The Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Manhattan has a storied history.
Dedicated in 1869, it was the first integrated church in New York, it has long served as the spiritual home for the area’s French-speaking Catholics and today it is Manhattan’s last francophone parish.
Famed French cultural icon Edith Piaf was even married in the church in 1952.
Today, it serves a diverse body of Catholics from France, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Switzerland, Togo and elsewhere. But the end appears near for the venerable building.
“Stained-glass windows depicting the story of France are chipped, and plastic bins lay across the floor to collect rain from the leaky roof while yellow cautionary tape marks areas damaged by the water,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Worse yet, the number of parishioners on the church’s rolls continues to dwindle; five years ago, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York made the decision to close St. Vincent de Paul for good.
However, churchgoers can get attached to their place of worship. Despite the fact refurbishing St. Vincent de Paul would cost an estimated $5-10 million, some aren’t giving up just yet.