ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany Fire Department confirmed to NEWS10 that there was a fire at the St. Joseph’s Church in Albany. On Sunday at around 9:57 p.m., the Albany Fire Department received a fire call for the St. Joseph’s Church. When AFD arrived at the scene they were able to control the fire by 10:06 p.m.
Investigators were on the scene throughout the morning Monday, walking in and around St. Joseph’s, with city staff working to secure the abandoned structure.
“We could see fire, flames through the windows. We thought it was just a party on Halloween night inside the church, but it turns out it was much more than that,” said Jonah Michel, the founder of Around Albany, who was on scene filming.
A neighbor told News10 off-camera that they heard the sound of bells coming from the area around an hour before the blaze began.
“This is all old wood, which is certainly not good. It would be tragic to lose all of that, but it sounds like it was very well contained, so well done to the Albany Fire Department,” said Cara Macri, Director of Preservation Services for the Historic Albany Foundation.
The historic church was built in the 1840’s by architect Patrick Keely, who also designed the city’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“St. Joe’s was really kind of the crown jewel of all of the churches that he designed. It’s certainly the most ornate,” Macri explained.
A prominent part of Albany’s skyline, the church closed in the 1990’s. After falling into disrepair, the Historic Albany Foundation put in around $1 million through grants and fundraisers to stabilize the building with roof, slate and masonry repairs. After that work was complete, ownership was transferred back to the city.
“It’s a very long laundry list of repairs that were done over about a decade,” said Macri.
Work that was done to help prepare the structure for potential restoration work in the future, “We’d love to see something happen to it that’s positive, that could uplift the neighborhood, that could really bring purpose to this space,” said Michel, who lives in the neighborhood.