Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara

Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York
By James Napora
Table of Contents

Central Methodist Episcopal Church - Table of Contents

West Tupper at Delaware (SE)
John H. Selkirk
Founded September, 1870

Delaware at West Tupper (SE)
John H. Selkirk

During the late 1860S there came to be large number of Methodists who were detached from a church. These people had moved north of Chippewa and west of Main. They often found it difficult to travel to their former places of worship, Grace Church on Michigan and Division (destroyed) and Niagara Street Church on Niagara near Franklin (destroyed). Although many of these people had united with other area congregations, there was an air of uncertainty amongst them in their new surroundings. As they were founders of the congregations they had left, they did not feel to be a true part of those that they had joined.

The nearest church to North Street -- Pearl Street Methodist Church on Pearl at Chippewa (destroyed), was considering relocating to a more commodious building. Hoping to join them in their efforts, the expatriates, with the generous assistance of the wealthy stove manufacturer Francis Hinsdale Root, had purchased the site on the southeast corner of Delaware and Tupper with the prospects of constructing a house of worship there. They communicated news of the purchase to the Pearl Street congregation who, upon stating their objection to the proposed site, ceased all relocation efforts.

Feeling it better to go it alone than to abandon plans, in September, 1870 the small group declared themselves to be the Central Methodist Church. The following month, on 23 October,they held their first service in the chapel of the Buffalo Female Seminary with forty people attending. The following Sunday the members met and formed a Sunday School. With the seminary proving to be an inconvenient space to hold both services and Sunday School, on 13 November the group began meeting in the chapel of Calvary Presbyterian Church on Delaware at Tracy (destroyed), remaining there until the completion of their new $45,000 chapel on 3 December, 1871.

Three years later, the congregation broke ground for their new house of worship, placing the cornerstone on 21 May, 1874. Throughout the ensuing two years, as work progressed on their new building, they worked vigorously to raise the needed funding. On 10 September, 1876 they dedicated their new building free of all debt. To reflect their move from their chapel to the adjoining house of worship fronting on Delaware, they became known as the Delaware Methodist Episcopal Church.

The building, completed at a cost of $130,000, was the last commission for the noted architect John H. Selkirk, designer of many of Buffalo's early religious buildings. Constructed of Medina sandstone with Connecticut stone trim, the building is designed in the Gothic Revival Style. The northern steeple on theasymmetrical front towers to over 200 feet. The elegant interior, finished in rosewood, contains a wrap around gallery.The art glass windows were executed by the local firm of Booth and Reister.

An unexpected event occurred for the congregation in 1916 when the Asbury Methodist Church merged with it. It was ironic in the fact that when seeking to first construct their building, the Delaware Church had approached Asbury, then known as Pearl Street, with the proposition of building as a joinedcongregation.

The congregation of Asbury Methodist came to be on 22 March, 1847 when members of the Niagara Street Methodist Church met to consider the possibility of establishing a new congregation in the northern part of the expanding downtown core. Known as the Pearl Street Methodist Church, they secured the property on the northwest corner of Pearl and Chippewa Streets and proceeded to erect a two-story brick building there, dedicating it on 23 September. By 1870, the congregation had outgrown this buildingand decided to construct a new building on the corner of Delaware and Chippewa. Upon dedicating the new building, on 22 December, 1872 they became known as Asbury Methodist Church in honor of Bishop Francis Asbury, who contributed immensely towards the establishment of the church following the American Revolution. With membership decreasing and the value of the property increasing, the congregation sold their site for development uponmerging with Delaware ME Church.

The combined congregation worshipped in the building until disbanding in 1969, ending the inner city Methodist presence which had existed since the founding of Buffalo.

© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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