Support From Preservationists

Mark C. McDonald
President and CEO, The Georgia Trust

“I would like to gratefully acknowledge your efforts to save the historic St. Gerard Church in Buffalo, New York. This historic church has served the Diocese of Buffalo since 1911 and my understanding is that repeated preservation efforts in Buffalo have not led to positive results for the building to be rehabilitated in the city. That being the case, I believe that the dismantling and relocation of the magnificent building to Norcross will conserve the architectural integrity of this church and give it a fresh opportunity to serve the Diocese of Atlanta as the Parish of Mary Our Queen for years to come.

I believe your parish’s appreciation for the historic architecture of St. Gerard is commendable. We wish you the best in the arduous task of reconstruction which lies ahead and hope the outcome is as great as your commitment and dedication.

The relocation of historic buildings is the preservation alternative of last resort. However, a building as significant as St. Gerard should be preserved and its relocation is superior to demolition. Your respect for the heritage of St. Gerard and the citizens of Buffalo is quite evident.

Thank you again for your great appreciation for historic ecclesiastical architecture and we send you blessings as you embark on this project.”

Rodney Cook

President, The National Monuments Foundation

“I am fascinated with your idea to move St. Gerard’s from Buffalo, New York to Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the most beautiful chaste church designs I have seen in America, especially for that time in Buffalo. I commend you for taking on this project and am hopeful I can be of help to you in the process.

This idea of preserving great American churches when their neighborhoods have outgrown them or moved on is indeed historic in itself. The ability to move buildings this large is increasingly easier as technology and expertise in this area advances. I think the team you are assembling are all able to accomplish this goal well and bring your project to a successful conclusion.

On the spiritual and most important front, this project serves as a beacon to the church of St. Gerard, as well as to the Catholic Church as a whole. This great building will have a resurrection and serve a community again for multiple generations, as it did for generations before, because of your endeavor. The pilgrimage of this building from New York to Georgia is full of history and symbolism. Mary Our Queen will certainly reap the blessings of such an exchange. I fully endorse your project.”

Mark A. Sadd, Preservationist

Member, Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC, Charleston, West Virginia

“The effort to relocate the beautiful and timeless St. Gerard Church from Buffalo, New York, to Norcross, Georgia, is an aspiration that I believe national historic preservationists will largely support and applaud in lieu of the building’s further decay and possible loss. I have seen and even helped the adaptive reuse of historic church buildings for secular purposes.  They were satisfying projects.  But, as a Catholic, I can imagine no more satisfying use of an historic Catholic place of worship in one place than as a Catholic place of worship in another. If successful, the relocation will be a marker of the universality of the Church across both time and space.  How much cooler can that be?”

 Mark Williams

Preservationist and Designer, Buffalo, New York

“I just became aware of this monumental relocation of St Gerard’s. If not for this project, St Gerard’s would become another victim of urban decay. There are voices in Buffalo who will oppose this relocation, but I have seen too many treasures destroyed due to lack of resources and community. A perfect example is Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Buffalo. Closed in 2003, this magnificent building has been stripped of all of its stained glass and woodwork and sits empty and forlorn awaiting its final destination with a wrecking ball. Medina sandstone carted-off to a landfill is a sad state of affairs. I commend you for your efforts.”

Preservation Buffalo Niagara

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The Symbolism of St. Gerard’s Church

The symbolism of St. Gerard’s is that of a roadway, depicting the travel of a pilgrim people of God through life. The saints surround us to give example and lead the way. In St. Paul’s in Rome there are no pews. The message was conveyed that we are all moving together and assembling and walking together hand in hand. If we sit down, it is only momentarily before we are called to go on again.

When we come to the end of the roadway, which is symbolic of the end of our journey through life, we arrive in the Arch of Triumph, or, at the end of your life, at the gate of Heaven, depicted in the dome.

The arch depicts the victory of Jesus over sin and death. When we enter the church through Baptism, we enter through the archway to share the victory of Christ. The Eucharistic table, where we partake of the Bread and Wine, is directly under the archway. Under the archway, we are confirmed; here we join together in marriage; here we anoint our sick; here we finally bring our dead to celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection as they go on before us to the Gate of Heaven.

Reconciliation takes place along the way, off to the side, away from the greatest traffic, because we all know, we cannot enter the City of God until we are all reconciled with one another.

St. Gerard’s Church is not only a house of worship. It is a prayer in stone, plaster, wood and glass. It is a prayer offered by all who sacrificed so that it could be built. It is a prayer by those whose hands shaped it and a prayer by those who came to enjoy and worship in this most magnificent House of God.

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Support From Architects

Support From architects

Paul Gunther
President, Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

“On behalf of the national constituency of the nonprofit, educational Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America based in New York but flourishing countrywide through a network of regional Chapters (based in Atlanta), I write in enthusiastic endorsement of the Passage to Preservation initiative to rescue and relocate the historic St. Gerard Church of Buffalo, New York, to the city of Norcross, Georgia. Remaining where it is spells a future that is uncertain at best. Today’s opportunity instead represents a chance for creative salvation.

The Passage creates a great model of green preservation and community building. Better still is the fact that along the way a work of traditional design, craft, and construction can endure – if not at the original site per se, then at least in a place where the expanding need for worship promises to breathe life into an American landmark worthy to so endure. It is the ultimate testament to the original architects, Karl Schmill & Son, as well as to the parishioners and neighborhood beneficiaries, who built and depended upon this great edifice until demographic shifts necessitated a changing contextual future.

To destroy this church at a time when elsewhere there is a need for it is feckless in the extreme, in terms of both the environment and our shared cultural patrimony and commitment to the future. To renew the structure, and along the way to sustain historic design and craft excellence, is a pilot endeavor that must and will be noticed and celebrated as a trail-blazing one – worthy of study and emulation.”


Elizabeth Meredith Dowling, PhD
Professor, Georgia Tech College of Architecture

“From the perspective of a professor in the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech for over thirty years, I am delighted to learn of your efforts to creatively save the endangered Church of St. Gerard in Buffalo. Both churches and schools represent special problems in preservation due to their reliance on stable populations and communities for their survival. As communities age, the viability of these institutions often wanes. Schools may have adaptive re-use potential as condominiums, stores, or restaurants, but how incongruous it would be to subdivide a nave into apartments, or dine at the high altar.

The strategy contained in Passage to Preservation represents a united vision of great scope that is seldom found in preservation efforts. Although examples of moving wooden buildings occur with some frequency, the concerted effort to relocate this building is a testimony to the quality of its design. Illustrations and descriptions of the building indicate materials and detailing that would be prohibitively expensive in new construction, but relocation of the building would make sensible use of their high quality in a viable new home of Norcross, Georgia. Preservation of cut stone, polished granite columns, stained glass windows and fresco painting in a configuration close to their original design is a far more satisfying fate than the tortured disassembly and sale of the whole into various parts as is the ignoble end for many buildings that have outlived their original purpose.

Although it would not be a loss to the built history of its home in Buffalo, the transfer of this legacy would ensure a lengthy survival in a growing younger town. This concept of looking far afield for solutions to thorny issues of the preservation of fine, but unused buildings is innovative and should represent a new united attitude to the maintenance of the great architecture of our past. Although a site is significant, it is but one part of a building’s history. The greater legacy is the craftsmanship and materials of the building. These items will not be lost, but will be enjoyed by a new community on a new site.”

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Support from Grateful Parishoners

Support From grateful parishioners

Dorothy Eckl
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“It’s mind-boggling to me, but I’m so happy that something’s going to happen with the church.”

Click here to view an interview with Dorothy Eckl


Kevin P. Phalen
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“I was born and raised in St. Gerard’s Parish and worshipped there for more than forty years. It was built to be a Catholic House of Worship and should remain such, no matter where it is. I look forward to the day I can attend mass in that building again when I visit Atlanta.”


Lisa LaCerais Spada
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“I also grew up in St. Gerard’s Parish, worshipped there and attended school there from K-8 and was deeply saddened as I attended its final Mass. St. Gerard’s was built as a place of worship and should remain as such. God bless the people of Atlanta in their quest to move this beautiful church to their city. I know my family and I would be overjoyed to attend mass in our church as it begins its new life in a new place.”


Jim Palmatier
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“St. Gerard’s is such a beautiful building. I hope this goes through and makes the people of Georgia as happy as it did those here who once went there.”


Marge Phillips
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“I am so happy that this beautiful church will live on to serve its original purpose as a center of worship for the Catholic community. It breaks my heart every time I drive by and see St. Gerard’s standing vacant and empty. I have been praying to God to watch over the church and for this move to go through successfully. It looks like my prayers are being answered. Thank you and God bless you.”


Tony W.
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“I was raised in St. Gerard’s Church and was saddened by the thought that one day it would meet the wrecking ball. I went to school there until the 6th grade and walked to St. Gerard’s every day, including Sunday, from the house my father and I were born in. I was an altar boy and vividly remember Monsignor Selbert. I will pray for an easy transition to Georgia.”


Karl Hertlein
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“Me, my twin brother, and our older brother were all baptized in and graduated from St.Gerard’s. We also did maintenance work on the church and set up pins in the bowling alley as part-time work.  I remember Monsignor Scherck, Father Salbert, and Father Wagner. I also fondly remember Sister Donald, who was one of my teachers. I now live in Sun City, Florida and have a son who lives in Atlanta.  He is an architect and will be following this project closely. I will attend the first Mass at the relocated church with my son and grandchildren. Good luck!”


Edmund G. Kotkiewicz
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“My family lived on Roslyn St. in Buffalo until we moved to Williamsville in 1965. I graduated from 8th grade in 1957; my three sisters and brother graduated after me. My uncle, Reverend Chester Kotkiewicz, gave the commencement address at my graduation in 1957. We were parishioners at St. Gerard’s from 1954 to 1965 and I served as an altar boy from ages 12 to 18. We were there when Monsignor Selbert and Father Braun were there. I am now 66-years-old and hope to live long enough to go to Mass at the church when it is moved.”

Pat (Glynn) Hoppe 
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“My grandparents, The Reimanns, were members of this parish until they died and they owned the saloon that used to be on the opposite corner. My mom grew up in this parish as did my uncle, Bill Amthur and the Hausbeck family. I took my First Holy communion in this parish in 1941. I was shocked to hear the news. If I am still alive when it is complete in Norcross, I would love to drive down and see it.”

Robert P. Reeder 
Former St. Gerard parishioner

“I am so pleased that the beloved St. Gerard’s Church will be moved to a parish with loving families. I came to St. Gerard’s after being in the military and became involved in music ministry, a mission renewal program. I was also in charge of decorating the church for holidays such as Christmas and Easter. I sang the Exalted many times at the Easter Vigil Celebration, and my wife and I were married at this church. I am so pleased that God has softened the hearts of so many and will provide this outstanding architectural structure with a new home. Once again its walls will be filled with music, song, laughter and spiritual growth. Just being able to sit in the choir loft, or anywhere in this building, and look at the architecture—the coffered ceilings and stained glass windows—will emphasize the inspiration of God’s wonderful presence. May God bless all of you in your new house of worship.”

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Support from Catholic Leaders

Support From Catholic leaders

The Most Reverend Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York

“Your plan to dismantle Saint Gerard’s parish church stone-by-stone and transfer all of the interior and exterior of the building material to Georgia so that it can be restructured and continue in use as a Catholic church is a unique and innovative initiative. Inasmuch as the transfer of the building meets with your approval, as well as with that of the Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, and also has the support of the parishes involved, I am delighted to add my own appreciation for what seems a most enlightened approach.”


The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta

“This endeavor to preserve a beloved church building is a new concept for both the Diocese of Buffalo and the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Moving the Church of St. Gerard from Buffalo, New York, to Norcross, Georgia, will benefit the community in the Atlanta area and we hope it will bring blessings to people in Buffalo as well.

Couples were married in Saint Gerard’s church. They brought their children to be baptized, confirmed and given the Eucharist at St. Gerard’s. They saw their parents and relatives buried from this beloved structure.  It was the site where their sins were forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We hope that this revered church building can bring such spiritual life once again as the center of a vibrant and growing parish community in Norcross. The new geographical area will be a center for faith, an anchorpiece for the community, and a community noted for its love for art, music and architecture.

This is an unusual idea and a step in faith for the parishioners of Mary Our Queen Parish. It is a bold venture, we pray that it is worthy of pursuing for its own sake, to preserve the past and to press on towards a bright future.

I enthusiastically endorse this new venture on behalf of the parish of Mary Our Queen, along with Bishop Kmiec and his faithful flock.”


The Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo

“As the Bishop of Buffalo, I am happy to bring to this project my personal support. I have heard from many parishioners whose sadness at the closing of the beautiful St. Gerard Church has been turned to joy by the offer to move their beloved church to a new life as a thriving Catholic Church in Atlanta.”

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A Catholic Moment

While supporters of the project have their own specialized reasons to engage because of their backgrounds in classical architecture or civic enterprise, the central fact of St. Gerard’s will always be that this beautiful building exists for the worship of God unbound by time or space.

The Archbishop of Atlanta, the Most Reverend Wilton Daniel Gregory, has lent his approval and support to the project because it will enter its second century fulfilling its original purpose as a Catholic church.

The new Archbishop of New York, the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, calls the project a “unique and innovative initiative.”

It invites ready comparison with foundations like the Brompton Oratory in London and the Church of St. John Cantius in Chicago. The commodious structure with its splendid appointments provides unusually rich opportunities for daily expressions of faith in liturgy, art and music.

Moving across the miles and years, it brings with it new opportunities for the Church in north Georgia – a beautiful, strong structure emblematic of the faith, an extraordinary place of worship for believers and a destination point for earnest seekers of all kinds.

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An Engineering Moment

About the time St. Gerard’s was erected in an affluent Buffalo, American magnates were acquiring and relocating treasures from Europe and elsewhere. The European to U.S. cycle climaxed with the completion of The Cloisters in New York City and San Simeon in California, both museums.

In the late 20th century, a Spanish town church was relocated to Miami where it exists as an Episcopal parish. A chapel was relocated to Marquette University in Milwaukee earlier.

The St. Gerard project will be the first large structure relocated entirely within the United States, the first moved from North to South (reflecting the Catholic population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to the Southeast and Southwest in the last 30 years), and the first to employ advanced scanning techniques in architecture and construction. It will also be the first “Catholic-to-Catholic” transfer.

The structure is ready for disassembly, transfer and re-establishment on a new, stronger superstructure 900 miles away in Atlanta. By itself, this new skeleton will add centuries to the building’s life.

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An Architectural Moment

Visitors stand in awe of the magnificent structure – startlingly like the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, though one-third its size. The exterior of Indiana limestone, an interior of travertine marble and plaster and twelve solid granite columns lining the nave make the church one of the most solidly built (and easy to disassemble) structures of its time.

When relocated to Atlanta (specifically Norcross), the church will be metropolitan Atlanta’s first church of such combined size, strength, material quality, decoration and finish. A review indicates no churches of comparable architectural and construction quality anywhere in the Southeast.

Duplicating this richness and beauty from the ground up would cost an estimated $40 million or more. Relocating the 100-year-old church from Buffalo will cost an estimated $15 million.

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About Mary Our Queen and Saint Gerard Parishes

Saint Gerards as it awaits relocation

visit to donate today

About Mary Our Queen Church

Opened as a mission of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, in November 1994, the parish ofMary Our Queen started life humbly in an office building on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in nearby Norcross.

Initially, there were 70 registered families. Mass was celebrated on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. and at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. Within a few years, the parish added another Mass on Sunday at 11:00 a.m, developed an adult choir, contemporary choir and children’s choir supported by lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers and a nursery.

Today, a 15,000-square-foot temporary church and a 6,000-square-foot educational facility (named the Trinity Building) sit on a 15-acre site at the intersection of The Corners Parkway and Crooked Creek Road in the Peachtree Corners area of Norcross. The sanctuary seats 600, while the Trinity Building houses the church’s school of religion program.

To replace the temporary structure and accommodate a growing church membership, Mary Our Queen launched a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new church. The parish enlisted the help of Bill Harrison of Harrison Design Associates, an internationally prominent architectural and design firm, to develop plans for the new church. During this same time, Father David M. Dye came forward with an idea: buy and move a more significant classic church than the parish could ever build.

Visiting around in the Northeast, the pastor and the architect, a Southern Baptist, came upon St. Gerard’s. To their astonishment, Bill discovered that the floor plan and overall style of the magnificent church was within five percent of his own plans for a new church in Norcross. The major difference was the vastly superior quality of the materials used in the construction of the 98-year-old church.

To begin the pilgrimage of St. Gerard’s to Atlanta, the parish, which had already raised $3 million for the construction of a new church, committed those funds to the relocation.

To complete the pilgrimage, the parish and a broad-based board from a variety of backgrounds requests your help. Will you please help bring one of America’s threatened treasures 900 miles into the future?

About St. Gerard’s Church

St. Gerard’s Church (completed 1911) is a Gilded Age approximation (at one-third scale) of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Its exterior is of Indiana limestone. The interior is travertine marble and beautifully done plaster. Its atmosphere is a mix of neoclassical and baroque, with hints of art moderne. Twelve solid granite columns line the nave. Along the interior are ornamental coffered ceilings and a dome in the apse with a triumphant painting of the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

When a dwindling parish membership forced the Diocese of Buffalo to close the church in January 2008, St. Gerard’s was left to fend for itself near the shore of Lake Erie. With each freeze / thaw cycle, the window of time for preservation shrinks. The splendidly executed structure already needs a new boiler, plaster and roof repairs and new leading for its luminous stained glass. Disassembling, moving and reassembling the church will ensure its life continues as originally intended by the stream of immigrants who created this monument and maintained it for nearly a century as the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.

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Preservation Through Relocation

Preservation Through Relocation

Moving St. Gerard’s Church from Buffalo, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia, is a journey like no other.

True, it is a pioneer effort to preserve one of America’s great architectural treasures.

It is also a journey that represents a singular moment for metropolitan Atlanta, for the nation and for the Catholic Church in terms of architecture, engineering, aesthetics and education, historic preservation and demographic history

But it is more than a journey. It is a pilgrimage. On this pilgrimage, it is the church itself that is moving.

The “preservation through relocation” of the magnificent basilica-style structure has received support from both communities and from the outside, including the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Bishop of Buffalo, the Archbishop of New York, local and national preservationists, architects, builders, former St. Gerard’s parishioners and present parishioners of Mary Our Queen.

While these supporters have their own special reasons for supporting this project, the central fact of the relocation will always be that this beautiful building will continue to exist for the worship of God in a way that transcends the limits of time and space – even the 900 miles between Buffalo and Atlanta.

With your help, an American monument will continue life as a center of spiritual vitality and growth, a symbol of love for God and the unflagging human spirit.

Without your help, the church will sit vacant at the corner of Bailey and East Delavan in a fading neighborhood which Catholic residents have largely departed. The church’s almost certain fate there, amid the harsh elements, is deterioration, decline and, eventually, destruction.

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