Concordia Cemetery: 150 Years of Buffalo’s History Needs Your Help

Everyone is
for saving historic buildings, reusing historic churches and restoring historic
parks, but what about a place that holds not only history, but the people who
helped to make it? Concordia Cemetery is the final resting place for
thousands of early residents of Buffalo, including over 450 war veterans of
which 125 are Civil War veterans. Currently there are over 16,800 people in the
15 acres that forms Concordia.

One of the
oldest cemeteries in Western New York, it opened in 1859–two years before
Abraham Lincoln became president, to give you an idea of how long ago that
really was. Other than the venerable Forest Lawn, Concordia is Buffalo’s only
other cemetery, tucked away on the East Side. (Correction: St Francis Xavier Cemetery is another cemetery within city borders.)

Though it
was founded when Buffalo was two-fifths German, by three German
congregations–St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church (1835), St. Stephen’s
Evangelical Church (1853), and First Trinity Lutheran Church (1839)–Concordia
came to be the final resting place of people of all ethnic backgrounds. 

Thumbnail image for concordia5.jpg

As luck (the
bad kind) would have it, Concordia was abandoned in 2003 after its former
treasurer stole the cemetery funds.  A group of family members of
those buried at Concordia came forth and volunteered, working hard to
accomplish much, but they are few in number after all of this time, and the
upkeep is hard work. One volunteer with more than 60 relatives buried in
Concordia, spent many hours at the cemetery working and organizing cemetery
records into computer search files. In addition, Concordia Cemetery has been
added to the National Register of Historic Places and the New York State
Register of Historic Places.

After
performing maintenance of the grounds, repairing the Victorian iron fence and
replacing the arched gate that had been stolen–along with repairing toppled
and broken grave stones–these few volunteers are no longer able to do all of
the work required. (Can we say
they’re not as young and strong as they used to be?)  

Thumbnail image for angel.jpg

There are no more
burial plots for sale, and Concordia, it seems, is once again at risk of
abandonment.  

The word
“Concordia” means harmony, and the current caretakers are hoping that
there are volunteers in the community who will blend with them in caring for
the cemetery.

Those
involved with the cemetery note a recent quote about Buffalo from The National
Trust for Historic Preservation: “This lakeside city harbors an unexpected
discovery around every corner. Offering a staggering range of cultural
resources…”  Those who have labored over this sacred and
historic place believe that Concordia is one of these hidden resources, and
they’d like some help in preserving it. 

Interested
volunteers can contact Diane Pesch-Savatteri at 716.685.2648 for more
information. 

[Update:  New Oxford Square resident and cemetery expert, John Bry, has confirmed that there are in fact 3 cemeteries in Buffalo proper and that St. Francis is the third, not mentioned in this article.

Bry went beyond that to say, "There is a
contact person from the city that has stepped in as a temporary trustee, and
the State Division of Cemeteries is working with them. But no further
interments will take place at Concordia until the cemetery can be brought into
compliance with mapping and coordination of lot sales. Until then, to me, the
cemetery is a passive cemetery now (or what I call a neighbortery) Not that
there is anything wrong with that. The cemetery can become a cultural location,
but that also means finding ways to bring in revenue and maintain the property
with no money coming in from traditional space sales. Tours, memberships,
grants are just a few possibilities.

"Forest Lawn
was designed as a park style/rural movement/aesthetic movement cemetery. People
call it different things, but the difference is it retains much more of its
park like setting, it was built on a far larger scale, and is more active.
The German influence at Corcordia never took on the refined form of landscape
design like Forest Lawn, but is still significant for its cultural
influence as an ethnic interpretation of 19th century burial and memorial
trends."

As a point of interest, Bry is in Indiana this weekend, delivering his "Moonlight at the Mausoleum" Irish wake themed event in a mausoleum built by his family in 1917.  John was particularly tickled to find out the Irish band from Indianaolis that he hired was "founded by a guy from South Buffalo."]

About the author  ⁄ JohnInCambridge

24 comments
B and B
B and B

Tell Mr.Bry that Forest Lawn, Concordia, Beth Jacob, and St.Francis = 4 :)

Funny he should say "the German influence" kept Concordia from being more landscaped (besides its small size, of ocurse) - because much of the landscaping at Forest Lawn was designed by Adolph Strauch . In fact, his missing planting plan is what FL needs in order to qualify for substantial restoration grants. Does anyone here have a big old map in the attic ?

david (fixbuffalo)
david (fixbuffalo)

Beth Jacob cemetery is currently in much better shape than the video in the 5th comment suggests. It is located adjacent to Concordia at the end of Landsdale, off Koons Avenue. The grave stones have been repaired and the fallen rotted trees have been removed along with the abandoned and burned out cars. The clean-up and restoration project was part of Josh Finkelstein's Eagle Scout project where over a 100 volunteers and several local businesses were organized over several work days during the summer of 2008.

Build_it_to_the_Curb!
Build_it_to_the_Curb!

What about the cemeteries across from south park? is that buffalo or lackawanna?

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

Chris 69, you have just made my day! I usually skip over your posts because of their repetitive nature and unsupported opinions, but you outdid yourself on this one. Classic!

"Feminism is a culture of death, a disease, a war against Christianity, god, family, children and everything that sustains a family and community."

lol!!! Funniest thing you've written in a while (well, at least that I've read). Bitter much?

Yes, what a terrible crime against Nature to treat women as equals! Imagine: affording them the same pay for the same work, the same rights to property and voting, pretending the silly fiction that women's ability to think and analyze is the equal of ours? (Why they worry their pretty little heads over such things I'll never understand. But you know how emotional the fairer sex can be. Hysterical, actually.) How is it possible that we do not all perceive the pernicious acidic affect upon our moral character emanating from such foolhardy misguidance as the turpitude embodied by feminism! We are doomed!

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

Yes, the cemetery faces Niagara Street and includes hundreds of tombstones. Unless vandals have knocked them all over again, they should be visible as you drive by.

grad94
grad94

um, on niagara just south of riverside park? only a handful of headstones, though. maybe someone can correct me.

grad94
grad94

so tell us about your marriage and children, you know, those people in the other room while your online at bro all day.

B and B
B and B

Back to the subject at hand ... you go ahead and find that street called "Genessee" near Harlem, and when you see that "cemetary" gate with CONCORDIA on it, let us know. I'll give you $100.

Is internet access at the Psych Center unlimited, or do they cut you off at pill time ?

Christine
Christine

Dear Grad94 and Dave,

Speaking as someone who has watched with feminist certainty has aborted the unborn, watched with certainty as feminists undermined fathers and marriage for the exclusive reproductive rights of women, maintained the exclusive minority victimization status in family court and divorce court, waged unrelenting antichristian war to destroy the church for women priests and abortion and other feminist issues, maintained the weak victimization status to avoid military service and further legislate hate crimes with the intent to stifle open debate, dissent and free speech...demand their own government agencies...declare all male gender organizations mysogenistic and must be open to both sexes and then purposely exclude and marginalize the male gender by declaring their gender exclusivity from everything to women's hospitals to women in business.

feminism is a culture of death...it is a disease...it is a war againt christianity, god, marriage, family, children and everything that sustains a family and community.

Sounds to me...in the battle of always being right the fate of millions of marriages, husbands, fathers, chrildren (born and unborn), euthanized seniors...have all paid the price...because feminists think their always right.

grad94
grad94

because christine is a man and will tell you, as a staunch anti-feminist, that men are always right.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

There is a cemetery in Riverside Park. At least there better be because I have family buried there.

Dan
Dan

The abandoned and mostly forgotten Beth Jacob Cemetery, located next to Concordia, is in worse shape, and more in need of help IMHO.

Dave
Dave

Why can't some people just admit they are wrong? This cemetry is no where near the ones you have mentioned.

Christine
Christine

Dear B and B,

Perhaps it is you that does not know Buffalo.

If one takes the Kensington to Harlem they will have access to a number of Cemetaries: Holy Sepulchre, United Catholic, St Johns, St Stanislaus, Mt Calvary...they are along a street called Pine Ridge...which meets Genessee...and of course the firse or last on the list depending on which direction one is coming will be Concordia.

My landmark for finding these memorials to our ancestors has been the Kensington and I-90. I suppose if one is used to city streets then Walden, Genessee, Harlem, etc might be better markers of location.

May they all rest in peace and never forgotten. Taking care of all these cemetaries is a responsibility of the living, it is a responsibility of our community. As I said, we are the people that we are because of all that was built by those who walked before us and provided the paths for us to build our futures upon.

NorthBuffRR
NorthBuffRR

Ummm, they said "in Buffalo" - the cemetaries on Harlem near the 33 are all in Cheektowaga...

For someone soooo attuned to the mistakes folks make on this site, I thought you would appreciate the correction.

B and B
B and B

In keeping with habit on this site, the address isn't mentioned. It's 438 Walden (where Sycamore ends)... so if Christine goes to Harlem & the Expressway, she/he will be sadly disappointed. That's Cheektowaga, Christine; how well do you know Buffalo?

There's also the tiny Jewish cemetery at the rear corner of Concordia, accessed from Lansdale Place. I think you've BRO has covered that, before. Short video here: http://gruntig.blogspot.com/2009/11/buffalos-old-jewish-cemetery.html

Meliq
Meliq

Wouldn't being designated as landmark status make it eligible for some kind of grant money or funds?

Christine
Christine

Concordia is actually one of 3 cemetaries. All of which are adjacent to one another and can be easily accessed off the Kensington at Harlem (I believe). Its not of the Elysian Fields design like Forest Lawn but a simple flat cemetary but the write is correct...filled with old growth trees and winding roads and historic sculptures dating back many many years.

If the cemetary no longer has the funds to be maintained then it needs to be taken over by the state. I believe that there are contingencies for defunct cemetaries under state law.

In any case...what makes Buffalo such a special place is that every Buffalonian walks into the future with the legacies left behind by previous generations. We honor them by being caretakers of the good they left behind ... and their resting places cannot be forgotten.

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