Niagara Gazette — We started our series on landmarks buildings with schools and now we are delving into churches. There are a few obvious towering landmarks which will eventually be written about here, but I felt the need to go into the neighborhoods (which is where most of my thoughts are centered anyway) to fish out a few landmarks there.
Thanks to Pete Ames and his tireless research on area churches I am able to ferret out some of the highlights of his findings. Much of his historical evidence came from a former Gazette staff writer Dick Klug who wrote about many of our area places of worship back in the 1960s. I also have a friend whose family were early members of this week’s topic to help with some of the details.
Back in 1924 the students of the Martin Luther Seminary of Buffalo canvassed the area in north Niagara Falls to determine a site for the organization of a new Lutheran church. Led by a June 1925 graduate, the Rev. Theodore Rehkopf, the group concentrated in the DeVeaux section and ultimately a location was selected and he led the early services in the church parsonage at 1217 Roselle Ave. A Sunday school was organized in November of that year. During the fall, three lots were purchased at McKoon and Vanderbilt avenues for $6,000 by the Mission Board of the Eastern Conference of the Buffalo Synod with plans to build the Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.
As we learned about the early days of Holy Trinity, the congregations started out small. The services at Calvary Lutheran were held in what was called the Basement Church following a dedication on Aug. 1, 1926 and they remained there during the next 10 years. Total cost was $17,000. Two years later the congregation was officially consecrated in April 1927 with 25 charter members and took the name Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church. A Ladies Missionary Society and a Luther League were organized. The Buffalo Synod canceled $8,500 of Calvary’s indebtedness and they became a part of the American Lutheran Church.