If you live in the eastern part of the U.S., there’s a fair chance your parish church was designed by one man. And there are many people who, whether or not they realize it, have visited several churches designed by Patrick Keely. He dominated U.S. Catholic architecture in the late 19th century.
An immigrant story
Patrick Charles Keely was born on August 9, 1816, in Ireland’s County Tipperary. His father was a builder and most likely the person who taught him about construction. As for his training in the intricacies of architectural design, he quite likely never had any, except for his own observations while working as a tradesman.
According to the Dictionary of Irish Architects, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1842, at age 25. Soon after arriving in New York City, he began working as a carpenter. For several years, he plied his trade, occasionally getting the opportunity to work on something as significant as an altar.
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