Lafayette Presbyterian Church - Table of Contents

Lafayette Presbyterian Church
875 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Statement of Significance
in the
2009 Nomination for Listing on the  State and National Registers of Historic Places

Prepared by Jennifer Walkowski, Clinton Brown Company Architecture pc

Table of Contents:

1.) Introduction

2.) Early Origins of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and its Congregation

3.) The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Constructed 1894-96)

3.) The Community House (Constructed 1920-21)

4.) Church Renovations (1926)

5.) Additional Alterations to the Church (1961)

6.) Other Known Renovations or Alterations

7.) Recent History of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

8.) Presbyterianism and its Architecture

9.) Boy Scout Troop #2 and the Log Cabin

10.) Romanesque Revival Architecture

12.) The George S. Hutchings Company- Original Organ Manufacturer

13.) Significant Members of the Church

14.) Architects Associated with the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

15.) Conclusion

16.) List of Architects, Designers and Craftsmen Associated with the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

Note: Footnotes intentionally lef off (CL)
1.) Introduction
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is significant under Criteria A and C as a substantially intact religious facility which embodies the distinctive character of late-nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival and early-twentieth-century Tudor Revival architecture in Buffalo, NY. Under Criteria A, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is significant not only as a location for religious worship, but also because this early suburban building also served as a meeting place and community center for various social groups and organizations throughout its history. It also is an example of the late nineteenth-century trend of migration from downtown Buffalo that was facilitated by public streetcars and private automobiles to create the first suburban areas in an era when Buffalo was one of the most prominent cities in the nation. Under Criteria C, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is significant as an excellent and largely intact example of late nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival architecture as well as early twentieth-century Tudor Revival architecture.
2.) Early Origins of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and its Congregation
The congregation which founded the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church has its origins dating back to 1833, when twenty-one people left the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church and founded "The First Free Congregation Church" in a building located on the north side of Court House Square (now Lafayette Square) at the corner of Lafayette (now the Lafayette Square extension of Broadway Street) and Washington Streets in downtown Buffalo. This church was not successful and was reorganized as the "The Park Church" in 1839, still maintaining services at the same church building. After some prosperity, this congregation also folded, closing their doors in 1845.
On June 8, 1845, Rev. Grosvenor W. Heacock began to reorganize the congregation, holding services in the old Park Church. The name of the congregation was then changed to the "Park Church Society," before it was again renamed as the "Lafayette Street Church Society" in October of 1845. This new name was drawn from the church's location on Lafayette Street which was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette's visit to Buffalo in 1825. On March 11, 1850 the original church building was destroyed by a fire which had broken out on the nearby American Block. Insurance money and additional funds raised by the congregation allowed for the rebuilding of the church on the original foundation walls, which was completed in 1851 or 1852. The growth and prosperity of the Lafayette Street Church continued despite the 1850 fire, and the congregation grew. In 1862 it became evident that the church would need to be enlarged to house the congregation. As a result, in 1863 the church purchased an additional parcel of land which fronted onto Washington Street, the 1851/52 church was torn down, and a new larger Gothic Revival building was constructed.
This church building continued to serve the needs of the Lafayette Street Presbyterian congregation until the late nineteenth-century. As business and industry began to thrive in downtown Buffalo, more and more residents relocated to the increasingly residential suburban areas north of downtown that had been farmlands. As a result of this shift in population, by 1892 it was determined that a majority of the members of the Lafayette Street church no longer lived in the downtown area nearby the church, and over one half of the members lived over three-quarters of a mile away. Two factors instigated the relocation of the Lafayette Street congregation; the risk of losing members to other churches closer to the new residential areas in the north and also the increasing property value of the downtown church. On May 4th, 1894 the congregation held a vote, and in an "almost unanimous" vote decided to relocate the church to a property recommended by Judge Lewis and Frank Sickels at the corner of Elmwood and Bouck Avenues.
3.) The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Constructed 1894-96)
That fall, the Lafayette Street congregation began planning for the construction of their new church on Elmwood and Bouck Avenues. In September 1894, the church bulletin announced that the architectural firms of Lansing and Beierl and Porter & Son had been selected (out of the six architectural firms which responded to a call for proposals) to submit a finalized preliminary plan for review by the building committee. By November, the announcement that Lansing and Beierl had been awarded the contract for the new church was made, and their design was illustrated in the church bulletin. The congregation selected Medina sandstone for the exterior walls of their church, which was a common building material for churches in Buffalo in the mid- to late-nineteenth-century. Ground was broken for the new church on November 8, 1894, and by December, the foundation walls for the church were completed, and those of the rear chapel were well underway. After a pause in construction due to the winter weather, construction continued on the church the following spring.
The cornerstone was laid on May 6th, 1895 amongst ceremony and prayer. During this same month it was reported that the basement was complete, six courses of stone were laid above the watertable, as well as eleven or twelve feet of the wall of the church and fourteen feet of the northern chapel walls. By September of 1895 itwas reported that the church walls up to the eaves had been completed, the iron roof trusses for the main church had been laid as well as the roof trusses for the chapel. This was especially noteworthy to the congregation who saw three of the iron roof trusses collapse in July due to a high-wind storm.[10] By October, 1895 the walls were completed, and the carpenter (Joseph Metz of the firm of Metz and Meyer) had completed his work with the roof and was well into his work preparing the lath for the plaster.[11]
Once the exterior work was nearing completion at the end of 1895, interior work began to transform the solid pile of Medina sandstone into a beautiful and elegant place. While the architects selected for the project were local Buffalonians, the church also brought in numerous craftsmen, artists and designers from all over the east coast. By December, the tower was nearly completed, paved sidewalks were installed around the church, interior plasterwork was nearly completed, and the basement areas were completed having a cement floor overlaid with Georgia pine flooring for a more pleasing appearance. The firm of W.H. Colson & Company from New York City was awarded the contract for the interior design of the building including the elaborate designs of the vaulted auditorium and the Elmwood Avenue vestibule's domed ceiling, as well as the creation of the opalescent stained glass windows. By the spring of 1896 their work was being installed in the church. The local artist, F.T. Coppins was responsible for the much of the overall interior painting, including painting the basement parlors "appropriate colors." As befits a prudent congregation, the interior decoration was described as rich and beautiful and also durable and long lasting; "the decorations are to be done in oil, with gold ornamentation, giving a far richer effect than if done in distempered colors, besides being more permanent." Much of the decorative work was completed in the church in February and March of 1896. In May of 1896, the church celebrated the installation of the Heacock Memorial Window, which was designed and fabricated by the firm of Ford and Brooks of Boston. Donated by his family, the window depicting the Ascension was meant to commemorate the "father" of the Lafayette congregation, Rev. Grosvenor W. Heacock, and was placed in the center window of the west transept of the church.
The new church was a large, spacious building with many interior spaces to serve the needs of the congregation. Besides the large auditorium used for services, the church Chapel also housed a lecture room, which also functioned as a Sunday school room, a pastor's study and library. Accounts noted the beauty of the wood vaults of the ceiling, and the space also featured a balcony at the western end. The basement of the building accessed via the Elmwood Avenue entryway housed a reception room and a parlor, as well as the church kitchen and a dining room. This level also featured two large "cloak rooms," one for men and one for women, whichwere tastefully decorated.
The Presbyterian congregation took great pride in their new organ, which was integrated into the décor of the church auditorium. Built by George S. Hutchings of Boston, the organ was a key component of the congregation's great pride in its musical and vocal program. The outer pipes of the organ were prominently featured along the north wall of the apse, and were decoratively painted in accordance with the decoration of the auditorium itself. The console was prominently installed behind the pulpit, and surrounded by a semi-circular choir gallery. Emphasizing the importance of music to the church services, it was also noted that space on the chancel was provided for a quartet in order to "fully maintain [their] reputation for fine music in the new church."
The total cost of the building, including the new organ, was initially estimated at $123,000; however a final figure of $150,000 included the purchase of furniture and other equipment. After the final church service was held at the old Lafayette Street Church on May 10, 1896, the new church held a prayer meeting on May 27, 1896, and its official opening event was celebrated on May 28. The first church services were held on Sunday, June 7th, 1896.
While several images of the exterior of the church as it appeared upon its completion in 1896 exist, the only image of the original interior is of the auditorium. The exterior images demonstrate that little significant alteration has been made to the exterior of the church since its construction. The original interior was rich, detailed and lavishly decorated. The elliptical vault of the interior and the shallow transept wings created a large open interior with no side aisles, free of interruption by columns or large overhanging side balconies. The quarter-sawn oak pews were aligned to face north facing the chancel, which featured an oak platform with a turned balustrade for the choir and organ and for the pulpit. Placed in front of the platform was the table used for the Presbyterian liturgy. Flanking the chancel were two doors which opened into the northern portions of the building such as the sitting rooms, offices, Sunday school room and other spaces. These doors were oak with a Classical pediment supported by carved wood columns with capitals that likely mimicked the Corinthian order of those found in the windows and those which supported the small southern balcony. The chancel itself featured an elliptical domed apse which was divided into segments by a series of columns and was flanked by Corinthian pilasters. It appears from this early photograph that at the center segment of the curved apse was a carved wood Classical pediment, directly centered above the organ console. The organ pipes surround the curved walls and are integrated into the decoration. The interior decoration shows that it was elaborately painted, with a paneled vaulted ceiling highlighted with gold accents. A curved band at the top of the chancel featured gold painted geometric floral designs, and the segments of the domed apse were also highlighted with elaborate patterning. Overall, the auditorium boasted a Classical influence combined with late-Victorian patterning and ornament.
Following the construction of their new church, the congregation found themselves facing the question of what to name their new building. Many members of the congregation were opposed to changing the name of the congregation from that which was drawn from the location of the old church. There seemed to be a sentimentality attached to the name "Lafayette" despite the relocation of the congregation away from Lafayette Street. The argument was made that the congregation had originally taken a name which described the church's street location, changing to "Lafayette" from "Park Society" when the street was renamed to Lafayette Street and when the square became Lafayette Square in 1878. Some members felt the church should be renamed as the "Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church Society" in deference to the new location; the call was made to put aside the old connection to the Lafayette name and to take pride in the new location. The matter was settled when in July of 1898, Bouck Avenue, which fronted the south elevation of the church, was renamed in honor of the congregation to Lafayette Avenue. Thus the new church could retain its original name, carrying the "Lafayette" from downtown to the northern suburbs to become the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Unfortunately, the old Lafayette Street church and property had not sold as quickly as the congregation had anticipated. Because of the cost of the new church construction and the inability to sell the old property, the Lafayette Street congregation found itself carrying $214,000 in debt. In order to unload the old church property, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church congregation enlisted the help of Nathaniel W. Norton, the President of the Board of Trustees, and his brother Herbert to act as mediators in the sale of the old church. When a theater group proposed to purchase the property, the congregation felt it was inappropriate for a religious group to sell church property for theatrical purposes. In their arrangements with the Nortons, the title of the old property was transferred to the brothers who would in turn sell the church, returning the profits to the congregation. However, unbeknownst to the Lafayette Avenue congregation, the Nortons added $52,000 onto the asking price for the property, and after the sale passed and the final price became a matter of public record, the congregation learned of the discrepancy. After a lengthy and notorious legal battle in which the church sued the Nortons to recover the funds, the congregation won their legal case in November 1908.
Like many churches at the turn of the twentieth-century, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church played a large role in the lives of not only the members of the congregation but among the members of the surrounding community as well. The Presbyterian congregation demonstrated a strong missionary and charity program, spearheaded in large part by the Ladies Association and the Women's Missionary Society. In addition to work done at the church itself, the congregation began running a Memorial Chapel mission in 1888 which was separately located on Milnor Street, and for a time was known to hold the largest Sunday School in Western New York with over 1,000 students in attendance. Church members formed a sewing school which was aimed at teaching the children of the poor "sewing, order, system, cleanliness, economy and the habit of attention." Many of the groups at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church were involved with the promotion and betterment of young people. Organizations at the Lafayette Church included a Young Men's Association, the Young People's Bible Class and even a Shakespeare Club. These aimed at promoting education, study and charity not only in the lives of church members but also in aiding the community at large. During the early twentieth-century the church also housed a variety of community groups including the Campfire Girls, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts Troop 2. Music was also of great importance to the congregation, and beside the choir the church held numerous other musical events including organ recitals on their new organ and other musical performances. Overall, the congregation at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church was devoted to the betterment of the Buffalo and local communities, and was proud of not only their new building but also their musical services.
Following the turn of the century, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church flourished and membership and attendance grew rapidly. The proximity of the church to the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition (held in 1901) drew unprecedented crowds to Sunday services; it was reported that during the Pan-Am the church, which seated over 1,000 in the large auditorium, was filled to capacity, with standing room only in the small balcony. The status of the Lafayette church was also boosted by the church's hosting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (the highest court of Presbyterian polity) in May 1904. In 1907, the congregation extended their humanitarian and charity work to India, as Rev. David B. Updegraff, who had worked as an assistant to the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church headed to Nipani, India, and established a hospital and school there, becoming "Lafayette in India." Due to the financial success of the congregation, a special celebration was held in December of 1916 in which the mortgage of the church was burnt, and it was declared to be free of debt. Between 1912 and 1925, church membership grew from 825 to 1734 and the total annual receipts for the church increased from $22,000 to $75,000 in the same period.
3.) The Community House (Constructed 1920-21)
After the end of World War I and the loss of eight young members of the congregation in battle, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church decided to construct an addition to the original church building, which would be known as the Memorial or Community House. The congregation felt it was an appropriate tribute to the young people who died in the war that the primary focus of the new addition would be to serve as a center for the younger members of the congregation and of the local community. It was planned that the building would be open to all men, women and children and would contain facilities comparable to the YMCA, including a fully equipped gymnasium and locker rooms, reading rooms and educational facilities. After plans were drawn up, construction began on the addition in 1920. In order to accommodate the new addition, the congregation purchased two neighboring residential properties along St. James Place which were torn down. The building was designed to feature two stories on a raised half-story basement, although the interior actually contains three floor levels and a basement. The congregation held an official dedication ceremony on November 10, 1921 that included a fife and drum procession, a flag ceremony and the singing of the national anthem.

Where the church was devoted to the worship and spiritual needs of the congregation primarily on Sundays, the Community House became a place of recreation, fun, activity and socialization throughout the week. The basement contained a bowling alley, and the church often recorded the bowling scores for the Bowling Club in their bulletins. The first floor contained rooms which served as a reading room and library, held pool tables, and served as club and game rooms. A kitchen and dining room were also provided on the first floor. The second floor featured a large gymnasium and auditorium which could host sporting events and dances as well as seat nearly 600 people for theatrical productions or meetings, featuring a large stage across the northern end of the space. A projection room which was located in the ceiling at the south end of the room could be used to show newsreels and movies in the space as well. The floor also featured locker rooms for men and for women, each with its own sitting area. The small third floor area contained rooms which served as additional meeting rooms, reading areas and offices. The new Community House emphasized the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church's devotion to serving not only the spiritual needs of the community, but its recreational and social needs as well. It may be no accident that the more fabric-like brick Tudor Revival architecture reminiscent of college buildings at the time was used here, summoning images of collegiality in contrast to the thick and ponderous fortress-like Norman-styled sandstone church.
4.) Church Renovations (1926)
By the 1920s, the auditorium space at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church was both in poor condition and of an out-dated style. It was noted that the plaster walls were badly deteriorated and in need of refinishing. In the spring of 1926, Robert North was contracted to update and alter the design and decoration of the church. North proposed a new decorative scheme and a reorganization of the chancel area.
In his plan for altering the chancel area, which he published in the April 1926 church bulletin, North sought to make a clearer distinction between the parts of the service. He created more space for the choir (still a key part of the services at Lafayette church some 30 years later) and concealed the organ pipes behind a screen making it less prominent visually so as not to distract from the service. The pulpit was relocated to the western corner of the chancel platform, with a lectern for readings on the opposite side. North's design featured a central stairway which led to the communion table (no longer located in front of the chancel but elevated to a place of greater prominence), and an arcaded balustrade ran around the perimeter of the entire platform.
North sought to use "authentic classical motifs" in his redesign of the Lafayette auditorium, and he added two massive Corinthian columns with smooth, unfluted Ionic columns to the archway above the chancel, bringing the arch into a round shape rather than the original elliptical form. His scheme for the chancel also altered the elliptical, curved vaulting of the apse with a more Palladian, round barrel vault which was raised above the original level, flanked by two small side aisle areas. He had installed a Celotex acoustical treatment on the ceiling to improve the acoustic properties of the space. North's designs overall called for a simplification of the ornate Victorian style, feeling it to be "distracting." As a result, "such elements as bright glass, painting, elaborate woodwork, organ pipes, doors, etc. have been carefully excluded." He sought a sense of calm, quiet and harmony for the church interior, perhaps in reflecting the calm upon the end of World War I or in contrast to the frenetic "Roaring Twenties."
North's alterations to the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church were not limited to the chancel and decorative program for the auditorium. Among the most prominent changes made to the space was the replacement of the opalescent 1896 stained-glass windows with new, classically-patterned stained glass windows. Drawn from what North referred to as "Renaissance design," the new more transparent windows designed by the Bell-Vaughan Shop were intended to allow for more natural light to enter the space with a "quiet, repetitive pattern." Other changes included the installation of a cork floor underneath the pews, replacing the earlier carpeting, new modern lighting fixtures, and refinishing the woodwork in a "warm grey" color to suit the new windows and color scheme.
North's alterations to the church coincided with the installation of a new organ in 1926. Referred to as the Statler Memorial Organ, the new organ enlarged the original organ. Made by the world-renowned Rudolf Wurlitzer Company of nearby North Tonawanda, NY, this new organ was a supplementary or distinct organ in itself but was made a part of the original instrument and added a fuller and richer sound to the old Hutchings organ.
5.) Additional Alterations to the Church (1961)
Another wave of expansions and renovations took place at the Lafayette Church in the 1960s, under the leadership of Rev. Poling. To handle the work, the prominent local architectural firm of Duane Lyman and Associates was contracted to enlarge and modernize a few key areas of the church. To expand the Sunday School areas, the basement beneath the sanctuary (which had largely remained unfinished since the 1890s) was finished to include nine modern classrooms, all finished with minimal and modern materials. Previous to the Lyman alterations, the Sunday School had been held in the Chapel at the north, which currently still serves as classroom spaces. Alterations were made to the downstairs parlors, as well. Originally, the western parlor was separated from the dining room by a masonry wall, but this was removed and replaced by large folding partitions allowing the spaces to be combined as one to host large gatherings. The basement kitchen was enlarged and fitted with modern equipment. On the main floor, Duane Lyman and Associates was responsible for altering the northern chapel area of the old church. Although it seems to have been previously divided into separate classrooms (possibly in the 1920s or in the 1950s) with a dropped ceiling, the 1961 alterations included the addition of a small 70-seat worship Chapel which was converted from a previous Kindergarten space. Duane Lyman and Associates also updated the materials in other parts of the church, including the Community House. The firm also redesigned a parking area which is accessed via Lafayette Avenue and runs along the east side of the old church building. The parking area probably reflected the need to accommodate parishioners who had moved to the suburbs after World War II and traveled to their church by automobile.
6.) Other Known Renovations or Alterations
* c.1950s - It was noted that sometime between 1950 and 1956 the interior of the church auditorium was repainted and "redecorated."

* 1982-83 - According to a commemorative sign in the church lobby, the church auditorium was repainted.

7.) Recent History of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
In the last several years, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church has faced many of the same struggles as many downtown and mainline Protestant churches in Buffalo and throughout the nation. The trend in residential migration to the outlying suburbs has left numerous churches facing diminishing congregations and memberships. In Buffalo and Erie County, significant population loss has aggravated this trend. Membership in the Lafayette congregation in the last decade has dropped from 148 members in 1997 to 115 in 2007, a drop of nearly 25%. Compare this number to the fact that at its peak, the church had about 1500 members, and the church auditorium still is configured to seat about 1200. In early 2008, this number had dropped to about 90 members. Despite the diminishing attendance and revenue, the Lafayette church has maintained a commitment to serving the local community. The church continues to house a nursery school program, The Right Place for Kids, as well as Boy Scout Troop 2 who still use the log cabin the troop constructed in the basement of the Community House in the 1928. Other organizations which occupy and use the church include the Les Amis Fencing Club, the St. James Place Block Club and the Lafayette Avenue Block Club. Until recently the building was also the home of the Larkin Center, a center for adult education. In 1983, the Loaves and Fishes food pantry and soup kitchen was founded, taking advantage of the kitchen's basement parlors, dining rooms and kitchen. The kitchen reported that it had served 3,000 more meals in the first five months of 2008, an increase in attendance of 30% over 2007.
Under the leadership of Reverend Andrew Ludwig, who came to the church in May of 2007 from Pittsburgh, the church is making new attempts to retain and grow its congregation and its service to the community by exploring new ideas in religion, worship and community involvement. The congregation has embraced new technologies such as the internet, blogs, and sites such as Facebook and YouTube to get their message out to a younger and more technologically savvy populous. They have focused on inclusivity, a relaxed and approachable service, and have sought to make traditional elements of their services part of the new church experience. The traditional pride in the musical component of the Lafayette church has been re-envisioned to encompass a broad selection of music; traditional hymns and songs of worship are now combined with music from U2 and Stevie Wonder, and the choir remains an important component of the music at the Lafayette church.
The current congregation has not forgotten its roots in the community and in acts of charity. It has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity, the Elmwood Village Association and the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, extending the community impulse that constructed the Community House in the 1920's by engaging the church facility as a center point in the local as well as the larger community ninety years later. Under Rev. Ludwig's leadership, attendance at church services has dramatically increased, seeing about 60 people at Sunday services, and this growth is a direct result of the congregation's commitment to engaging the community, drawing a broad and diverse membership and its modern ideas about Presbyterianism and religion. This congregation has a 175-year heritage of change and movement to serve its constituents. It has evolved its facility on Elmwood and Lafayette Avenues as needs have changed. As the congregation celebrates the 115th anniversary of the groundbreaking this November and looks forward to the 115th anniversary of its first worship service here in May 2011, there may continue to be a re-balancing of worship space and community space in its historic property as it retains and expands its role as a community landmark.
8.) Presbyterianism and its Architecture

Modern Presbyterianism traces its roots back to Calvinist theology which evolved primarily in Scotland in the early eighteenth-century. Among the hallmarks of the religion are the stressing of higher education, continuous study of the scriptures and theological doctrines, and the importance of hospitality and mission work. In general, Presbyterian churches are governed by Sessions composed of representatives of the congregation rather than a bishop. This places an emphasis on local participation and governance rather than through an external intermediary. The Presbyterian Church is governed in councils of elders which are composed of teaching elders (pastors) and ruling elders. Teaching elders are responsible for teaching, worship and performing sacraments and are called by individual congregations. The ruling elder is a specially commissioned non-clergy position which participates in decision making at all levels of the church. Often these ruling elders delegate practicalities involved in the church including building issues, finance and ministry to the needy. This type of participation by a layperson in the active life of the church is a unique feature of Presbyterianism and encourages the active engagement of the members of the congregation both amongst themselves and in the larger community.
In general, Presbyterians believe that a church is a building to come together in for worship. Thus many Presbyterian churches are restrained in their decoration and ornamentation so as not to detract from worship. This notion of simplicity in design was in keeping with the alterations which [Robert] North made to the interior in 1926 and which remain largely intact to this day. Still other churches can be more ornate.

The Romanesque Revival style would have been an appropriate choice for a Presbyterian church given its emphasis on solidity, simplicity and its wide use in England and Scotland, mother countries for American Presbyterianism in large part. Presbyterians focus on education and study of religious texts, and at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church this is architecturally manifested by the presence of Sunday school rooms and even in the presence of the Nursery school. Groups such as the Heath Group and other class groups were organized to educate younger members as to the church doctrine, and these groups often met in the rooms of the church. Perhaps the best example of the focus on the building as meeting hall is the original function of the Community House as a place for young and old, Presbyterian or not, to come together for sports, recreation, activities, meetings, and other functions.

Key features of Presbyterian interior architecture include a pulpit, chancel, a cross (typically not a Crucifix), a communion table, Baptismal font, and a lectern.

While there is no set worship style in the Presbyterian Church, most are generally a mix of hymns, preaching and congregational participation. Architect Robert North's desire to clarify the various components of the service at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church takes these components of the worship service into account. He isolated the pulpit at the west of the chancel platform which was used for preaching, at the east is a lectern for reading of the scriptures (often done by a member of the congregation) and the enlarging of the choir and organ areas emphasized the role of hymns in the services. The congregation historically took great pride in the musical, accommodating both an increasing choir and an expansive organ in the apse of the chancel.

The Presbyterian religion also focuses on two sacraments; baptism and communion. North thus placed the communion table in a location of heightened prominence, at the center of the elevated chancel platform, and the elegant baptismal font in the central aisle which could be easily accessed by the congregation.

Unlike a Roman Catholic church, Presbyterian interiors are generally simpler, without the focus on saints, elaborate statues, and altars. While the original interior of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church was more ornately decorated than currently, there were never any depictions of saints or complex religious scenes outside of the two Memorial windows. The decoration appears to have been largely floral and abstract ornament. North's 1926 alterations which dramatically simplified the interior décor emphasize the Presbyterian church's role as a meeting place rather than sacred building with a renewed harmonious simplicity of ornament with features such as the simple abstracted stained-glass windows and the placement of a Presbyterian cross in the apse.
The congregation of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church also demonstrates the religion's continued commitment towards charity and mission. Historically from its earliest origins, the Lafayette congregation demonstrated this with their commitment to running the Memorial Chapel mission and through the participation of numerous committees and organizations within the church such as the Ladies Association. Today, the Lafayette church is home to a soup kitchen, Loaves and Fishes, which is located in the basement of the building.[35]
9.) Boy Scout Troop #2 and the Log Cabin
Founded on February 8, 1910 by W.D. Boyce, Edward S. Stewart and Stanley D. Willis the Boy Scouts of America was a concept which was adapted from the British organization dedicated to providing boys with physical activity, strong moral guidance and social interaction. The Boy Scouts of America was founded at a time when numerous other similar youth groups were established as part of the larger progressive movement of the early twentieth-century. These organizations were seen as a way to alleviate the social problems which were thought to be a result of families moving from rural areas into the urban areas. Groups like the Boy Scouts of America were seen as a way to combat a perceived lack of mental, social and religious development as well as a decline in patriotism and individualism.
Due to the church's devotion towards progressive ideas and community outreach, it is no great surprise that the Boy Scouts of America found a home at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Troop 2 is perhaps one of the best known troops at the church, being a local branch of the national Troop 2 which was founded in 1911. Troop 2 in Buffalo typified the Boy Scout's ideals during the 1920s; church bulletins reported that the boys frequently went camping and learned outdoor skills, prepared their own meals and performed first aid demonstrations. During the mid-1920s, other troops began meeting at the Lafayette church including Troop 3 and Troop 103, while Troop 2 struggled for membership without a Scoutmaster. Finally in 1927 and under new leadership, Troop 2 designed and constructed a log cabin in the Community House's former basement Game Room which was intended to act as an official headquarters for the troop, giving them an official meeting location, and to draw new members to the troop.
Completed in February 1928, the log cabin carried the lessons of scouting into the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. It was both a place for fun and recreation but also a place for learning the moral and social lessons of the Boy Scouts of America. Completed under the direction of the new Scoutmaster W.H. Douglas, the log cabin was an act of teamwork, development and cooperation between the boys of Troop 2. It was noted as being designed by the boys, constructed of logs from the Boston (NY) Hills which were likely hewn by the boys, and constructed by the Scouts. The fireplace construction taught the boys lessons in craftsmanship and building in the medium of stone. The interior of the log cabin was intended to be decorated with items which reminded the Scouts of their accomplishments and achievements including trophies, plaques and ornaments. Originally, a stuffed deer head was displayed above the fireplace which Scoutmaster Douglas had shot when he was 16. The log cabin served both as a marketing strategy for enlarging the troop membership (for what young boy could resist meetings in a real log cabin), but it also served as a project which promoted real experience with construction, teamwork and other social goals promulgated by the Boy Scouts of America. The church saw the log cabin as promoting the spiritual development of the young boys, creating an atmosphere in which the lessons of nature could always be reflected.
10.) Romanesque Revival Architecture
Romanesque Revival as an architectural style was popular in America primarily during the period form the 1870s into the 1890s. It is characterized largely through the use of polychromatic exterior finishes, rock-faced stone finishes, round-headed arches and arcades, corbels and belt courses. Towers also often were featured as a significant element which helped to mark the location of the building, and the overall aesthetic of the style was that of the irregular picturesque.

It is a style which emphasized solidity, security, permanence and perpetuity, in contrast to the sense of verticality and lightness of the Gothic Revival. It became popular in church architecture as the previously fashionable Greek Revival architectural mode was rejected in the mid-nineteenth-century; it was increasingly seen as inappropriate for a pagan architectural style to adorn Christian churches. Romanesque Revival architecture drew from early Christian buildings such as those at St. Denis near Paris and the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.

The style was popular amongst Congregationalist, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches due to its sense of simplicity, solidity and reason.
Perhaps the most prominent practitioner of the Romanesque Revival style in the United States was Henry Hobson Richardson. Many of Richardson's most well-known works are in his own Richardson Romanesque style, including the Ames Gate Lodge in North Easton, Massachusetts (1880-1881); the New York State Capitol in Albany (1867-1899, NR 1971); and the Buffalo State Hospital (begun 1870, NR 1973, NHL 1983), a mile north of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church Richardson's use of the Romanesque Revival emphasized solid stone walls, round-headed arches, signature tower elements and short, robust columns.
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival in Buffalo. It features polychrome materials such as the red-orange terra-cotta roof, the green patina of the copper elements and the red Medina sandstone. The walls are heavy, rock-faced and feel solid and sturdy. Round-headed arches are predominate features in entryways, windows and even the blind arcade molding. The simplicity of the stained-glass windows (both the original opalescent windows and the 1926 replacements) is also in keeping with the feel of the Romanesque. The Presbyterian congregation likely selected the style based on its associations with reason, permanence and serenity ö all of which were important tenants of the theology of the church.
11.) Tudor Revival Architecture
The Community House is an excellent example of the popular early twentieth-century architectural style, the Tudor Revival. The Tudor Revival style which was popular at the end of the nineteenth-century until the 1920s in the U.S. and was characterized by brick construction, elaborated doorways, tabbed window and door details, cast stone detail elements, label moldings, steeply pitched parapeted gables and windows which are frequently grouped. The style frequently utilized false half-timbering details, although this is only featured in approximately half of the examples. Generally the style was drawn from architecture both of the Elizabethan era (1558-1603) and the Jacobean (1603-25) in England and has numerous variations in design, material and shapes, ranging from simple residential examples to high-style collegiate and religious projects.
Among the many practitioners of the style was the Buffalo architectural firm of Bley and Lyman. Among their best examples of the style is the Saturn Club (1920-22, NR 2005) which features brick and half-timbered portions, a crenellated parapet, label moldings and cast stone decorative elements (including the large planet Saturn insignia above the main door). The style is also sometimes referred to as Collegiate Gothic which was promoted by the noted architect Ralph Adams Cram. Cram used the style in works such as the buildings at Princeton University.
The Community House at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is an excellent example of the Tudor Revival style in Buffalo. Its notable features here include the steep, parapeted gables, the elaborate door surrounds on both the south and north facades with tabbed molding, segmental arches and carved text panels - all are hallmarks of the style. The stretcher bond brick surface, casement windows set in stone moldings, the elaborated chimney on the east gable end which features chimney pots, as well as the cast stone shield medallions which are located at the upper portions of the north, west and south facades are all characteristic to the Tudor Revival style.
12.) The George S. Hutchings Company- Original Organ Manufacturer
The organ which was originally installed in the chancel of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1896 was designed and crafted by George S. Hutchings. While the original console was replaced by a Wurlitzer in the 1920s, it has been relocated to a display in the narthex on the south of the building. Records also indicate that the original pipes may still be intact, added to in 1926, but shielded behind a decorative screen.
George S. Hutchings was born in 1835 in Salem, Massachusetts, and apprenticed as a young boy in the work shops of his brother, a carpenter and builder. Hutchings first worked at the Hook organ factory in Boston in 1857 before forming in 1869, along with Dr. J.H. Willcox, M.H. Plaisted, and G.V. Nordstrom, his own organ manufactory. In 1884, Hutchings purchased the company from his partners and it officially became the George S. Hutchings Co. According to reports, the organ for the Lafayette Church was originally manufactured in 1887 and was the second organ produced under this new company name. In the late 1880s and in the 1890s production at the company averaged close to 30 organs a year, and it was widely considered one of the largest and best equipped such companies in the world. In either 1889 or 1890 Hutchings hired a young Ernest M. Skinner, who later went on to found his own organ company and was widely considered the pioneer in bringing English ideas to the American organ field. Among the many Hutchings organs are those at the Church of the Divine Paternity in New York City (1897), Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts (1896) and the Boston Music Hall (1884), which was regarded as the largest organ in the US.
13.) Significant Members of the Church
Ellsworth M. Statler
One of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church's oldest and most devoted members was Ellsworth Milton Statler. Born in 1863, Statler became one of Buffalo's, and later the nation's, most prominent hoteliers, opening his first hotel in 1907. This hotel, known as the Hotel Statler, was immediately successful and led to the expansion of the Statler hotel chain which included new buildings in Buffalo, New York, Detroit, Boston and Los Angeles. Statler and his wife, Mary were a long time members of the Lafayette Church, and Statler was a frequent donor and benefactor to the church. Among his many donations to the church are his gifts of a $1,250 organ for the Community House in 1921, a donation of $15,000 for the repair and remodeling of the church auditorium in January of 1926, and most notably his gift of an organ in honor of his late wife, made in 1926. Statler donated $5,400 for the purchase of a new organ which was made by the Wurlitzer company and was installed to complement the existing organ. Statler was even noted as giving one of his children the middle name of "Howland" in honor of Lafayette Church's Rev. Howland who baptized all four Statler children. Upon Mr. Statler's death in 1928, the church bulletin noted that "his loss to his friends, to the community and to Lafayette Church is irreparable."
William R. Heath
The Heath family was one of the most respected and prominent families in Buffalo following the turn of the century. William Heath was notable as the lead legal counsel to the thriving Larkin Company, after serving as the company's director, vice-president and office manager. His wife, Mary Hubbard Heath, was the sister of noted Arts and Crafts mogul Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycroft artist community just outside of Buffalo. Perhaps Heath is most noted for his Prairie Style house in Buffalo designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905. The Heaths were members of the Lafayette Church for many years, and Mr. Heath acted as a church elder in 1909-1910 and served as the Superintendant of the Sunday Schools in 1909. William Heath was also noted as being instrumental to securing the funds for the construction of the Community House in 1920. Mrs. Heath led the aptly named Heath Class of young ladies at the church. The Heaths left the Lafayette Church in early 1926, after they moved to East Aurora, NY and transferred their membership to the Presbyterian Church there.
Irvine J. Kittinger
Mr. and Mrs. Irvine J. Kittinger were also prominent local members of the Buffalo community as well as of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1904, Kittinger began working at his father-in-law's failing furniture manufacturing company. Along with his brother Ralph, the two men purchased the company and in 1913 renamed it the Kittinger Company. Within 20 years they grew it into one of the finest furniture makers in the nation; by 1929 the company boasted over one million dollars in profit. In 1937, Kittinger was awarded an exclusive license to manufacture custom wood furniture reproductions for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and recently some of their pieces were ordered for the Inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama. In 1928, Mr. Kittinger was elected to a three-year term as a church elder at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Kittinger was also involved in the activities of the church, leading up the Lafayette Church Cookbook in 1926 as well as being involved with the Memorial Chapel mission in management and as a director.
14.) Architects Associated with the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
Lansing & Beierl
The partnership of Lansing & Beierl grew from their work together while in the prominent local architectural office of Green and Wicks. The two partnered around 1892 and completed numerous projects in the Buffalo area before the firm was dissolved around 1910. Many of their commissions appear to date following the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, so it is likely this project served as a showpiece for the firm. Among the numerous residential projects attributed to Lansing & Beierl are the Hotchkiss House at 37 Oakland Place (1897-8), Lansing's own Colonial revival house at 29 Oakland Place (1898), and the Shingle style Coatsworth House at 16 Lincoln Woods Lane (1897). Other churches that the firm designed include the Gothic revival Central Presbyterian Church (1910) and the Romanesque revival St. Francis Xavier RC Church (1911-13). Perhaps one of the firm's most notable works is the C.W. Miller Livery Stable (1892-94, NR 2007)
Williams Lansing was born on October 1st, 1860 to one of Buffalo's oldest and most prominent families. After graduating from Buffalo State Normal School he went to Colorado and spent several years on western ranches before returning to Buffalo to work in the architectural office of Green and Wicks. Lansing worked briefly as an independent architect before partnering with Beierl around 1892. He served as supervising architect for the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in 1901 before joining with Lawrence Bley and Duane Lyman in 1910. After he left the firm of Lansing, Bley and Lyman he joined with another architect of the name Oakley in 1919. Among his most prominent works were the Connecticut Street Armory (1898-1900, NR 1995) with State Architect Isaac Perry, the C.W. Miller Livery Stable (with Beierl in 1892-94, NR 2007), the E. & B. Holmes Machinery Company Building (as Lansing, Bley and Lyman, c.1860s-1913, NR pending) and the homes of several prominent Buffalo businessmen. Lansing died after suffering a stroke on September 30th, 1920 at his home at 200 Bryant Street. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery (NR 1990).
Robert North of North & Shelgren
Robert North was one of the most prolific designers of ecclesiastic architecture in Western New York.

Born in 1883 in Batavia, NY, North graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1905. Shortly after his graduation, he taught several courses in architecture at Cornell.

Upon returning to Buffalo, North worked for the notable architectural firm ofGreen and Wicks.

North's inspiration for church design likely came from a 1907 tour of European churches, castles and other grand buildings, which sparked not only his architectural interest but an interest in painting as well. He also toured Greece in 1912, studying ancient building technologies.

In 1919, North was a partner in the firm of North, Shelgren and Swift before he teamed with Olaf Shelgren to form the firm of North & Shelgren in 1925. Both together with Shelgren and individually, North was responsible for the design and construction of over 50 churches, including St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia (1908, NR 2004), the Tudor Revival Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville, NY (1952), and the Church of the Advent in Kenmore, NY (1951).

North also was a prolific designer of other buildings including numerous Buffalo Public Schools, the Hall Baking Company Building, the Crosby Building, and the Westbrook Apartments as well as numerous residences.

North was an avid painter, with examples of his work exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in 1937, and he was involved with the Roycroft artisans in East Aurora, NY for many years.

After his AIA membership lapsed in 1939 North continued to practice architecture, but eventually the firm of North & Shelgren dissolved in 1945. After retiring from architectural practice in 1953, Robert North died on May 2, 1968 after several years of ill health.

15.) Conclusion
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church has played a significant role in the lives of young and old members of the church and of the general community since it was constructed in 1896. It has served both the spiritual needs as well as the recreational needs of the congregation. The Lafayette church is a place to worship, a place to study and learn, and also a center for recreation and entertainment. Under Criteria A, the Lafayette church is significant as a product of the shifting population center in Buffalo which occurred in the late nineteenth-century. As people relocated from the downtown area to the northern regions of the city, numerous new churches were constructed. Although originally a downtown church, the Lafayette congregation constructed the new building after a majority of its members relocated north of the original location; the church is a product of the expansion and growth of the city. It is also an example of the types of charity work, community engagement and social progressivism which many churches participated in during the turn of the twentieth-century. Under Criteria C, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church is an example of a building which embodies the character if the popular Romanesque Revival and Tudor Revival styles. It was envisioned by the architectural firm of Lansing and Beierl who constructed many notable works at the turn of the twentieth-century. It was shaped and re-imagined by the architect Robert North, the prominent church designer. Like many churches in Buffalo, the Lafayette church has struggled against a dwindling membership, however new ideas and new energy is turning this trend around and the church is reexamining its history of change and progressive ideas. The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian church is an excellent architectural work which reflected a strong connection to its congregation and the community throughout its over 160 year history.
16.) List of Architects, Designers and Craftsmen Associated with the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
* Original Architects- Lansing & Beierl
* Mason (foundation) - C. Berrick's & Sons
* Stone Quarry and Cutting- DeGraffe & Roberts - stone from Eagle Harbor quarry (located just outside Medina, NY in Orleans Co.)
* Excavation- Charles Berrick's Sons
* Carpenter- Joseph Metz (Metz & Meyer- fine woodworking)
* Plaster- Byrne & Bannister
* Heating- Irlbacker & Davis
* Iron Work- C. Teiper & Co.
* Modeling- Boase
* Roofing- C.H. Peters & Son
* General Interior Painting- F.T. Coppins
* Sidewalks & Approaches- Buffalo Granolithic Paving Company
* Electrical Work- James Robertson Company
* Pews (solid quartered oak) & Furniture- Mr. Randolph McNutt (made by Buffalo School Furniture Company)
* Hardware- Weed & Co.
* Original Organ and Console - George S. Hutchings of Boston
* 1896 Stained Glass Windows, Decorative Painting & Interior Design - W.H. Colson & Co. of New York City
* Combination gas/electric fixtures - W.H. Glenny & Co.
* "Heacock Memorial Window" ö by (Edwin) Ford & (Frederick) Brooks of Boston
* 1926 Stained Glass Windows- Bell-Vaughan Shop

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