The Pew of Holy Innocents

Last spring, I drove down North Pearl Street, minding my own business, when I passed the old abandoned Church of Holy Innocents.  You know, the church at the corner of North Pearl and Colonie, the church that’s covered in creeping ivy and creeping ennui…

I did a blog post about the building’s tenuous state

But I also did something else.

I entered the then-unlocked building.

Yeah.  Chuck Miller, urban explorer.  Well, someone left the front door to the church wi-i-i-i-ide open, and I did have my Nikon Df in the car with me…

Oh come on, what did you think I was going to do?  Traipse around the ruins of the First Prize slaughterhouse?  Nah, it’s been done before.  Or maybe go spelunking through the fortress known as Central Warehouse?  Nah, that’s been done before.

So again, the church door was open, and all I could do was just – well, my will power wasn’t as strong as it normally is, and before I could stop myself, I was inside the building.  My camera and tripod must have had weaker will power, they got inside as well.  Fancy that.

I took a few photos inside, but most of the building was desecrated with Satanic spray paint and vandalism.  All I could think about was all the weddings and baptisms and Catechisms that were part of this building’s history, and now the church is crumbling under the weight of creeping ivy and dissolving masonry…

And now it’s being used to store old air conditioners and furniture.  Ugh.

Old furniture like this big, ugly sofa that’s right up against a wall, near an area where someone might have once offered the gospel of the Lord.

Hey, wait a second…

Move fast, Chuck.  You’re inside the building now, but there’s so many things working against you – the building isn’t safe, and you’re in someone’s private property.  If you’re going to take a picture, do it and get out.

I did it.  An HDR capture of that sofa, right next to the stained glass window.


Got it.

The Pew of Holy Innocents. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, three images combined in HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Pew of Holy Innocents. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, three images combined in HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yeah, I’m short-piling this for 2016.  If for no other reason, than to show that even in the abject eyesore state that the Church of Holy Innocents exists… there’s still an ironic, painful beauty inside.

It’s that dichotomy that will make this picture work.

P.S.: When I posted this picture on Facebook, fellow Times Union blogger and historian extraordinare Don Rittner alerted me that the stained glass window I photographed in this picture is one of the oldest-surviving Bolton Bros. stained glass, and the church itself – built by architect Frank Wills – is the oldest surviving structure featuring a collaboration by these two artisans.  Did not know that.

P.P.S.: A few days after I took this picture, one of the walls inside Holy Innocents collapsed.  Any chance of going back into the building for a “re-take” of this picture – not happening.

By the way, that wall collapsing was a big loud message to me.  You know it was.

And that message was… “Stop sneaking around inside abandoned houses of worship, Miller, or I shall smite thee down with a heavenly piece of plaster, and just see if I don’t, so help me ME!”