Before we explored the abandoned Wonder Bread factory in Buffalo, we started the morning by going to church. I wasn't raised religious and I've only attended church services a few times with my grandma, but the chance to explore a grand, crumbling abandoned church is something I obviously couldn't pass up.
It wasn't immediately obvious what denomination this church was built for—at least not to me, someone who knows absolutely nothing about religions. I always try to research the buildings we explore afterwards, and I discovered that this was a Roman Catholic Church. The parish was founded in 1908 in an area heavily populated with German Catholics. The Romanesque style church, modeled after the Cathedral of Aachen in Aachen, Germany, was built from 1911-1928 with Ohio sandstone.
By 1914 the congregation had nearly 1,500 members and the 170-foot-tall church could seat 1,200 people. Changing neighborhood demographics caused membership to decline through the years, and the last Catholic mass was held here in 1993. In 1998 the building was sold for $22,000 to World Wide Bible Deliverance Inc., a religious group that neglected—and eventually abandoned—the building.
Beginning in 2006, the church was sold or acquired by several different people over the years, during which anything that could be ripped out of the building (radiators, copper flashing from the roof, etc.) was sold for scrap. The church has been listed in the city's yearly tax auction for several years, but remains for sale.
Because the church has had such a tumultuous ownership history, there isn't much left inside, but it's still a beautiful building to explore (and surprisingly light on graffiti). There are a few small stained glass windows that remain partially intact and large plaster angels stand guard from the edges of the domed ceiling. A beautifully hand-painted safe stands to the left of the altar in a side room, only remaining because it was obviously too heavy to think about moving.
The choir loft is still accessible and has one remaining wooden pew and the remnants of an organ. There is a skinny, rickety wooden ladder that looks as if it could deposit you onto the roof or into the bell tower, but the stairs were caked in mounds of pigeon droppings so we decided not to risk the climb.
A lot of the abandoned buildings and properties we explore are technically for sale—either by private owners or the city—but I always wonder if any of them eventually sell and avoid demolition or collapse. The optimistic real estate listing for this church claims that this property "has amazing possibilities!" and that it "could be converted for use as community center, apartments or office space." It concludes with a warning to not "let this wonderful example of architectural history pass you by!"