City Church Closed

Another church closing.


I photographed this former storefront church for the first time the other day. I began photographing these neighborhood churches after learning about the work of Camilo José Vergara (1944 - ) and his How the Other Half Worships (2005). I posted about these storefront churches in late October 2006 - Vergara on Church.

What makes this former storefront church particularly interesting is that it's located at 83 East Utica and on the major walking path from Utica Station to the new home of Performing Arts HS, see map. When I walked to school, back in the day, never had to walk past a boarded building let alone a rotting church.

The city of Buffalo owns this.
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Anonymous said...

City of Buffalo and Mayor Bozo really doing a super job driving the city into the ground! Nice old building I can picture an antique shop on 1st floor and owners quarters on 2nd and 3rd. Bozo the clown and city of Buffalo fail to appreciate all the gems the city has. They will most likely let this rot till it cannot be saved, demo it and build some tacky new housing.

Anonymous said...

Might as well start also blaming the Town of Cheektowaga and "Town Supervisor Bozo" too. Pine Ridge and Walden Village are seeing the same vacancy and blight now.

We like to blame the politicians, but they could give these away for free and not many would take them. We as citizen's have more to do with this than the select few we like to make scapegoats.

But I already went through this rant under the shinking cities blog entry so I won't repeat it all here.

Anonymous: What do you propose that the city of Buffalo (Town of Cheektowaga)should be doing?

Anonymous said...

The citizens don't own this property, the city does. They have more of an obligation here than having the home boarded and watching it rot.With so many renters living in slum conditions I am sure many would love to own a home. The politicians ARE to blame. Are you related to Bozo? People pack up and move because they are tired of issues that are not addressed. Politicians are to blame for the conditions of cities where everyone moves out. Elected officials show no pride in the city nor do they do a whole lot to make life better. In disgust and discouraged that not even THEY care we see people flee from Buffalo. If you think Bozo is doing a great job you are either a relative or have mental issues.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the anonymous of this post but I can offer a few ideas of what the government should be doing.
first, stop spending taxpayer dollars on demolishing houses and instead use the money the stabilize and rehab the structures. Offer them for sale through a lottery of some kind with certain conditions or propertry maintenance. Second, improve street safety even if it means adding more police patrols. Three, beef up the housing code inspection department with additional staff and fines. Four, think of creating a "public negligence" tax on owners that don't maintain property to certain standards. Five, through the social service agencies and churches encourage immigration to Buffalo. And six, add a sexual orientation clause to the city's discrimination laws if not already there. Fini.

Anonymous said...

This church has been closed for a LONG time... I'm actually surprised it's still standing, especially after all those rough Buffalo winters...

Anonymous said...

is there a link for city-owned property sales or auctions? i have already tried the city website, but i couldn't get any link or any info.

fixBuffalo said...

The case has been made by many - City planners, elected officials and residents who live in close proximity to these structures - that demolitions must be done strategically. Period. We have limited resources so triage is the order of the day. Choices have to be made. Strong suggestion from my vantage point is that demolitions must occur first around existing "assets" such as schools and along major transit corridors.

Last September I featured a concluding post about a City owned - 10 years - building at 669 Genesee Street. (Banner photo on this blog is from the roof...) The building was structurally sound and by all rights should have been mothballed. Instead "we" our elected officials spent 500K on the demolition.

A few K of those funds could have been used to properly secure 669 and the rest used for the demolition of structures such as this one at 83 East Utica (the entire west side is rotted).

On our way to asking the big question about strategic planning and demoltions...one of the many questions "we" should be asking is this - We are spending ONE BILLION dollars building new city schools. Why do the neighborhoods surrounding new 'phase one' and 'phase two' schools continue to look like shit with abandoned, boarded, derelict and vacant City owned buildings?

Follow-up question. What's the plan?

Answer...there is no plan.

fixBuffalo said...


To get the list of City owned property for-sale you have to go the 9th floor of City Hall and ask.

Why it's not available on the "Property" portion of the City's website or as a direct link off the main page simply boggles my mind.

If anyone knows how other cities liquidate real property, let me know. I'll start linking and show casing innovative best practices in other cities.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Bozo should be a guest on Letterman. He'd be hilarious as he tells everyone the promises he made to get in office . Than he could show some before and after photos of the city since he has been in office. A collage of for sale sign photos as people flee, vacant burned out neighborhoods ghost towns cept for schools we send our kids to! Side splitting humor. At that rate Bozo is going it won't take long till Buffalo looks as great as Camden New Jersey!

Anonymous said...

what a great building!

Anonymous said...

Not related to any government bozos that I know of. I just grow tired of the "it’s not my fault, I'm helpless" crowd. I'm just an urban resident that likes to acknowledge everyone's role and take some self responsibility for mine.

I have heard enough stories of "I'm not putting anymore money into this house/building, because I will never get it back" Saw more people then I could ever count sell why the getting is good and moving along to the outer green fields.

The disinvestment with lack of population growth can be seen back from the 50's. People have always wanted to blame it on the city itself. Well, now the shock-wave has crossed into Cheektowaga. They won't be able to stop it either. Not necessarily because of the elected officials there but because of the citizens that decide to continually run instead of standing ground with each other and reinvesting. Those that do are called foolish and stupid. They are usually proven that way because their neighbors left them behind. We are a culture of cheap disposable crap and we treat out neighborhoods and history the same way. It should be no surprise to see things the way they are.

I could have taken the easy route and purchased out in Lancaster where my house would pry be worth 10->20% more now that when I bought it. But, I bought my 80 yr old house two doors from a house that was vacant and boarded for 5 years with another in my back yard. I'm pretty sure that I put my money, time, and future where my mouth is. I'm not saying you don't, because I don't know you.

Yes, the city owns this property. But why does it? Did they buy it? Or could it be because the citizens just left it there? A perpetual chain of hot potato dumping and disinvestment until no value is left, the neighborhood left empty with the city stuck with more unwanted property then it knows what to do with. Where were the previous obligations met? And now there is a crime problem, etc? What a big surprise. Let’s leave the poor in one locality and scratch our heads why things are not better there. At the same time lets move all those with money into another adjacent locality and watch them parade around patting each other on the back for having minimal societal issues. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to live where they want, but they can’t even agree to allow one regional gov’t that shares the burdens of society or plans to make us all stronger. "Screw the greater good, I’m getting mine regardless of the cost."

Immigrants and a few dedicated urban re-pioneers are probably this areas only hope. Like the Muslims over by Sobieski and people like David here putting forward an effort. Everyone else has already followed their "social class" out and it’s hard to argue that they will ever be returning in huge numbers.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Milton Rogovin's first published photos were of storefront churches in Buffalo in the 1960s. See:


fixBuffalo said...

Anon 4:42,

Thanks. Didn't know.

Here's the Milton Rogovin link.

Anonymous said...

Jefferson, unfortunately at this point, demolitions are seriously needed in select areas. We can wish all we want about how house and that house must be saved. But the cold hard fact is that massive disinvestment and population loss has left places like the East Side overburdened with a heavy excess of housing units.

There are just way too many vacant buildings left and they become nothing but a nuisance to the people left in the neighborhood. When inhabited by squatters, addicts, dealers, and gangs, these houses are crime magnets. Bad for the city, and a terrible hazard for the neighborhood and its children. Some of areas places are so far rotted that the bulldozer is the only hope left.

Around these reconstructed schools, the city should get rid of every inch of stinking blight.