The text below is excerpted from
Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions
By Edward T. Dunn
Pub. by Canisius College
Delaware Avenue Baptist Church
The roots of the Delaware
Avenue Baptist Church at 961 [Delaware Avenue] lay in the Olivet Chapel, a Sunday
school organized in 1874 .... A small brick carpenter shop at #595 Delaware was modified
for a school by adding a hall to the rear. The site had formerly been occupied by
the officers' quarters of the Poinsett
Barracks. As early as September 1874 services for adults were held at the school,
and demands were being made a full-blown establishment. The result was the Oliver
Baptist Church, organized in 1882 which erected a $30,000 building known as the Delaware
Avenue Baptist Church.
The Baptists remained at #595 for only eleven years yielding place in to the Twentieth
Twentieth Century Club purchase
This [Twentieth Century Club] had developed out of the
of the Buffalo Seminary, whose president, Charlotte Mulligan, learning that the
church property was for sale, secured approval for the issuance of bonds to members
to raise the $35,000 asking price for the church. She believed that the chapter house
of the Graduates Association in Johnson Park was inadequate.
The costs involved in purchase and conversion caused the suggestion to open membership
in the association to non-graduates, which generated some opposition. The solution
was to set up a separate club, The Twentieth Century Club, to which the deed to the
church property, which had been delivered to the alumnae association, was in turn
transferred on May 1, 1894, and $8,101.55 was spent on entirely changing the church
at the back of the property into an assembly hall with a silver and terra
cotta Gothic interior
... the club historian stressed the ambiance of its acquisition:
Located centrally, the property was in what was probably
the most beautiful section of the city. Imposing mansions on Delaware Avenue, constructed
in an era of carved marble and stone, echoed with the gaiety of fairs, balls, debuts.
There were cotillions and masques and musicals. The ladies were magnificent in velvet
and satin and lace and brocade. Jeweled tiaras, necklaces, bracelets gleamed under
Within months officials of the club arranged to erect
a bona fide clubhouse in front of the converted church provided the expense would
not exceed $42,000 ($732,060 in 1997 dollars.) Work began on October 8, 1895, the
architects being Green &
Wicks. An optimistic report with an engraved picture in the Commercial
saluted the opening of the new facility on November 4, 1896.
This new club house for women is one of the handsomest,
if not the handsomest, in the country The exterior architecture is of the Italian renaissance style. The building is 78 feet wide and 96 feet deep. The first story
is of Indiana limestone and the rest of the structure of pressed brick, of a warm red tone,
with a cornice of terra cotta. The ionic pillars across the front of the second
story are of blue marble. The entrance gates, on either side of the clubhouse are
of wrought iron, and the windows of the top story are covered with iron grills of
very artistic design ....
By 1904 it was clear that the seating capacity of the
Assembly Hall was too small and the few exits and aisles unsafe. The converted church
was demolished and a hall was erected with a seating capacity of 576 on the ground
floor and 150 in the gallery A gymnasium, pool, showers, and a hot room were added.
At a cost of $50,000 the addition was opened on November 1905.