Flatbush Church Restores Its Historic Pipe Organ

Our Lady of Refuge Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn is “pulling out all the stops” to restore its historic pipe organ.

The organ’s demise and resurrection mirrors demographic changes in the parish since the church was built in what was then a well-to-do Brooklyn neighborhood. Father Michael Perry says that the church’s construction costs, totalling $750,000 (about $13 million in today’s dollars), were paid for in cash. That was in 1933, in the midst of the Depression.

“If you look at the houses around here, even the apartment houses, they’re high ceilings, big apartments. I mean it was a pretty wealthy neighborhood,” he said.

The church held an organ recital on November 18 at Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights in a bid to raise the last $60,000 needed to finish refurbishment and reinstallation of the 1933 Kilgen Pipe organ.

In this slideshow, Father Perry talks about why he and Joe Vitacco, chair of the organ committee, have embarked on a project to bring organ music to the church’s mostly Caribbean and West Indian congregation.

Participatory Budgeting: How Will It Affect Kensington’s Economy?

If it were up to you, what would you fix in your neighborhood? New sidewalks? More trees or gardens? Renovations to your local community center? Well, now you may get your chance.

As discussed in articles from The New York Times, and the Daily News, Brad Lander, City Councilmember for the 39th district in Brooklyn, which includes Kensington, is bringing “Participatory Budgeting” to his constituents. The initiative, tried previously in Brazil as well as in Chicago in the United States, allows members of the community to have a direct say in how $1 million dollars in discretionary funds will be spent. Meetings have already begun throughout the district to pitch ideas and elect the neighborhood delegates who will ultimately craft the final proposals for spending the money. Residents will vote on the potential options.

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