Demolition approval for 41 and 43 Spruce Street (bing map) was on the Preservation Board's agenda yesterday. The board unanimously denied the request.
41 & 43 Spruce Street - click image to enlarge
The First German Baptist Church was built in 1869. The structure appears to be in good condition. Some bricks on the bell tower need to be re-pointed, a rear brick shed needs attention. Roof damage behind the bell tower became a hole at some point during the winter. Next door, the parsonage sits straight and appears to be in good structural condition. Here's a side view.
It's been reported that the current owner - Trinity Baptist Church located at 2930 Bailey Avenue in Buffalo, NY - has no plan for the church and adjacent parsonage as they no longer have the funds to maintain the property. In July 2008 they plead guilty to a number of Housing Court Violations involving two concurrent cases (#'s 635/2008 & 1319/2008). Part of the plea deal involves paying for a private demolition of 41 & 43 Spruce Street, the church religious structures they left behind.
Declining neighborhood churches such as the Spruce Street Church exist all over the City, especially on the East Side. While larger religious structures such as Transfiguration Church crumble and strikingly significant parts of the City's cultural and religious life such as St. Gerard's are prepped for dismemberment and shipment South - support for the Spruce Street Church, a totally scalable project, remains silent.
So, what should be done? Is it too late? Spruce Street is steps from an emerging downtown housing market. Should this church be sent off in pieces to the landfill or re-purposed and become one of the City's coolest new loft conversion projects?
Update - 5/3/10 - Buffalo Rising posted about the Spruce Street Church.