2/08/2012

Sacred Heart Church: Slated for the Landfill

I learned today Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney has recently issued a demolition order for the historic Sacred Heart Church, 198 Emslie Street (google map), currently owned by Rev. Ronald P. Kirk's Witness Cathedral of Faith.

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Rev. Kirk's congregation purchased the complex, which once included the Sacred Heart School in addition to the church and parish buildings, in 1988.  The site's legal description is available here (.pdf).  It has sat empty since 2008. After a December 2008 storm the school building collapsed.  It was razed in January 2009 in an emergency demolition order to the tune of $160,000. Rev. Kirk and his parish still owe the City for the demolition costs.

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The church complex built in 1913 is an irreplaceable landmark of the Clintonville neighborhood centered at Clinton and Emslie streets.  It was built thanks to the generous price the Larkin Co. paid the congregation to purchase its original site, dating to 1875, in the Hydraulics. With so much progress happening nearby, it simply cannot be demolished.

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Rev. Ronald Kirk allegedly lives in a 7-bedroom beach estate on Lake Shore Road in Derby, NY (bing map). On March 17, 2011,  Buffalo's Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney issued an arrest warrant for Rev. Kirk. As of this afternoon, the arrest warrant remains outstanding.

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According to this Buffalo News article from December 2009, Rev. Kirk now ministers his congregation at the former St. John the Baptist Church at 60 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood. The church was purchased in 2009 for $250,000 from the Plaza Group. The congregation and Rev. Kirk have essentially abandoned the Sacred Heart Church and have made no efforts to secure the property or make it available for rehab by a new owner. 

I recently scanned a comprehensive history of the church, which you can download here (.pdf).  Check out additional images of this historic site in the Sacred Heart image archive.

When will Rev. Ronald P. Kirk and his congregation be held accountable?

Part II
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7 comments:

Resurrect Buffalo said...

Until a week ago, I didn’t even know this building complex existed, admittedly, it is not exactly a neighborhood I would venture into unless I happened to be working in the general area and even that would have to be for my volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity.

However, from both an architectural and historical point-of-view I am dismayed at the condition the rectory and convent have been allowed to digress too and, I can only assume, the church is in the same state of deferred maintenance.

As far as I can tell from the photographs; I can see that the roof on both rectory and convent have been compromised and can only assume (there is that dreadful word again) the interior water damage may be significant.

Unfortunately, the commentary on such buildings has become so common that they have become cliché and I am as guilty as most but what is a single person to do in order to prevent the further destruction of buildings that will no longer be erected simply because of cost?

Even if I were a city official would I have the clout to stop this order for demolition?

I think not….

Smitty Bennet said...

The City should foreclose on the Church on Hertel and the Reverend's house to pay for Sacred Heart demolition bill of $160,000.

If I lived on Hertel I would be very concerned since
"...Rev. Kirk now ministers his congregation at the former St. John the Baptist Church at 60 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood. The church was purchased in 2009 for $250,000 from the Plaza Group. The congregation and Rev. Kirk have essentially abandoned the Sacred Heart Church and have made no efforts to secure the property or make it available for rehab by a new owner... "

Ethecker said...

This is a fantastic blog and I think the efforts of bringing these beautiful buildings back into the public eye is essential. Is there no recourse? How do citizens who want to maybe use this building get it off the demo list? When does demolition take place!?

Worse yet, buildings like this dont exist today, it will most likely be replaced by foam core and stucco, if replaced at all.

Anonymous said...

Someone else for mayor 2013!!

Bruce said...

Dear Resurrect Buffalo,

I take personal umbrage in your comment "not exactly a neighborhood I would venture into" and I'm sure my hardworking neighbors would agree. I've lived across the street from Sacred Heart for the last twenty eight years.

I can't believe your attitude is in anyway representative of "Habitat"? Your vile disdain can only be indicative of your small brain.

Sincerely,

Bruce L. Beyer

Flubbz Playz said...

This church among the many in buffalo holds great history, it's important to me because my father was adopted and right before he passed away he wanted us to find his parents, thanks to a baptismal certificate he had clung onto, he was baptized at this Sacred Heart Church and the certificate had his birth mothers name and my dad's real name. Long story short, thanks to the church our journey could begin... please save this piece of history for those lives these churches touched.

Anonymous said...

I have just come across this blog! Thank you for sharing the information about the demolition of Sacred Heart RCC. My grandfather graduated from this school in June of 1912. I have the commencement program. It is very interesting and I at least have been able to see a photo of Rev. Wm. Bernet. My grandmother always referred to the East side of Buffalo as the, "German," section of the the city. These, including herself, children of immigrants were sequestered to their own parts of town, coming together at school. My grandfather, interestingly, was not of German heritage.

Buffalo's architecture, both exterior and interior, never ceases to strike awe in me. These were the days when design seemed to really matter; no expense spared, especially for churches. Such a shame that the city has no vision to keep these places up and running. However, to keep churches viable, you need congregations, and I am willing to wager that the congregation for SHRCC left many, many years ago.

Not sure if anyone will read this, but I am happy to post it anyway!