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Diocese of Buffalo Plans to Demolish St. Ann’s Church Later This Year Citing Expensive Structural Concerns

Another incredible piece of Buffalo’s architectural heritage may be headed to the landfill later this year. The magnificent edifice that is St. Ann’s Church and Shrine on Broadway and Emslie will be reduced to rubble as the Diocese has deemed structural repairs too costly to complete.

Last year Bishop Kmiec closed the 127 year old church without a long term plan, leaving the people wondering what would become of their long time place of worship. Once the church was closed, parishioners continued to perform masses in the basement of the large school to the rear of the church. The cornerstone of St. Ann’s was laid in 1878 and the church was dedicated nearly a decade later on May 16th, 1886.

towers

The new Bishop, Richard Malone announced yesterday that the estimated cost of $8 to $12 million is too much for the Diocese to afford so demolition is the only option at this point. He also mentioned that those who are still worshipping in the school basement couldn’t continue their services there. They were encouraged to join the services at SS Columba-Brigid Church (google map) or elsewhere.

Bids for demolition have yet to occur, but will likely come soon according to Kevin Keenan, a spokesperson for the Diocese. When asked about selling the church he said, “We did have the church on the market a while ago and there was an interested party. However, they walked away because of the structural issues. Selling is not an option now.”

David Hirschbine is one of the people still fighting to save St. Ann’s Church and believes demolition is not the answer.  “What’s false about what the Diocese of Buffalo is doing, is saying the building will fall down any day and that’s just not the case. For half a million dollars or less the building can have immediate structural issues addressed in the short term, which would buy us time for a long term plan” said Hirschbine.

Altar

The Diocese hired Arbour Construction Management years ago to complete a structural assessment of the building, which did not return favorable results. “Arbour Construction took reports that were eight to ten years old for the basis of their report” says Hirschbine. “After we brought in other firms looking for a second opinion, the Diocese contracted with Siracuse Engineers for an updated conditions report.” The result was largely the same, stating the structure requires massive investment and is in danger of imminent collapse.

Parishioners have been doing everything in their power to try and stop the Diocese from demolishing their beloved church. “We’ve been working closely with the Vatican in an attempt to gain support and there is an appeal in Rome that we are actively pursuing” explains Hirschbine.

choir loft

If the Diocese does move forward with the demolition, “Once the site is cleared and transformed into green space, it will be available for future development” according to their official announcement about the razing, which can be viewed here. The article goes on to state, “The engineering study found that over the years, major capital projects at St. Ann’s were scaled back and preventative maintenance was postponed, resulting in an increased rate of deterioration.”

For additional interior and exterior photos of the church and complex, check out my Ipernity page here.

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Written by Mike Puma

Mike Puma

Writing for Buffalo Rising since 2009 covering development news, historic preservation, and Buffalo history. Works professionally in historic preservation.

View All Articles by Mike Puma
  • buffalorr

    I really believe the Diocese is more interested in selling off the artifacts than preserving this church.
    It’s much more valuable to the Bishop that way.
    He’s from out of town and has little connection to Buffalo’s history or buildings.
    The same thing happened when Bishop Edward Head came into town in the 1970’s and then soon ordered the demolition of St. Joseph’s New New C

    • Rand503

      buffalorr Yeah, and I suspect now that the the New Cathedral might not have been in such bad shape as he suggested.  We all just assumed the bishop wouldn’t lie, right?

      • buffalorr

        Parish the thought that a Bishop wouldn’t lie. When Malone was asked why he needs his palace on Oakland Pl. he said it’s because his VIP donors need the right atmosphere around them when there’s an event. Why couldn’t he sell the palace and it’s contents, put that money towards renovating St. Ann’s so that the diocese would have the “right atmosphere” in the religious sense of the word in which to entertain the big donors.
        Yes, the similarities between the destruction of St. Joseph’s New Cathedral and St. Ann’s are as if they’ve been taken from a playbook on how to pillage Buffalo’s Catholic Churches. These carpet bagger Bishops that blow into town and pull off these heist’s should be seen for the thieves they are. Unfortunately too many people drink their cool aid. Wake up Buffalo!

  • buffalorr

    sorry folks, that last word was supposed to read “cathedral”.

  • EB_Blue

    When in the world was the building on the market?

    • RaChaCha

      From 5:30AM to 6:30AM on April 4, of course!  You didn’t put in an offer?!

      • EB_Blue

        RaChaCha The “For Sale” sign must have been on a pizza delivery vehicle that sped past the building early that morning.

  • David Steele

    This is the new church nearby that they recommend St. Anne’s parishioners start attending.
    http://goo.gl/maps/U0qI6  The absurdity would be funny if it were not such a sad statement on our society.

    • RaChaCha

      The new church, SS Columba-Bridgid, was built after the previous one burned.  The Diocese gave Arbor Construction a no-bid contract to build the new church.  One could imagine Arbor being quite grateful for that — and other no-bid work — and, in return, giving the Diocese a structural report on St Ann’s supporting whatever foregone conclusion the Diocese wanted.  Yes?
      Hey, honey — does this comment make me look cynical?!

    • sobuffbillsfan

      David Steele I thought the same exact thing.  The immigrants that pooled their money to build this church will be essentially shamed when it comes down.  Take religion out of it, these buildings are a physical depiction of those peoples dedication, values and vision.  Essentially by letting it go we say it doesn’t matter.  
      Its ironic in times when people seem so desperate to connect with something, most have not connection to place, or physical space.

  • AllentownChris

    “…capital projects at St. Ann’s were scaled back and preventative maintenance was postponed, resulting in an increased rate of deterioration.”
    A classic example of demolition by neglect.

    • wtupperguy

      Or a classic example of doing what one can only afford

  • greenca

    Let’s say the diocese can come up with the $8-12 million that’s needed to restore this church.  What next????  A related article stated that the congregation worshiping in the shrine in the school building numbered 35.  How can a congregation that small even contemplate maintaining a structure of this size and age?  
    Unfortunately, there are countless churches of similar beauty throughout the city, as well as throughout many, many other cities around the county (as well as Europe) that are endangered due to severely declining congregations.  I don’t think it’s logical to expect the catholic church to renovate and maintain what would essentially be a large collection of beautiful church building museums that for all intents and purposes pretty much sit empty year round.  
    The population that built these beautiful edifices are no longer around.  The density of people living in the neighborhoods around these churches are but a small fraction of what it was when these churches were built and were thriving.  By and large, the people who are living in the local neighborhoods surrounding these endangered buildings are not predominately catholic (therefore the people living there would not be inclined to worship in these buildings).  Additionally, with the fact that church attendance is down amongst the population as a whole (including catholics), coupled with the decrease in church-going population discussed above, causes an unsustainable situation.
    I am very interested for anyone to present a realistic plan for all of these buildings.  If they aren’t used as churches, then what?  Concert halls (ala Babeville) are not the answer for all these buildings.  As wealthy as the diocese is (as well as the Vatican), there simply is not the money to maintain and renovate these buildings across North America and Europe that are no longer being used for their intended purposes. Even if there was, I would argue that there are other uses for any excess money that is closer to a church’s humanitarian mission.
    I am very saddened that this gorgeous and irreplaceable building will no longer be around.  But I do not see any other realistic alternatives.  I am not being facetious in my asking for a realistic reuse plan.  Can we have a conversation that reflects economic and demographic realities?

    • paulbuffalo

      It’s frustrating that the Church doesn’t have a master plan regarding their properties that they are willing to share with their communities.  Perhaps, if they were more transparent regarding their long-range intentions, it would be easier for communities to understand/prepare.

      • Davvid

        Exactly. I’m really bothered by the diocese’s lack of foresight on this.

      • wtupperguy

        If the church could come up with a master plan these churches wouldn’t have been built in the first place. They can not predict what future attendance will be.

        • paulbuffalo

          Perhaps, attendance cannot be predicted but trends can be analyzed.  If they don’t take advantage of available demographic data — and I’d be surprised if they don’t — then they can always scrutinize the collection plate and bodies in the pews.  I used to be an altar boy and I watched the priests comment on the number of parishioners after most masses.  They know what is happening in their parishes.
          The way the Church chooses to dispose of properties nationwide isn’t making them any friends.

        • pampiniform

          paulbuffalo  
          So what do you think the church should be doing with the properties it no longer needs?

        • Davvid

          Were there any real surprises in population growth/loss over the last 15-20 years in this neighborhood? 
          Also, the building’s problems are structural. I’m wondering exactly what they are and how long were they in the making.

        • greenca

          pampiniform
          That’s the million dollar (plus) question that no one seems to want to answer.

        • pampiniform

          Davvid  
          I’m sure the church was well aware of the changes in the neighborhood  What were they supposed to do?  They kept a lot of churches going down there as long as they could. 
          Those structural problems had to have been decades in the making.  I imagine that the parish tried to do the best it could trying to maintain an aging church with dwindling attendance.  The article mentions there being structural flaws that are unique to this church.  If I recall correctly, the parishioners actually built this church themselves in order to save money rather than hire builders.  I think it was an actual Jesuit priest /brother who designed it.  So perhaps that helped contribute to it.                   
          You can see there is clearly a lot of damage to the masonry along the facade.  I think that’s one of the things that is scaring the diocese: the thought this building could collapse and hurt or kill someone.

        • paulbuffalo

          I don’t have answers but since it affects so many communities in the United States, it’s a topic that I would think is more worthy for open discussion/action than only the humble BR site.

        • Davvid

          Here is a wild thought. Keep in mind that its only half baked so bear with me.
          Its inspired by Marina Abromovic, the famous performance artist. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/422090958/marina-abramovic-institute-the-founders toward building a Performance and Education Center in Hudson, NY. Shttp://galleristny.com/2013/08/marina-abramovic-now-selling-hugs-for-1/. 

          What
          if a coalition of local and non-local arts organizations and deep
          pocketed individuals formed around the goal of creating a
          major Culture/Technology Biennial in Buffalo, NY. The event would be a constellation of exhibitions, lectures, concerts that take place in a series of buildings owned by or partnering with the Biennial coalition. Imagine a collection of sort of “shabby chic” industrial and church buildings withhttp://www.wallpaper.com/galleryimages/17053989/gallery/04_Venice-Biennale_Aiweiwei.jpg art http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/05/30/arts/30VENICE-FLOATER/30VENICE-FLOATER-superJumbo.jpg, events, film showings, performances, technology demonstrations etc.   
          Crazy. I know. But this is time for Hail Mary thinking.

        • Rand503

          pampiniform paulbuffalo Perhaps the same thing it does with cemetaries it no longer needs — set aside a fund to keep it maintained in perpetuity.  
          But the bigger question is what did the people who raised the money to build the church think.  Of course, they are all gone now — but it was their donations that built it.  Their wishes and their decendents should have a say in the disposition of the church.

    • Rand503

      greenca I too would like to have a plan.  But we aren’t the owners of the church.  Furthermore, we aren’t holding the church in trust for the people who worked and saved and built it.
      Remember — the church did NOT build this church.  The parishioners did.  They donated the money and gave it to the church and agreed that the church would hold the building in trust on their behalf.  The church should have had a plan a long time ago to take care of this trust.  They did not.
      Instead, they just treated it like another piece of property.  They could have had a simple plan — no more churches built in the suburbs.  If you want a place to worship, there are numerous churches already built in the city.  You have to come into the city on Sunday’s to worship, but you can go to any catholic church that you like.  Had they even had that simple plan (one that would have been cheaper than keep building new structures out in the suburbs), it would have kept them alive, and perhaps would have kept the community somewhat in tact.  But they didn’t do that.
      Or the church could have worked with community leaders to find new immigrants to take the place of the ones fleeing for the suburbs.  Or they could have worked with political and business leaders on how to keep jobs in the city so that their parishioners could stay there.  Or they could have worked with any dozens of organizations on behalf of people to maintain the local economy,  But they didn’t do that.
      It’s a little late now, but they share some of the blame for not having a congregation.

      • greenca

        Rand503 greenca

        Even accepting the unrealistic proposition that the
        church should have  implemented the policy of requiring suburbanites to attend church in the
        city (meaning they’d have to get in a car even if they were within walking
        distance to a suburban church), church attendance would have declined even more
        dramatically than it actually did.

        • Rand503

          greenca Rand503 And you know that how?

        • greenca

          Rand503
          Common sense
          dictates that a sizeable percentage of people would stop going to church if they were commanded
          to drive a half an hour to do so. It’s easy enough for people to stay home if
          it’s only 5 minutes away. Only the hard-core catholics would follow such an
          edict.Or they might decide to join
          another denomination that believes in serving the neighborhood and community in
          which one lives.
          Let’s have the old lady who is uncomfortable with driving take a 30 minute ride to the east side during a snow storm just to go to church.

        • Rand503

          greenca Rand503 Any catholic who decides to become a protestant or a methodist or a jew or an atheist merely because the church asks him to worship at St. Ann’s was never a catholic anyway.
          Sorry, but it’s just ridiculous to assume that anyone would change their religion just to accommodate easy parking in the suburbs.  And that makes a mockery of people who honestly believe their religion.

        • greenca

          I believe you stated in a previous post that you live in Clarence. Forgive me if my memory is bad. By this post I am making the assumption that you are catholic. Which east side parish do you belong to, attend every week, and support financially?

        • Rand503

          greenca Well, I guess if you can’t discredit the ideas, then the next best thing is to discredit the person, right?  That’s an age old tactic.
          For the record, I grew up in Clarence and my family is Polish American, which means we are catholic through the bone going back centuries. We attended the Blessed Virgin Mary church on Main St since it was built in the 60s.  Since I’m gay, I realized eventually that the church is on a crusade against me and my friends, so I have left it, and I don’t attend any church.  
          Financially, I support many non profits, serve on the board of three, and I regularly bring out of towners to Buffalo to show off our architectural heritage (will be doing that again for a family from Washington later this week).  I also support sevearl architectural groups in Buffalo with meager donations, but also attending events and tours.  More importantly, I have been working with (at or least trying to work) with many different civic, political and business leaders in Buffalo to encourage an innovation economy, with an emphasis on the east side.  
          So, yes, I am deeply involved in the community, but I wil l not give a penny to an organization that does everything to same shame gays and lesbians and no longer seems interested in the poor.

        • greenca

          Rand503
          I am not trying to discredit you.   In fact I applaud you for doing what you have done (leaving an institution that for some reason teaches that something is intrinsically wrong with you, as well as your support and passion for historic preservation.)  
          You made an assertion that the catholic church should demand its suburban members to attend a city church, rather than a suburban church, to which I replied that many catholics would leave that denomination.  
          As you have left that church (as have I), it is not a difficult thing to do.  I’ve read that according to a study the catholic diocese of buffalo published a few years ago (I believe it was by them), approximately 1/3 of those who were baptized in this diocese as catholics in years past have left the catholic church.  I argue that this percentage would be higher if there were no suburban churches built.  
          I grew up in a suburban very catholic community, knew very few non-catholics growing up, and looking back there were probably very few “true” catholics out there. I know very few “true’ catholics today; most who still consider themselves catholic due so out of habit and upbringing, not due to irrefutable belief in catholic doctrine.  These people, if pushed, would likely leave the church as well if they were told they would have to drive in from Clarence or East Amherst to the east side to attend church and religious education.
          In summary, I am deeply saddened that this irreplaceable building may come down.  I just don’t see many feasible and realistic reuses for it., and no one else seems to be posting any either.  It’s unfortunate that this building came to where it did.  That happened when the city and society changed (change is a part of life and culture) and the population who built these buildings and worshiped in them left the neighborhood.  If there is blame, that’s where it lies.  I don’t believe any church should be in the business of only maintaining beautiful real estate if there isn’t a sustainable congregation to utilize these buildings for their intended purpose.  For the ones that could be converted to other uses (e..g, Babeville, St Mary of Sorrows, etc.), it’s wonderful that those structures were saved.  I’m afraid there are too many beautiful churches around the east side that will never have close to full pews again for a variety of reasons.  The world that built these buildings has passed and won’t be coming back.  
          Maybe this can me mothballed; that would depend upon whether there is any real danger of collapse.

  • MartinKemp

    What a shame, criminal actually that such a beautiful building with history no less has to come down due to the fault of the church itself for putting off and scaling back work over the years probably to help fund gold robes and Prada shoes for their head in Rome. For all the Billions the Catholic Church has stolen I mean collected and stashed…honestly, I wish they could be investigated for the thievery they have gotten away with over the century’s. And people like lemmings follow these crooks and kneel before them every Sunday.

  • phil1

    To Ken Stackowski:
    AMEN!  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Articulate, thoughtful and heart felt!

  • jvgriffis

    “The US Supreme Court is staffed completely by jews and catholics.”
    Nice sentiments there, pal.
    Crap like this makes me a proud atheist.

    • texpat

      An atheist has likely examined religion before making a conscious decision to reject it so, therefore, he or she has every right to comment about it.  By your logic, you should not be allowed to comment about atheism since you aren’t an atheist, yet that hasn’t stopped you has it?

    • GotAnyChange

      KenStackowski texpat  
      I see what you are saying, for some reason it is considered safe for people to bash christianity in the mainstream but racist to bash other religions. Tables have turned in America. 
      However Bill Maher is at least consistent in his equal opportunity bashing of islam along with christianity. Maybe not to the same extent, but he does it. (Not saying its necessarily ok to bash everyone, but consistency is less suspect and more respectable, i guess.)

      And also if this is the one and only PaulSobo, it is curious why you chose to always be changing your name on here when your posts are the most instantly recognizable of anyone.

      I must also point out that your duty as a christian is to plant seeds in nonbelievers, not being so dismissive. People perceive you as ‘representing’ and are turned off.

    • SouthtownSimpleton

      GotAnyChange KenStackowski texpat 
      I’d bet dollars to dimes that it’s PaulSobo/Tominbuff/BettyW/etc. 
      The Jew-bashing rants are always a dead giveaway.

    • greenca

      SouthtownSimpleton GotAnyChange KenStackowski texpat
      I was just going to say this. His Antisemitism, racism and general writing style make it obvious.
      And to think this miserable excuse for a person purports to be a God-fearing Christian. Unless he’s a member of Westboro Baptist and Fred Phelps is his pastor, his views don’t have a home in any church community.
      Can’t his IP address(es) be permanently banned?

    • EB_Blue

      KenStackowski texpat I believe in science.

    • GotAnyChange

      Do you believe in love, relationships, honor, or basically any concept we all experience yet can’t be ‘seen?’

    • texpat

      GotAnyChange KenStackowski texpat 
      The Christian persecution complex is in overdrive.  As they see their stranglehold on telling everyone else how to liv, suddenly they are being bashed.  Well, if you get on the internet and read a lot of the crazy crap that is written by so called Christians it is easy to see why.  Newsflash for you though, not being able to tell other people how to live isn’t being bashed.  Having the crap beat out of you on the street for being different is.

    • SouthtownSimpleton

      KenStackowski texpat  
      I’ve got a personal question for you, Ken/Paul/Betty/Tom/Christie: 
      What the hell is your problem with jews, anyway? 
      My best friend growing up was Jewish. His family was as hard-working and piss-broke as anyone else out in our little podunk country neighborhood, and no-one looked down on them due to their family’s background or religion. They were just folks trying to get by like the rest of us, an they were damn good neighbors. 
      Who pissed in your cheerios?
      (Everyone in my family was baptized Roman Catholic, by the way, because apparently that matters to you.)

    • texpat

      KenStackowski texpat GotAnyChange 
      Just as I said, the sour grapes of a majority no longer able to impose its will.  I include all religions in that group.  Understand if you can that you can still go to work and think in your head whatever thought that you want, but when you say that thought out loud and it is dismissive or derogatory of someone else then you have no right because it is not about you; it is about the other.  As for schools, send your kid to Christian school or a Muslim school if that is how you want them to be educated.  If you send a kid to a public school, funded by the public then the education the receive should be free of religious content; except as history or theory.

    • KenStackowski
      you are somehow able to think for yourself but no one else is.  everyone else is a victim of indoctrination.  
      ok, got it.

  • paulbuffalo

    ‘Out when the greatest artists and sculptures of 2000 years and in came 3rd world scribblings.’
    ChristieLou, I don’t get it: you scribble on BR twenty times a day.

  • NewBuffalo

    The neighborhood around this church is pretty much gone. Unless a miracle happens to bring people back to this side of town, we’ll continue to watch it vanish.

  • solonggone

    Have not really found Anti-Catholic comments but I am sure they will show up.  
    For those of you who have issue with the decision of the Diocese to abandon and demolish the building, I have a couple of questions:
    If a person of faith but not Catholic, how much does your church give to charity?  What kind of services does it provide?  If not of faith, say ‘proud atheist’ just what do you do to contribute?
    The reality is, even with a loss of numbers, the Catholic Diocese gives a tremendous amount back to the COB.  So before people go and bash them on what they due with buildings, how about starting a fundraising drive to match the millions they give to the poor and needy.  
    Maybe the most Holy Rev. Darius Pridgen and his flock could find a way to support the East Side…penny by penny…just like this church was built?  Just a thought.

    • paulbuffalo

      BuffaloRising, kudos: once again, you’ve let ChristieLou hijack another article.  Why not just put him on your staff as your local Racism contributor.  Hurry, before KenStackowski resurrects himself into another cartoon character.

  • pampiniform

    Damn, unfortunately that I had predicted on several previous threads would happen has come true.  It is really depressing, even though I knew in the back of my head that this building was going to be a hard save.  I think of all the most endangered structures in Buffalo, this is easily one of the most historic, and even in its current beat up state is still an imposing edifice on that largely barren part of Broadway.
    So I know the church has profaned the church, and there isn’t a viable parish there, but is that all there is?  Is there anything that could be done to save this church?  Obviously $8-12 million is a lot of money, but if ,as some of the parishioners were claiming, the building could have work done much cheaper to stabilize it and buy some time, would that be something that you could raise funds for?  Would the Catholic church be willing to sell the place off to another party, say like they did with Transfiguration?  If they did, would they still be liable for any damages if someone gets injured on the property?  
    I guess I could learn to get used to another empty lot in that part of town, but I am going to hate to see that great part of Buffalo history reduced to a pile of rubble.

  • Seydlitz

    Ok, I know this church is rundown but seriously CDOB? This is why we need to stop wasting time and effort with Trico when you have much more significant buildings like this under threat.

    • greenca

      Seydlitz 
      What do you propose to do with this building should it be saved?  Ideas please.  Make sure they make economic sense (meaning a huge performing arts space, lofts/apartments, etc. probably will not work in this particular location.)  At least Trico has a variety of potential feasible reuses.

  • JSmith11

    So sad, and such an indictment of our lack of concern for beauty in our everyday surroundings. St. Ann’s reminds me immediately of Notre Dame Cathedral. The idea that the Diocese is prepared to casually throw it away is simply absurd and tragic.

    • solonggone

      JSmith11 What’s tragic is your claim that this is casual.  Why don’t you ask the 1000s of people who get support from the CDOB what they would rather have…a warm meal, medical services and the like OR a Church for a parish that does not exist.  
      I am sure the CDOB would be willing to sell the building to a group.  Are you looking to buy?  How about commenting on the ‘mega churches’ that fill the east side?

      • Davvid

        solonggone Do you have any reason to think that the diocese exhausted all of their options? Do you see any signs of creative problem solving?

        • RaChaCha

          Davvid You put your finger on it, right there!

        • wtupperguy

          RaChaCha Davvid I don’t see a huge rush of people clamoring to buy Buffalo’s old churches.

        • Davvid

          wtupperguy Right….hence the need for creative problem solving.

        • solonggone

          Davvid wtupperguy People want creative problem solving but can’t even put out a single idea of their own.
          Would love to hear some ideas from others on what the CDOB should do.  
          I actually put out an idea.  Why not ask True Bethel Baptist Church to relocate from their current location, which is nothing special and take over St. Ann’s?

        • greenca

          solonggone Davvid wtupperguy 
          Interesting idea, but I’m afraid the aesthetic of this church is very much not in line with the congregants of True Bethel Baptist.  It’s a beautiful building, but completely out of the cultural context of an African-American church.  (Note – this is absolutely not a reflection whatsoever on True Bethel.  Those congregants would feel as “at home” in this building as the German Catholics who built St Ann’s would have felt “at home” in a building built in the aesthetic of a typical mainline Protestant church of that era.)
          Besides,  why would True Bethel want to assume millions of repair/renovation costs, as well as much higher operating costs (e.g., utilities)?

      • JSmith11

        My understanding is:
        a) The parish does exist, because the parishioners are pleading to the Vatican to intervene and instruct the diocese to keep the church open.
        b) The diocese is not interested in selling the church. They have apparently taken that option off the table, and demolition is their stated intent.
        There are plenty of reasons this church is in the predicament that it is currently in. Perhaps it is doomed for those reasons. None of them change the fact that it is sad and tragic that our culture is so ready to discard such beauty and craftsmanship.

        • wtupperguy

          JSmith11 A faithful few can not afford to keep the place open let alone do the repairs.

  • RaChaCha

    Post-Vatican II Mass order: the Liturgy of the Word, followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist, followed by the Liturgy of the Wrecking Ball.
    Holy Hand Grenades, Batman!

  • texpat

    Isn’t there a parish in Georgia looking for a church?  Sell them this one, since it seems the bishop is hell bent on bringing it down anyway, and then use the funds to endow a trust for the upkeep of other parish churches to stop this cycle.

  • GotAnyChange

    This sucks, but It’s not the responsibility of the church to use millions from elsewhere to fund a church that has no flock in a dying part of a city.
    Ideally we would be able to find some public funds to make the needed improvements, but then use it as what? And could those funds be put to better use elsewhere in a more populated area?

  • foreverbflo

    I did not read all the comments here, and maybe this was covered, but – I wonder if they thought of putting it up for sale first? selling the structure/campus as is? It is located less than 1 mile from downtown. 
    Or, does the diocese perhaps – ala Paladino – plan on sitting on the property until better times/markets come along?

  • OldFirstWard

    The diocese should upload the engineering report in a PDF with accompanying photos for all to view and analyze.  You never know who might read it and produce a viable solution.  Either way it would help with transparency and documentation.  
    They say the extra penny we in Erie County are charged for sales tax brings in about $90 million a year.  So if we increased the sales tax from 8.75 to 9.00 for one year and put ALL THE MONEY in a escrow account, that would give us $20 to $25 million to use as a preservation fund controlled by a citizen panel.  OR, let the county kick in some funds from the extra one percent that was supposed to be rescinded, along with the city, and stabilize our most valuable assets.  I would agree to it instantly.  Would other citizens?  All the former city residents who now reside in the suburbs?  Every year the people could vote to renew.  If people actually could see tangible results instead of the money padding pensions and paying for county workers and benefits, people might get on board.  
    How about the Church renovating the shuttered parish buildings and use them for retired priests and nuns instead of building new buildings like the large priest retirement home at the end of McKinley Pkwy that was constructed a few years ago.

    • GotAnyChange

      Although already high, I would agree to it. The question is, could we trust that those funds are used for their stated purpose and don’t get siphoned off for other uses? Me thinks not.

  • greenca

    KenStackowski 
    Sort of funny that Paul/Lou/Betty etc. is worried about prejudice.  Look in the mirror and report yourself.

  • paulbuffalo

    KenStackowski 
    ChristieLou, thanks for the tip.  I just called.  I said KenStackowski sent me.  They seemed to know who you are.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    A few years back I went to a Christening at St. Mary’s in Swormville.  At that time they were still in the small old church on Transit rd.  But they had completed their funding for a brand new building.  All well and good I had been to a few weddings in July in that old building with no AC.  What struck me though is that the Priest was proudly declaring that they had funded this new building as a parish almost completely independent of the diocese.  I couldn’t help but sit there and think that maybe that money could have been better served other places in the WNY diocese.  I thought about if the mission of the church wouldn’t be better served if some of the middle class and wealthy whom had moved out of the COB could be better served and do more good if they were encourage to drive down to one of the old parishes sort of a church exchange program and gotten more involved.  Not only could have they helped the neighborhoods, but they could have help preserve some of these great buildings.  Some may call me idealistic, but I truly believe that it could have been an enlightening experience for many people whom thought this new church would enhance their spiritual life.

  • pampiniform

    It should be interesting to see if any of Buffalo’s preservationists chime in on this.  I think if you want to argue about something being our “cathedrals” as I saw on here recently, this looks a whole lot more like it than a grain elevator.  I don’t know if there is anything that can be done, but it seems like a shame to let a building like this go without a fight.

    • pampiniform  
      consider -me- a preservationist who chimed in.  i also an non-theist.
      and i am royally p’ed off about the abandonment and destruction of these magnificent churches.

  • RaChaCha

    The bogus Arbor engineering study is the church preservation equivalent of “exploding rocks.”

    • pampiniform

      RaChaCha  
      Now come on, have you seen the study?  Or are you just making a sweeping statement like that?

      • whateverr

        pampiniform
        Interrogator!
        (Just kidding.  Those are good questions to RaCha.  I too wonder if there’s any factual basis to that “is” accusation with which his comment vilified the Diocese.)

        • Spock1

          whateverr pampiniform  
          So, who was that “interrogator” joke directed at anyway?

      • RaChaCha

        Arbor gets no-bid work from the Diocese, and is in their pocket. Work by firms independent of the Diocese give a much more manageable picture of the structural issues and restoration needs of the church.
        “Exploding rocks” refers to the classic WNY example of how clients with $ can get studies and engineering reports showing what they want, no matter how divorced from reality.  Another, more recent, example is the statements by Siracuse engineering, cited by BNMC, that Trico was so structurally compromised they didn’t consider it safe to let their engineers go in it again.  BNMC cited those statements in front of Common Council despite knowing they were false.  At the very same time they were citing them, they were letting people go in the building in their street clothes, without a single piece of safety equipment.

        • pampiniform

          RaChaCha  
          So did you read the report then?

        • whateverr

          RaChaCha
          RaCha>”The bogus Arbor engineering study”
          RaCha>”Arbor gets no-bid work from the Diocese, and is in their pocket.” 
          Are you accusing accusing the Arbour Construction firm of dishonesty in their assessment (which is http://www.wgrz.com/assetpool/documents/130818125750_St%20Ann%20Church%208%2018%2013.pdf ) or of incompetence?  
          Based on what direct facts are you accusing them of dishonesty or incompetence?
          Those are serious public accusations you’re making about them.
          It isn’t as though the Buffalo Catholic Diocese is against restoration of unneeded buildings when feasible. They’ve received praise for it and been pointed to in other places as a role model for this 
          http://www.cleveland.com/religion/index.ssf/2010/02/buffalo_catholic_diocese_finds.html
          “Buffalo Catholic Diocese finds buyers for many churches closed in downsizing
          BUFFALO, N.Y. — Amid the closings of Cleveland Catholic churches, city officials — vexed by visions of vacant buildings in struggling neighborhoods — might want to take a look at what’s up in Buffalo.
          Despite a weak real estate market, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese has had surprising success in selling its closed churches — often hulking, high-maintenance, heat-draining structures. To date, the diocese has sold 38 of the 77 church properties it closed during a three-year downsizing plan that began in 2005.
          … Some churches were turned into private residences. Others were sold to various religious groups. “We’ve sold to Muslims, we’ve sold to Buddhists,” said Keenan.
          Two churches have been turned into museums. Another is now a recording studio for Christian music.”  …’
          Are there any facts which indicate that the Diocese is dishonestly against reuse of this St Ann’s building while it has supported future reuse of so many other buildings?  
          And that they’d pressure Arbour Construction to be dishonest in their report?
          And that Arbour would comply?

        • pampiniform

          whateverr RaChaCha  
          Wow, that place sounds like it’s in bad shape.  I would bet it would be actually pretty pricy to stabilize it.  And I can see why the diocese is worried about it.

        • RaChaCha

          “Those are serious public accusations you’re making about them.”
          Yep.

        • whateverr

          RaChaCha
          Yes, your previous comment declares that people who manage & work at the Arbour company deliberately wrote a false (“bogus”) analysis. Not just that they might have, or that you suspect they could have.  
          If anyone directly accuses others of lies and doeon’t have facts to back the accusation (or without even having seen the report?), I’d think it would say more about the accuser than it does about the accused.

        • RaChaCha

          Whatever(r)!
          You said “lies” — I didn’t.  I think they know what side their bread is buttered on.  Among engineering firms, they’re not alone in that.

        • whateverr

          RaChaCha
          You wrote ‘bogus’ which is defined to mean counterfeit and sham, the same as false.
          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bogus?s=t
          “bo·gus [boh-guhs] adjective
          1. not genuine; counterfeit; spurious; sham.
          Synonyms
          1. fraudulent, pseudo, fake, phony.”

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bogus
          “bo·gus adjective ˈbō-gəs
          : not genuine : counterfeit, sham
          Synonyms
             
          artificial, imitation, dummy, ersatz, factitious, fake, false, faux,
          imitative, man-made, mimic, mock, pretend, sham, simulated, substitute,
          synthetic” 
          Directly accusing that company of
          issuing a counterfeit and sham report when you didn’t cite any part of
          their work that isn’t true (and if you haven’t even read it? You didn’t
          reply yet to pampin’s question to you about that) is … well, I’ll
          leave that to anyone’s interpretation.

        • RaChaCha

          Whatever(r)!You said “lies” — I didn’t.  I think
          they know what side their bread is buttered on.  Among engineering
          firms, they’re not alone in that.

        • Spock1

          whateverr
          As long as we’re demanding that people here add substance to their accusations…
          You have repeatedly tagged developers who receive subsidies to perform urban adaptive reuse projects as “connected.” That implies that their “connections,” and not objective funding criteria, are the driving factor behind their receiving of public funds.   
          Do you happen to have any substance to back up your claims that public officials are engaging in serious unethical behavior to benefit the “connected?”

        • Spock1

          whateverr I’ll take it from the crickets that there is no substance to back up your implication that public funds are being handed out inappropriately based on connections.

  • Rand503

    KenStackowski Interesting that you believe that conservatives have a place in the catholic church, but not liberals. 
    Perhaps it is because of people like you that they have turned away from the church.

  • AllentownChris

    In Europe, churches last for centuries. I’m sure their congregations come and go. How do they do it?

    • whateverr

      AllentownChris
      As with here – some last for centuries, some are demolished.  
      “http://www.theinternationalchronicles.com/_the_last_supper_germany_s_great_church_sell_offwritten by Matthias Schulz for Der Spiegel 0pc on February 14, 2013
      Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. 
      Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor mountain climbing centers.
      The crew tasked with demolishing the Holy Family Church in the northern German town of Barmstedt arrived bright and early and began by removing the baptismal font. 
      Next, a bulldozer moved in and knocked down the main church hall and the bell tower. In the space of a just a few hours, this house of worship to the Almighty was reduced to a pile of rubble. ….”
      “http://eponymousflower.blogspot.com/2013/06/symbolic-demolition-of-church-in-year.htmlFriday, June 21, 2013
      … In France, the demolition of churches continues. After the church of Saint Jacques in Abbeville ( see separate report ), the church of Saint Pierre aux Liens Gesté was demolished in the western Anjou (Maine-et-Loire departments).
      The renovation of the Church of Abbeville was too expensive. 
      If the buildings are dilapidated, the mayor recently, called for the “deconstruction” as the “cheaper” means the termination. 
      …”

    • AllentownChris  
      in some countries, the churches get direct government support.

      • BeardedBuffalonian

        grad94 AllentownChris 
        Hello separation of church and state.

        • AllentownChris

          BeardedBuffalonian grad94 AllentownChris That means no state religion, has nothing to do with this case. Churches often receive public money in the US, St. Louis received about a quarter million for facade work just a few years ago.

        • BeardedBuffalonian
          well, exactly.  i like that amendment, too.

  • KenStackowski  
    like when you complain that there are catholics on the supreme court?

  • this is heartbreaking. 

    there’s always money for demolition and never money for rehabilitation.  whatever they’re planning to spend on tearing it down would probably go a long towards stabilizing it.

    • whateverr

      grad94 
      always demolition?
      never money for rehab?
      Seriously?  Buildings are always demoed and never rehabbed?
      The demo cost would pay for stabilizing it for how many years into the future, are you suggesting, in a way that’s safe for the public and staying fully compliant with city building codes which we all agree should be enforced?
      Plus how much to keep it fully secure for how many years (because as we often see said on here the owner of a building is to blame when there’s any vandalism, squatting, trespass, or other misuse of vacant buildings) ?

  • AllentownChris

    What is really needed is a return to the trustee system. Take all these churches away from the diocese and put them into the hands of the parishioners.
    In hindsight, if they had the means to build them, they could have also created an endowment to maintain them.

    • greenca

      AllentownChris 
      This was built by working class class parish who must have gathered and scraped together any available penny to build this magnificent edifice. It’s doubtful there would have been much left over for an endowment sufficient in size to maintain this property when there only 35 active congregants left and it’s been through over a century of weather (with all the deterioration that comes from time).  
      That’s the pickle of these beautiful churches.  The descendants of those who built them left the parish and neighborhood.  Those that remain are too few in number to maintain these structures.  I don’t have any answers; I am not sure if there are any reasonable answers that doesn’t involve turning these buildings into museums (if the money fairy rained down millions in cash on them).

      • AllentownChris

        greenca AllentownChris They had a hundred years to do it. A church in the hands of its congregants might have have the incentive and foresight to do it whereas the diocese did not.

        • greenca

          AllentownChris
          Was there anything stopping the parish from forming its own endowment?  I don’t believe there was.  Even though the diocese’s foundation might have managed the endowment in the later years, the restrictions imposed by the donors (e.g., for capital repairs of St Ann’s only) would have to be honored, absent a court order releasing the donor restrictions.

  • lafayette1985

    This could make an amazing community center for the neighborhood.  To help promote healthy living, the city could push to get farmers markets there occasionally.  It would also make a good location for summer programs for youth, like reading programs, tutoring, arts and crafts and working out like zumba or yoga.  Not that I expect the city to solve all problems, but this is a neighborhood that needs some real and meaningful assistance.  Investment rather than just demolition on the east side might help to reverse its downward spiral.

    • buffalorr

      The church is located just a short walk down Broadway from Lafayette Sq. It’s on the perimeter of downtown in area that’s been mostly demolished. There is a lot of vacant land all around it.
      I can see this area being developed in the not so distant future. This could serve as a hub for many kinds of activities for a new neighborhood. Why not mothball it for now? It’s not exactly falling over. Just asking that the wrecking ball be held off until options are explored. Please remember to attend the meeting tomorrow night as announced in this post.

      • lafayette1985

        buffalorr  I could definitely see a successful reuse of this building spurring development around it.  If nothing can be done quickly I agree with your idea of mothballing it until someone is ready to step in.  I could see a need for something now tho, even if its use changes eventually.  Spaces can change, especially in one this open, if the pews are removed and the building is stabilized there are unlimited possibilities for temporary uses.

    • whateverr

      lafayette1985
      “amazing community center for the neighborhood.  To help promote healthy living, the city could push to get farmers markets there”
      If the neighborhood is lacking in community centers or famers markets or places to ‘promote healthy living’, I’d bet there’s much more cost-effective vacant buildings available nearby which wouldn’t need anywhere near as much money to be made safe from collapse, heated in winter, maintained, secured, etc.

      • lafayette1985

        @whateverr  those buildings also wouldn’t have the historic appeal or charm of this building.  if this chuch was in elmwood village you would not be saying that.  just because its the east side doesn’t mean that they can’t have a nice building.  if the city is going to get better, we need significant investments

        • whateverr

          lafayette1985
          There you go again, laf1985, incorrectly & arrogantly telling me what I’d say about something.
          laf>”if this church was in elmwood village you would not be saying that”  
          Actually, yes I would have & say exactly the same opinion on it regardless of in which part of the city (or part of county, state, or nation) the building was located.
          A huge very old elaborate building such as St Ann’s would be a very inefficient possibility for a community center or other things you suggested. Costs for upkeep, utilities, etc.  A smaller more plain building – such as store fronts – would be much more sensible.
          (by the way – It’s fine for you to repeatedly be wrong in stating assumptions about what I think… the comments are all in good fun on here – although I wonder, at some point will you catch on that I have a very different way of looking at things than you do?)

  • oh, and a note to our resident anti-semite, christy-lou-tom-ken:
    david hirschbein, who is fighting tooth and nail to save this church?  he is jewish.  he told me so himself during a 7 churches tour.    he is trying to save this church because his deceased wife was a member and it was very important to her.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    There is no need whatsoever for this building to be torn down. I could see many other routes to take besides demo.

  • paschacha

    112 comments at this point, but not 112 new parishioners.

  • foreverbflo

    There are more options than the knee-jerk reaction to demo. In the least, those should be reviewed and debated with the remaining parish members. 
    Adaptive re-use
    Selling to a developer
    Salvaging the valuable and historical components….. anything! 
    But first – exhaust all options before demo. This is the least that the diocese can do for the faithful parish members. Cmon! Duh!