BUFFALO, NY - In a letter read to parishioners at Saints Columba-Brigid parish in Buffalo during Sunday worship services, Bishop Richard J. Malone announced that St. Ann's church on the city's East Side is effectively beyond repair and will be demolished sometime later this year.
In the letter Bishop Malone said: "It is always a sad day when we have to acknowledge that a church can no longer be used, and sadder still when the church must be razed. But St. Ann Church, and the parish life that has thrived there for more than 150 years, has made its mark on the history of Catholicism in Western New York, and more importantly, on the lives of so many who have worshipped there. That is to be remembered and celebrated now and into the future."
St. Ann's was closed and merged into Saints Columba-Brigid parish in 2007.
The letter was also read at weekend services at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Buffalo where some former St. Ann parishioners are members. Up until last year mass had been celebrated weekly at St. Ann's, which is located at 501 Emslie Street, when the diocese suspended all activities due to severe deterioration of the structure.
A statement released by the diocese on Sunday estimated reconstruction costs at between $8 million and $12 million. An engineering report that was released in April of this year found that significant restoration work would be needed throughout the church, but especially on the east and west front towers. "Design and construction flaws of the original church have resulted in a building less durable than other churches of the period," the statement reads. "Once the site is cleared and transformed into green space, it will be available for future development."
You can read the entire statement from the diocese in the attached PDF file.
The cornerstone for the present structured was laid in 1878 to serve a community made up largely of German immigrants and their descendants. According to the Buffalo as an Architectural Museum website, settling of the ground during construction required modifications to the original design, resulting in the building's distinctive mismatched towers, after it was found the ground could not support the full weight of the structure as it was originally planned. Wind damage from a storm in 1964 necessitated removal of the towers' steeples.
"We plan to preserve and relocate the Shrine of St. Ann and other valuable, artistically significant artifacts currently within the church," said Bishop Malone in his letter. "In another sacred space, longtime devotions to St. Ann will continue, and the heritage of this historic parish will be preserved and honored."
Today's mass was the last service to be celebrated at the venerable sanctuary which has served generations of Western New Yorkers.