St. Louis RC Church - Table of Contents

2002 Photos
Façade - St. Louis RC Church

780 Main Street at Edward, Buffalo, NY
St. Louis RC Church - Official Home Page

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size and more information

Medina sandstone

Main entrance

St. Louis in tympanum

Double doors in right front pavilion

Foliated capitals

Facade on Main Street


Note finials

Detail of previous photo

The chief tower, 245 feet tall


72-foot-tall, pierced spire


1886-1889, but not finished until 1910 when the altar was added.


Schikel and Ditmars, a New York City firm that designed many churches throughout the eastern part of the U.S.


Gothic Revival, specifically fourteenth-century French Gothic, with German Gothic overtones


Medina sandstone


Most distinctive feature: An octagonal 245-foot Medina sandstone steeple, including a 72-foot-tall, pierced spire -- the tallest open-work spire ever built completely of stone without reinforcement in the U.S. It is reputed to be the only remaining pierced spire in the U.S. Its counterpart is in J.W. Schikel's native Germany in the Cologne Cathedral.

The ground plan is cruciform with nave, apse and transepts. The nave, 200 feet long, 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;
  • The nave is 42 feet wide and 75 feet high in the clear. the side aisles are 19 feet wide and 36 feet high with clear height at the intersection of the nave and transept, 76 feet.

Seating: 2,000, St. Louis is one of the largest ecclesiastical buildings in Buffalo.

The Seth Thomas clock in the tower was a gift from Eldridge G. Spaulding, who lived diagonally across the street (PHOTOS). Spaulding was the U.S. Congressman who originated paper currency to finance the Civil War and became known as "the father of the greenback."

Note from David Snyder: "The weight and pendulum of the Seth Thomas clock was removed in the early 1980's. Father Schwinger couldn't figure out how to wind it, so he gave it in trade to Marvin Deboy of Derby, New York. Mr. Deboy, an engineer and clock aficionado and collecter, built a motor drive as a replacement. The face and hands visible on the front of the church aren't considered as
by Seth Thomas to those interested in clocks. The original clock, which Mr. Deboy restored, was later sold to another collector."

Except for rest rooms, the church has undergone no renovations as of 2002.

St. Louis,
patron saint
of the church:

King Louis IX of France is the church's patron saint. Born in 1214, he was made king at the early age of 11. Leader of the seventh crusade, he is also credited with having established the "true crowns of thorns" in the Sainte Chappele in Paris, which he had built to house the sacred relic. A secular Franciscan brother, he died from the plague near Carthage on a crusade in 1270. He was later canonized.

Original donor:

Monsieur Louis Stephen LeCouteulx de Chaumont, a French gentleman, arrived in Buffalo in 1804 to get repaid for loans he had made to finance the American Revolutionary War. Even though he was unsuccessful in that regard, he chose to remain in the village – the first permanent Roman Catholic -- and became one of its most prominent citizens.

He built a frame house on Crow (now Exchange) Street opposite Crow's Tavern. The block was afterwards known as "LeCouteulx Block." In a part of one building he established the first drugstore in the country.

Soon afterwards the Holland Land Company appointed him local agent for the sale of Buffalo lands. To entice Catholics to move to the village, he donated a plot land in 1829 at Main and Edward Streets for the first Catholic church and school in Buffalo. (The gift included land on what is now Delaware Avenue, rents from which bring the parish income to this day.) He became the donor of the land as well as the founder of St. Louis (his namesake) Church, the first Catholic church in the city.

LeCouteulx is also remembered also for being involved in removing the sand bar to make Buffalo a harbor in its bid for the Erie Canal

The 1832 Church:

The Lamb of God Church was popularly referred to as the "wigwam church" (because it looked like a wigwam.) It was erected in 1832, the same year Buffalo was incorporated as a city. It was a log structure hand-hewn from lumber, much of it from the forest that stood on what is now Delavan Avenue, and originally served French and German immigrants. But Catholics came in such numbers from surrounding areas that St. Louis became too small for its worshippers. Consequently, the Irish constituents branched off and built St. Patrick's (now gone) downtown, at Ellicott and Broadway.

The 1843 Church:

In 1843 the French and German Catholics erected a new St. Louis Church - a handsome brick building which was literally built around the old church which was then demolished and carted away.

The French parishioners separated from St. Louis in the 1850's leaving the congregation distinctly German. The Germans, surprisingly, retained the name of the French saint. The French then proceeded to build St. Peter's on the present site of the Hotel Lafayette on Lafayette Square and our Lady of Lourdes (now abandoned) on Main Street at Best.

The 1843 building was used from 1843 to 1885 until it was destroyed by fire which 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..

1889 Church:

The present church opened its doors for the first religious service on August 25, 1889, the Feast of St. Louis.


Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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