The Real Deal New York

The church before the club

A look at the historic church that became a disco bloodbath
January 04, 2015 12:40PM

When it was built in 1846, the Church of the Holy Communion, an Episcopal church on Sixth Avenue and 20th Street, was on the outskirts of the city. But by the 1990s, it would be at the heart of the city’s club scene, as the Limelight.

Designed by Richard Upjohn, who also built Trinity Church, Holy Communion was architecturally groundbreaking at the time, according to Ephemeral NY.

“Holy Communion was the first asymmetrical Gothic Revival church edifice in the United States and was the prototype for hundreds of similar buildings erected all across the country,” according to Andrew Dolkart’s Guide to New York City Landmarks. “Upjohn designed the building to resemble a small Medieval English parish church; the rectory and other additions complement the church in style and massing.”

But as the area developed, the church blended into the urban streetscape and fell out of religious use. It’s served many purposes since then, but most infamously as the Limelight nightclub from 1983 to 2001. The Limelight was where club kid Michael Alig hosted his Wednesday-night bacchanal, Disco 2000.

After the club closed in 2001, it served as a Limelight-themed mall. Today, it serves as a gym. [Ephemeral NY] Christopher Cameron