Tue January 14, 2014
Fundraising continues at Saint Ann’s Church & Shrine in Buffalo
A fundraising effort to save Saint Ann's Church and Shrine continue to move forward in Buffalo. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says a calendar is being sold in an effort to raise the needed funds to spare the 127-year-old church from the wrecking ball.
"If the money can be brought forward and the bills can be paid, the structure made safe -- if that can be made safe and the city is comfortable with that, then the fence can be taken down and we can move forward," said Ron Bates, member of the Save Saint Ann's Church and Shrine Organization.
Saint Ann's is located on Broadway on the City's East Side was closed in back in 2012 due to structural problems and deterioration.
The organization is trying to find ways to keep the building from being demolished with hopes of restoring it.
"Rome could sit on this on this for a period time while they're considering it. It could run into a year or more. The decree is already over a year old. There's been no answer back and the Diocese, of course, is in the same waiting line as we are," noted Bates. "The group in Rome that has total sway -- total say -- is the Congregation of the Clergy, and they are housed in the Vatican."
But price tag to save this church is hefty. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said it would cost between $8 million and $12 million in order to save the church.
Members of the Saint Ann's organization are trying to help raise funds. The calendar is part of that effort. They're trying to raise public awareness of the significance of this Gothic-style Roman Catholic Church.
"We do not have an up to date number, because we have people who are interested in donating, and they are very, very, very careful to make sure we have a project which will go forward," said Bates. "And that has to come from the Diocese, the land marking community and frankly Rome because the church is under decree for closure with a corresponding appeal by our committee to not allow the church to be closed."
Last November the Diocese urged the Buffalo Common Council to delay action on granting landmark status for Saint Ann's. But lawmakers approved anyway. The Diocese is trying to find a viable reuse for the church.
"The heat is still on. The Diocese has taken on the obligation of inspecting it and making sure everything is in good order,' said Bates.
According to a city inspection -- the condition of the two-mail bell towers create a hazard to the general public.
"We are committed to making it work again. It is on a world-level of value. What's in there is world class," said Bates.