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


325 Leroy (S)
Oakley & Schallmo
Founded 6 June, 1906

331 Leroy (S)
Schmill & Gould

Amongst the finest of all ecclesiastical buildings in the city, the church of the Blessed Trinity stands as a monument to the faith of a group of people in what was known as the Jammer-thal area of the city. As many Irish and German Catholic families began to reside in the neighborhood, on 6 June, 1906 BishopCharles Colton appointed Rev. John F. Pfluger to establish a Catholic presence in the section defined by Main/Bailey andDelavan/Amherst. At that time, approximately sixty Catholic families resided in the area. Rev. Pfluger arranged for the useof a hall above the Kleinderhaus Grocery Store at 175 Dewey and Sandford Street. Recognizing the importance of such an endeavor, Mr. Kleinderhaus provided the hall rent free. On 8 July, the congregation celebrated their first mass at what they referred to as the "Upper Room Church," due to its location on the third floor of the building.

Realizing the possibilities for growth, they immediately began to raise funds for the construction of their own place of worship. In February, 1907 they purchased land and a home on the south side of Leroy, formerly part of the Gesl family farm. They contracted with the firm of Schmill & Gould for the design of a combination church/school building and in March, 1907 broke ground for it. As they excavated the basement of the building, they used the stone to construct the foundation. They placed the cornerstone on 5 June and dedicated the building on 17 November. At the time of its completion, the $25,000 building and the area were not serviced by electricity.

With the arrival of more residents to the neighborhood, then pastor Rev. Albert Fulton realized that the building would soon prove to be inadequate for both spiritual and educational purposes. In 1912, he acquired additional land adjacent to the original parcel from the Kinsey Real Estate Company with visions of one day constructing a great house of worship there. The idea lay fallow for the following ten years until 16 January, 1922. At a congregational meeting on that day, the main topic of discussion was the construction of a new house of worship. The members sent their proposition to Bishop William Turner and receiving a positive response, they proceeded to plan for the building. With designs prepared by local architects Oakley & Schallmo, they broke ground on 2 January, 1923 and placed the cornerstone on 7 August of that year. Although the majority of work on the building had been completed by 1927, the congregation did not dedicate it until 3 June, 1928, five years and four months after first discussing the idea.

Completed at a cost of $513.000, the 700 seat edifice is the best example of the Lombardian Romanesque Style in the city. The style, which originated in Northern Italy is characterized by numerous features including a single gabled front with a projecting porch, simple buttressing, a semicircular apse, a dome, often octagonal, and intricate ornamentation. Containing over 2.000 symbols, the building is a visual tour de force.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the building, next to the profusion of terra cotta detailing, is the fascinating brick work. Manufactured in Exeter, New Hampshire, a colony of French immigrants used antiquated tools and methods to hand make each brick. They mixed clay and water in shallow pits, called pugs, shaped the clay and allowed it to sun dry. They wood fired all the bricks which resulted in the difference in coloration, as theoutermost bricks were black and those on the inside of the stack red and orange. During construction, parishioners purchased individual bricks for five cents each.

An additional exterior feature is the 572 terra cotta corbels surrounding the building. With no two alike, they depict the vices, virtues, graces, sacraments and commandments of the Catholic faith. Exterior terra cotta details such as the doorways and windows were inspired by the Cathedral of St. Michael in Pavia. The facade itself was inspired by the main portal of the Church of St. Trophime in Arles, France.


The interior continues the exuberance of the exterior. Featuring murals by noted ecclesiastical painter Josef Mazur, it is crowned by a dome towering 70 feet above the floor of the nave. The dome itself is painted with a scene of "Christ in His Glory." Vincent Mondo of New Haven, Connecticut executed the Stations of theCross and Michael Hoffman designed the altar and the baldachin. Albert and Richard Lippach of Bowmansville, New York, did many of the wood carvings in the building and Frohe's Studios of Buffalo was responsible for the glass.

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