ST. NICHOLAS' CHURCH
BUFFALO, NEW YORK

In the spring of 1874, people in the Cold Spring district, east of Main Street, discussed the desirability of forming a new parish.  Many houses were going up in this quarter of the city, and the many Catholics found it inconvenient to attend St. Louis' Church, or the little parish of St. Vincent's on Main Street.  Mr. Gregory Ritt donated a piece of land, on Locust Street, for the site of a Catholic church.  Father Van Velten visited many Catholic families of the district and organized them into a congregation.  He also began the erection of a little frame church on the site donated by Mr. Ritt.  The little building was ready by Christmas of 1874, and here the first Mass was said on that day for the new congregation.  There was no house at that time for the pastor, and he boarded with some of the families in the parish.  Father Van Velten remained only a short time when he was succeeded by the Rev. Victor Ritter, who also boarded with one of the families of the parish.  The parish was not quite strong enough financially to support a pastor and to erect buildings necessary for a city congregation, so the parish was attached to one of the organized congregations of the city from which it was regularly attended on Sundays.  Priests came for some years from St. Vincent's parish on Main Street, and later from St. Louis' Church, to hold services in the little frame building on Welker Street.  Priests who attended the congregation during this period were: The Rev. J. Hamel, Rev. T. Voss, Rev. C. Wagner, Rev. B. Gruber, Rev. G. Gaysen, Rev. M. Phillips, and Rev. George Weber.  In the spring of 1885, the Rev. George Weber, who attended the church from St. Louis' parish, started the construction of a frame parochial residence.  The congregation at this time was sufficiently numerous to claim a resident pastor.  The Rev. C. O'Byrne was appointed; and he attended the congregation on Sundays from St. Joseph's Cathedral, where he dwelt until the parochial residence was completed.  Father O'Byrne started a little parochial school in the rear of the old frame church the year after his arrival.  The population of this portion of the city increased very rapidly in the succeeding years; and Father O'Byrne soon found that his little frame church was not large enough to accommodate the rapidly increasing members.  There was a fine plot of land, extending from his little lot on Welker Street through to the corner of Utica Street.  This property Father O'Byrne purchased the year of his arrival, and he immediately formed plans for the erection of a fine brick church.  He began the building in the spring of 1892, and the cornerstone was laid on the last day of July of the same year.  The church was dedicated on Rosary Sunday of the year following, by Bishop Foley of Detroit.

Teachers from Miss Nardin's Academy came every morning from the convent on Franklin Street near the cathedral, to teach the children of the parochial school.  When the congregation took possession of the new church, the old frame building on Welker Street was converted into a school building.  It was very inconvenient to bring the teachers from such a distance every morning, in all kinds of weather, to the school on Welker Street, and Father O'Byrne, therefore, planned a home for them adjoining the school.  He began the construction of a new parochial residence in 1899.  The old building was moved onto the lot on the next street, adjoining his Welker Street property.  When his new house was completed, he turned the frame building over to the Sisters of St. Francis' from Pine Street, who succeeded the Nardin's in teaching the parochial school.  The next work which Father O'Byrne planned was the erection of a magnificent school building.  A very fine church property, consisting of a fine brick church, a handsome parochial residence and an up-to-date school are all the result of his untiring energy and zeal, in building up the parish of St. Nicholas.

Father O'Byrne built a new convent for the sisters in 1913, and a year later he put a crown of glory on his labors by freeing the church from debt and having it consecrated by Bishop Colton, July, 1914.

Father O'Byrne died October 5, 1919, and the Rev. James F. McGloin came the same month as the second pastor of St. Nicholas.  The school was over-crowded and Father McGloin planned a magnificent new school, which was completed in the summer of 1924, at a cost of $170,000.

Father McGloin was honored by the title of Domestic Prelate in May, 1927, at Rome whither he had gone to take part in the jubilee celebration of his Alma Mater, the Propaganda College.

He started a preparatory school, in 1926, for young boys who wished to study for the priesthood, under the patronage of Saint Joseph and the Little Flower.  Classes are held at Mount Saint Joseph's, and it is very successful.



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Holly Timm
Cheektowaga, New York
erie@nygenweb.com