Sacred Heart Church is an abandoned Roman Catholic church in the Clintonville neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.
Sacred Heart was established by Rev. Baerwalter on Seneca Street in the Hydraulics neighborhood in 1873. 2 With a pressing need for more space, in March 1875, the diocese appointed Rev. John Chrysostom Wagner to establish a parish in the area. Two barns were acquired at 698-708 Seneca Street from Louis Kirkover and work began on converting them into a chapel and school.
It was only a temporary solution. On June 25, a cornerstone for a brick church measuring 130 feet by 50 feet was placed. 2 Dedicated on June 25, 1876, the new church featured a 150-foot tower.
Over the years, the Hydraulics neighborhood became increasingly more industrial. The Larkin Company constructed a warehouse across the street from the church in the early 1900’s, followed by an administration building adjacent to the church in 1905. 2 In 1912, the Larkin Company offered to purchase from the congregation its church, school and rectory for an expansion project. The diocese and company met on on December 16, 1912. The church agreed to sell their property to Larkin for $135,000.
The congregation purchased a site on Emslie Street and selected Carl Schmill to design a new church, school and rectory. 2 A cornerstone was placed on the site on November 23, 1913. The new school was completed on November 14, 1914, with the 576-seat church opening on May 9, 1915 at a cost of $165,000.
Larkin converted the original church into an auditorium before being demolished in May 1936 for a parking lot. 2
In 1988, Rev. Ronald P. Kirk’s Witness Cathedral of Faith acquired Sacred Heart, using the building for his congregation until 2008. 1 Kirk then relocated the congregation to the former St. John the Baptist Church at 60 Hertel Avenue, acquiring the vacant building for $250,000.
A winter storm in December 2008 caused the abandoned school building to collapse. 1 An emergency demolition order was issued and it was razed in January 2009 at a cost of $160,000. The city billed Kirk the cost of the demolition but it remained unpaid.
On March 17, 2011, Buffalo’s Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney issued an arrest warrant for Kirk for non-payment of the demolition cost. 1 Carney then issued a demolition order for Sacred Heart in February 2012.