Patrick Keely

  The Keely Society is dedicated to the documentation of Patrick Charles Keely's life, art, and architecture. Keely was the most prolific church architect in America. Its aim is one of education, history, and preservation for the future. The society was founded by Edward H. Furey, March 17, 1996 with the rich encouragement and generous support of Msgr. Frederick J. Murphy, Rector of Keely's monumental masterpiece, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, MA. The Keely Society has given numerous presentations and exhibitions at churches and cathedrals designed by Patrick Keely in the Northeast. Beginning in May of 2000, an annual Keely Congress has been held each year. At the Keely Congress of 2001 held at Keely's monumental Romanesque Church of St. John the Baptist in Brooklyn, NY, seven descendants of Patrick Charles Keely were in attendance.

The Society derives first hand information and unique documentation on the life, family, art and architecture from these Keely descendants. We are especially grateful for the warm and friendly support of Teresa Roberts, great grand daughter of Patrick C. Keely.

During Keely's lifetime the Freeman's Journal in Brooklyn, NY, printed that this architect had accomplished nearly 700 religious edifices. The simple and monumental buildings dot America's landscape from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward's Island to the Gulf of Mexico. His structures stretch from the Atlantic Coasts great cities to as far West as Watertown, WI. A gifted artist, expert wood carver and draftsman, Patrick C. Keely has left an indelible mark on the Roman Catholic and Protestant communities for whom he built. He set the standard by which others seek to reach excellence.

Career Highlights

• St. James Pro-Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, was enlarged, and the interior re-designed by Keely. This work brought Keely to the attention of local pastors. Struck by lightning during a July thunderstorm in 1889, the structure burned. The wood candlesticks on the main altar had been carved by Keely from his daughter's cradle.

• Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Brooklyn, NY, was Keely's first church. Begun in May of 1847, a mild winter allowed completion of this church in May 1848. A limited budget and a genius artist combined, in an extraordinary edifice for its time. This structure brought numerous requests for Keely to design churches for the exploding Irish immigrant population.

• The interior of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Williamsburg Section of Brooklyn illustrates Keely's expertise as a wood carver. The great wood reredos that surrounds the altar were carved by the architect himself. The interior remained fairly unchanged through the years. The steeple was removed at the turn of the twentieth century, and the fa├žade re-designed by his son-in-law, Thomas Houghton. It is ironic that Keely's first church was being demolished in February 1957, as the ruins of his great Hartford, CT, masterpiece, St. Joseph's Cathedral were about to be demolished. The Cathedral had burned in a spectacular fire on December 31, 1956.