Sunday, December 27, 2009

St. Francis Xavier / Buffalo Religious Arts Center

The German Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier of Black Rock was established in 1849. It was first granted mission status when a chapel was built to accompany the religious school that had been the original goal of the community. The existing structure on East Street in the City of Buffalo was built in 1911.

In the all too familiar ways of the latter 20th century, the church was shut down by the diocese after merging with St. John the Baptist on Hertel (below) in a futile attempt to try to stave off the inevitable decision by the bishop.

The Buffalo Religious Arts Center has risen in its place, storing religious treasures and offering tours. It was by chance as I was taking church pictures one Saturday afternoon in October that I saw the doors were open. So I went and wandered around on a self-guided tour, which means I probably missed a lot.

An early folding chair and a mural of St. Joseph caught my attention (note the smoke stacks commemorating local industry in the top corners).

Not all of the salvaged artwork is Catholic.

There's much more than I captured on photo card. For some reason I'm thinking photography wasn't encouraged, although no one was hovering to rip cameras out of the hands of people.

The inside of St. Francis is beautiful and is worthy of the tour on its own merits.

It wasn't until I got home and looked at my pictures that I realized that they charged for the tour.

Apparently I had been so busy talking to people that everyone thought someone else had received my donation. Oops. I went back the next day to rectify that matter. Saving religious art treasures is a worthy cause and it's wonderful work they are doing. There's more to come in 2010. Check their website for more information.

PS - That other church on the right of the map is St. John's Evangelical at 85 Amherst Street (easily visible to each other) just to help establish that you're in the right neighborhood :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marie Silvestro Neverosky - RIP

Clarence alumna ('69) Marie Silvestro Neverosky passed away December 22, 2009. Rest in Peace.

Born in North Tonawanda, New York on Oct. 31, 1951

Departed on Dec. 22, 2009 and resided in Clarence, NY

December 22, 2009; devoted mother of Gena (Greg) Joerger, Jennifer Neverosky and Derek Neverosky; cherished grandmother of Kaylea, Jacob, and Logan; dearest daughter of Angeline (nee Poltrone) and the late Anthony L. Silvestro; dear sister of Joanne (Robert) Torok, Daniel (Donna) Silvestro, Anthony Silvestro, Jr., Douglas (Susan) Silvestro, Richard (Kim) Silvestro, and the late Robert Silvestro; also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.

The family will be present Sunday 4-7 PM and Monday 5-8 PM at the (Harris Hill Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 8440 Main Street where prayers will be offered Tuesday at 9:15 AM followed by a Mass of Christian Burial from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church at 10 AM. Flowers gratefully declined. Share your condolences at


Sunday, December 20, 2009

St. Mary's on the Hill

As I pulled up to Niagara and Vermont Streets on the West Side of Buffalo something seemed amiss (more so than usual) at St. Mary's on the Hill across the way. Ah - something like the top of the wall.

The view from Vermont exposed even more. The insides appear to have been carted off at some point in time. Curiously, the doors are still locked.

Originally intended as a companion for the Episcopal Church Home on Busti and Rhode Island...

...back in 1872, it was expanded many times, the last being in 1892. The church last held a service in 1994. It changed hands a few times since then and has disintegrated to this, a mere shell of its former self.

(Pictures taken in February 2008 of a more complete St. Mary's on the Hill are available on Buffalo Rising, from back when there was still some vague hope of resurrection)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tuscarora Indian Mission

In 1805 the first Christian church on the Tuscarora Reservation, the Tuscarora Presbyterian, began. Located on Walmore Road, it is now known as the Tuscarora Indian Mission and is active today.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

This reminds me of the Nancy Drew book The Clue in the Crumbling Wall many many years ago...not that these walls are crumbling or anything...Just the first thing that came to mind when I was wandering around...the setting and all that...

Starting from scene left...(click photos to enlarge)...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Muted Monday - Mirror Lake

You may have seen "Wordless Wednesday" as a heading for a blog post with only photos, but I'm going for a Muted Monday. Its distinguishing features are minimum chit chat with pictures (aka too lazy to write this morning).

At the end of October I was behind the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Museum taking pictures around Mirror Lake. There were all kinds of people around photographing the leaves in full Fall color along with rocks and anything else that came into focus.

Then I went back last weekend after the book sale. Gloomy day, dreary pictures. Only other people I saw were walking a dog.

Maybe it looks better in the snow. Or maybe I'll wait until Spring...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

St. John's Evangelical / Immanuel German Evangelical / Theosophical Society

Skirmishes within churches are nothing new, and the one that occurred at 85 Amherst Street in 1899 was one for the books. St. John's Evangelical Church located was officially organized in 1851, and the present day building was built in 1890 (it appears that something has been chiseled off over the doorways, perhaps by a newer congregation, but I could be wrong).

Shortly thereafter is when things got interesting, to say the least. St. John's had been established by German immigrants and conducted services in German. However by the early 1900's the younger members wanted English language services. Reverend William Von Gerichten did not speak English. A schism soon developed.

The "Boxers" felt that since the pastor didn't speak English he should be paid less. The others disagreed. A meeting was scheduled to discuss the problem. The pastor's group barricaded the doors to keep the Boxers out. The police were called and during the excitement that followed the Boxers climbed in through a window, held the meeting, and voted to dismiss the pastor.

The pastor and his supporters built a new church at 70 Military, corner of Glor, not all that far away from their original house of worship. Architect W. S. Brickell designed the new Immanuel German Evangelical Church which was built in 1904. Four years later Von Gerichten died, and by 1915 English services were introduced.

Today the church building is maintained by the Theosophical Society. Although I had thought it sounded like a new age group, its origins can be traced back to 1875.

From a survey of religious forces conducted in 1910 (using the results of censuses taken in 1890 and 1900):

"A circular, issued for the information of inquirers by the general secretary of the American section, states that the society is unsectarian and interferes with no person's religious belief. Another circular, entitled "An Epitome of Theosophy,"... states that some of the fundamental propositions of Theosophy, or " Wisdom Religion," are:

That the spirit in man is the only real and permanent portion of his being ; that between the spirit and the intellect is a " plane of consciousness in which experiences are noted," and that this spiritual nature is " as susceptible of culture as the body or intellect " ; that spiritual culture is only attainable as the grosser interests and passions of the flesh are subordinate ; that men, systematically trained,may, by their interior faculties, " attain to clear insight into the immaterial, spiritual world " ; that, as a result of this spiritual training, men become able to perform works usually called " miraculous."
Quite a change over the years. Somehow I think those who resisted English a hundred years ago would be astounded.