Preservation Buffalo Niagara (PBN) posted a notice on its Face Book Page that the Jefferson Street Shul at 411 Jefferson will be demolished today, starting at 8am. PBN states that rumors of the imminent demolition were confirmed by a representative of Niagara Falls based Regional Environmental Demolition company.
Apparently the City awarded an $82,0000 contract to the company for an emergency demolition. The building, also known as Synagogue of Lovers of Peace has also served as a Christian church under the name Church of God in Christ. Built in 1903, its age and rare moorish architecture make it a special part of Buffalo’s history and heritage. For this reason it was designated as a local landmark in by the Preservation Board in 1997. This designation theoretically gives the building some protection from demolition but, PBN states that a board member Terry Robinson informed them that the board did not see or approve the demolition.
The building has been vacant and neglected for many yeas. The Google Street View image included here does not show recent damage, with a large chunk of face brick missing from the front facade. The building is in rough condition but could be save if local leadership made it a priority. The reality is that this unique building will be gone by tomorrow afternoon. A group of people will be holding a vigil at the site tomorrow to bear whiteness and document the shortsighted destruction of the irreplaceable treasure . You can join them from 8:00 to 10:00 am at 411 Jefferson.
For more information on the building see this Buffalo Spree story . For more images of the building, including its beautiful interior, go to this link at Buffalo as an Architecture Museum. This site also has an extensive history of the building here. Finally, David Torke of the blog Fix Buffalo has an extensive set of images documenting the building over several years on his Flickr account at this link. His amazing collection also includes a set of construction drawings showing how the building is detailed, including a wonderful view of the framing for the dome.
This image is from the book Buffalo Architecture: A Guide published by the MIT Press, 1981.
This image is from the 1992 Book by author Oscar Isrealowitz, Synagogues of the United States. Note that this publications puts the building date at 1890 rather than the much later 1903 stated by the Buffalo architecture guide publication.