St. Paul's Cathedral - Buffalo, NY (b.1851)

Just a very short one, specific and dear to my heart. So, I wound up with this wonderful illustration of St. Paul's after seeing it a many years earlier online. I actually was met with scorn on a Buffalo Historical forum when I dared question some of the oddities contained in the illustration. Then my wife and I were sifting through an antique market about two years ago and I could hear my wife yell for me. There it was and so I bought it dirt cheap on a Sunday afternoon. So long story short, have a look at it, it's a lighthearted thread but I'd love to hear any thoughts...

Main Street, Buffalo, From St. Paul's Church
Picturesque America... Oliver Bell Bunce, William Cullen Bryant
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1872-1874.


Here is another oil painting showing the same perspective that a friend owns:


What do we know about St. Paul's Church (Cathedral):

In 1848, vestrymen of St. Paul's in Buffalo formed a building committee to erect a new stone church. Being familiar with architect Richard Upjohn’s work through his recently completed Trinity Church in New York City, they desired no other architect for the job, and immediately engaged Upjohn for the commission.

Major structural events:
  • 1849: construction started.
  • 1851: the cathedral was dedicated/consecrated.
  • 1870: the spires on top of the two towers were finished.
  • 1888: a fire caused by a natural gas explosion nearly destroyed the building.
  • 1890: the church reopened after undergoing a renovation overseen by Robert W. Gibson.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in 1973. In 1987, the NRHP listing was revised as "St. Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo)" and the property was further declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


So... built in 1851. This illustration is done let's say, 1873. In a short 20 years, the roof sure looks a bit dilapidated. The ivy is just out of control. The steeple is shedding it's shell.

There is a weird guy in black on top of the church carrying what appears to be a messenger bag or perhaps a painter's kit.

2-3 years prior to this illustration, two additional spires were added to two towers. This is what the church looked like after a short 20 years? And when they did the work to add the two spires, they just ignored the other steeple's that were clearly crumbling?

Who is this guy in black???

Here is what the church looked like in 1890:

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Here is the church again in 1900-1905:

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And here it is after the token and obligatory fire:

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And finally, here is what it looks like today:

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Probably nothing more than artistic license but, it's a bit odd and I thought it was neat. And I enjoy this on my wall.


Something to investigate it is. In the first two images where that guy in black is running... is this a roof he is running down to his death on, or a dirt hill?

Additional photo to the collection. 1908. Notice the spanking brand new building with underground windows sticking out. The photo has HD quality.

I keep on thinking that the people in these images belong to a time frame omitted from history. From that stand point this could be any other year besides 1908. It's like we are being offered to understand things differently from their real meaning.

1908 St.Paul Cathedral.jpg
Hmm, Buffalo is pretty fascinating. While looking for this topic related info, came up on a couple other fun things. Will share later.

So far trying to find some sort of a disaster. If that indeed is a mound of dirt next to the Cathedral, there has to be some evidence of it left.

Only found the Great Flood of 1844 so far:
Below is the original of the first two images in this thread. Titled: 1894 Wood Engraving Main Street Buffalo New York Cityscape St. Pauls Church

1894 Wood Engraving Main Street Buffalo New York Cityscape St. Pauls Church.jpg


This vegetation on the tower should suggest what? That the building was unkept for a while?

There is only one podt fire picture that I could find.

Also a few additional church progression images can be found here.
Something to investigate it is. In the first two images where that guy in black is running... is this a roof he is running down to his death on, or a dirt hill?
He is on top of the church! I believe he is here. I could be wrong, it's early in the day ;)

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it looks like some sort volcano or some sort of mud bomb the center is above the horizon
Yes! What on earth storm is coming in?

This vegetation on the tower should suggest what? That the building was unkept for a while?
That was my immediate thought, but you do see that ivy has always been growing on this church. So, sure, artist's desire to make the place older, more beat-up? I was told that this was most likely copied from a photograph. Not sure I believe that, but I would love to see that actual photo.

My impression now is that the guy in black on top of the church is the artist. Why on earth he insisted on being in the drawing, I have no idea.

I believe you might be looking for the 'The Burning of Buffalo'. It's the magical year of 1813. Here are some garbage stories:

The Burning of Buffalo, 200 Years Ago
The Burning of Buffalo, Buffalo History
The Battle of Buffalo, Black Rock

Here is my post from a bit ago on Reddit...

The idea is the British decided to burn "all but one building" because the American militia had just previously burned "all but one building" in Newark (Niagara-on-the-lake, Canada).

none of the stories add up because it's clear that anything you read about this was written by one person. i dont care how many accounts there are, they are all clearly from one main piece.

also, we're talking War of 1812 era. wasn't there something like 152 wars going on while there were only 149 recognized countries? lol. not sure how close i am on those numbers, but it's something ridiculous like that. (insert Napoleon-didnt-exist joke here).

also remember that the Buffalo-Toronto region is littered with Star Forts and that's also throughout all of NY state and Southern Ontario. we still have a large handful of visible/visitable clear ancient Star Forts. and another task i will prove in time is that the city of Buffalo was built smack dab on a Star Fort. the cutouts can still be found, but obviously not as easy since well... Buffalo burned and they had to "rebuild" from scratch.
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uh oh, there is a bunch of identical images of a moss/vine covered saint petersburg too!
This picture is interesting because of the subject matter. The man or boy on the roof is risking his life. For what? The original was produced late in the lives of two well-connected men. Perhaps there is an unknown symbology being shown here that's invisible to us, but important enough to be copied by the painter. This scene isn't something one would see in the course of daily life. Subject matter for paintings and such was more commonly occurring back then. I'll bet there's some kind of "widow's son" thing going on here that only a Freemason would be able to appreciate. Great eye noticing the ivy, the disrepair and the dates. I'll be keeping my own peeled for such discrepancies.