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St. Patrick's  Friary
102 Seymour Street, Buffalo, NY
759 South Division Street,
Buffalo NY

HISTORY - Beneath Illustrations

Church and monastery built:
C. 1891
St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church
C.K. Porter and Son
Original name:
St. Vincent de Paul
Gothic Revival
Richardsonian Romanesque
Building material:
Medina sandstone

See also:       Junior League, St. Patrick's Friary House History     and      
St. Patrick's RC Church

2013 photos

Facade - Medina sandstone

Facade -

Facade - Dormer ... Slate roof

Facade - Medina sandstone  lintels and sills

Facade - Stained glass windows

Facade - St. Francis of Assisi holding a cross   stained glass window

Front entrance fence

Cast iron newel post

East elevation

East elevation - detail

St. Patrick's Franciscan Monastery

A towering 3 1⁄2-story Medina sandstone masonry building in the Gothic Revival style, this building features a central entry pavilion which is topped with a tall hipped roof. The building features random-coursed rock-faced stone walls with several narrow windows with prominent stone sills and headers.

At one time this Monastery was part of a larger complex of buildings and served the adjacent St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church which was a typical basilica-type church. Also on the property were school buildings and a hall. Thought to be constructed ca. 1891 by C. K. Porter & Son.  

- Section F, p. 12, The Hydraulics/Larkin Neighborhood - Nomination for Listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places by Jennifer Walkowski.
Picture Placed – St. Patrick’s Friary
Buffalo Rising, December 18, 2013

The Hydraulics

Many if not most Buffalonians are familiar with the fall of the iconic East and West sides, when immigrants, their children, and their children’s children left old neighborhoods for suburbia; their former homes and other buildings often falling victim to the wrecking ball. Few, comparatively speaking, know about the history of the Hydraulics, Buffalo’s oldest industrial district.

Founded in 1827 by the Buffalo Hydraulic Association, the area soon had its own canal and railroad network. The Hydraulics’ astronomical growth and exciting innovation were based on Seneca Street, and with a promising future thousands of Irish immigrants poured into the district, later to be joined by the Germans and Polish.

The Beginning of St. Patrick’s – The Hydraulics Church

The Irish immigrants who took the first jobs in the Hydraulics were for the vast majority, practicing Roman Catholics. Because the nearest church where parishioners could hear sermons and go to confession in English was Old St. Patrick’s Church on Broadway and Ellicott Streets, Bishop John Timon decided to erect a parish for the Hydraulics residents in their own neighborhood and property was purchased on Emslie and Seymour Sts., on the corner of South Division, in 1853 [the site which is the subject of this page.]

A small frame building was quickly erected on the northeast corner of the lot. Originally, it was named St. Vincent dePaul Church. Bishop Timon belonged to the Congregation of the Mission, commonly known as the Vincentian Fathers. The Vincentians (who staff Niagara University in Lewiston) were founded by St. Vincent dePaul, to whom Bishop Timon had a strong devotion. Old St. Patrick’s
[on Broadway and Ellicott Streets] soon closed, and when the Irish Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province began staffing the church in 1858, the parish became known as St. Patrick’s.

Fr. Angelus O’Connor began the construction of the brown Medina sandstone  Gothic structure in 1891, and the church was completed under his successor Fr. Dominic Scanlon. A school was built with the latest conveniences of the time and the Franciscans could be, and were proud of their efforts.
St. Patrick’s was a large parish and the church and school thrived through the first decades of the 20th century.

Sacred Heart Church

 A second Catholic church in the Hydraulics, Sacred Heart, was begun to serve the needs of the Germans.

Built in 1875 between Seneca and Swan Streets, the church was purchased by the Larkin Company and renovated in 1911 to become the quickly expanding enterprise’s auditorium. Interestingly, the auditorium itself was razed less than 25 years later in March, 1936 to make way for a parking lot for the erstwhile Larkin department store while the school had already been torn down in 1929. Larkin Co. Inc. ceased operating in the 1940s.

All that remains of the original Sacred Heart buildings is the rectory [next to thefirehouse at the corner of Seneca and Swan]. The parish’s permanent complex (church, school, rectory and convent) was built on Emslie Street, near Clinton. It too was very successful.

Change Comes to St. Patrick’s, neighborhood

After two World Wars, the appeal of an easier, less-crowded life, and a radical demographic change, the Hydraulics had slowed down considerably by mid-century. The infamous demolition (for which the city still apologizes) of the Frank Loyd Wright-designed Larkin Administration Building in 1950 was the essential death knell for the Hydraulics; although a considerable number faithfully – or stubbornly – held on to their beloved homes and jobs, seeking to preserve their neighborhood of so many years and familiar lifestyle.

Meanwhile, African Americans moved steadily into the area. Things were quickly changing -for the neighborhood, for business, for the city and for the church. St. Patrick’s opened its doors to the blacks and embraced them, many of the minority-turned-majority converts to the faith.

An African American parishioner named Ronald Walker, was asked by St. Patrick’s pastor in 1970 to consider the newly-forming permanent diaconate program. He was ordained the first black deacon in the Diocese of Buffalo in 1980.

See also: Mark Sommer, A Gothic Revival 'blank slate,' The Buffalo News, February 28, 2023

The Monastery photos and their arrangement © 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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