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.”
For more information and an opportunity to become a supporter of this project, please go to http://www.movedbygrace.com