Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
CORPUS CHRISTI ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - Table of Contents
CORPUS CHRISTI ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - 1907
177 Clark Street (E)
Architect: Schmill & Gould
Founded 22 April, 1898
At the close of the 19th century, Buffalo's East Side neighborhoods had become densely settled. The small homes of thePolish immigrants lined street after street, creating one of the most populous sections of the city. Out of St. Stanislaus Church on Peckham Street, two additional parishes had been previously formed. Still, this did little to ease the crowded conditions in these churches and especially in St. Stanislaus. At this time,Bishop James Quigley requested assistance from the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual of Syracuse, New York. He had previously learned of the work of one of the members with the Polish population in Syracuse. The Bishop implored of Rev. Fudzinski, a recent immigrant to the United States, to relocate to Buffalo andassist in the organization of another Polish parish here.
Arriving here in the Spring of 1898, without delay Rev. Fudzinski began to search the Broadway/Fillmore area for a suitable location for a new Polish church. Within the parameters previously set by the Bishop, he purchased twenty-seven parcels of land on Clark and Kent Streets. At the time, ten homes had been constructed on those lots. He remodeled the home which stood on the site of the present rectory into the congregation's first house of worship, it having a seating capacity of less than 300 people. There, Rev. Fudzinski celebrated the first mass of the parish here on 27 May, 1898.
Since he considered this building only a temporary house of worship for a parish of over 600 families, Rev. Fudzinski realized the importance of constructing a larger building at once. In August, 1898 the congregation broke ground for a combination church/school building. By the end of the year, classes began in the partially finished building. Completed in the first months of the following year, the first floor sanctuary sat over 1,000 people. The congregation spent the ensuing years constructing the numerous support buildings to serve them.
Within five years, the church/school building proved to be too small with the membership roles growing as large numbers of people settled in the area. In 1907 Rev. Fudzinski broke ground for the current building. Two years later on 13 June, 1909, Bishop Charles Colton dedicated the completed house of worship.
Completed at a cost of $100.000, the 90 by 175 foot building seats 1.650 people. Constructed of Medina sandstone, it is marked by the twin towers rising above the small homes on the surrounding streets. The copper domes of the towers are surmounted by crosses into which were stuffed hundreds of letters written by the school children of the parish during the building's construction.
The interior of the church features some of the finest ecclesiastical art in the city. Installed during the 1920s, the crowning feature is a reproduction of Raphael's Disputa del Santissimo in the semidome of the apse.
J. Shepperd Craig, a Scottish immigrant to the United States, carved the capitals of the columns lining the nave.
The windows in the church and the vestibule were imported from Munich, Germany.
The building comes alive when the more than 10,000 lights are illuminated. In addition to the chandeliers, lights line the arcade of the nave and the arch of the sanctuary.
During this period of completion of the building's interior, the parish's rate of growth declined, a direct result of the construction of the New York Central Terminal. To clear ample space for it, almost 300 homes were demolished. In 1929 the parish population decreased from 2,000 families to 1,750.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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