The “Save Our Sacred Sites” Initiative: A Beacon of Hope for Buffalo’s Historic Churches

In Buffalo, New York, a movement is underway to preserve the cultural and historical heritage embodied in the city’s Catholic churches. With a number of churches facing closure as announced by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, community leaders are not standing idly by. Spearheaded by Buffalo City Council Member Mitch Nowakowski and Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Bernice Radel, the “Save Our Sacred Sites” initiative aims to secure historic landmark status for these sacred spaces. These closures impact Broadway-Fillmore with the proposal close both St. John Kanty and St. Adalbert Basilica (more info on that click here).

The initiative reflects a broader concern for preserving the architectural and historical significance of these structures, which are not merely places of worship but also repositories of community history and identity. The focus is currently on churches within the city limits, with aspirations to extend this protective status throughout Western New York. The challenge, however, lies in the varying preservation laws across different communities, which necessitates a tailored approach to each location.

The City of Buffalo boasts robust local landmarking tools and zoning codes that encourage the adaptive reuse of church buildings, presenting a model for other communities. The goal is to explore every avenue to save as many churches as possible, recognizing the rapid pace at which these changes are occurring.

The Diocese has expressed openness to discussions about preserving the churches, albeit with stipulations on future use to ensure they remain in line with the church’s values. Restrictions would likely preclude commercial activities, especially those deemed inappropriate, reflecting the Diocese’s desire to maintain the sanctity of these sites.

This preservation effort is a testament to the community’s dedication to its historical landmarks. It underscores the importance of proactive measures to safeguard the legacy of Buffalo’s Catholic churches, ensuring they continue to serve as touchstones of heritage and history for generations to come. The dialogue between the Diocese and preservationists will be crucial in shaping the future of these sacred sites, balancing respect for religious traditions with the imperative of cultural conservation.

For more information on the effort and how you can help, visit

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