Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara

Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York
By James Napora
Table of Contents

Forest Lawn Cemetery Chapel - 1882
Delaware at West Delavan (NE)
Architect Unknown
Forest Lawn Cemetery - Table of Contents

On land once known as Flint Hill, the farm of Erastus Granger, Buffalo's first postmaster, Charles E. Clark established a burial ground in 1850. The cemetery was comprised of 80 acres of land located north of Scajaquada Creek. Its location, almost three miles north of the downtown core, owed itself to the "rural" cemetery movement. This movement advocated placing large cemeteries well removed from urban centers, a response to perceived health problems existing during this period. As a result of its location, the cemetery found it difficult attracting burials. On 12 July, 1850 John Lay, Jr. became the first person to be interned in the burial grounds. He had selected his final resting place, on a knoll overlooking Scajaquada Creek, prior to his death.

Clark operated the cemetery independently until 1855, when with
the assistance of nine trustees, they established the for profit Forest Lawn Association. This association operated the cemetery until 1864 at which time the City of Buffalo purchased it and all the property which encompasses the current boundaries and established the for profit Buffalo City Cemetery. Although thecemetery is legally known by its latter name, its original name of Forest Lawn is how it is commonly referred to today.

The chapel

In keeping with the established practices for burials, in 1882 a small chapel was constructed in the cemetery. Although not initiated by a specific group desiring a house of worship, the chapel fittingly serves its funerary purpose. As originallyconstructed, the chapel featured a greenhouse on its left side which served to grow all the annuals used throughout the cemetery grounds. The building was constructed of stone quarried on site in the cemetery's own quarry. Part of the Onondaga Escarpment, the quarry also provided stone used in constructing the numerous bridges on the grounds.

The chapel remained unchanged until the early 1930s. At that time the greenhouse was removed and the Edward B. Green designed columbarium was added. Also during that period, the chapel, due to its widely regarded acoustical properties, became the setting for numerous musical recitals and programs. The final exteriorchange occurred in 1956 with the addition of the porch. Constructed of hand-hewn timbers, the lumber originated from theWadsworth Estate, east of the city in Wadsworth, New York.

The chapel is easily accessible using the Delaware Avenue entrance to the cemetery. It is located in Section 'A', north of Scajaquada Creek.

© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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