The Plundering of Buffalo...

The latest issue of Artvoice has this piece - Continental Drift: Is the Church Going South on Buffalo? - by Bruce Fisher. This is about the future of St. Gerard's and some of the broader cultural issues in play surrounding the plundering of Buffalo, NY.


Bruce writes:
Is there a compelling public interest in preserving the artifacts and sacred sites of an ancient civilization? 
The United Nations answers that question with an emphatic yes. So does the United States when it comes to national treasures. And even if we don’t have a Japanese-style “irreplaceable cultural masters” program to support living folk artists, we do have aggressive enforcement of the National Historic Preservation Act and five or six laws focused on Native American religious issues, especially graves and sacred sites. The United Nations designates and supports world heritage sites, a majority of which are religious—cathedrals, monasteries, temples, even whole communities shaped by old beliefs. 
So it would seem that official respect for religious expression, especially in visual and plastic arts and architecture, is pretty well established policy. Tourists aren’t allowed to take a chunk of the Parthenon home with them anymore, unlike Lord Elgin...read the rest.
Here's the additional background, with extensive commentary, from a USA Today article regarding the plan to demolish, move and rebuild St. Gerard's near Atlanta, GA. Two months ago Preservation Buffalo Niagara placed their imprimatur on the plan with this statement about the move to Georgia.

Consider joining the Campaign for Greater Buffalo and support the landmarking of the City's architectural treasures, before they disappear.
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Anonymous said...

Check out the link below for photos of stained glass windows from BUffalo's St. Matthew's Church, now installed in a new Catholic church in Fargo, North Dakota.


fixBuffalo said...

Anon 7:53,

Thanks for this. Here's a recent St. Matthew's post with links to additional pics and posts.

Anonymous said...

At first, I thought, how dare they take away a beautiful piece of architecture from our city and transplant it somewhere else...but then the more I think about it, I almost wonder if it IS a good idea. I mean, come on, how many churches are rotting away within the city limits because of a lack of buyers, funds, bickering between activist groups who all want something different...etc. Maybe the church has a chance if it does move. Sad to say it though.

SEO 成果 said...

God bless...

Bruce Beyer said...

1) I'm not sure that the congregation in Atlanta is going to be able to raise the necessary funds to pull this heist off?

2) I don't believe we are going to shame the Catholic Church into reconsidering the closure of 73 Buffalo Churches. After all, this is an institution that attempted to stonewall investigations into pedophile priests.

3) Unless roof repairs are made and maintained, the interior water damage will continue. Windows will be broken, paintings damaged, who knows what stolen. General deterioration will continue.

4) Therefore, I believe that someone (I nominate David Torke) should start a fund raising campaign to purchase the building from the Church, raise the necessary funds to repair the roof, board up and protect the windows, cut the lawn, and organize volunteers from the community to attend meetings and step up to protect this property. If David won't do it who will?

5) Churches are ethereal places but so are abandoned factory buildings, barns, former psych centers, and TB hospitals. There is a finite amount of cash. We should start thinking about priorities and triage. Before we can save churches, we have to stop the multi-million dollar Canal Side boondoggle.

6) As a nation we have chosen to spend our tax dollars on a war in the Middle East. How do we justify the destruction of centuries old buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time demanding the end of plundering Buffalo?

7) Howard Zemsky, Ani DiFranco and Scott Fisher can only hold up part of the Buffalo's skyline. For me, there are more important parts to uphold than a church abandoned by its congregation. I want healthcare, childcare, clean water and communities, where people actually live, protected from the likes of the Peace Bridge Authority.

8)Good luck on this one. I will support your efforts but I honestly feel there other structures more worthy of public support.

Bruce Beyer

STEEL said...

It is not about saving the building. It is about saving the city as a place.

Bruce Beyer said...

Steel, is that like the famous Vietnam era quote, "We got to burn this village in order to save this place"?

Library Diva said...

I would consider myself a relatively hardcore preservationist. I went to graduate school for museum studies, and my thesis was a national register nomination. But I support this church being moved out of the city.

No one around here has the resources to purchase and renovate the building and turn it into anything viable. Sadly, abandoned churches are easy to come by in this area. There are a lot of innovative things you can do with an old church, but this community can't support 73 new restaurants/condos/museums/shops/whatevers. A more realistic vision of its future is on view daily at the Main Street church frequently mentioned on this blog. They can't give that place away, and it's got more cache than the one the Georgia congregation wants.

If the congregation in Georgia can afford it, I would rather see it reborn as a house of worship lending meaning and grace to a different community, than to see it slide into neglect and get set on fire by crackheads a few years down the road. I agree with the poster who said that Buffalo needs to spend its limited resources wisely.

Eisenbart said...

Not right now. But that doesn't mean it will always be that way Library Diva. If we gave up on everything that has ever been dis invested in in Buffalo nothing would be left after the 1980s.

Anonymous said...

AH YES...preservationists would rather see this building sit... in Buffalo...and deteriorate over time...to say that we..in Buffalo have it...rather than see it continue a useful life in another part of the country where others will utilize and appreciate it for what it really is...reminds me of the christian tale where 2 mothers take "their " baby to the King...both claiming it is theirs..the king offers to cut the baby in half...WELL...you know the rest..