Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 4, 2013

HIGGS: Moving on to landmark churches

Niagara Gazette — I am moving on to new Niagara Falls landmarks. A couple of definitions tell me that a landmark (among others) is a structure (as a building) of unusual historical and usually aesthetic interest, especially one that is officially designated and set aside for preservation. This comes from the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia is a little more involved stating” Originally, a landmark literally meant a geographic feature used by explorers and others to find their way back or through an area. In modern usage, a landmark includes anything that is easily recognizable, such as a monument, building or other structure. In American English it is the main term used to designate places that might be of interest to tourists due to notable physical features or historical significance ...”

Niagara Falls had some distinguished buildings in its early history and unfortunately a lot of them have disappeared. Most of the downtown portion of Falls Street was demolished back in the glorified days of urban renewal which was supposed to revitalize our former business district. We all know what happened to that and as a result we lost the possibility of building reuse which is running ramped in Buffalo and other areas.

Fortunately our area churches were spared (even the ones in the designated “renewal” area) and it is these that we shall learn about.

I am fortunate to have Pete Ames as a friend as he has done considerable research on this subject and has offered to let me use some of his findings for this new endeavor. During 2006, Pete, through the Friends of the Local History Department, embarked on a project to chronicle the histories of as many houses of worship in our city that they were able to research. Many sources were used in this research project through a partnership with the Monroe Fordham Institute from Buffalo State such as city directories, newspaper articles by Dick Klug, a former writer at the Niagara Gazette during the 1960s, church records, Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission articles and lots more.

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