Torn-Down Tuesday: St. Monica church on Orlando Street

By Steve Cichon

What would become known as the Seneca-Babcock section of the city sprung from the outgrowth of the Old First Ward and South Buffalo, St. Monica Roman Catholic Church and school was built on Orlando Street in 1913.

St. Monica church and school as it neared completion in 1913.

The building was a utilitarian one, and mirrored very closely similar church/school structures that were springing up in newly populated areas – or areas where there were demographic shifts – around Buffalo.

Many newly formed neighborhood parishes built combination church/school structures with the church on the main floor and school rooms upstairs and downstairs.

This particular building was designed by Lansing, Bley and Lyman, and was dedicated on June 14, 1914, by Bishop Charles Colton and Monsignor Nelson Baker.

The parish was carved from St. Teresa on Seneca Street in South Buffalo, St. Stephen on Elk Street in the First Ward and St. Patrick on Emslie Street in the Hydraulics district. Taking from neighborhoods that were Irish, Polish and German, from the beginning the community as St. Monica was based on geography more than ethnicity, as many other Catholic churches around Buffalo of the time were.

After more than 80 years of serving the community, and with the retirement of the pastor, Monsignor William Setlock, St. Monica’s was closed and merged with SS Rita and Patrick Church in 1995.
The building on the short block of Orlando Street between the I-190 and Seneca Street was torn down in 1997, and in its place, a well-manicured patch of grass.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.