Page 6 - GC Nov-Dec 2022
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German places you should know:  St. Francis of Assisi in the City of Tonawanda

         by Martin Ederer               Rev.  Francis  Uhrich,  who  be- figure at the parish.  In 1877, he had walls – which never had the chance store the old church to usable condi-
         t. Francis of Assisi Parish was came pastor in 1853, added on to the a tower built onto the stone church, to warm up – sweated so much that tion  as  a  weekday  chapel  and  a
      Sestablished  in  the  City  of original  frame  building,  providing complete  with  a  clock  and  bells. the  floor  ended  up  covered  with columbarium.  As work progressed,
      Tonawanda as it was growing into a classroom  space  and  became  the After structural damage in the late water.  It is somehow ironic that he he discovered that many of the win-
      prosperous and bustling port on the school’s first teacher.  Later he built 1930s,  the  tower  got  shortened. died of pneumonia.  dows  covered  by  painted  plywood
      Erie Canal and developing a pros- a separate school on Adam street.  Bachmann built a new school dedi-  After  World  War  II,  growth  in were  largely  intact;  others  which
      perous lumbering and lumber trans-  Meanwhile,  the  parish  outgrew cated  in  1883.  In  1914  he  built  a Tonawanda  made  the  old  stone had  been  removed  were  relocated
      shipment  industry.  Although  no the frame church.  In 1862 he decid- new convent on Adam Street.  church  too  small,  and  in  1954  the and returned for the renovation proj-
      written  records  indicate  St.  John ed to build a larger stone church, a  Although he was an avid build- parish  bult  a  new  church,  which ect.  The old church was rededicated
      Neumann  was  active  in  the decision the Irish of the parish sup- er,  Bachmann  was  better  remem- Bishop  Joseph  Burke  blessed  in in  1993.    Some  statues  from  the
      Tonawanda area, local lore recounts ported, but which some of the Ger- bered  for  his  thrift.  During  the 1955.  The old stone church became original  church  decorate  the  old
      his visits to say Mass in the homes mans opposed.             winter he said Mass wearing over- a  gymnasium,  and  later  a  storage church again, now with a very mod-
      of  Tonawanda’s  original  German  Work began in 1862 without the coat  and  galoshes,  heating  the shed, the windows boarded up.  In ernized  interior,  which  also  has  a
      Catholic families.  More normally, benefit of architect or contractor, the church only for Sunday Masses with the 1980s, Rev. Richard L. Wetter Pietà woodcarving from St. Mary of
      Catholics  in  Tonawanda  went  to volunteer  work  of  older  parishio- a  roaring  fire  so  hot  that  the  cold initiated an ambitious project to re- Sorrows in Buffalo.
      Neumann’s  North  Bush  chapel ners whose sons were away fighting
      when possible.                 the Civil War.  The new church on
         In  1849,  Bishop  John  Timon Adam Street was given a new name:
      visited the area and tried to get lo- St.  Francis  of  Assisi,  the  patron
      cals to secure land for a parish.  Not saint  of  Uhrich.  The  old  Franklin
      much  seems  to  have  come  of  the Street church was cut in half. One  by Marge Thielman Hastreiter
      visit,  since  the  bishop  later  estab- half  was  loaded  on  a  barge,  along  ven  in  my  wildest  dream  I
      lished a committee himself in 1851 with  the  old  altar,  and  shipped  to Ewould never think that I would
      to do the same.                Grand  Island  where  it  became,  St. be visiting the city of Vienna, Aus-
         Apparently  the  committee  still Arbogast Church, later renamed St. tria. But on May 15, 2000 my hus-
      moved too slowly for Timon, who Stephen  for  Rev.  Uhrich’s  middle band Joe and I were in the heart of
      bought two lots himself on Franklin name.  Uhrich  also  cared  for  that that  beautiful  city  looking  for  the
      Street in 1852. The eccentric Rus- new parish from 1861-62.   starting point of a tour featuring the
      sian Rev. Sergei de Schoulepnikoff,  St. Francis endured its share of locations  of  the  filming  of  "The
      who in his spare time did math and instability after Uhrich’s tenure end- Third Man."
      played  chess,  served  the  new  mis- ed  in  1865:  from  1865-1874,  four  That  was  one  of  Joe's  favorite
      sion from St. Louis in Buffalo and pastors served the parish.  In 1874, movies and when we saw the poster
      built a small frame church in 1852, Rev.  Aloysius  Bachmann  became advertising  the  tour  we  knew  that
      dedicating it to the Sacred Heart.  pastor, a post he held until his death would  be  one  of  the  highlights  on
                                     in  1923.  He  became  a  legendary our trip which was financed by our
                                                                    children, Joe, Cindy, Diane and Lin-
                                                                    da. The tour was to start at 4 p.m.
                                                                    We got there a little early so we had
                                                                    a  chance  to  walk  through  Stadt  Joseph Hastreitter Sr. after the tour.
                                                                    (City) Park where there was a gold
                                                                    statue of Johann Strauss and many the nearest opening was around the several flights of stone steps into a
                                                                    beautiful gardens.            block.  Finally  Joe  and  the  others deep, deep basement.
                                                                      Still early, we took a tour of the came above ground.         Somehow  going  down  so  far
                                                                    Opera House with the Scarlet velvet  Other  stops  on  the  tour  which didn't seem to bother me because I
                                                                    curtains and the huge stage. Finally, were  featured  in  the  film  included could hear music coming from be-
                                                                    it was time for the tour.     the  Hotel  Sacher,  Café  Mozart, low. There was a young man play-
                                                                      Joe  knew  a  lot  about  the  film some  unusual  monuments  and  a ing  'The  Third  Man  Theme'  on  a
                                                                    which starred, Joseph Cotton, Orson doorway  where  an  integral  part  of Zither.
                                                                    Welles  and  Trevor  Howard.  A the movie was filmed. The tour con-  The tour was quite long, but we
                                                                    woman in a wheelchair and her hus- cluded at a shop with many beauti- were  glad  we  took  it  because  we
                                                                    band, also lovers of the film, were ful  handmade  items  and  down saw a lot more of Vienna which we
                                                                    on the tour. The guide took us to a                          ordinarily would not have seen.
                                                                    little building, which looked like a
                                                                    phone  booth,  gave  us  a  flashlight
                                                                    and said we were going to descend
                                                                    into  the  sewers.  We  started  going
                                                                    down a circular staircase and I said,
                                                                    'no way' as I get claustrophobia so I
                                                                    went  back  up  above  ground.  The
                                                                    wheelchair  lady  and  her  husband
                                                                    and  one  of  the  guides  were  also
                                                                      Down below, according to Joe,
                                                                    it  was  dark  and  a  very  long  walk.
                                                                    They were warned there might be a
                                                                    few gun shots. Joe heard six shots
                                                                    and  they  were  told  that  the  sewer
                                                                    workers make those noises to scare
                                                                    the  tourists.  A  scene  in  the  movie
                                                                    shows  the  actors  in  the  sewer  and
                                                                    they went to an exact spot from the
                                                                    movie,  which  is  thrilling  for  the
                                                                    movie buffs.
                                                                      Above  ground,  the  four  of  us
                                                                    went to the place where the others
                                                                    were supposed to come up from the
                                                                    sewer.  There  was  construction  on
                                                                    that site and the guide found out that

                                                                    Johann  Strauss  Monument  in
                                                                    Stadt Park.
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