The church on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 20th Street is no stranger to rebirths. Over the years it’s housed everything from a place of worship to a drug rehab center to the hugely popular Limelight nightclub — home to club kids, pills galore and some of your most awesome high school dance experiences. This time around, the 163-year-old building will be known as the Limelight Marketplace, a three-story “festival of shops,” due to open this week. The space will feature more than 60 boutiques and restaurants like Grimaldi’s pizzeria (check out our Shops section tomorrow for more on the retail). We take a look at the history of the building that’s made the news over and over again.
? 1844: The Church of the Holy Communion is built; parishioners included John Jacob Astor, Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
? 1966: The building is designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
? 1976: The last mass is held at the church and a commune devoted to the study and realization of a new planetary culture, The Lindisfarne Association, moves in.
? 1979: The Episcopal Church sells the property for just shy of $500,000 to the Odyssey Institute, a drug-rehab center.
? 1980: The church is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
? 1983: NYC club king Peter Gatien buys the building for $1.65 million and turns it into the Limelight, which becomes one of his most popular haunts.
? 1983: Andy Warhol hosts the Limelight’s opening party.
? Late ’80s, early ’90s: The Club Kids led by Michael Alig and James St. James rise to fame for their outrageous costumes and drug use. RuPaul, Richie Rich, Amanda Lepore and Lisa E (Dr. Cuddy on House) are club regulars. Vin Diesel, then known as Mark Vincent, is a Limelight bouncer.
? 1995: The Limelight is one of the first New York clubs to introduce foam parties.
? 1996: Promoter Alig murders his drug dealer Angel Melendez; the event is eventually made into the 2003 film “Party Monster” with Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin.
? 1996-1998: The Limelight closes its doors for two years after troubles with bad press and drug raids.
? 1999: Gatien pleads guilty to tax evasion charges and fined $1.9 million.
? 2001: The Limelight closes for good and the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation takes control of the property after buying the building in bankruptcy court for $3.2 million. Other clubs operate in the space until 2007, including Estate and Avalon.
? 2007: The club, Avalon being last, closes its doors forever.
? 2010: Jack Menashe leases the property from Ashkenazy and opens up the Limelight Marketplace, bringing life into the church again.