You read that right, this amazing limestone church designed by one of the same architects of City Hall, is being offered for $75,000. That’s a significant drop in the asking price of $450,000 three years ago. The price does reflect the work the building needs, but the rehabilitation costs can be largely offset by the historic tax credits available to the building as of right. It is located in the Hamlin Park Historic District and is ready to be brought into the program! More photos of the church and interior can be seen here.
St. Francis De Sales was dedicated in 1928 and was the third version the congregation had built on that site. Typical of most churches in early 20th century Buffalo, the parishioners continued to outgrow their space so the need for a new larger church came twice before the existing church. George Dietel, the architect of Buffalo City Hall, designed it with input from Murphy & Olmsted architects in Washington, D.C. The previous iteration was a combined church and school, which is currently the parking lot. It was shuttered by the Diocese of Buffalo in 1993 and has gone through a handful of different congregations since.
The building is clad entirely in limestone with a vibrant ceramic tile roof and tall campanile that is visible from miles around. Much of the stained glass has been removed over the years, but the striking rose window on the front remains completely intact. The interior is rich with ornamentation and detailing, but the real stunner is the large dome where the transept and nave meet. An oculi at the center of the dome pulls in natural light and at the right time of day creates a great beam of light.
As avid Buffalo Rising readers are already aware, reusing churches with historic tax credits is incredibly difficult since the interior of the sanctuary cannot be substantially subdivided. It’s all about maintaining volume of the space, which instantly kills any hope of a residential conversion if tax credits are in the mix. Until the Department of the Interior changes their Standards on how these historic spaces may be addressed, that is what we’re stuck working with for now. There may be an opportunity to insert apartments in the secondary meeting space below the main sanctuary as it has ample ceilings, great light from the clerestory windows, and an open floor plan.
A fantastic project in San Francisco has really pushed the envelope for reusing a large church, very similar to this one AND while using historic tax credits (someone please steal this idea for St. Francis). Check out the full article from Curbed SF for the details of the project, but in the mean time enjoy the renderings below for what could be duplicated here in Buffalo. Forum Design is heading the plans for the rehab of St. Joseph’s Church.