St. Paul's Episcopal
Cathedral - Table of Contents
Upjohn's Model - St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral
Pearl Street, Buffalo,
From the Archives #04
By Alice M. Evans Bartlett and G. Hunter
Bartlett, History of St. Paul’s, Buffalo, N. Y. (Buffalo: ,
the 24 years it took to complete St. Paul’s (1849-73), a three
dimensional wooden model stood in the narthex
of the church depicting architect Richard Upjohn’s
The model was complete in every detail and was made to a scale of one-quarter inch to the foot.
The replica extends three feet seven and three-quarter inches from the
east wall of the chancel to the bell tower, equivalent to 175 feet. The
height of the bell tower is four feet eight and one-quarter inches, or
225 feet, which was the height as originally planned by Mr. Upjohn. Sand was added to the brown paint,
imitating the Medina
that would be used for the exterior walls. However, for economic
reasons, there were a few minor changes made after the model was
completed: some crockets
and other details were omitted from the two spires.
Also, the four small windows in the south porch are missing on the
model as they had not been in Upjohn’s original blueprints.
In an 1854 letter from the building committee to Mr. Upjohn we learn
the name of the man who built our model. In that letter reference is
made to “the model Mr. Riker had made.” Thirty-one-year-old George
Riker was a master carpenter and the foreman of St. Paul’s interior
woodwork. Unfortunately, his work was lost in the catastrophic fire of
Riker’s partnership with Upjohn did not end in Buffalo. They worked
together on a number of churches in the East, and Riker’s beautiful
workmanship can still be seen in his native New Jersey and the New York
City area. George Riker died in West Bloomfield, New Jersey in 1904.
When St. Paul’s Church neared completion in 1850, the stone masons no
longer needed the miniature model, and it was summarily dismantled,
stored under the bell tower stairway and soon forgotten. Miraculously,
it survived the gas explosion and fire in which the entire interior was
destroyed. Around 1895 a parishioner, Frank Gedies, found the forgotten
model, and with great patience and skill restored it. Mr. Gedies, who
was one of St. Paul’s bell ringers, also carved a beautiful cherub face
on the stone lintel of one of the tower room doors. Referring to Mr.
Riker’s wooden model, Alice and G. Hunter Bartlett wrote in their
history of St. Paul’s Cathedral the following:
It is to be hoped that this
interesting reminder of the past will be properly preserved as a
“historical document,” and that it may be placed where it can be
readily seen and examined.
George Riker’s model of St. Paul’s Church is presently housed in the
south porch off Cathedral Park.
Special thanks to Wayne Mori for making
this archive avilable for reprinting.
Page by Chuck
LaChiusa in 2014
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