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.


Torn-Down Tuesday: The steel bridges of Seneca Street

By Steve Cichon

The widespread removal of old steel truss bridges is one of the great landscape changes across the City of Buffalo over the last 50 years.

Looking north on Seneca Street, just before the Seneca/Smith/Fillmore intersection, 1985.

Those old steel spans stood as a testament to our rail and steel industries in Buffalo. Now the bridges, the trains and the coke ovens are mostly the stuff of memories.

Two old steel bridges were removed just south of the Larkin District in 1986.

The Larkin Building is visible in the distance between the Smith Street viaduct and Seneca Street bridge.  The bridge, viaduct and most of the rail tracks were removed — along with several of the buildings in this photo — and replaced with grass and roads at grade level. The removal of the Smith Street Bridge forever changed the landscape for the Valley neighborhood, which was given it’s name because the only way to access the community was over a bridge.

This is what the street looks like now:

Further south on Seneca Street at Elk, an old steel truss bridge was replaced when a new $260,000 bridge with “shiny aluminum rails” opened in October 1959.

Seneca at Elk, 1959

The bridge doesn’t look much different today, but just on the other side of the Buffalo River does.

Deco Restaurant, Seneca Street at the Buffalo River, 1959.

On what has been a vacant lot now for decades, stood a warmly remembered South Buffalo landmark — a Deco Restaurant at 1670 Seneca St.

Happy Birthday, Grandma Coyle

By Steve Cichon

Grandpa Coyle took this picture of his girl while they were dating some time in the late 40s. Today, they’re celebrating her birthday together in heaven. She’s no longer here, but the love she gave to us continues to grow and flourish every day. She was about as good as they come. Happy Birthday, Grandma!

June Marie Wargo, late 1940s.

People have told me my grandpa was the toughest guy in Seneca-Babcock.

Jimmy Coyle, the toughest guy in Seneca-Babcock, in front of a gin mill with an Iroquois Beer neon light.

He was a bouncer at the Southside Athletic Club and ran the Seneca-Babcock Boys Club.

Gramps met his match with this little 5’2″ lady.