St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church
262 West 118th Street (at St. Nicholas Avenue)
This 800-seat neo-Gothic structure was designed by Thomas Henry Poole and opened in 1907. Poole is also responsible for the the 1891 Holy Name of Jesus Church (96th/Amsterdam), the 1894 Lady of Good Counsel Church (232 E. 90th) and the eclectic 1905 Harlem Presbyterian Church (122nd St/Mount Morris Park West). Although not clearly visible in these photos due to the protective netting, the facade is the most acclaimed feature of the church with a Venetian Gothic projecting front porch and a spiked terra cotta headdress. The paired front staircases lead underneath a green-tile vaulted ceiling to an unusually long sanctuary which was also richly ornamented.
The parish was established in 1889 by Rev. John J. Keogan just as this area of West Central Harlem was being developed and when the church opened the parishoners were predominantly Irish. As the demographics and culture of the area changed through the years, the building and parish slowly declined. By 2002, the church only had around 250 parishoners each Sunday and with the aging building needed an estimated $1 million in repairs. (reference)
The archdiocese closed the church in 2003 with plans to demolish the building and construct apartments for seniors. A 2004 lawsuit by former parishoners was dismissed the following year and calls for landmark protection fell on deaf ears. The German stained glass windows were slated for removal and transfer to a new church being built in Dutchess County. When I visited in the Spring of 2008, a demolition permit had not yet been issued, although the church's fate seems inescapable. (reference)
The church's school (just to the East of the church) seems to be doing quite well.
There is a community garden to the southeast of the church.