Sunday Service

There is not much more I can say about the short sighted destruction of the North Buffalo Church  at 375 Colvin.  Here is a bit of commentary that I gathered from around the web from others: From Bernice Radle’s blog

Buffalo was built when craftsmanship and detail was at an all time high in our country and in result, we have a building stock that is unlike any other. A cornucopia of building types built inspired by several styles.  This building is like a lot of them that are demolished… it’s built with three rows of brick, artisan detail in the woodwork from a profession that is no longer alive… arched windows that are no longer economically feasible to recreate and wood trusses that are made from old growth trees – a resource we have very little of these days. The buildings were built to last hundreds of years. They were built with pride, love and by ones who paid incredible attention to detail… something that we can no longer afford to built new today.
 
From Facebook: A commenter to a FB friend Sean Brodfurehrer stated – “Bottom line… Our city continues to look worse every year. The actual physical appearance of our city is getting worse. We lose far more than we gain. This is an example of a building that did not have to come down. Comerford and the mayor do NOTHING to keep our city looking nice.”
Another FB Friend states: Having lived on Colvin – 370, in fact – for most of my grammar school years, this building was a landmark for most of us kids. I can honestly say, and maybe some of you will understand this, that my eyes will hurt not seeing it there any longer.
From Buffalo Rising: in response to the claims the church was nothing special commenter Rand503 said -”The above comments prove a couple of things — familiarity breeds contempt, and we face an embarrassment of riches.
First, the comments show that when people live next to treasures for a long time, then no longer regard them as treasures. They are just “old buildings” of no value. I understand it takes a lot of effort to see things with a fresh pair of eyes, but that is what must be done.
The second point is that we indeed have a plethora of great churches and buildings in Buffalo. We are very lucky on that point. When you eat at a table laden with gold, silver looks just so mediocre. Nonetheless, it IS silver, and it’s a whole heck of a lot better than other cities have.
I just wish people could see it.”
From Preservation Buffalo Niagara:  ”North Buffalo has lost an important neighborhood landmark today, and it is PBN’s intent to pursue every available avenue in order to make the rehabilitation of our communities’ vacant religious spaces more of a reality than it was today.”

13600_536387873038264_1196686390_n.jpg

^The church being destroyed on Saturday 

The church as it was a few years ago seen in the image below.  Really quite simple and elegant.  Damn Shame that it was destroyed. Damn shame.

145.jpg^Photo Via Preservation Buffalo Niagara courtesy of Preservation Studios from the Spring of 2010, Interior of the
former North Park Baptist Church


About the author  ⁄ david steele

90 comments
sonyactivision
sonyactivision

yeah that's right, Atheism won. So go dance on the ruins of your vanquished foe.

whatever
whatever

pampin - very good, patiently written summary.

In honor of that, the 'tear down crowd' should be renamed the 'tear down extremist dramatic analogies crowd'.

STEEL
STEEL

Can you prepare a list of buildings you are willing to work on? That would be great help. Thanks in advance for stepping up. Get connected on the Preservation Ready FB page.

Jondeer
Jondeer

Just pulled the front in, this house of god wasn't that strong :(

I'm selling some decorative pieces if anyone wants to buy.

pampiniform
pampiniform

I think you're missing the point yet again. There's a big reason why Shea's is still around and this church isn't. When Shea's was threatened with demolition, a group of dedicated people stepped up and went to bat for it. This never happened with this church. Before the place was torched, there wasn't any discussion about this place. There was a clear - cut use for Shea's, there wasn't for this place. And as decrepit as Shea's was, if it had had a fire of that size, there'd be another empty lot on Main Street in its place. So I know you like to try to tie in one of the successes of preservation into this argument, you really are trying to compare apples and oranges.

whatever
whatever

"how much money do you think it cost to tear down?"

roam - the owner paid for this church's demo, not the govt.

STEEL
STEEL

Because Shea's fit their stupid idea that a building is only worth it's current condition and reason that a vacant derelict building should be torn down if that be the case. Shea's was derelict and vacant. Based on the wisdom of the tear down crowed we should have gotten rid of it. If you hold such a shallow position you need to follow it to its logical end.

pampiniform
pampiniform

>Why don't we just tear down Sheas Buffalo Theater right now?

You use that same stupid argument every time there's a thread like this.

pampiniform
pampiniform

You say that like there's something wrong with it...

r-k-tekt
r-k-tekt

Constructed 1923 and 1927

Originally constructed and occupied by the North Park Baptist Church

Other occupants:

Jewish Synagogue

Scottish Rite Cathedral, Freemasons, Buffalo, NY

Buffalo Korean Methodist Church, (current owner)

As per the Charter and Code of the City of Buffalo, 337-15, The Buffalo Preservation Board upon investigation has made a determination that 375 Colvin Avenue meets the following criteria as cited in the code to be listed as local landmark:

(1) It has character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation.

The building is an integral part of the North Park neighborhood of the city, a vibrant residential and commercial area of Buffalo developed in the 1920’s and originally known as “Colvin Park Estates”. The neighborhood has thousands of intact vernacular structures which include bungalows, American four-squares, craftsmen detailed commercial structures and a fine collection of houses of worship.

(3) It exemplifies the historic, aesthetic, architectural, archeological, educational, economic or cultural heritage of the city, state or nation.

The building reflects the diversity of the neighborhood and the constant changing demographics. Originally built as Baptist Church for a congregation expanding to this new residential neighborhood, it would then become a Jewish synagogue serving the growing Jewish population, then a Masonic temple and finally the home for the Korean Methodist church.

(5) It embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style valuable for the study of a period, type, method of construction or use of indigenous materials

The Romanesque style chosen for the church is a fine example of the revival styles chosen for houses of worship throughout the United States common in the early 20th century

(7) It embodies elements of design, detailing, materials or craftsmanship that render it architecturally significant.

The fine brick and stone detailing which includes a multitude of different brick coursings, masonry banding and arches is a wonderful combination of rich materials and careful craftsmanship.

(9) It is a unique location or contains singular physical characteristics that make it an established or familiar visual feature within the city.

The church has been a visual fixture within the neighborhood since its construction. The tower can be seen for blocks and as it is located on a major thoroughfare, (Colvin Avenue) and is seen by thousands of visitors and residents. The tower is the tallest structure for at least a square mile and is the centerpiece of the North Park neighborhood.

r-k-tekt
r-k-tekt

Your posts are becoming more and more ignorant and annoying...The building was not a danger to the community. If it was it would have been torn town as an emergency demolition...It wasn't.

As for being a significant historic structure...again it met at least 5 criterea as listed by the US Department of Interior for listing as a landmark.

ranjekna
ranjekna

I have never been required to profess anything. And I guess I must have missed that day when they told me what I'm suppose to believe. My experience has been that church is all-inclusive. What do you mean "anti-social" ? The community outreach at the churches I have been involved with would amaze you. We donate time, money and manpower to many causes. We donate to non-religious causes and causes associated with other religions. We care about the need of the person, not if we agree with their beliefs. I do the work and I don't try to convert. There are so many different denominations. I'm not Unitarian, but I understand that they are very liberal minded.

By the way... I don't know anyone who thinks that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Thanks for saying you're sorry. I hope you find something that gives you community aspects to enjoy .

GTO
GTO

is your imaginary friend feeling lonely?

JSmith
JSmith

Actually, I don't want to be disrespectful. I don't really have a problem with dogma and superstition, but it's just not for me, and it precludes me from joining any religion that I am aware of. Are you suggesting that it is not the case that many/most churches require you to profess an official set of beliefs (i.e., dogma), many of which are based in superstition (dictionary definition: "a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge")?

I'm sorry if I offended you. I actually don't really care what people choose to believe (as long as it doesn't lead to antisocial behavior). I was just saying I wish I could enjoy the community aspects of a church without being told that I need to believe the world is only 6,000 years old, etc., in order to join the club.

benfranklin
benfranklin

Agreed. In the summer I try to walk to church as often as possible. I get looks from some of the neighbors like ..."is your car broke?"

Most of the comments on BR that touch on religion get slammed pretty hard. A bit ironic all the hand ringing over a church being demolished, when most here haven't stepped inside one.

A desire to preserve the architecture, but not the way of life that made it possible, seems to be missing something important.

ranjekna
ranjekna

You don't want a conversation. You just want to be disrespectful. I accept other people beliefs, non-beliefs and life styles. You should comment without using insulting words.

JSmith
JSmith

I would love to see a church that promoted all of those community activities that you mention (pot lucks, dances, walking to church with your neighbors, etc.) but didn't have all of the baggage of dogma and superstition.

Jondeer
Jondeer

I smashed the rest of the pews yesterday

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

When was the last tme you actually used any church for its intended purpose...you know, to worship God?

I thought so.

ranjekna
ranjekna

What makes me saddest is what made the church in the first place has been gone for a long time. People have written that the church building was the anchor of the community. It wasn't the building, it was the people who built it and gathered there. It was the service where you met your neighbor and knew how they were doing. The pot-luck dinners, dances and all types of gatherings where you had a conversation with each other. People walked to church and saw their neighborhood in a slow friendly way, and they were seen. Now, people are too busy to go or they don't need church. Well, that's okay I suppose. But I go and donate to my city church. Membership is very low in most of the city churches and it is only a matter of time (a generation or 2)before there are many more vacant churches. I just think that the neighborhood lost something long before the bricks come crashing down.

STEEL
STEEL

This demolition is a reward to neglect. The ease that owners can get away with this kind of ownership is the reason it occurs time and time again. That report you cite sounds the same as the report every neglectful owner passes around when they want to get rid of the liability that they created by themselves.

Jondeer
Jondeer

The histerical society and the preservationist could buy a couple bricks if they want.

Stew
Stew

It is regrettable that the Korean Methodist Church essentially ignored the plea's of the neighbors, as well as the orders rendered in housing court by the city of buffalo, to secure and maintain this building and the property in general. Everyone needs to know that were many complaints filed by the neighbors, me included. This includes emails to our councilman, calls to the mayor's hotline, and in my case, calls to the pastor himself. On one occasion, I notified him of an opening in the lower windows, and literally said he would regret not securing the building when it was set on fire by intruders. Two days later, a 2x4 was nailed across the window. Obviously, it was ripped off a day later, and the antics resumed. A representative of the Upper New York Methodist Conference told me that they here unaware that all this had transpired. Who knows. In any case, the fire ultimately did happen.

After the fire, whether to enable demolition, or just as a matter of normal protocol, the city required that the church finally be secured, and all toxins within, be abated. It took 2 months for the crews to remediate the asbestos, mold, and lead contamination in the building,

A representative also told me that there were numerous serious structural issues with the building, including the front corner needing shoring up, one of the walls bowing, the foundation leaking such that the basement was flooding, and a post-fire roof that was less than structurally sound. I would love to see the 32-page application the church filed, and frankly find it curious that not a single person here has mentioned what is in that report, or what bearing that might have on the rehab or desirability of the building. Interestingly, the church was to present the report to the preservation board, only to find out two days before that the board cancelled the meeting. Too bad.

In any case, the fact remains that with the cost of toxics abatement and other issues, it was not economically feasible to reuse this building without financial subsidies. And the department of the interior does not grant historic preservation money if the sanctuary is changed in use or appearance. So prior projects failed to materialize. Who among us thinks that after the fire, a developer would be more likely, now, to redevelop this building.

No one wants to see buildings such as this torn down, but we can't undo the events of the last 6 years. The Methodist church finds itself owning a toxic, structurally unsound, liability laden building. I, for one, don't blame them for their decision to demolish. In my humble opinion, I think there would be literally a zero chance of selling this church. I suppose it could stand here another 10, 20, or more years, while the neighbors keep calling to have graffiti removed every month, and watch bags of drugs exchanged in the back alley. Sounds like a great "anchor" for the neighborhood, doesn't it?

bernicebuffalove
bernicebuffalove

To all the naysayers:

If the current owner left and a new owner was found who actually invested in the building and the neighborhood - would you be happy? Would you want investment into your neighborhood? Of course! Your property values would rise. Would you want a place that was occupied to help reduce weird crime activity and put more eyes on the street? Of course you would - your neighborhood would be safe again.

This comes down to ownership. The building doesn't deserve to be torn down, it deserves an owner that is willing to invest, care and love the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Now that its demolished, that wonderful opportunity is now lost, your property values will now be reduced and your neighborhood now has a major gap that will most likely remain weedy and vacant for a long time.

Lastly, please don't attack preservationists for wanting to make your neighborhood stronger for years to come. Instead, blame the owner for not caring enough to invest or sell and blame the city for not enforcing the same rules that you and your neighbors are held responsible for. It's not fair to you, your neighbors or the City of Buffalo to allow owners to break laws, devalue neighborhoods and buy properties they have no intention of using/loving/investing in.

Jondeer
Jondeer

Sorry for tearing it down, it's just another abandon building to me

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Why help, when it's just easier to sit on here and bitch about what the rest of us are not doing, Uber?

UberGeek
UberGeek

Publish a priortized list of at-risk properties, and if I agree with working on a particular one, I will be hammering on every contact I have in the CoB to get to work saving it.

rockpile
rockpile

Call it hostile,complaining after the fact,not being one of the people buing the church 6 years ago[I fall under that list]or pointing the finger at one another with political blog slinging,if I may term the phrase.Maybe this property was to far destroyed to be saved,I would like to know!But one fact about this article rings true,it is another inherited treasure we have lost.And it's perfectly fine to mourn it's loss.WeAreTheNormal did make a good point though not at the expense of being as proactive as each of us can to get involved in local preservation!This is my first blog on here or anywhere so take it easy on me,I have learned alot from all the intelligent articles&bloggers on BR,that being said I have never been proactive on local preservation but it starts with this blog and will continue fighting for BSAB!I'm sick of living in fantasy land[per say],these are lost economic oportunities period,whether they be lost housing stock on the east side,a relatively neglected historically Babtist Church in N.Buffalo,or a beautiful decaying Beaux Arts Administration building that can clearly be salvaged and cherished ounce again.

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

"Stabilize it"..then what. There was a fire and its an older building..I know we all love to think that any engineer or structural analyst hired by someone demolishing a building is lying and evil..so it won't be a simple lock the doors, board up the windows and drain the pipes shut down.

The church has been availabile for 7 years..what stabilization is needed at 10? additional at 12? Stabilize a building after a fire..eventually its going to need a new roof..later on foundation work etc. etc. etc..the list goes on and on and on. Where does the $$ end?

The problem with government involvement that you champion..is that the money would never be able to go far enough. (ignoring the fact multiple municipalities can't pay their bills now as is)

We could have a pro-active preservation division of the grounds crew with a $10 million dollar yearly budget..driving around the city "preserving" historic buildings and "saving them"..scratch that hoping someone from the private sector will come in and save them. The minute that budget is used up and we're at dollar $10million and one..you guys will all freak out..just as your doing now. Why?? Because you cannot save them all.

Limited public dollars for preservation limited choices...start off in the first year picking 10 of the most endangered abandoned/empty historic buildings. This church seemed to be abandoned. Rather than forced, expensive, government stabilization and ownership..I'd like to see forced sales. Then open up funding for renovations of top ten endangered historic structures. Banks aren't making normal loans..I couldn't imagine a how hard it is to get a loan for something in need of renovation. (Casino money when it comes anyone?)Match up private investors with these historic assets and move on.

2nd year pick 15...

3rd year pick 20...

UberGeek
UberGeek

What criteria did this building meet? Someone posted a list in another thread, and I am hard pressed to see it meeting any of the criteria.

UberGeek
UberGeek

See: That's the problem. The community had no ties to it, or else the community would have fought to keep it.

We can name several examples of rather nondescript churches (And buildings) being saved by the communities who felt strong ties to them: Riverside Academy (Previously, BPS School 60) is a prime example. Nothing special about it architecturally, or historically, but the neighborhood wanted to keep it, and they did.

informedone
informedone

According to the Buffalo News Article last week, Paul McDonald Chair of the Preservation Board stated the Pres Board couldn't pull this land marking status meeting and public hearing together because of "communication challenges." Isn't that the real crime here, the Board charged with protecting these properties is experiencing "communication challenges." Isn't it 2013? Who experiences communication challenges? I guess if enamored with all things in the past, a rotary phone hooked up to a land line is preservation.

Jesse
Jesse

Apparently it didn't matter THAT much...

RobH
RobH

Explain to me then, how with this veritable beehive of activity, a large church building on a major thoroughfare sat unused and boarded up for years, then had a fire in April 2012, but managed to escape the preservation community's notice until 8 months after said fire?

And explain to me then how all these groups and meetings are going to prevent another demolition from happening this Friday or the next.

You want to blame this church's destruction on the City's demo process, but you really can't. This church met 5 of the 9 blah blah blah criteria every single day after it was no longer in use, but nobody took action to have it Landmarked. Ditto for every single day after the fire. Only after the bulldozers were fired up did anyone spring into action. That is TOO LATE.

I'm sure there are good people doing good work out there, but clearly they aren't getting around to many at risk buildings. There does not appear to be any organized process for identifying, cataloging, and taking action in advance to ensure these structure are preserved. If there is, please enlighten me.

JSmith
JSmith

Well said! Although, after the fall of Rome they did tear most of it down (but for the purpose of materials salvage, not for landfill).

townline
townline

Though I did not seek it out - I do not remember this building ever being publicly on the market.

And 6 years?! In the course of the life of a city which can be hundreds or thousands of years, 6 years is a blip on the radar. To decide its no longer worth keeping around just because it wasn't used for six years is among the stupidest things I've heard. Can you imagine what Rome would look like if they tore down every building that was vacant for at least six years?!

Even if its not an architectural masterpiece, these buildings are absolutely integral pieces of our neighborhoods and urban landscapes. Every time one gets torn down, our city becomes that much more of a shithole. This was a good building and it seems that it was not in so disastrous of shape (even though the previous owner illegally helped its deterioration along by exposing it to the elements).

Its shameful that we continue to let this happen. The City needs to enforce building codes and require a much more stringent review process for demolitions, that includes a site redevelopment plan with a binding time frame.

In the end - the delinquent owner just gets to pay a little less on his taxes, that the rest of us City of Buffalo property owners will have to compensate for.

STEEL
STEEL

Do by the community you actually mean just you, a person who no longer lives there. OK I get it now.

whatever
whatever

Not everything which could be for sale if a decent offer comes along has a For Sale sign on it.

If it wasn't available for sale at all, why would Yots, Wilson, and Frizlen have all spent time considering design possibilities for it as reported in the other thread? And why would the Methodist group owners have let them walk through the building?

http://www.buffalorising.com/2013/01/north-park-church-what-might-have-been.html

"...In 2010, while working at Preservation Studios (a local historic preservation consulting firm), we [Tom Yots and Jason Wilson] participated in a walkthrough of this property with local architect and developer Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. We ultimately partnered with The Frizlen Group in proposing a design that would have placed residential units into the congregation space. ..."

STEEL
STEEL

Yea that's what I thought

JSmith
JSmith

Was it on the market? I don't recall seeing a for sale sign.

RobH
RobH

I think, Steel, that you can count on nobody to initiate this or any other plan.

Buffalo's preservation community appears to be amply supplied with hand-wringing bloggers, but painfully devoid of leadership. Cue up the wrecking balls.

buffaloroam
buffaloroam

RobH,

Your comments illuminate your ignorance. I am so sick of people sitting back and saying stupid things like... the preservation community only sits back and waits for demo permits to come in and then reacts. Have you ever been to a preservation meeting? Have you participated in events sponsored by the various preservation non profits and advocacy groups that are in Buffalo? Are you aware that they even exist? Are you aware of what they do? Apparently, not, what it seems like to me is that you and people like you sit back and wait for posts on Buffalo Rising about preservation fights and then complain that you didn't know about it before. That nothing was happening before your little Buffalo Rising bubble illuminated your mind that something was going on at the Corner of Colvin and whatever. Well I am sorry to burst your little bubble but it doesn't work that way! People are out there fighting everyday on these issues. People have identified at risk buildings and are attempting to be proactive. However, the only proactive tools that we really have as a society (unless your independently wealthy) is government. And the process at the city of Buffalo surrounding demo's has been broken for a long long long time. We have a culture of demolition that people have been talking about changing for at least 15 years that I know of, but nothing ever happens. So when you and Buffalo All Star sit back and say such enlightened things, maybe you should join a committee and see how things really work, and if not then shut up!

buffaloroam
buffaloroam

If it's big government your worried about how much money do you think it cost to tear down? How much money would it have cost to stabilize the building and wait for a private developer to fix it up and make some money off of it? I bet you dollars to donuts that its 10 to 1 the expense of tearing it down vs. stabilizing it. Also now the city needs to maintain a lot with mowing.

So since your argument involves a much greater government outlay and involvement are you still in favor of knocking it down?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

A Google search on "Weekes Phenomenon" turns up nothing other than your comment here. So perhaps that's a "Weak Reference."

300miles
300miles

WeAreTheNormal: "people look very silly when they bitch and moan about something after the fact."

In that same vein, you look very silly bitching a moaning against a fight that you've already said wasn't your own. If you don't want to read about other people's concerns then don't click on it. Pretty simple.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Interesting suggestion. When WNED made its documentary Buffalo's Houses of Worship several years ago, they featured 10 great Buffalo churches (although one, the Basilica, is in Lackawanna):

http://www.wned.org/productions/worship/

Now, several years later, one of those churches is vacant -- and threatened. Sounds like a natural candidate to head up a list.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

I am aware of the red X's and their meaning. I have better things to do than driving around looking for them. The practical thing would be to publish them for ALL to see on a weekly basis. Just like the property sales are listed.

As for the vandals and scrappers, hopefully neighbors can step up make the phone call. You have to try new ideas but I do admire your solution for doing nothing and recon for red X's, now that is leadership and thinking outside the box. (red box)

WeAreTheNormal
WeAreTheNormal

If you don't like it, do something about it. It's not my fight! I think Comerford is an idiot who has never met a demolition order he didn't like. Put pressure on the guy. Demand his removal from office.

Or find properties at risk of being demolished. Buy them. Hell, get them recognized as city landmarks or whatever else. Just do something other than complain.

All I know is people look very silly when they bitch and moan about something after the fact. You, sir, can be the catalyst for change if you wish.

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