St. Gerard's in USA Today

Today, Buffalo's East Side and St. Gerard's Church are in the national spot light. Here's the USA Today story - NY Church's Move to Georgia: 'Preservation by Relocation'?
Some, such as Preservation Buffalo Niagara, accept the move as a necessary evil; others oppose it as what Tim Tielman, director of the Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture, calls "a demolition and salvage operation. They want to harvest our architectural heritage and put it in a box."
David Franczyk, president of the Buffalo city council, has a message for the Georgia parish: "Build your own church. We have enough vacant lots."
Two weeks ago a post about St Gerard's - Moving St. Gerard's South - introduced the suburban Atlanta parish's new website. You'll be able to observe their plans for dismantling, moving and reassembling of one of Buffalo's architectural and heritage assets.

St. Gerard's
From USA Today:
Some preservationist groups view the move as justifiable for lack of an alternative — "an odd-duck exception," says Henry McCartney, director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
Others vow to fight. Tielman of the Campaign for Buffalo History says he'll try to have St. Gerard's designated a landmark by the Buffalo Preservation Board (the city's landmarks commission) to delay or block its removal. Among his arguments: The move would leave the neighborhood without its greatest landmark and the city without one of its architectural gems.
A tree sprouts from the roof of St. Gerard's bell tower. Inside the church, paint is peeling and plaster is falling. The roof leaks; before the church closed, several sections had to be roped off when it rained. read the rest...
St. Gerard's

With limited resources, what's a City and civic minded community to do? Two years ago the City's three leading preservation organizations - including the Campaign for Buffalo (Tim Tielman's organization) - commissioned a study about the state of preservation in the City. Here's that story from a post about another threatened heritage property and landmark, 16 Harwood Place.

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

Update - 2/5/10 Buffalo News reporter Jay Tokasz has the following story about St. Gerard's in today's B/N.
Update - 2/6/10 Buffalo Rising has the following story about St. Gerard's.
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James Milles said...

Yet another vacant, decaying building with no reasonable prospect of renovation and reuse here in Buffalo. Let them move it to Atlanta where it will be given a new life.

STEEL said...

Great buildings don't exist in isolation physically or in time. Moving this building to a crappy suburb of Atlanta does not save it any more that hanging antiques in a TGIF saves those artifacts.

On the web site of the Atlanta Church they use the tag line "moving 900 miles into the future" How arrogant can you be?

The Catholic church is proud of this. They save the building and lose the ability to save souls in the neighborhood they are stealing it from. Disgusting

Anonymous said...

Since I actually reside a stones throw from St Gerard's I will add that most people I have spoken to would rather see it thrive somewhere else than crumble in front of our eyes..preservationists..by all means step forward and come use the church..spend thousands to heat it each month.. or let this beautiful building go..However,I do agree the "moving it 900 miles into the future" was an arrogant remark..Michele J

Jesse said...

Doesn't Atlanta have any of its own decaying historic churches that this suburban church could be spending their $14 million on preserving? Or is that out of the question because that would involve moving to the city?

I feel like to justify this move would be to say that Buffalo should have exported (or demolish - same thing as far as Buffalo is concerned) the Statler, the Central Terminal, the Webb, the Larkin at Exchange, the Tishman, the Greystone, the Richardson Complex, etc. We have seen buildings come back to thriving life time after time, even in "bad" neighborhoods. Would we really be better off getting rid of them (in whatever form) and replacing them with dollar stores and parking lots?

Betty Barcode said...

We sell ourselves short if we conclude that demolition-by-neglect and-dismantle-and-relocate are the only two possible options. The world is rarely that simple.

This sets a terrible precedent. It is not "preservation" to liquidate and strip mine our city for the benefit of wealthier places.

Bruce said...

I wish some one would have saved the Larkin Administration Building. I'm very happy the Larkin at Exchange building was saved. I am also delighted the Central Terminal has friends. Bruce and I have managed to save our little building on the corner of Clinton and Emslie. We have put way more money into it than we will ever get out of it. Who cares? How can anyone reasonably expect all these Catholic churches in Buffalo to be saved?


Bruce said...


I guess I don't understand this issue? When the Sacred Heart School on Emslie collasped last winter, you, Chris Hawley, and I climbed around in the ruins and lamented its loss and the loss of what might have been reclaimed before it collapsed. (Coat hooks alone that Buffalo Reuse sells for $3-$5 dollars each and there were hundreds. The emergency demolition of this building cost taxpayers over $160,000.

We stood there looking at the adjoining church and predicted that the same fate would meet this grand old building. Its' emergency demolition will cost far more. Jay Tokasz wrote a good article about the structure. No one stepped forward with a reuse. No one came up with some dough to even mothball the building and it continues to slide away and poses a danger to children playing in, near, and around it.

I believe the same fate awaits St. Gerards. The Catholic Church put the building up for sale, no one in Buffalo came up with any money, no one showed up to mothball it, the roof leaks etc. etc.

I agree that what's happening here is architectural strip mining but why is this any different than what Buffalo Reuse does when it goes into condemned buildings and removes doors, hardware etc. I strongly support their efforts! In fact I've used their treasures in new built houses. (See last Sunday's News article mentioning Melanie Wolski's house).

I agree with all who oppose moving this building, it is a terrible loss but I do find reuse as preferable and less costly to the taxpayers than eventual demolition.


biniszkiewicz said...

unless those opposing the move offer a viable alternative for saving it, I see nothing at all wrong with exporting this gem. I'd love to see it thrive. If that is impractical where it is, then drive it 900 down the road. I have no issue with that at all.

Unknown said...

Must agree with Mary/Bruce & Mr.B - this is no different from what "Buffalo ReUse" is doing. Unless we're saying that every building and parts therefrom (thereof?) ever built MUST stay exactly where first planted. Do we also ban the imported marble used to make this church? That's not from Buffalo. Neither was the model, for that matter.

Chris Hawley said...

I hear Gainesville, Florida, is looking for an Art Deco City Hall...

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, if that includes moving the contents (excluding you, of course!), I think I could be persuaded. Bruce

Limelight Dance club said...

An adaptive re-use can save this building in Buffalo, if the Church would remove their sales covenants.

Unknown said...

Heck, if anybody wanted the monstrosity called "City Hall", let them have it! Buffalo now has barely more than twice Amherst's population, so it follows that we don't need an enormous (ugly) office building. Or maybe most of it could be made into condos; we certainly don't need 20+ floors for the do-nothing "employees" sucking at the municipal teat.

Jordan said...


The best use for City Hall would be to house the administration of the entire County. If only we could have municipal government. . . .

Unknown said...

Jordan, I quite agree! One county, no towns or cities or villages, ONE school district and police force, etc etc. "City Hall" could hold all the offices needed, and be a proud center of our area. (Yes, I still think it's sorta ugly, but in a quaint, 1927 Metropolis way)