Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Assumption RC Church - Table of Contents
ASSUMPTION ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - 1914
435 Amherst at Germain (SE)
Architects: Schmill & Gould
Founded August, 1888
In the late 1870s, the Black Rock area became home to a number of Polish immigrants. At that time, the area was settled predominantly by Germans. These Poles found it increasingly difficult to attend the then established Polish parishes of St. Stanislaus on Peckham Street and St. Adalbert's on StanislausStreet. They also did not feel comfortable in the then German parish of St. Francis Xavier on East street. As the number ofimmigrants to the area increased in the 1880s, a need developed for a church to serve them.
In the Spring of 1888, thirty Polish families gathered in the St. Francis parish hall and discussed the possibility of establishing their own parish. They sent their request to Bishop Stephen Ryan who in turn appointed Rev. Theophil Kozlowski as the first pastor. Later that year Rev. Kozlowski purchased land on the south side of Amherst Street between Germain and Peter. On 8 September, 1888 the congregation placed the cornerstone of their first house of worship. Completed on 21 November, the modest two-story brick building contained classroom space on the first floor and worship space on the second floor.
By 1909, the need for a larger house of worship was apparent. At that time, the congregation purchased the remainder of the land in the Germain/ Peter/ Amherst block in anticipation of constructing a new building. Also, the need for more classroom space had resulted in the conversion of the combination buildingto that of just school, leaving the growing congregation without a suitable place for worship.
On 15 August, 1914, the congregation placed the cornerstone of their new house of worship. At that time, the building fund, begun many years previous, contained $83,000. Within one year, the church was completed and dedicated.
The Romanesque church, completed at a cost of $350,000, seats 1,560 people, making it one of the largest religious buildings in the city. The arcaded doors of the main entrance are flanked by towers soaring to 170 feet in height. With their seven foot diameter clock faces on each side, the towers are a highly visible landmark in the area.
The interior, with its arcaded nave, features a wood ceiling richly painted in the European church tradition. Its beauty is especially apparent at the intersection of the nave and transept and in the semidome of the apse. The apse itself is richly adorned with original art work by Fr. Raphael and the Hungarian Josef Varga, both of whom were responsible for the interior paintings at St. Francis Xavier.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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