St. Louis RC Church - Table of Contents
History of St. Louis RC Church
780 Main Street at Edward, Buffalo, NY
St. Louis RC Church - Official Home Page
By Michael A. Riester, Church Archivist
TEXT Beneath Illustrations
Louis Stephen Le Couteulx de Chaumont
The LeCouteulx Block
The Lamb of God, Church,1832-1843
The interior of the 1843 church
The first Music Hall, Built 1883, burned March 25, 1885
St Louis church after the 1885 fire
1889 (present day) St. Louis Church
Louis Stephen Le Couteulx de Chaumont
On January 5, 1986, St. Louis Roman Catholic Church became 157 years old. It was on that date, in 1829, when Louis Stephen Le Couteu1x de Chaumont, a Buffalo resident of Noble French ancestry, deeded the plot of land at the corner of Main and Edward Streets for the first Catholic Church in Buffalo.
The first church structure to be erected on this site was hand-hewn from lumber, much of it from the forest that stood on what is now Delavan Avenue. It was opened in 1832, as the "Lamb of God" Church.
A new brick church replaced it in 1843, but was destroyed by fire on March 25, 1885. The fire originated in the Music Hall, which was located across the street, and spread rapidly to engulf the church. Thereafter, the parishioners worshipped in a temporary third church for four years.
On August 25, 1889, the Feast of Saint Louis, the first religious services were held in the magnificent Gothic structure that is the present St. Louis "Mother Church of the Diocese of Buffalo."
Description of the Present Church
Completed in 1889 by Schickel & Ditmar of New York City, the present Church is built in the continental Gothic style of the 14th century. The exterior is of Medina red sandstone.
The ground plan is cruciform with naves, sanctuary and transept. The nave is divided by magnificent columns of polished granite with richly carved stone capitals.
The dimensions of the Church are:
- Exterior length, 234 feet;
- Exterior width, 134 feet;
- Height from ground to ridge of roof;, 105 feet;
- Length of transept, 120 feet.
- Nave is 42 feet wide and 75 feet high in the clear.
- Side aisles are 19 feet wide and 36 feet height with clear height at the intersection of the nave and transept, 76 feet
The vaulted ceiling is richly groined with ribbing having bosses of foliage of various designs at their intersection.
The principal front on Main St. is designed on grand proportions.
- The chief tower, which is without doubt one of the most artistic and elegant in the country, rises to a height of 245 feet.
- There are 2 side towers each 128 feet high.
Of special interest on the exterior is the massive Seth Thomas (Tower) Clock It was the gift of Hon. Elbridge G. Spaulding, the "Father of the Greenback," who resided directly across from the Church on Main St.
With 275 pews, the seating capacity is 1,900 however 2,000 persons can be accommodated.
Among the beautiful interior furnishings include the splendid Kimball organ acquired under Rev. Dr. Paul Hoelscher's pastorate in 1903 and the ornately carved pulpit with its relief of the four evangelists and statues of the doctors of the Church.
Beside the statues of Sts. Anthony and Francis (each carved from a single block of wood) is the marble Baptistery enclosed with ornate icon work.
The altars of St. Joseph and Seven Dolors, the communion rail of Australian marble and the High Altar, a gift of Miss Emma Lang in 1898 were made by the Lautz Marble Works.
The Sacred Heart Altar was the gift of Gerhard Lang, and the Altar of the Blessed Mother a gift of Chas. and Suzanne Lautz.
Of special interest in the High Altar is the life-size statue of St. Louis surmounted in a niche above a beautiful ebony cross with the likeness of our crucified Lord in ivory.
On either side of the Tabernacle are two large mosaics. The one on the left represents Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac and the other on the right represents the offering of Melchizedek.
Stained glass windows
The magnificent stained glass windows over the High Altar, consisting of 7 panels, depict significant events in the life of the church's patron, St. Louis IX, King of France. Born in 1214, he was made king at the early age of 11. He led the seventh crusade and is accredited as having enshrined the "true crown of thorns" in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris which he had built for the purpose of housing the sacred relic. He died on a crusade near Carthage in 1270.
The remaining windows portray scenes from the lives of the saints and biblical themes. These 7 long windows were made by the Royal Munich Art Institute in Bavaria Germany.
The stained glass windows along the sides of the church were made by Riester & Frohe of Buffalo, NY.
All these windows were graciously donated by parishioners.
St. Louis School
In addition to serving the WNY area with the Holy Sacraments, countless Buffalonians owe their primary education to St. Louis Church's school. As early as the 1830's a school was established at St. Louis as the first parochial school in WNY. In 1850 the school building (directly behind the Church) was erected.
At its closing in 1959 it was the oldest educational institution continuously in existence in New York State. It was declared a hazard and torn down in 1986.
Tours of the church can be arranged by contacting the rectory at 35 Edward St. (716) 852-6040.