On Friday March 21st, Jeff Greene, EverGreene’s Founder and President, spoke about architect Charles Patrick Keely and his expansive legacy and significant imprint on American Catholic architecture. The presentation was part of the Monuments Conservancy’s 24th Annual Symposium on Public Monuments, held at the Time Life Building.
It is estimated that Keely, whose career spanned from the late-1840s until the mid-1890s, designed more than 600 churches and related structures. That averages approximately one church per month for the life of his career—an astounding body of work. His designs spoke to the growing immigrant populations and often served as the touchstone of their communities. Keely worked in a broad range of European styles—from the Italian Baroque which influenced St. Francis Xavier church in New York City to Victorian Gothic as seen in Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Albany, New York. Whether executed in the vernacular style, like St. Mary’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia or the high style, like Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, his buildings emphasized quality and craftsmanship and reflected the make-up of the community. Keely’s churches, which can be found throughout the Eastern United States and in Canada, were influenced by his own training as a carpenter as well as European standards of ecclesiastical design and included decorative finishes influenced by prominent 19th Century architects and designers such as Pugin, Audsely and Eastlake.
One of the symposium’s goals is to encourage further research and appreciation of Keely’s work amongst younger generations. For the first time the program included an essay contest, open to students of the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ. St. Elizabeth’s Motherhouse was designed by Keely and his son-in-law, Thomas Houghton designed the chapel. EverGreene sponsored the contest and Jeff was pleased to present Ashley Bouwense, a sophomore at the College, with a $500 check for her winning essay: “Patrick Charles Keely at Convent Station,” which explored the expression of Patrick Keely’s art, character and faith in the buildings of Convent Station.