There’s an abandoned church in Buffalo, New York, whose empty stained glass windows have been turned into a plywood art gallery.
Jim and I recently had the chance to explore a little of Buffalo, New York, over a short weekend trip. One of my favorite things we found was also totally unexpected: the shell of a 19th century church boarded up with beautiful street art.
According to a cornerstone, the church is St. Pierre (or St. Peter’s) and it was built in the mid to late 19th century. There was no information about the building on site, and searching online was equally fruitless. However, I supposed the apparent mystery to its history adds to the allure of the church’s current state as an improvised art gallery.
Numerous boarded up windows — of all sorts and size — are colorfully painted. Most of the artwork depicts modernist cityscapes that resemble some of the prominent architecture in Buffalo. I don’t know if this was the masterpiece of some sort of rogue street artist, or if it was sanctioned by the city. The artwork is uniform in style and appears to be created by the same artist, though I couldn’t find a signature (or tag) taking ownership.
Either way, it’s beautiful, and also perhaps not completely finished. A couple windows’ boards are still blank “canvases.”
Also, not all of the windows are even boarded up. One large gaping arch in particular hypnotized me with a fluttering canvas like some sort of spectral of the divine.
Abandoned buildings in downtown cores can be beautiful, but also problematic — especially in struggling economies where cities are historically shrinking. But it was heartening to see that even in its current state, someone is using this church to share creative imagery. And of course, not every abandoned building is in itself ultimately a failure; most notably, perhaps, Tintern Abbey in Wales has stood in stately ruin for hundreds of years.
Where to find St. Pierre:
The church is located on Main street in downtown Buffalo. Google maps doesn’t recognize it, so the easiest way to find it is to search for a nearby business. It’s only about 150 yards north of Anchor Bar at 1047 Main Street. It’s also just about directly across the street from University Pediatric Dentistry at 1100 Main St.
— Laura Rowley