The Clocks of Buffalo
As a kid, I remember driving on the I-190 towards downtown and thinking that Buffalo was this huge city. I was maybe ten, heading to a Bison's game at then called Pilot Field. I remember being interested in the unique designs of each building, counting as many church steeples as possible, and rolling down the window to try and catch a scent of cheerios.  The view of Buffalo heading north on the I-190 is still my favorite skyline perspective after years of photographing the city. This hobby has given me the privilege to learn more about these buildings I once admired as a kid. The more I discover, the more I appreciate the history and unique architecture we have here in Buffalo. 
The idea of doing a project dedicated to the clocks of Buffalo stemmed from another idea I've had for a while, focusing on the churches of WNY (this one will take a bit longer, but I touch on some of them in this project). The image to the left came to fruition after leaving Pearl Street Brewery with a few oatmeal stouts consumed. This view is from the corner of W Seneca and Franklin, looking north. 
The Catholic Church began incorporating clock towers into their buildings sometime after AD 600, pulling the idea from military watchtowers. They became taller and a more profound piece to the Church buildings over the years, leading many to view the steeples as "attempts to reach the heavens".  As more churches began erecting around major cities in America, it became common design to include exterior clocks on the steeples. The pairing of steeples/towers and clocks expanded past just churches, becoming common to design them into many terminal stations, banks and courthouses across the country. 
In the lead image, the forefront clock rests on the steeple of St. Joseph's Cathedral on Franklin Street. Buffalo's first Bishop, John Timon, established St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1847. The cornerstone of the Church reads 1851, with completion in 1863. The tower boasted a 43 bell carillon from France, which at the time was the largest in the United States and third largest in the world. Today, two of the 43 bells remain. St. Joseph's still currently serves as the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Their clocks, on the other hand, seemed to have retired from operation...
There are many other magnificent churches with tall standing steeples displaying a clock or two. Many Western New York villages boast similar corner standing clock posts similar to the one found on Pearl and Main (picture below). These are the ones that stand out to me. These are the clocks on Buffalo's grandest buildings. These are the clocks that make me appreciate Buffalo for what it is - a small city with a lot to offer! OK, I'm done nerding out over clocks... Hope you enjoy the photographs and captions below!

The Old County Hall is a fine example of High Victorian Romanesque and was designed by Rochester's Andrew Jackson Warner. The clock tower stands a prominent 209 feet tall and boasts  the four colossal female figures of Justice, Mechanical Arts, Agriculture and Commerce. The four clocks on the tower are still fully functional today, and light up beautifully at night!

Old County Hall is a fine example of High Victorian Romanesque and was designed by Rochester's Andrew Jackson Warner. The clock tower stands a prominent 209 feet tall and boasts  the four colossal female figures of Justice, Mechanical Arts, Agriculture and Commerce. The four clocks on the tower are still fully functional today, and light up beautifully at night!

Here is an aerial view of the Buffalo Savings Bank. First opened in 1901, the Buffalo Savings Bank building is a neoclassical, Beaux-Arts Style structure currently operating as a branch for M&T Bank. Its most prominent feature is the gold-leafed dome that everyone recognizes and loves. Above the main columned entrance is nine-foot clock, tucked perfectly between thousands of terra-cotta tiles and copper trimmings. Considered one of the most unique buildings in all of Buffalo, the main entrance and clock face towards Roosevelt Plaza and a newly rejuvenated section of Main Street downtown. Seeing the sun glare off the gold dome roof never gets old.

A telephoto shot of the Buffalo Savings Bank taken from Main Street. Notice all the beautiful scroll work above and below the clock!

Downtown Buffalo isn't the only area to find grand churches boasting tall steeples and bell towers. Buffalo's east side has a rich history of diverse population and as a result, an abundance of churches including the great St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church. As the oldest Polish Church in the Diocese of Buffalo, it holds the proud title of "Mother Church of Polonia", displaying a fine example of pure Romanesque design. The parish was established in 1873 and the original church at this location was a simple two story wooden structure. As the number of parishioners rapidly grew, the current day Church was erected and completed by 1886. The twin towers weren't completed until 1908, reaching just over 217 feet tall. Each tower has four six and a half foot tall clocks facing each direction. 

A storm in 2000 destroyed the left tower's cupola and cross, resulting in an expensive restoration. Only part of the restoration was covered by insurance, hence the mismatched cupolas. In 2005, the diocese restored each of the clock faces, clock bells, pipe organ and numerous interior pieces. Six other Polish congregations have formed in Polonia since St. Stanislaus was built, including another set of twin clock tower churches in Corpus Christi and St. Adalbert's Basilica (both shown in the gallery below, St. Adalbert's clocks since removed).. 

St. Stanislaus with the Buffalo skyline in the background

The Corpus Christi R.C. Church Complex is a series of buildings located on Buffalo's historic East Side Polonia. The Church's cornerstone reads 1907, the parish established in 1898. Designed by Schmill and Gould, Corpus Christi is largely made up of Onondaga and Medina limestone. Similar to St. Stans, Corpus Christi boasts two front towers, each with 4 clocks facing in all directions. The gold crosses atop the copper domes were filled with hundreds of letters written by the Parish’s children near the completion of the structure. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. 

The Corpus Christi R.C. Church Complex is a series of buildings located on Buffalo's historic East Side Polonia neighborhood.

Saint Adalbert's RC Basilica, is a historic Roman Catholic church located on Buffalo, New York's East Side within the Diocese of Buffalo. It is a prime example of the Polish Cathedral style of church architecture in both its opulence and grand scale. The clocks have since been removed from the dual front towers. 

St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church. Broadway at Emslie Street, Buffalo, NY. Built from 1878-1886, the church once stood as one of Buffalo's best examples of neo-gothic architecture. Inside, it contains exquisite woodcarvings including a 32 foot high hand carved altar. The nave or central aisle is 38 feet wide and 70 feet high. Atop the tallest tower are four clocks that guided the bells within the tower to strike every hour. Today, the Church is vacant and seeking development, narrowly escaping demolition.

A closer view of the bell tower and clocks upon St. Ann's RC Church. 

St. Louis R.C. Church is arguably one of the prettiest churches in all of Western New York. Its beautiful and bold Gothic Revival design takes me back to my 2016 trip to Vienna where we toured St. Stephen's Cathedral. I'm not making comparisons, but it's certainly the closest thing we have to it here in Buffalo. The front steeple stands 245 feet tall, boasting a 72-foot tall pierced spire, the tallest openwork spire built of stone in the United States. St. Louis parish was founded in 1829, making it one of the oldest in the area. The original church unfortunately burned in 1885, leading the way for the bigger and grander St. Louis R.C. Church that we see today. Inside, it is my favorite church in all of Buffalo. The single clock on the tower is easy to overlook, but is beautifully incorporated into the overall design of the Church.

The Buffalo Central Terminal, found in Buffalo's Polonia neighborhood, is a grand Art Deco building and former railway station.

The Buffalo Central Terminal, found in Buffalo's Polonia neighborhood, is a grand Art Deco building and former railway station. Here is one of the clocks found on the 10th floor of the main tower.

Behind one of the tower clocks on the 10th floor - pretty neat to see the mechanics behind the clock!

Although I'm focusing more on clock towers and exterior clocks, I have to shift gears to the interior clock at the terminal as I learned an interesting fact while researching. In the late 1980's, Thomas Telesco gained ownership of the building as being the only bidder in bankruptcy court. After taking ownership, he quickly began selling off many of the valuable artifacts inside the terminal, including the now famous clock in the center of the concourse. By 1997, the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corp. took ownership and quickly began raising money to restore and promote the complex. One of the first things they restored were the exterior clocks on the 10th floor of the main tower. After restoration, they were re-lit on October 1, 1999 for the first time in over 20 years. Shortly afterwards, the missing interior clock, sold years early, was located in Chicago with it's new owners. The CTRC and WBEN helped raise over $25K (including a large donation from M&T Bank!) to buy the clock back to display once again in the center of the concourse, this time permanently. I found it quite interesting and significant that two of the first priorities by CTRC were with the clocks on and inside the building. 

St. Mary of Sorrows RC Church located at 938 Genesee Street on the east side of Buffalo. Completed in 1891, St Mary was built for a primarily German congregation in a rhenish romanesque revival style with the floor plan laid out as a Latin cross. The church's main tower rises 235 feet high and boasts four clocks, each over 6 feet tall. Thankfully, the Church avoided demolition in the mid-90s and has since been partially renovated. Today it serves as a charter school. 

A closer view of the clock tower on St. Mary of Sorrows RC Church.

St. Joseph's Cathedral on Franklin Street. Buffalo's first Bishop, John Timon, established St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1847. The cornerstone of the Church reads 1851, with completion in 1863. The tower boasted a 43 bell carillon from France, which at the time was the largest in the United States and third largest in the world. Today, two of the 43 bells remain. St. Joseph's still currently serves as the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Their four clocks on the main tower, on the other hand, seemed to have retired from operation.

A telephoto view of St. Joseph's Cathedral on Franklin Street. I love seeing steeples (with clocks) poking out of the Buffalo skyline!

A clock post at the corner of Main and Pearl Streets entering downtown Buffalo, NY.

The corner wall mounted clock on the Union Stockyards Bank building at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore in Polonia. The building dates back from 1910, however the large bronze clock was later added during the 1920s and has since become a landmark to Polonia.

The corner wall mounted clock on the Union Stockyards Bank building at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore in Polonia. The building dates back from 1910, however the large bronze clock was later added during the 1920s and has since become a landmark to Polonia.

The clock tower from Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State. This view is from Elmwood Avenue near the Albright Knox Art Gallery.

Calvary Baptist Church located at 1184 Genesee Street on the east side of Buffalo, NY. The main tower has 4 clocks, none of which appear to be in working order.

Calvary Baptist Church located at 1184 Genesee Street on the east side of Buffalo, NY. The main tower has 4 clocks, none of which appear to be in working order.

St. Thomas Aquinas RC Church located at 450 Abbott Road in South Buffalo. The complex, including a school, gym and church, is dated to be nearly 100 years old with the first buildings erected in 1920. The Clock tower is easily visible around South Buffalo neighborhoods.

St. Thomas Aquinas RC Church located at 450 Abbott Road in South Buffalo. The complex, including a school, gym and church, is dated to be nearly 100 years old with the first buildings erected in 1920. The Clock tower is easily visible around South Buffalo neighborhoods.

Assumption RC Church located 435 Amherst Street in the Blackrock neighborhood of Buffalo. Built in 1914, Assumption is Romanesque Revival style designed by Schmill and Gould. Atop the twin towers are 7 foot gold crosses and copper cupolas. The twin towers boast 8 clocks in total, which all appear to be fully functional today. 

A closer view of the twin towers at Assumption RC Church. From Mark Peszko on a Facebook comment - The clocks in the towers of Assumption Church, 435 Amherst St. were renovated in the early 2000’s. The faces are new as is lightning. The mechanisms are digitally operated. There are 10 bells in the west tower. The bell mechanics were also updated. The bells play programed hymn tunes. There is a digital keyboard that allows the bells to be played manually

St. Stephan's Evangelical and Reformed Church located at 72 Peckham Street in the Polonia district of Buffalo. I haven't been able to find out too much about the history of this building, and it often gets overshadowed from the larger and grander churches also found in the Polonia district.

St. Stephan's Evangelical and Reformed Church located at 72 Peckham Street in the Polonia district of Buffalo. Notice the towers from St. Stanislaus down the street in the background!

Lafayette Baptist Church located at 286 Lafayette Avenue. It was built as the church with attached Sunday school for the Lafayette Baptist Church, which was founded in 1884. These structures are unusual in being designed in a notable Colonial Revival style, rarely used for churches in Buffalo. 

St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church located at 85 Amherst Street in the Blackrock neighborhood of Buffalo. The parish was founded in 1847 and the current Church erected in 1891 and appears to be in relatively good shape given its age. The architect is unknown, however the style is a conservative gothic revival by design with traditional German influence inside and out. The single yet tall steeple boasts four large clocks, which I imagine once directed the bells to ring on the hour. 

St. Francis Xavier RC Church located at 161 East Street in the Blackrock district of Buffalo and right down the street from the previous St. Johns above. St. Francis is a Romanesque Revival Basilica built in 1913 and designed by Carl Schmill (who had involvement with many other significant Churches in Buffalo). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, the St. Francis complex is bursting with details throughout, including the standout clock tower seen as you approach the neighborhood. 

St. Francis Xavier RC Church located at 161 East Street in the Blackrock district of Buffalo. The structure on the right is the late 19th century school on the complex.

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