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.
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.
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.
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.
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?_____________________________________________________________________________________