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by Martin Ederer            gation  –  could  only  be  considered                                                       The parish was formally
           t.  Boniface  Church,  which  temporary.                                                                               incorporated on its dedication
           was located at Mulberry and  St.  John’s  second  pastor,  Rev.                                                        day as St. Boniface. The ex-
      SLocust  Streets  in  Buffalo’s  Rudolph  Follenius,  decided  after                                                        King Ludwig I of Bavaria,
      Fruit Belt, enjoys the reputation of  consulting with his parishioners to                                                   credited with donating the
      being the most renovated church in  build  a  larger,  more  substantial                                                    three sanctuary windows for
      the  history  of  Buffalo’s  Catholic  brick  church.  The  cornerstone  for                                                St. Joseph Cathedral, also
      churches.  Bishop  John  Timon  the  $10,000  structure  was  laid  in
      formed the parish in 1849 to serve  November  1856,  and  the  church                                                       donated – according to parish
      German  families  from  St.  Louis,  was  completed  and  dedicated  in                                                     accounts – a large painting of
      who wished to form a new congre-  June of 1857. For the new church,                                                         St. Boniface for the new
      gation.  Originally  named  St.  John  the parish – predominantly German                                                    church around 1856.
      the Baptist, this was the third Ger-  – selected a new patron: St. Boni-
      man parish in Buffalo, and the area  face, apostle of the Germans.                                                         cess  several  wood-carved  statues.
      that  it  served  was  still  an  almost  The parish was formally incor-                                                   During his long pastorate, he expe-
      impassible wilderness. Rev. Zacha-  porated on its dedication day as St.                                                   rienced St. Boniface in some of its
      rias  Kunze,  St.  John’s  first  pastor  Boniface. The ex-King Ludwig I of                                                most prosperous years and the be-
      from 1849-1854, built a wood frame  Bavaria, credited with donating the                                                    ginnings of St. Boniface’s decline in
      church 25 x 60 feet which was com-  three sanctuary windows for St. Jo-                                                    the 1960s.
      pleted May 15, 1849.           seph Cathedral, also donated – ac-                                                             By the 1970s the parish was on-
         The  1850s  were  both  growth  cording to parish accounts – a large                                                    ly clinging to the edge of viability,
      years and crisis years for the infant  painting of St. Boniface for the new                                                its German parishioners nearly van-
      parish. By 1851, the parish had al-  church around 1856. It was installed                                                  ished.  But  the  parish  nonetheless
      ready grown too large for its small  over the high altar.                                                                  responded to the changes facing it
      building. Kunze had 40 feet added  No sooner had the church been                                                           and  began  to  develop  a  growing
      to it, procured a 500-pound bell, and  completed when Rev. Henry Feld-                                                     African-American  base.  But  it
      shortly  afterward,  installed  an  or-  mann, pastor from 1859-1863, reno-                                                wouldn’t  be  enough.    The  school
      gan.  The  original  church  would  vated  the  interior.  An  organ  was                                                  closed in 1971, and was torn down
      have probably remained big enough  designed for the church in 1863, the                        Rev. Ferdinand Kolb, who suc- in  1975.  By  1979,  the  outer  walls
                                                                      In 1870, he added a clock to the
      for the parish after the 1852 cholera  final installation completed the fol-  tower,  and  purchased  three  bells ceeded  Wagner  in  1884  after  the and  the  tower  of  the  church  had
      epidemic  took  a  heavy  toll  on  St.  lowing year. Feldmann also built a  which  were  added  to  the  existing crisis was resolved, remained pastor deteriorated – one cannot help but
      John’s  parishioners,  claiming  200  two-story brick school in 1861. Rev.  bell. When Rev. Feldmann returned until 1929. And he too did plenty of think  from  too  many  renovations.
      lives.                         Nicholas  Sorg,  who  succeeded  for  a  second  term  as  pastor  from renovating.  He  added  more  elabo- The church was closed and gutted,
         In  1854,  the  church  floor  col-  Feldmann  in  1866,  renovated  the  1873-1880, he redecorated the inte- rate Stations of the Cross in 1886, the  windows  and  organ  sold,  and
      lapsed, fortunately causing no inju-  church again in 1867, adding a new  rior again, adding frescoes in 1875, and in 1890, he added stained glass demolished in 1979.
      ries  to  the  congregation.  But  the  sanctuary,  which  lengthened  the  and an imposing high altar in 1877.  windows.     But  the  parish  lived  on  for  a
      collapse did remind the parish that  church to 180 feet. In addition, he                       In  1905,  he  had  new  windows time. The former sacristy and offic-
                                                                      Rev. Chrysostom Wagner, pas-
      the frame building – still only mar-  added a 125-foot high tower, tran-  tor from 1880-1884, is the only ear- installed in the transept and sanctu- es in the rectory were renovated into
      ginally large enough for the congre-  septs and 2 new sacristies.
                                                                    ly  pastor  who  did  no  building  or ary, and in 1907, he had the whole a chapel seating 45, and it was re-
                                                                    renovating,  probably  because  he interior  redecorated.  In  1916,  a dedicated  in  1982.  By  1984,  the
                                                                    had bigger problems. An unpleasant stone veneer was installed over the parish had grown enough to warrant
                                                                    relationship  developed  between brick exterior of the church, giving building a new chapel. This new St.
                                                                    Wagner  and  the  parish  trustees  – it  a  distinctive  new  look,  and  the Boniface Church – a thoroughly un-
                                                                    similar to earlier crises at St. Louis church was wired for electricity.  churchlike  building  –  only  lasted
                                                                    –  over  reincorporating  the  parish.  Rev. Msgr. Ludwin Winter suc- until 1993 when it too was closed,
                                                                    Bishop Stephen Ryan responded by ceeded Kolb, also remaining at St. suppressed  and  merged  with  Our
                                                                    removing  Wagner  and  placing  the Boniface  for  many  years,  from Lady  of  Lourdes,  St.  Benedict  the
                                                                    parish under interdict from January 1929-1962.  In  1937,  he  renovated Moor and St. Matthew to form St.
                                                                    until June of 1884.           the church again, adding in the pro- Martin de Porres.

                                                                          bout 25 people attended the
                                                                          recent Historical Society of
                                                                    ANorth  German  Settlements
                                                                    in NY meeting which was a Christ-
                                                                    mas Carol sing-a-long at St. Peter's
                                                                    Lutheran in Wheatfield. The church
                                                                    was built in 1915, and is reminiscent
                                                                    of the centuries old churches found
                                                                    in our ancestral villages in the Uck-
                                                                    ermark  region  of  Germany.    After
                                                                    the  program,  participants  enjoyed
                                                                    the  cookies  made  from  old  family
                                                                    recipes. Please join us next year!
                                                                      The January meeting is "Memo-
                                                                    ries." Participants start with a sub-
                                                                    ject,  then  all  are  welcome  to  add
                                                                    their memories. Organizers also en-
                                                                    courage attendees to bring an heir-
                                                                    loom  and  tell  us  about  it.  The
                                                                    February  meeting  subject  is  to  be
                                                                      Meetings  are  at  the  Wheatfield
                                                                    Community  Center,  2790  Church
                                                                    Rd.,  Wheatfield,  near  the  intersec-
                                                                    tion of Niagara Falls Blvd. (Rt. 62)
                                                                    and Ward Rd. (Rt. 429).  The Thurs-
                                                                    day, Jan. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 17
                                                                    meetings will be at 2 p.m. All are  St. Peter's Lutheran in Wheatfield is reminiscent of the centuries old
                                                                                                  churches found in the Uckermark region of Germany.
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