Abandoned Jacksonville: Our Lady of the Angels Church

October 10, 2011 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Constructed in 1915, Lackawanna's Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church represents one of the earliest catholic congregations to be established within the municipal limits of Jacksonville outside of Downtown. Metro Jacksonville takes a look inside this abandoned church as it transitions into a new use for the surrounding community.

About Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church

The Our Lady of the Angels Parish was established in 1917 to serve Jacksonville's growing Catholic population.

The sanctuary was built in 1915 and dedicated by Bishop Michael J. Curley in 1917.  Described at the time as, "one of the prettiest small church buildings in the state", the sanctuary reflects a variation of the Late Gothic Revival Style.  Bishop Curley assigned Father William Barry as its first pastor.  Membership at this location declined as the community around it became more economically distressed in the later half of the 20th century.  Because of declining membership, the church was eventually closed around a decade ago.

The Parish Church with Rectory and small Hall (coverted house) are located at the corner of Edison Avenue and Crystal Street on a piece of property donated by the Clark family, formerly of the Parish, about 300' by 215' or approximately 1.5 acres.  There are only about five or six families who live within blocks, in fact miles, of the church which is in the most deteriorated and unsafe part of the Parish.  There are a few blacks in the vicinity who come occasionally but attend mostly St. Pius church, for the blacks, run by Josephine Fathers.  We have in the past two or three years had several incidents on the property itself in the way of shooting, mugging, stealing and damaging of property as well as considerable harrassment by unfriendly neighbors, many of them on the mug lists.  We have had to curtail practically all night activity and pay a policeman one night for Bingo which has been poorly attended of late and may have to be dropped though it has been a source of steady income to the Parish.  We have no liturgical functions here at night for no one would dare attend.  We ourselves are in constant danger.
Jacksonville Historic Commission.

Outside Our Lady of Angels

Inside Our Lady of Angels

What's Next?

This property has been deeded to the North Riverside Community Development Corporation, which is joining with the City of Jacksonville to rehabilitate and reuse the church and adjacent parish hall and parsonage as a neighborhood community center.  Successful completion of this project will result in the preservation of a significant community landmark, while continuing to serve the North Riverside neighborhood.

Photographs by nomeus via www.flurbex.com

Article by Ennis Davis