Richmond Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church - Table of Contents
History - Richmond Avenue Methodist Episcopal
Also known as Upper West Arts Center
525 West Ferry St at Ferry Circle
Buffalo, NY 14222
Research by Jennifer Walkowski, Architectural Historian, Clinton Brown Company Architecture ReBuild
|Unknown Architect (on site of earlier wood ME Church which dated to 1885)|
1926/27 Chapel Sunday School rooms:
|Edwin V. Denick (Pittsburgh)|
|Metzger & Greenfield (Information below)|
Stained glass windows:
|George M. Booth (Queen City Glass) (Information below)|
Interior Painting and stencil work:
|F.T. Copppins (Information below)|
|A.B. Felgemaker Company, Erie PA (Information below)|
|Alleyway Theatre Incorporated of Buffalo New York|
|Listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in late 2008|
The building is owned by the Alleyway Theatre for a new Upper West Arts Center. It will feature two performance stages and additional space for artist studios and meeting rooms.
The building has two basic parts: the earlier Chapel and the later Temple spaces, although these are interconnected.
Metzger & Greenfield
Local architects D. Edward Metzger and Robert A. Greenfield founded the firm of Metzger and Greenfield in 1894. Initially the firm assumed the offices formerly used by Metzger in his private practice, located at 99-100 White Building in downtown Buffalo. By 1897 the firm relocated to office 1318 of the newly completed Guaranty (later Prudential) Building designed by Adler and Sullivan. Both partners had experience both in architecture and engineering, and perhaps the modern steel engineering of the Guaranty Building inspired their innovative use of steel trusses supported by “Z-bar columns” at the Richmond Avenue ME Church.
Robert A. Greenfield was noted as the primary designer behind the Richmond Avenue ME Church. Born in Auburn, NY on January 4th, 1872, Greenfield trained in the office of prominent Buffalo architects Green and Wicks before partnering with Metzger.
Among his most notable works are the Christian Science Church on Norwood Avenue in Buffalo, the Knights Templar Building in Utica, NY, and the 14-story Postal Telegraph Company Building in New York City.
In 1927, he designed the 16-story Security Building in Miami, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. In the 1930s, Greenfield supervised construction of the National Register listed U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Pittsburgh, PA (1931-34) before he returned to Buffalo in November 1935 to serve as supervisor of the Federal Court House Building ((1936) on Niagara Square (National Register eligible). A noted architect and engineer, Greenfield was a member of the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Civil Engineers and served as supervising construction engineer for the Treasury Department for several years.
Robert Greenfield died in Geneva, NY in 1938.
D. Edward Metzger was born in Buffalo in 1864 and began his architectural training in 1881. By 1885 he was managing his brother George’s prominent architectural practice, and supervised construction of the State Office Building and the National Register listed Masten Avenue Armory (postcard).
In 1890, Metzger went into practice for himself, designing homes for several prominent Buffalo residents in the early 1890s. Metzger also assisted on the National Register listed Old Post Office (1897-1901) along with architect Edward Kent following Jeremiah O’Rourke’s original plans.
The Sacred Heart Academy High School and the Buffalo Catholic Institute were also designed by Edward Metzger prior to 1901. He was appointed as Superintendant of construction for the State Department of Architecture in 1909, and then later appointed construction engineer when that agency merged with the Department of Public Works, before retiring in 1935.
Edward Metzger died on December 30th, 1951.
Queen City Stained Glass Works/ Booth Art Glass Works
Founded in 1845 by William G. Miller, the Queen City Stained Glass Works was taken over by William Booth and Mr. Reiser in 1864 and the company was significantly expanded.
Coming from England in 1849, William Booth was an accomplished art glass designer who had practiced his trade since he was a boy. During the 1880s, the Queen City Stained Glass Works took on an international reputation for their designs, and the firm did work in over 200 churches in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, California and throughout the Eastern seaboard. More local works included windows designed for the Olean Baptist Church, St. James Protestant Episcopal in Buffalo, the English Lutheran church in Canton, OH, the Gowanda Presbyterian church and a Catholic church in Gallitzin, PA.
In 1876 the firm created the windows for the Asbury Delaware Methodist Church in Buffalo. When William Booth retired from the company in 1888, his son George took over as President and the company continued to flourish. Specializing in the design of emblems, monograms, medallions, and Scriptural pieces, the company was renamed Booth Art Glass Works in 1898.
George M. Booth was a prominent Buffalo resident in the late nineteenth-century. Born in Kent, England in 1845 and emigrating with his father to the U.S. in 1849, Booth would later serve in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Civil War. He spoke on “Lincoln and the Civil War” at the First United Presbyterian Church at Richmond Avenue and Summer Street on February 12th, 1909. Although his glass company had an international reputation, it is likely that the Booth Art Glass Works was selected for the Richmond Avenue ME Church due in part to his father William’s long association with the congregation. George M.
Booth died on January 22, 1920 in Buffalo.
Francis T. Coppins, Interior painting and frescoes
A prominent member of the Buffalo political community, Francis Coppins also was active in the Richmond Avenue ME Church congregation.
Originally born in Toronto on January 17th, 1850, Coppins moved to Buffalo at age 2. In 1871 he joined his father in the business of house painting and decoration.
While serving as President of the active decorating company, Coppins was also appointed to serve as Sherriff of Erie County in 1902, and was elected to serve as Alderman for the old 24th Ward in 1903-09. He later served as a city Councilman from 1912-15, acting as the Chairman of the Committee of Schools.
Francis T. Coppins was a founder of the Richmond Avenue ME Church, and served as superintendant of the Sunday School for 27 years. The Coppins painting firm was well known both in Buffalo and across the country and in 1887 Coppins was elected President of the New York State Master Painters and Decorators Association.
In addition to completing the interior painting and stencil work in the Richmond Avenue church, among the other works attributed to the company are the Gluck Building in Niagara Falls, the Tonawanda YMCA and the G.V. Forman residence.
Coppins retired from active work at the firm in 1918, although he continued to serve as President of the Lyman T. Coppins Painting Company (run by his son) until his death on December 29th, 1925. His funeral services were held at the Richmond Avenue ME Church on December 31st, 1925. Although he was a noted local politician and community leader, Coppins was said to have been most proud of his work with the Richmond Avenue ME Church.
As a reflection of the esteem in which he was held, the basement Dining room was renamed “Coppins Hall” in the 1930s.
A.B. Felgemaker Company, Organ Manufacturers (Erie, PA)
Originally founded in Buffalo, the A.B. Felgemaker Company relocated to Erie, PA in 1872. During this year, the company was known as the Derrick and Felgemaker Pipe Organ Company and was located at the corner of 25th and Ash Streets in Erie. President of the company was S.L. Derrick, with M. Warfel serving as Vice President.
During the 1870s, the company employed over 55 workers and had $75,000 worth of capital. The firm had the capacity to produce 15 to 20 portable church organs in one week. Specialties of the company included church organs and portable pipe organs for small churches, schools and residential parlors.
By 1878 the company was renamed as the A.B. Felgemaker Company, relocating the factory to larger facilities in 1888 and 1890. At the invitation of Mr. Felgemaker, German organ maker Anton Gottfried moved to Erie in 1894, where he leased space from the Felgemaker plant. The A.B. Felgemaker Company remained in business until 1917. Several workers from the Felgemaker Company, including Gottfried, joined to form the Organ Supply Industries, Inc. in Erie which is today the largest and most comprehensive pipe organ manufacturer and supply house.
The spectacular organ still remains in its original location in the Richmond Avenue ME Church. Containing 2.111 pipes, the action is entirely tubular pneumatic. The lack of any mechanical connections significantly decreased the affect of atmospheric changes, allowing for a quick response and rapid repetition of tones. Contained in a case of paneled, quarter sawn oak, the pipes rise to almost the ceiling. Above the pipes is a hidden stained glass skylight, which would cast its colorful patterns onto the pipes, its light reflective of the heavens. The construction and execution of the organ at Richmond Avenue ME Church was of the utmost quality and tonal perfection, using the best workmanship and materials in the design.
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