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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: A Crowdfunded Property?

Every year, on March 17th, New York streets are a sea of green. Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays and has the longest and largest annual parade in New York. One of the most prominent stops during the parade is Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue. Did you know this cathedral is one of the earliest examples of a real estate crowdfunded property in New York City?

Saint Patrick’s Day is globally celebrated on the death date of the patron saint of Ireland, which took place on March 17, 461. History states that Saint Patrick removed all the snakes from Ireland and used the leaves of a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Following his canonization, many celebrated him by wearing shamrocks; later that practice turned into wearing green clothing. After the potato famine of 1840 in Ireland, many Irish natives migrated to America, bringing with them traditions and celebrations such as this one.

The First Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City

March 17, 1762: the first-known Saint Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York as homage to the Irish culture of those who had migrated to America. Since then, the parade has grown exponentially and is organized entirely by volunteer efforts. The City of New York estimates that 200,000 participants and 3,000,000 spectators participate each year.

History of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

On June 8, 1809 the cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was placed. This church was the second Catholic church in New York at the time. Following the declaration of New York as an episcopal see, the church determined that it would need “to erect a Cathedral in the City of New York that may be worthy of our increasing numbers, intelligence and wealth as a religious community, and at all events, worthy, as a public architectural monument, of the present and prospective crowns of this metropolis of the American continent.”

The Largest Crowdfunded Project of The Time in New York

In 1853, architect James Renwick vowed to undertake the design of a new, all-white marble cathedral. Renwick estimated the total cost of the project at $850,000; not including furnishings. After inflation $850,000 would be worth a whopping $26,562,500.00 today. This was no small feat by any standard, so the church undertook the project using the fundamentals of real estate crowdfunding.

The first commitments the church received came in the form of $1,000 pledges from 130 of the most prominent families in New York ($1,000 investment would be worth $31,250 today). Other commitments came in varying amounts from local Irish immigrants. The first cornerstone of the new cathedral was laid in 1858, yet was halted soon thereafter due to the need for additional funding and the commencement of the Civil War. For these reasons, it was not resumed until 1865. Leap forward to 1978, following a renovation completion, local churches held a month of fairs, leading to a profit of $172,625 which covered all remaining furnishing costs.

A Day to Remember

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral opened it’s doors to the public on May 25, 1879. Without the combined efforts of the crowd, the iconic building would not be around today. Renovations on the property are ongoing and anyone can donate to the cause by clicking here. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is proof that crowdfunding is not a new concept. Many buildings in the state of New York have been crowdfunded and built using crowdfunding principles.

Do you know of any interesting crowdfunded projects? Comment below and share the stories with us!

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