Buffalo’s Church of the Messiah, in today’s Fountain Plaza

By Steve Cichon

Just north of Main and Huron streets stood the twin-spired Universalist Church of the Messiah in 1880.

It’s no. 33 on the map the 1880 Map of Buffalo– which is clickable for a larger view.

The church was built in 1866, and then rebuilt following a fire in 1870. The church moved its worship space to North Street in 1892, and the old church became a bicycle shop and bicycle riding school.

The H.C. Martin Co. sold Buffalo-made bicycles manufactured by Buffalo Cycle Co. in the plant at 364-382 Massachusetts Ave. on the West Side.

The Church of the Messiah, turned H.C. Martin bicycle shop.

The big sellers were the Envoy bicycle for men and the Fleetwing for women. At $75, these bikes were expensive — roughly $2,000 in today’s money — but they were still more reasonably priced than most of the $100 competition.

Legacy downtown department store Flint & Kent purchased the church, tore it down, and built a modern store on the site in 1897. The building was designed by Henry Kent’s son Edward Kent.

Despite having been an accomplished Buffalo architect, the younger Kent is probably most widely remembered for the way he died — as a passenger aboard the Titanic.

Flint & Kent remained in the building for 49 years. The Sample Shop opened a short-lived downtown branch in the old Flint & Kent store in 1956, but by 1960, the space had been absorbed by the large Grant’s store on the corner.

Like every other building on this block of Main, the old Flint & Kent/Sample building was torn down to make way for the Fountain Plaza development of the 1980s.

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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.