4/08/2007

Disfiguration?

First noticed St. Matthew's church about seven years ago while driving to work at Turner/Carroll HS. The church is on East Ferry and Wyoming. Here's the map. Three years ago, I noticed that a few of the windows were broken and the grass was already out of control by Memorial Day.
update...4/10/07...11pm
learned today that the Minister here, Milton Perry will be arraigned in
Housing Court on May 4, 2007
#index 501/2007
According to an unpublished history, Houses of Worship, by Joseph Napora, St. Matthew's opened in September, 1928. Here's the story. And here's a picture of the church in Aachen, Germany - right here - that Napora points to as St. Matthew's doppelgänger. You guessed right. St. Matthew's was part of the Diocesan deaccession back in the 90's.
Disfiguration Church - aka St. Matthew's
photo - MJ
On Good Friday an intrepid bunch went to church. St. Matthew's was open, so we went in. Friends from TO, the DK PhotoGroup, that fixBuffalo readers have seen before - met-up with local explorer and urbanist, MJ. First time for all of us, inside. This is what we saw...
aaa
photo - Sean
While walking around and checking out the rest of the images I'm thinking that St. Matthew's is probably in the condition today that Transfiguration Church was perhaps 12 years ago. Check out the slide shows.
Guess you know a church is headed for the dust pile when you see old pews used as boarding material for broken windows. Haven't checked yet regarding the Housing Court status of St. Matthew's. Have already heard from two people who will be supplying me with pix, from back in the day.
IMG_6151 IMG_6150
click image to enlarge
Remember since the Diocesan deaccession in the 90's the Diocese here in Buffalo has built two churches - both McChurches here & here.
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11 comments:

MJ said...

Once again, some roof maintenance or even a relatively simple tarping of the roof would go a very long way to perserving the building.

Mark Williams said...

Once again I am rendered speechless as I glance upon the photographs of a magnificent building being allowed to die.

If nothing else, and as sacrilegious as it may sound, the building could be used for a basket ball court considering the length and height of the main building!

There has got to be another approach and as I have stated on many occasions; why is there always “emergency demolition” money but there is never any “emergency stabilization” money?

This is all becoming a moot point….

Ed said...

I stumbled upon your site today for the first time. My Aunt had passed on your post regarding St. Matthew's, my parents got married there nearly 50 years ago. Growing up as children, our dinner tables were filled with stories about the 'old East Side'. About the bakery just down block, about walking to school, the local taverns and their cast of characters...you name it. I used to laugh and think how foolish it all was. I was living in Hamburg, McKinley Mall just opened...now that was cool!

My thinking, thankfully, has changed over the years. In fact, I got a degree in Urban Planning, but like many in Buffalo left for school, and eventually, a job in the South. Every time I come home though I marvel at some of the last remaining pieces of architecture on that side of town. The fact that on average 6 or 8 city blocks contain more architectural significance than entire counties down here. Amazing considering a lot of those blocks are vacant. (Both my parent's childhood homes fell victim to arson.)

Anyways, not sure what I'm getting at here, other than it all makes me quite sad. Folks around here (Charleston, SC), if they do one thing right, it's hold on to history. Looking at your photos, it's pretty apparent Buffalo could learn from that.

I very much hope what you're doing inspires folks. It has me. Can't guarantee a return to the Queen City just yet, but it certainly isn't out of the question. And if and when I do, I'll be sure to join you guys for one of your Tours d'Neglect

Best regards,
Ed

Anonymous said...

Gee, I just did spend about 15 or 20 minutes posting a comment -- but it seems to have come to naught.

I suggest looking at sites about German American history -- excellent is one posted by the Turn Verein of Sacramento (you can get it by topic via google, etc.) and another are sites by and about the Max Kade Society, which stretches across much of the USA and is tied into important sources in Germany.

The "German-bashing" that happened during the two world wars and between, with the worst to come After them all are what this is all about. And the anti-German prejudice persists to this day -- very strongly. It's what keeps these areas of cities the way they are -- until they will fall to ashes.

Michele J said...

St Matthews is lovely and still has the bones that make it salvagable..Adaptive Reuse...But who will step to the plate?

MJ said...

I don't think the condition of this area has anything to do with anit-German prejudice. Same exact conditions are in the old Polish section of the city too. The only Germans left are pry the elderly who refuse to give up what was/is "theirs".

Great post Ed. I was in grade school in the 80's and still was able to experience the taverns, small corner stores etc growing up. To me that's how life was. Walk, ride my bike to do almost anything I wanted, get almost anything I needed, or that my mom sent me out for. Walk/ride my bike to pee wee football, swimming pools, etc. I rarely had to be driven anywhere to do what I felt like doing. I too thought the Mckinley Mall was "cool" at first sight but malls/plazas never grew on me. They did and still do feel eerily fake and sterile to me.

Odds are this church will see the same fate as Transfiguration. No one can afford the upkeep. I at least wish something would be done to properly seal it, especially the roof. I'd love to see some estimates on modern day costs to build this structure. Put some $$$ figures on what we are pissing away...

Someday I'll win my $300,000,000 Megamillions to save all this stuff ;)

Robert said...

Wow....I went to St. Matthew's School from 2nd to 6th grdae in the late 70's early 80's. We would have to go to mass in the church..It is a shame what has happen to the church as well as the school. Another eye sore on the east side of Buffalo.

fix buffalo said...

Robert...

What's the plan?

biz2 said...

McKinley Mall:
AVOID SHOPPING at MCKINLEY MALL at all costs. The mall is slowly dying mainly in part to the new corrupt mall manager Jeff. He started as assistant manager dealing only with the kiosk's and was just promoted when the previous manager left as Jeff is almost the only person in the run down mall office. Jeff has been accepting bribes for over 5 years now and kiosk's offer Jeff bribes in order to pay lower rent fees. The mall is losing money that should go to marketing and other events and is going into Jeff's pockets. Staff and events have also been cut as a result, and those who do stay have to double their efforts. Jeff will appear nice and make empty promises all day long. Even with bribing Jeff, the mall business is so bad now that almost all of the temporary kiosks are leaving (except for sunglasses and cellphone). Security agrees that the mall is worse than ever and all the salespeople who are required to make sales are just pushing sales to make you buy anything and screwing you over in the end. Even phone companies like cricket have went form a permanent location to a small push cart in the center. The stores are leaving as soon as their 5 or 10 year leases are up...but that takes time. Best Buy has added people going to Best Buy directly and usually not shopping the mall. Best Buy helps the mall but is not really helping the other store owners in terms of increased mall traffic. In closing, Avoid Mckinley Mall if you choose to have a better shopping experience and if you choose to not have your money partly go into Jeff's slimy pockets.

tianhuijin@yahoo.com said...

Is this church for action or sale?

Thomas A said...

It saddens me to see the condition of the Church and School to this very day. Even to drive it hurts as I still live the in area. I was a alter boy at St Matthews church for 5 years, and graduated in 1982 from the school (for the record, it's in the back of the church at 50 Wyoming Ave)

It helped form who I am today, and I had the extra benefit as my God Mother was one of the Sisters and to boot was the principal:-)

As hard times clutched the lower east side, the German/Polish community started to disappear and replaced by A low income base of community members - I have been their from the glory days where we would ALL pitch in and pull weeds from the property (and cut Christmas trees to put in the church) because we had pride in our school- to the tragic murders of a Nun and Priest for under $30 each (one for a cell phone)-

I can tell you from being in the Church as a and Alter boy-- it was grand form the front, but outstanding behind the scenes, had I ever dreamed the church would have gone for sale- I would have purchased it for preservation alone- everyone should be able to see this type of church!