Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
This past June, I learned of the demolition of the Sentinel Methodist Church on Howard Street. It seemed like I had lost something quite personal to me, personal because it was a part of my existence for the past eighteen months. Additionally, it was a part of who I am as a resident of this city; it was a part of my heritage. The congregation who destroyed the building did so for the very reason that this book has been written: they needed to clear the land of a building which had been constructed by one congregation, a building which they had used for many years, in order to construct their own house of worship. In a way, as much as the Sentinel building meant to the history of the city, the congregation acted in a manner that historically speaks of each congregation, for on the land they cleared, they will construct their own building. Thus, just as congregations have done in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, they will add to the stories contained in this work.
The house of worship is a people's building. It differs from many of the buildings constructed in the public realm in that it is one which personally tells of a group's struggle to maintain aheightened level of cohesiveness and continuity. All who desire are welcomed in it, for as much as it belongs to the people who built it, it also belongs to those who yearn to be part of it. It is a building for everyman.
The city of Buffalo contains a wealth of religious architecture. As an ethnically developed city, the breadth of such ethnicity provided the seeds for this vast array. From the simple clapboard house of worship found on so many side streets to the cathedral-like proportions of Polish- and German-Catholic buildings on the East Side, their contribution towards shaping the city into what it became is undeniable.