By Vincent R. Kirk
The handsome Catholic Church of St. Mark, central figure in the imposing group of new parish buildings, costing about $1,000,000 and covering a square block bounded by Jerome Ave., Ocean Ave., Avenue Z and E 19th St., is a notable addition to Sheepshead Bay, a monument to the zeal and industry of the rector, the Rev. Daniel J. McCarthy, and an evidence of the faith and devotion of the parishioners.
The edifice marks a new era in the renaissance of old Sheepshead Bay, once famed as a fishing village, and later brought into prominence by the historic Sheepshead Bay racing track, known all over the sporting world for its classic horse racing events.
No section of the city has undergone a more remarkable transformation in its structural aspect than Sheepshead in the past few years. Anyone who had not been down Sheepshead Bay way since the old racing days would be astonished at the change were he to visit the place today.
Ramshackle fishing shacks and oyster stands that for years lined the waterfront have given way to substantial brick restaurant buildings. Old hotels and boarding houses along Emmons Ave., popular in the heyday of horse racing, have been replaced by apartment buildings. The McKeever estate farm of about 140 lots is now covered with about 100 attractive one- and two-family houses. The McKeever brothers, Edward and Stephen, reserved a good-sized plot in the estate which they donated to the American Legion for its Sheepshead Bay headquarters.
The old race track, which fronted on Ocean Ave., sold at auction five years ago, has been developed into a home community of about 500 dwellings, and a business block has been built about where the famous grandstand stood.
St. Mark’s new church has replaced the quaint old frame edifice built about 45 years ago at the corner of Sheepshead Bay Rd. and E. 14th St., which was destroyed by fire on Feb. 26. The old church was completely gutted and nearby property threatened, yet, by what appears to be a miracle, the little side altar devoted to the Blessed Mother and the handsome statue of the Virgin above it were but slightly damaged by the flames which swept the building, destroying the main altar and reducing the metal fixtures and candelabra to a crisp.
Father McCarthy has had the altar installed in the new church, where it will be used as a shrine and a memorial of the historic old church in which hundreds of the parishioners were baptized, received their first holy communion and where beloved ones were taken in death.
(Special thanks to Brooklyn Public Library)