On the day after Labor Day, on what would have been the first day of school at Saint Teresa’s in South Buffalo, there was a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the conversion of the school into loft apartments. Many of the Sisters of Mercy, who once taught in the school, attended the event, and expressed pride in the school’s history as well as the cooperative efforts bringing the school into the future.
Saint Teresa’s School opened in 1907 and closed in 2003. The building did not stay dormant for long before coming back to life as the School Lofts at Seneca Street. People are now living in the classrooms where children were once educated, where Tim Russert taught history and English. There is still a strong neighborhood community of people who stay connected and care.
Developer Karl Frizlen saw the value in both the brick building on Seneca and Mineral Springs and its surrounding community. In 2015, Frizlen Group Development purchased the St. Teresa School building and in 2016, began converting it into 36 apartments and one office space. Existing features like slate black boards, mosaic floors, large windows and wood doors were retained while modern layout and appliances were added. The conversion took about eighteen months to complete; currently all 36 apartments are rented.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Congressman Brian Higgins, Assemblyman Tim Kennedy, Councilman Chris Scanlon, County Clerk Michael Kearns and State Assemblyman Eric Bohen spoke. In addition, the Mayor’s representative Tuona Batchelor, and local community leader/cofounder of the Coalition for a vibrant Seneca, Mark Pasquale, shared their appreciation for the project.
The history of St. Teresa’s School has been written and preserved; now there is re-emergence activity along the Seneca corridor. One can imagine what the future will look like in the Seneca Parks community that the “Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca” is working to create. According to Karl Frizlen “The people of the Seneca Parks area have given us a warm reception and we are encouraged to support the area’s revitalization. It’s great to restore buildings, but ultimately, the goal is to bring back communities. That’s what we are going for”.