Save the Sisters of Mercy

Not them*, the ones in Fort Greene.

The historic Sisters of Mercy Convent is soon to be closed and the property sold.  Without Landmarks protection this beacon could possibly be demolished and replaced by another out-sized building. 

Sisters of Mercy Convent


The property is one of 5 recommended for Individual Landmark status in the Society of Clinton Hill [SCH] 2007 Cultural Resource Survey, which was submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission [LPC] in August 2007.  In just the year and a half since the report has been submitted, there have been losses to the fabric of this unique architectural community, including some of the unique properties which are recommended for consideration as Individual Landmarks.  The loss of this intact nineteenth-century religious complex to an incongruous, non-contextual building would be a huge loss to the Neighborhood.  The FGA recommends this historic religious compound be preserved and put to adaptive re-use. 

From the SCH report:  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.  Since 1855 the Sisters of Mercy have been helping those in need and in recent days the Sisters have been host to homeless women in need of shelter.

Now with a dwindling number of sisters 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.

Help urge the LPC to review this property immediately for possible Landmarks Designation as an Individual Landmark by signing our on-line petition.  The petition is also sponsored by our friends, the Historic Districts Council.

Please sign the on-line petition to LPC at

For more information about the convent, read the New York Times article from December 16, 2008

*although the next time they’re in town, you owe it to yourself to go see them in concert – they continue to be amazing, and “Vision Thing” has renewed relevance after 8 years of the Bush administration.

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One Response to “Save the Sisters of Mercy”
  1. Troy says:

    This is tearing me apart…

    Thirty-three years ago (1976), I was brought to the Sisters Of Mercy on Willoughby Avenue by the police, after being abandoned by my parents.___That is to say; my baby brother, my two sisters and myself.___When we got there, we were starving, dirty and quite traumatized by our time on the street.___Simply put, the Sisters saved our lives.___Most likely, the very same Sisters mentioned in the above article.___In the decades before-and-since, they saved hundreds (perhaps thousands) of lives, just like mine and asked for nothing in return.___That this was allowed to happen-at-all to these longsuffering, kind and saintly Sisters says very little for the ungrateful generation(s) they helped to save.___I pray God shields them, in some way, from the ugliness of these purely monetary circumstances.___The Sisters don’t deserve to “go out” like this.


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