Table of Contents - Saint Andrew's

History of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church
University Heights, 3107 Main Street, Buffalo, NY

By James Napora

The text below is reprinted with permission from"Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York," by James Napora. Master of Architecture Thesis. Found at Buffalo Central Library NA5235 B8 N37 1995 and online

The University Heights Neighborhood
Centers on Main Street from Niagara Falls Blvd. south to LaSalle Avenue.

Commonly referred to as University Heights, the neighborhood on upper Main Street at the city line was originally known as Elysville. Named after Samuel Ely, a farmer and owner of much of the land in the area, the German-and French immigrants who originally settled here were attracted by its higher, drier land.

1851 County Almshouse: Amongst the farms and scattered homes of Buffalo Plains, the county established the Erie County Almshouse in 1851. The first large development in the area, the almshouse and hospital constituted an early attempt by the county at dealing with the poor and the less capable of society.

University at Buffalo: The almshouse and its surrounding farm operated for over fifty years until 1909 when the county decided to vacate its 150 acre site. At that time, Charles P. Norton, Chancellor of the University at Buffalo, proposed that the land be acquired as the site for an arts college. In buildings which were once a part of the county almshouse and hospital, the roots of the present university were sown.

Ross's failed attempt: Prior to this occurrence, the area had retained a relatively rural appearance. Alexander P. Ross had made an early attempt at developing a residential area in the 1880s on land he purchased at Main and Englewood. As the street cars traveled as far as Cold Springs at that time, he would bring people to the area by carriage in an attempt to woo them into settling there. This attempt met with failure.

Winspear and Northrup Streets: With the establishment of the university, a new level of interest in the area arose. Knowing the potential for growth, in 1909 Charles W. Winspear, former keeper of the county almshouse, formed a partnership with Eli Northrup. Together they purchased the land and developed the streets which bear their names.

University Park: Five years-later, Anthony J. Huck, owner of farmland on the west side of Main Street developed the University Park area. On land his family had originally purchased from the Holland Land Company, he constructed homes priced from $3500 to $7000.

Summit Park: Together with the J. Walter Gage Realty Company's development of Summit Park, the area between Bailey and Main, the area obtained the character it has to this day.

Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church

German language Sunday School.: In 1873, a group of lay people from St. Paul's Episcopal Church. on Pearl Street organized a German language Sunday School. Meeting on the third floor of Witte's Saloon on the east side of Michigan south of Genesee, it became an instant success.

St. Paul's Free Chapel: In August 1875, the school moved to a recently completed frame chapel on the east side of Spruce Street south of Genesee. Known as St. Paul's Free Chapel, the congregation continued to grow.

In the Fall of 1884, the Rev. Aubrey F. Todrig, the pastor, accepted a position at St. John's Church in Ellicottville, New York. Without a priest to serve the congregation, the chapel was closed, the doors and windows nailed shut, and all services and Sunday School activities terminated.

In the winter of 1886, the Rev. John Huske, pastor of St. Paul's, reopened the chapel with the financial assistance of St. Paul's Chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Renamed St. Andrew's Chapel, the congregation once again celebrated with regular Sunday services.

In August 1888, due to extenuating circumstances resulting from the fire which destroyed St. Paul's Church downtown, the diocese could no longer provide a priest to serve the congregation.

The chapel once again closed only to be reopened in October with the assistance of Rev. Thomas B. Berry of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Jewett.

The mission chapel, with the consent of Bishop A. Cleveland Coxe, became self-supporting on 13 July, 1891.

Goodell Street Church: In February of the following year, the congregation purchased the lot at 160 Goodell Street an began to erect a modest brick church. Bishop Coxe placed the cornerstone on 21 August, 1892 and the congregation celebrated their first mass in the completed church on the first Sunday of December. As the church quickly proved to be too small, in July, 1897 they decided to enlarge it.

By the late 1910s, the congregation began to experience the effects of the population shift from the city to areas north of it. On 6 July, 1921, they sold the building to the Diocese and, pending the construction of a new building, began to worship in Christ Chapel on Delaware. Their former church became home to the congregation of St. Phillips which remained in the building until its demolition in 1963. (The congregation of St. Philip's currently worships in the former St. Clement's Church on Sussex Street.)

3107 Main Street: The Episcopal Diocese selected the current Main Street site and on 6 July, 1921 approved the plans submitted by Buffalo architect Robert North.

With sufficient funding available to only construct the foundation of the building, it was covered with a temporary roof. The congregation moved into the basement of the structure in 1921, prior to the completion of the auditorium.

It took almost six years to raise the necessary funding and finally, on 10 June, 1927, Bishop Henry Brent placed the cornerstone. The congregation dedicated the completed building on 15 April, 1929.

The building, constructed at a cost of $100.000 is designed in the English Gothic Style. The interior, with its wood paneled ceiling, contains the rood beam from the original church. Handcrafted in Belgium, the beam, depicting the Crucifix, Mary and St. John, is prominently hung in front of the chancel.

See also:

Special thanks to Rector Sarah Buxton-Smith and Parish Administrator Julie Spina for their assistance

Photos and their arrangement 2003 Chuck LaChiusa
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