Police Station #8 / Chua Tu Hieu Buddhist Cultural Center
647 Fillmore Ave., St., Buffalo NY 14202

Police Station #8 erected:


Police Station #8 architect:

Howard Beck, City of Buffalo architect
Police Station #8 closed:
Center established:

TEXT Beneath 2015 Photos

Left: Former Police Station #8 ... Right: Serenity Garden

Splayed lintel

City of Buffalo Seal

Roman (smooth shaft) Ionic column

Serenity Garden

Six details below:

Serenity Garden


Serenity Garden:  Entrance gate

Serenity Garden:  Entrance gate

Male guardian lion ... Globe represents the world

Female with cub ... Three details below:

Trees, plants and flowers native to Vietnam

Incense Burner

Quan Am statue ...  Incense burner

Incense burner  ... Five details below:

Incense burner  ... Phoenix ... Sun with yin and yang symbol ... Dragon

Incense burner  ...

Incense burner

Incense burner 

Incense burner

Quan Am statue

Quan Am statue.
Alternative spelling: Guanyin ... The Vietnamese version of "Guanyin" is "Quan Am."
"Guanyin is an East Asian deity of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means 'Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World'. She is also sometimes referred to as Guanyin Bodhisattva.  Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western pure land of Sukhāvatī." - Wikipedia: Guanyin (online July 2015)

"Where the Quan Am statue is was once a house where people bought and sold drugs." - Rev. Thich Tin Tam ... Five details below:

Quan Am statue ... Marble ... A Bodhisattva (pronounced: boh di saht va) is a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings. A bodhisattva is one of the four sublime states a human can achieve in life.

Quan Am statue.

Quan Am statue.

Quan Am statue.

Quan Am statue ...  Lotus leaves

Incense burner.

Providing inner-city tranquility
Buddhist Cultural Center's emergence on East Side exudes an aura of peace
By Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich
Published in The Buffalo News
 July 20, 2015

An 18,000-pound solid marble Buddha stands serenely, anchoring a courtyard lush with vegetation on the city's East Side.

Built in a former police station, the Chua Tu Hieu Buddhist Cultural Center pops out of the urban landscape at 647 Fillmore Ave. Cars slow to a crawl and pedestrians stop in their tracks, say neighbors, who welcomed the religious center for the positive influence that it has had on their struggling block.

The force behind the temple is the Rev. Thich Tin Tam. Those who know the monk say they can't help but smile at the unassuming man who moved from San Diego to lead a community of Vietnamese Buddhists.

The 42-year-old assumed the position of permanent abbot in 2010 after the temple for years was guided by a variety of monks. Today it serves a large portion of the 3,000 Vietnamese immigrants who make their homes in communities that include Buffalo, Depew, Cheektowaga and Lockport.

''Every year, we have a celebration on April 15 to honor Buddha's birthday," Tin Tam said. ''Many monks volunteer to help with each event, but no one volunteered to stay here and be a leader and run the temple. I'm a monk. I try and help people in difficult situations. That's why I volunteered to be here.

The Buddhist Cultural Center was established in 1999 in the Police Department's former Eighth Precinct. Built in 1915, the station was one of many that closed in the mid-1990s as part of a citywide police consolidation. Shortly after, then-Mayor Anthony M. Masiello turned the vacant brick structure over to Vietnamese immigrants for a cultural center, said David A. Franczyk, Common Council member from the Fillmore District. ''I thought it was a great idea," he said. ''It's a neighborhood with a constant infusion of people. It's the United Nations. On the East Side, no one will turn you away."

In the years since Tin Tam moved into the temple, a large and loyal group of volunteers has helped rehab the interior of the century-old structure. They have also created a Serenity Garden by planting trees, plants and flowers native to Vietnam.

''It's taken two years to reach this stage," Tin Tam said. ''It's not finished yet. We need a fence."

Near the garden's gateway, sticks of incense rising out of a large stone pot resemble a porcupine, but their purpose is to sweeten the air. A pathway around the perimeter of the garden is designed for meditative walks. A tall utility pole all but disappeared behind the Buddha, but Tin Tam would like the pole permanently removed – just like the abandoned home that was recently demolished.

''Where the Quan Am statue is was once a house where people bought and sold drugs, so I tried to buy it and knock it down to keep the neighborhood quiet," he said.

The garden, which backs onto Gibson Street, is a stone's throw from the [Broadway] market, where Tin Tam shops for bananas and other fruit and vegetables that are staples of his vegetarian diet.

Several Buddhas are displayed throughout this urban temple. In front of each are offering bowls filled with apples. The offerings could be any kind of fruit, the monk explained. Inside the center, there are circular spinning lights on the walls behind some of the Buddhas - symbols of knowledge. Considerable renovations to the basement include overnight rooms for the carloads of tourists that frequently turn up at the center's door. The many Vietnamese tourists who visit Niagara Falls often take a side trip to the temple, he explained.

''Every Sunday, up to 80 Buddhists come to worship," Tin Tam said. ''They come here and see their friends. They stay here, and it is very meaningful. I see the happiness on their faces and in their eyes. They are old people who had to leave their homeland in Vietnam for the good life. That is why I'm here."

Each day he wakes at 5 a.m. to chant and meditate for 90 minutes. And then he reads. Much of his time is spent writing a Dharma Talk that Tin Tam delivers each Sunday.

[Next door neighbor Philip] Jones just started a job at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center after volunteering there since 1980. He credits the hospital with saving his life, and he credits Tin Tam with reviving a neighborhood.

''He is an amazing person," Jones said. ''Regardless of what goes on, he has love in his heart and it radiates. I watch the cars as they go by, and all of them slow up just to get a glimpse of what's there, and it's a 100 percent improvement.

''I'm a disabled vet, and I've got a lot of stuff going on, and sometimes I can get a little crazy. I come outside and I'll smoke a cigarette, and he'll tell me: ‘There is a better way.' He has such a calming effect on me. When I see him, I can't help but smile."

[Bold print added for emphasis.]

Photos and their arrangement 2015 Chuck LaChiusa
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