St. Patrick’s Church is the home of a Roman Catholic parish founded in 1862. It was the fifth Catholic church established on Staten Island, built at a time when many new immigrants, especially increasing numbers of Irish and German Catholic people, were settling in areas in and around Richmond.
The first pastor of St. Patrick’s Church was Father John Barry, who was born in Ireland and ordained in the United States. Father Barry was appointed to St. Joseph’s Church in Rossville in 1859 and visited Richmond regularly, saying mass in a small building on Center Street until the new church building was ready for occupancy. (A previous Staten Island pastor, Father James Roosevelt Bayley, had also served the Catholic community at Richmond on a less-frequent basis.)
Father Barry reportedly struggled against anti-Catholic sentiment which influenced the politics of the time. Eventually, Father Barry was able to purchase the land where the church now stands. The cornerstone was laid on March 17, 1862 and the parish was legally incorporated on March 25, 1863. Father Barry’s appointment was transferred to St. Peter’s Church in New Brighton in 1877; successive pastors served both St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Churches until Father John H. Coffey was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in 1884, with accommodations at a Catholic home for dependent children in New Dorp.
Father James P. Byrnes, whose pastorate extended from 1886 to 1908, oversaw the purchase of a house at St. Patrick’s Place and Center Street as well as improvements to the church including the addition of a steeple in 1898. In the decades to follow, the parish continued to evolve. Irish Americans became increasingly prominent in local government and politics. The size and diversity of Staten Island’s population saw unprecedented growth, and new Catholic churches and schools were established throughout the island. The Sisters of St. Dorothy established St. Patrick’s Academy (first located on the site now used for church parking) and the present rectory building was acquired from the Holtermann family.
The church building, an example of early Romanesque Revival style, was designated a New York City Landmark in 1968.