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Saving St. Ann's

Another step toward salvation: Buffalo's Common Council designated St. Ann's Roman Catholic church, threatened with demolition, a local landmark this week.

The preservationist effort to save St. Ann’s made a major leap forward last week when the Common Council Legislation Committee voted unanimously to grant landmark status to the 1850s-era gothic structure.

“Buffalo has a treasure in its churches, and there are many jewels in the treasure, but if there is a crown jewel, it’s St. Ann’s,” Preservation Buffalo Niagara director Tom Yots said at the brief public hearing prior to the vote.

A cadre of St. Ann’s parishioners showed up for the session and hearing. No spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which had announced plans to raze the structure, was present.

Those plans are currently on hold, Yots said, while his organization, in collaboration with the diocese, tries to find a developer for the church and related buildings, including a former school and a convent.

Councilman David Franczyk made a brief speech more or less seconding the cause of the parishioners. “True victory,” he said, would be “to keep the parish alive” at the St. Ann’s location. “We’re not theologians,” he said, though excepting the committee’s chairman, Reverend Darius Pridgen, from the disclaimer. “Our job is not to proselytize, but just to promote the city,” adding that, “like St. Paul at Tarsus, we hope the diocese has had an epiphany.”

“I think you are a theologian,” Pridgen said.

Actually, where Paul (at that time Saul) had an epiphany, falling off his horse, was on the road to Damascus, in present-day Syria. Tarsus, where Paul was originally from, is in present-day Turkey.

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