"Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York,"
First Congregational Church of BuffaloBy Robert Scharf
Co-historian, Pilgrim-St Luke’s United Church of Christ
The First Congregational Church of Buffalo was formed in 1880 when 80 or more members seceded from the Lafayette Street Presbyterian Church(1). They first met at McArthur’s Hall, but later in 1881 acquired a building on Niagara Square, at the corner of Niagara and Delaware (2).In 1889 as the city expanded northward, the congregation moved uptown to a new building on the southwest corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street. The new brick building was designed by architect Charles S. Swan in the Romanesque style with stone and terra cotta trimmings (3).
In 1928, the church merged with Pilgrim Congregational Church to form First-Pilgrim Congregational.
Then after the 1957 merger of the Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed denominations, the church became First-Pilgrim United Church of Christ (4).
In 1968, the congregation merged with St Luke’s UCC to become Pilgrim-St Luke’s United Church of Christ. It was decided to sell the First-Pilgrim building, as it had the greater commercial value (5). And it was demolished in 1971 (6), with its sole remaining fixtures - a memorial stained glass of Rev. Robert Logan, an early 19 Century missionary to the Caroline Islands, and a stained glass window of Millet’s “The Sower” - moved to the Pilgrim-St Luke’s site.
1 95 per Buffalo Daily Courier 5/7/1885; 80 per Buffalo Courier 5/5/1889
2 Buffalo Courier 11/12/1888
3 Buffalo Courier 5/5/1889
4 Buffalo Courier-Express 12/7/1970
6 Unable to determine exact date, but as the earliest date on the Erie County tax records for the Rite-Aid pharmacy that now occupies the site is 3/21/1972, the church must have been razed before this date, probably in 1971.