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

Germania V - The Jammer-thal

Long ago referred to as the Valley of Tears or the Valley of Woe, the Jammer-thal district remains a testament to the strong will and desires of a hardened group of German and Irish immigrants.

Failed farming attempts: The original settlers to the area arrived to farm the earth but their attempts met with only marginal results. As the area is covered by only a thin layer of soil, the early farmers often found bed rock laying one-foot below the surface. These conditions proved extremely detrimental to farming.

Onondaga limestone quarries: The bed rock later turned out to be a blessing in disguise when young entrepreneurs began to quarry the stone. One such quarry supplied the stone used for the construction of the outer harbor breakwall. Attracted there by the availability of work in the stone quarries, people desired to settle here and the failed farmlands were soon replaced by residential development.

Real estate developers: Like all new neighborhoods in the city, numerous factor scontributed to the development of the area. Primary to these is the resourcefulness of a real estate developer who could predict the needs of a group of people. Key to these needs was that of a church structure. Just as the construction of places of worship resulted in the development of other sections of the city, this area was no exception to that rule.

Recognizing the potential for accelerated growth, the Leroy Land Company was the first to donate land to a congregation. In 1888 the provided the land on which the Kensington Methodist Church originally stood.

The establishment of a house of worship, coupled with the 1895
extension of the Kensington Street car line to the area resulted in an influx of residents to the area. Quickly, developers such as the Fillmore Land Company, the Kinsey Real Estate Company and the East Delavan and Belt Line Land Company began to take notice of the area.

John Gesl, developer: John Gesl, one of the earliest settlers in the area, arrived in Buffalo in 1840 at the age of twenty-five. He quickly acquired a large tract of land along what is today Leroy Avenue. As noted, attempts to farm the land resulted in marginal success. Consequently, he saved his income and soon bought a share in a local stone quarry. Upon his death in 1900, his son developed the remainder of the farm, selling a portion of the land to Blessed Trinity Church.

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