Church Auction - Follow up

I entered Our Lady of Lourdes for the first time shortly before 11am this morning. I was speechless.
Update - May 18, 2010
Lourdes on Main Street - Part IV
After walking around for a few minutes and taking the following pics - see slide show - I heard Cash Cunningham read the terms of sale and a few minutes later the auction opened at $100,000. After reminding the 50 people in attendance that the location of Our Lady of Lourdes is unique - sandwiched between the medical corridor and new development on Main Street including Artspace - the auction very quickly bottomed out at $25,000, with only one person bidding.

It's not clear at this time what the new owner has planned for the church. What is clear is that 15 years of neglect, on every possible level, has ruined an amazing architectural and cultural treasure.

See: Part I
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Anonymous said...

Do you know who the new owner is? Did he identify himself, or herself?

smlg.ca said...

That's just... Wow

Bruce said...

As I understand it: The $25,000 bid was rejected by the seller. He purchased the church in the condition as you see it in David's photograph. The previous owner stripped the building of everything of value.

Bruce Beyer

Anonymous said...

Who was the "previous owner" referenced above by Bruce?

Anonymous said...

When I see these pictures of churches that once stood as architectural gems, knowing how much people sacrificed to build them I am sickened by what they have become. The diocese of Buffalo has tossed them aside without any thought to their significance to the community.
Someone once said, what we leave to future generations will speak volumes to who were.

George Thomas Apfel said...

I don't know who the previous owner was, but I also heard an Austrailian Salvage company was hired to gut the property. There was quite a bit of quarter-sawn oak paneling removed from the walls.

Thanks to Joe Heyden who sent photos which you can see on my website, the statues are now in Hamburg, in the Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery off of East Main street.

David, thanks for taking these photos...seeing Lourdes' present condition makes me very sad, this was a beautiful church in it's day.

RaChaCha said...

David, I share your shock. This is cultural vandalism, and as such laws should be passed in urban areas such as Buffalo and My Fair City prohibiting this, or at least requiring something like a special permit with public notice.

Looking through these photos was heartbreaking. Even if I didn't know many of the good folks in the pictures personally, I would still be able to recognize the shock and sadness on their faces - feelings I share.

The only possible consolation I can grasp, is that I've heard it discussed that this church might be ideally located to be a community center, perhaps connected in some way with ArtSpace. It's possible that the extensive destruction - which has ruined the interior's historic integrity - could make it easier to initiate a radical repurposing of the building away from religious use. Still, that doesn't justify the desecration.

And aside from a lack of municipal laws to prevent or hinder this kind of thing (regardless of landmark status/district), how can the Diocese and the suburban parishes sit/stand idly by while their religious heritage is so wantonly destroyed--? These photos should deeply prick some consciences and hearts. While the photos of the Church of the Transformation are no less wrenching, that devastation could be blamed on the elements, bureaucratic stupidity, good intentions gone awry, and many other factors related to human failings and ineffectiveness. But what happened here was a wanton and willful act of religious desecration and cultural vandalism. If these photos, added to the photos of the interior of the Transformation, don't spark change, it's hard to know what would. If I had the means, I'd blow them up to poster size, then have them installed outside the cathedral, the Bishop's house, and the Diocesan headquarters. And I'd take them around to each suburban parish, one by one, and procession them down the aisles. For shame.

If Dante were writing today, he would no doubt contemplate an especially gruesome circle of Hell set aside for those who can so wantonly eviscerate a church in the way this one has been.

Lesterhead said...

Wow. Here's hoping it can become something interesting and great.

RaChaCha said...

Oops - I meant Church of the Transfiguration, not Transformation.

timothy englert said...

I was talking to the janitor and he said the owner who bought the church sold the stained glass to a church in Europe.

The owner owns the old rectory next door. This is the story form the the guy I met on the grounds. Can't verify it.

A few window coverings are blown out. I hope it survives. I live at art space and from the roof it adds to the city scape it's spender.

rottenart said...

I'm interested in doing a performance/installation either inside the church or outside it later this fall. Does anyone have any idea how I would go about getting in touch with the owner?

SteveNTexas said...

You are all correct about this treasure but you're also short sighted.

To be pro-active and PREVENT this from happening in the future - someone needs to fight the assessment dept policy of assessing buildings like this at replacement cost not market value.
Who wants to buy a church like this when the taxes are killers? If the city/state understood that these are critical buildings for Buffalo - and they dropped the tax than people could buy them and fix them even if they had no economic value.

I might even buy one.

I wrote a guest editorial about this to the Buffalo News last night - wonder if they will print it.

Steve Fischer

george + marina said...

Although we are from Cleveland, we have an interest in the preservation and sustainability of cities. Here in Cleveland a friend Alenko Benko acquired St. Josaphat Hall, formerly part of the Cleveland Catholic Dioceses, and restored it to create Josaphat Arts Hall at Convivium 33. The space is committed to hosting a professional and esteemed forum in which visitors can gather and celebrate the arts.
Convivium33 Gallery is dedicated to showcasing some of Northeast Ohio's greatest talents in a variety of media categories and striving to introduce "art" as a feast for the mind and soul. Feel free to visit the site: http://www.josaphatartshall.com/introduction
I'm not sure what is or has happened in Buffalo regarding all the Catholic Church closings, but here in Cleveland we are currently undergoing many closings led be Bishop Lenon. It is sad to see these structures be abandoned and raped of artistic/architectural integrity. It is reflective of how our cities have become vacant lots.

fix buffalo said...

George and Marina,

Thanks for passing this along, really. Successful models such as these seem to happen when various factors coalesce and lots of persistence prevails.