Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
HOLY MOTHER OF THE ROSARY POLISH NATIONAL CATHEDRAL - 1904
182 Sobieski (W)
Architect: Sidney W. Woodruff
Founded 27 July, 1895
The seat of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese of the Polish National Church, former parishioners of St. Adalbert's Church on Stanislaus Street founded the church after a period of discord resulted in their departure. Throughout the early years of St.Adalbert's, constant turmoil existed among the immigrant congregation. Some of the members were at odds with the Catholic Diocese over who controlled the property and buildings which they had built and maintained through their contributions. On 27 July, 1895 after an extended period of violence and bloodshed, the church enlisted the assistance of police in having thediscontented parishioners removed from church property. After their dismissals, they banded together and purchased property on Sobieski Street. On 8 August, 1895 they celebrated their firstmass on the vacant lot.
Within six months they had erected a substantial frame building, using it for both worship and schooling. This soon proved to be too small and they erected a second building alongside, using it for simultaneous services. After fire destroyed these buildings in 1903, they began construction of the building now occupying the site.
In 1911, the congregation began to experience the same level of disagreement and division which had resulted in its separating from St. Adalbert's sixteen years earlier. As a result of this turmoil, they began to fall behind on mortgage payments. In June, 1913 the Board of Trustees arranged with the bank to bring foreclosure action against the congregation. They would in turn bid on the property, make good on all past debts and gain full control of the affairs of the church. The Catholic Diocese found out about this arrangement and proceeded to bid on the property, themselves gaining control of it.
On 17 September, 1913, with the Catholic Diocese now in control, the first Roman Catholic mass was said in the building. The exiled members began a twenty-two month period away from their church, holding services in a rented hall on Genesee Street. In January, 1914, while still in exile, they became aligned with thePolish National Church.
An ensuing court battled ended in favor of the exiles when, on 13 July, 1915, the court denied the Catholic Diocese's claim to possession of the church. On 28 July, they returned the church to the Polish Nationals, paying them $23,924 rent for the occupancy of the buildings. This displaced group of Catholics went on to establish Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church nearby on Sycamore Street.
The Cathedral, dedicated in 1906, originally contained twenty murals executed by local ecclesiastical artist Joseph Mazur. He also executed the original Stations of the Cross. With the closing and sale of the cathedral in April, 1994 many of these effects were removed and placed in storage awaiting theconstruction of a new building in Lancaster.
The building is currently used as a mosque.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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