Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Christ Chapel - Table of Contents
Christ Chapel - 1869
371 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY
Architect: Arthur Gilmam
In many ways, the story of Christ Chapel is the story of Trinity Church.
Out of the original congregation of Trinity Church, the congregation of St. John's Episcopal Church, now on Bidwell and Lafayette, formed in 1846.
Christ Church founded
On 4 July, 1868 a skyrocket landed in the tower of the original St. John's Church on Washington near Swan resulting in extensive damage to the building. The congregation questioned whether the original building should be repaired or a new one constructed in a location reflective of the current population distribution of the city. Some members desired to rebuild the damaged building while those who disagreed with that decision left and organized Christ Church on Delaware Avenue.
Christ Chapel and church foundation
They immediately constructed the chapel building and began planning for the construction of a larger house of worship. As they were the only Episcopal congregation in the area at the time, they had aspirations of constructing a rather substantial building. By 1869 they had managed to place the foundations of what is currently Trinity Episcopal Church intending it as their house of worship. Being financially unable to proceed further than the foundation of the new church, they discontinued all work on it.
Trinity Church built
In 1883, the congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church, seeking to construct a new house of worship approached Christ Church with a proposal to merge. Recognizing the opportunity to once again become financially stable, the members of Christ Church accepted the offer and in 1884 the two congregations merged. At this time, Christ Church surrendered all property to Trinity Church and its members were absorbed into that of Trinity. The combined congregations went on to build a new house of worship on the foundations placed by Christ Church in 1869.
Christ Chapel interior
The small unassuming chapel now sits within the shadow of Trinity Church. The New York City architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Goodhue are responsible for the current interior dating from 1913. They added the decorated Gothic ceiling, the stone pillars, the chancel and the carved choir stalls. In the chancel they placed a triptych reredos depicting "The Boy Christ in the Temple." Originally the church was little more than a room with a platform at one end of it.
The Celtic cross in the courtyard was added in 1906. A. Phimister Proctor, sculptor of the lions at the base of the McKinley Monument in Niagara Square, carved the pink Tennessee marble cross.