen as haunting, which is a major theme in Gothic, I also argue that the bridge itself is abject as well. As defined by Julia Kristeva, the abject is a fear or horror that occurs when the boundary between a subject and an object becomes blurred, and the Brooklyn Bridge itself is where it disrupt the boundary of life and death, and can even be viewed as the reason as a direct connection between life and afterlife.

priestess

Traditional Japanese Priestess costume……they were living sacrifices that now that haunts the surrounding bodies of water; while this picture is from a game, this is based on a true Japanese folklore…..

Not many people know that the wine cellars existed. These cellars were underneath the ramps that led to the anchorages. These cellars were only used for a few years until they were completely abandoned during World War I. These cellars are over 50 feet tall, and are filled with pitch black darkness and are cold as well, giving it a haunted atmosphere, similar to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, where the nursery in the house was haunted: “It is only a noise, and terribly cold, terribly, terribly cold. It is a noise down the hall, far down at the end, near the nursery door, and terribly cold, not my mother knocking on the doors,” (Shirley 94)
My discovery about the cellars was an accident, where I visited the bridge and met a group of fellow tourists. In my conversation with the tourists, I was surprised to find out that such a place existed, an old, dark, cold and abandoned wine cellars, like it was straight out of a Gothic novel.

I found this to be uncanny, which is when something or someone familiar to you suddenly becomes unfamiliar. I passed by this place many times when traveling in a car, where I always saw workers storing construction equipment inside a small area, which I never knew that it was the abandoned cellar. Ever since I found out that these cellars were for wine storage and the fact that they were abandoned, I became a bit creeped out by it. So, in a nutshell, people walk or drive pass these dark and abandoned cellars everyday, unaware of what lies underneath.

cellar

An old photo of the underground cellar, reminds people of the hidden secret passages underneath the castle, exciting, isn’t it?

With the knowledge that the wine cellar actually exist, the Brooklyn Bridge reminds me of the castle in Castle of Otranto by Walpole, described as: “…and hurried towards the secret passage….The lower part of the castle hollowed into several intricate cloisters; ……..the door that opened into the cavern…….” (Walpole 35) Like the castle, the Brooklyn Bridge has a long and peculiar history to it, accompanied by strange structures¬†within¬†the bridge. Whereas the castle in the Castle of Otranto had subterranean passages in the castle, the bridge has a hidden wine cellars under the bridge that are hidden from memory and view. The creation of it was largely due to a huge debt that had to be paid off, which led to the creation of rented wine cellars underneath the ramps of the bridges, which faded away in history.

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The entrance to the abandoned cellar; it’s closed off currently and we can’t get inside; who knows what you’ll find in there?

The bridge itself in design, is also Gothic. As a matter of fact, the architecture style of the bridge is called NeoGothic. This style is heavily influenced by both Castle of Otranto and Strawberry Hill, both written by Horace Walpole. The bridge features clustered columns, flying buttresses that laterally supported in an arch shaped, and are made of stones, which are dominant features of the Gothic architectural style.

stone

The buttresses supporting the structure laterally that forms the vault. The buttresses are also built of stone rather than concrete.

A closer look at the buttresses, you can clearly see that these are stone, not concrete.

A closer look at the buttresses, you can clearly see that these are stone, not concrete.

Citations:

Kristeva, Julia, and Leon S. Roudiez. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Print.

Shirley, Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House. New York: Penguin Group (USA), 1984. Print.

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. Edinburgh, Ballantyne, 1811. Print.