4/21/2007

Disfiguration - Part II

Shortly after posting this - Disfiguration? - I received a number of emails about life at St. Matthew's. The stories I've heard have been heart breaking. The neighborhood had been so vibrant and the church is less than 100 years old. According to Joseph Napora, in Houses of Worship, St. Matthew's opened in September, 1928. Here's the story.

Here some pix that were sent in, from back in the day.
St. Matthew's - Buffalo, NY St. Matthew's - Buffalo, NY
click pic for larger image
Here's another image from a 1965 grade school graduation - here - and the organ loft in 1985 - here.
After reviewing the Housing Court case - index # 501/2007 - with a represenative from the Dept. of Inspections last week - it seems as though the summons was sent to the wrong address. It's scheduled for May 4, 2007. I'll be following this and report back.

I know, Bishop Kmiec has been laying low recently with the Diocesan deaccession plan. Any news about the pending fate of St. Anne's and St. Adelbert's? Let me know...
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7 comments:

aaron11272 said...

Wow - great pics of what the church should still look like today. Every time I see archival pics like that, it saddens me that entire neighborhoods on the east side have been transformed from hard working, pride-filled, to neglegant and mis-guided. I could only imagine early 20th century masses taking place there. Just like Transfiguration, it's a shame that another beautiful church is left to rot.

fix buffalo said...

Aaron...

I leafed through a centennial catalog, this week. There were a number of construction photos documenting the "basement church" at this location. Seems like construction proceeded in phases as the parish was able to afford additional development.

The discoloration of the church in the first photo is most probably due to all sorts of pollutants from back in the day. The church was sandblasted in the 60's and still retains the sandstone color.

Heard some anecdotes regarding the campaign the diocese started to raise funds for the sandblasting project. Evidently more than a few families decided to leave St. Matthew's in protest over the assessment.

Michele J said...

My Mom has an exterior pic from the 1960s...I believe this church can be saved..But by who? is the question

Anonymous said...

The demise of all these wonderful churches has to be blamed first and foremost on the Roman Catholic Church itself. With the so-called "reforms" of Vatican II, the U.S. Catholic Bishops and other groups "decided" they didn't like "old stuff" any more, and in the hippie spirit in which Vatican II came about, they decided "Down with traditional churches." They tear them down or abandon them all over the USA now, and they like new, suburban-like structures with large asphalt parking lots that look like "theaters in the round". -- Of course this is how Protestant churches often look, and many "traditionalist" Catholics complain bitterly about the loss of all the tradition -- the buildings, the pageantry, the rituals, etc. Instead they now have to deal with "polka masses" at pedestrian-looking "churches" that have "Bingo" signs on the doors.

In cities in decline, like Buffalo, the situation is all the worse, because other groups or organizations who would just appreciate the beautiful architecture and would buy these up for other purposes now are just not there -- not there in a city that was loaded with traditional Catholic churches.

fix buffalo said...

Anon 9:04...

When you have a moment if you could pass along any relevant links regarding Vatican II and the church's architectural style. Like to know more about this and especially if this is a local - North America - thing or if this new style of McChurch is being franchised globally...

Anonymous said...

"...suburban-like structures with large asphalt parking lots that look like "theaters in the round". -- Of course this is how Protestant churches often look..."

Let's not paint all Protestant chruches with that brush. Newer church buildings of all denominations tend to have that look. It's a function of current societal values/tastes, not the religion.

Anonymous said...

This phenomenon is largely confined to the U.S. and Canada. Stripping churches of all their sacred artwork was not a directive of Vatican II, despite claims by many U.S. church renovators to the contrary. "Ugly as Sin" is a good book on the subject. Buffalo has actually fared better than neighboring Rochester, where the Catholic cathedral was recently renovated and now has practically no decoration - not even pews or kneelers! Here's an interesting link about people's thoughts on the Rochester renovation, with before and after photos:

http://mcns.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_mcns_archive.html#111645122301550499

And Anon 3:57 is right, there are some very beautiful Protestant churches in Buffalo that are actually more decorative than many of the renovated Catholic ones.