St. Ann's RC Church - Table of Contents

History - St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church
Broadway at Emslie Street, Buffalo, NY

By David Snyder

Click on photos for larger size

1928 photos show original steeples


Three churches had damage done to their towers on March 6, 1964. The cause was a severe windstorm. They were St. Peter and Paul, Williamsville, St. Mary Magdalene at Fillmore & Urban Sts. (this church is now Antioch Baptist) and St. Ann's.

St. Peter and Paul's was repaired, St. Mary Magdalene removed its original Moorish style towers and had them replaced with different style cupolas and St. Ann's became as it is today.

According to the late Father Gilbert Schmidt, no serious damage had been done to St. Ann's. The winds had pulled the cross on the high tower loose from its inside mount and it was tilted way over. Fr. Schmidt said that the old caretaker of the church was out of town. Had he been around, he'd have climbed the tower the next morning, fastened it back in place, and nothing would have been said.

As it happened, someone at Schlager Funeral home, which was across the street, saw it, called up and raised hell about the cross (and steeple) failing down, which led to engineers being called in, structural studies, etc. It was decided to take both spires down.

No sooner were they removed and replaced with the present flat roofs than one of the roofs blew off, and water damage started. It turned out that the perpendicular form of the pointed spires had promoted water drainage and the tie rods and other framework inside of them had helped keep both towers stable. The East spire was 70 feet long, the West one was 45 feet. According to a parish history, when the towers had their spires, the height of the East tower was 225 feet and the West tower 180 feet. I don't know what they measure today.

I took [Architecture Historian] John Conlin to see this church years ago and he pointed out all the vertical fissures in the tower pilasters and other parts of the church. The West and South sides of the church are especially exposed to severe weather. He told me that the fissures are due to neglected pointing and there's no way to treat it. As you can see in the photos, the pilasters on the East tower are braced with what looks like stainless steel plating that has been bolted on. I am told that the West tower is in critical shape at this time.

Tower Clock

The tower clock is a 3 train striker built by the E. Howard Company of Boston. Installed in 1895, it is still driven by weights and pendulum. The original hand winding mechanism was replaced by Howard in 1938 with a motorized rewinding system. In the 1980s, repairs were made by Marvin F. Deboy of Derby, NY (he grew up in this parish). Parts were cleaned and new pallets were made for the escapement. I assisted him and have been maintaining it, voluntarily (on and off), since that time. Currently, it is running and striking every quarter hour. Also, I was the person who painted the dials and hands in 1985.

Tower Bell

The six bells in the East Tower were cast by the Stuckstede foundry of St. Louis, Missouri (it's no longer in existence). Their names, weights, year and musical notes follow:

The Organ

Since it appears in a photo, it may interest you to know that the organ was built by Johnson & Son of Westfield, Massachusetts. Johnson was an important American builder of the 19th Century. This instrument was their op. 679 of 1887. The pipes (except for the ones on the case) were sold in 1966 to a local firm. So, although the case and front pipes are still in the church, its pipe organ no longer exists. If it did, it would be an art treasure equal to the stained glass windows.

Altar and Pulpit

To the best of my knowledge, both the main altar and the pulpit were from a firm named Halstreick of Rochester, New York. I have been told that the main altar has no screws in it; everything is doweled.

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