By Christopher Powers
Keely came to the United States in 1842 and took up residence in Brooklyn. For a few years he worked as a carpenter without attracting any attention for his work. It was not until his friend, Roman Catholic Priest Sylvester Malone, was sent to Brooklyn (Williamsburg) to form a parish that Patrick Keeley would get his big break. Keely produced the designs from which the Church of Saints. Peter and Paul was built in 1847.
The much-praised work (unfortunately demolished in 1957) established Keely as a quality architect and builder of churches at a time when a number of new Roman Catholic churches were being planned. From this period on, Keely was the premier individual looked upon by the Roman Catholic Church in America for the design and construction of churches.
Keely’s work can be seen in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Canada. Keely became known as the “pioneer Catholic architect of America.” Most of his work can be seen in New York State and throughout New England.
At the Home of the Irish American Heritage Museum, in Albany, NY, Keely designed both the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph’s Church. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is the second-oldest cathedral in the state, after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. It is also the third oldest Catholic cathedral in the United State. St. Joseph’s Church (now closed) is located in the Ten Broeck Triangle section of Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood.