Delaware Avenue Baptist Church - Table of Contents

2005 Exterior - Delaware Avenue Baptist Church
965 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Erected:

1894-95

Architect:

John Coxhead

Interior design:

J & R Lamb Studios

Style:

Richardsonian Romanesque

Exterior:

Medina sandstone

Status:

TEXT Beneath Illustrations



Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

Postcard

 

 

 

Note voussoirs

Greek cross stained glass window -
Coxhead's design signature

Dentils ... Voussoirs

Keystones ... Voussoirs

Greek cross stained glass window -
Coxhead's design signature

Note northern neighbor: The Saturn Club


In 1892, John Coxhead (1863-1943) formed a partnership with W.W. Carlin of Buffalo and moved his growing family to Buffalo.  This partnership, like many others Coxhead had had, was short-lived.  In 1893 Carlin and Coxhead merged with C. Powell Karr, an architect in New York City, but by December of that same year, the partnership was dissolved and each architect went out on his own.

Coxhead continued to practice in Buffalo on his own for the next thirty years.  While there, he continued to design private homes, schools, churches and civic buildings, but he also started designing stables for the more affluent Buffalo residents and trend-setting hospitals as well.  Unfortunately, as is the case in St. Paul, most of Coxhead's Buffalo buildings were also razed decades ago.

His most famous extant building in Buffalo is the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church, built in 1894.  This
Medina sandstone Richardsonian-Romanesque-styled church boasts a narthex and baptistery made of over one million mosaic tiles.  It was a popular destination during the Pan American Exposition in 1901 and is designated a local landmark.

Coxhead was an active member of this church for his 31 years here and received the majority of his local commissions through this affiliation, including, most likely, the Phoenix Club commission.

To raise money for the construction of the church the congregation sold its original church, leaving them without a place to worship.   They made an arrangement with
Temple Beth Zion to worship in their building [which was next door to the church that they sold to the Twentieth Century Club] until this rear area was completed.  They then worshiped here until the front of the church was ready.

Coxhead has known extant buildings in six states, designed and built buildings in at least twenty states, and has at least ten buildings on the
National Register of Historic Places.

- Nancy Mingus, John Hopper Coxhead, FAIA and Delaware Avenue Baptist   (2002)

Although one may think of a church today as a building where people gather to worship, the word church had no such specific meaning for the early Baptists on the Holland Purchase. By 1825, even though there were perhaps thirty Baptist churches on the Purchase, the churches at Eden Valley and Rushford were the only ones that had meeting houses. Services and meetings were usually held in homes of centrally located members, and sometimes in schoolhouses, barns, fields, and groves. In addition to the Eden and Rushford groups, Baptist societies in Concord, Sardinia, Holland, Wales, and Boston were beneficiaries of Holland Land Company grants in Erie County. Joseph Ellicott often contributed small amounts of cash from Holland Land Company monies as well as from personal funds. Donated land, however, was not always utilized for building churches!

Delaware Avenue Baptist is in a sense the mother church of the Baptists on the Niagara Frontier. It was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque manner by John H. Coxhead. It is one of the great churches of Buffalo built of Medina sandstone during the tremendous surge of building, especially on Delaware Avenue and downtown, during the 1890s, despite the severe economic conditions surrounding the Depression of 1893.

- Austin M. Fox, et. al., Church Tales of the Niagara Frontier: Legends, History & Architecture. Pub. by Western New York Wares, 1994

This late example of the Richardsonian idiom is the most important local building by John Coxhead (1863-1943). Coxhead, who had worked with the firm of Ware and Van Brunt in Boston,came to Buffalo in the early 1890s and practiced here for over thirty years. After that he moved to Washington, where he became Architect for the Army Air Corps.

- Francis R. Kowsky, et. al. , Buffalo Architecture: A Guide. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981, p. 152

Testimony to the extraordinary building expansion in Buffalo during the 1890s, despite the devastating Depression of 1893, is found in the construction of such large churches as the Delaware Avenue Baptist, Lafayette Presbyterian and First Church, all at about the same time, all Richardsonian Romanesque and all of Medina sandstone.

The Delaware Avenue Baptist Church has some interesting
Byzantine features such as its dome of colored glass underneath the glass of the roof. The mosaic decoration on the pulpit platform and the marble columns supporting the ceiling are also special interior features of this handsome, well-maintained church.

Earlier, the congregation, founded in 1882, occupied a brick chapel on Delaware Avenue, which was incorporated by architect E. B. Green into the back section of the Twentieth Century Club.

The Delaware Avenue Baptist is the major work of longtime Buffalo architect, John H. Coxhead.

- Austin Fox and Lawrence D. McIntyre, Designated Landmarks of the Niagara Frontier. Pub. by Meyer Enterprises, 1986, p. 103


Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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