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goodellstreetGoodell Street is an east-west street that runs Michigan Avenue to Main Street.  Goodell Street forms the northern boundary of the Central Business District and typically “south of Goodell” is used as a definition for what constitutes “Downtown Buffalo”.  North of Goodell Street is the Medical Campus and the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  Until the 1950s, Goodell Street ran thru to an intersection with Cherry and Locust Streets.  The Kensington Expressway, which ends at Goodell Street, cut through the Fruit Belt.  I am currently working on a multipart series about the streets of the Fruit Belt and the historic development of the neighborhood.  Stay tuned!  Goodell Street is named for Jabez Goodell, one of the early residents of Buffalo.

Jabez Goodell was born in Holland, Massachusetts in 1776.  He was the only son of Icabod Goodell.  Jabez had three sisters – Huldah, Mary, and Persis.  Jabez came to Buffalo in 1806.  At the time, Buffalo had four shops, consistent mostly of Indian goods and a small drug shop, one blacksmith, one shoemaker, one carpenter and a joiner.  He purchased lands at their original price from the Holland Land Company.  His purchases were at the northern edge of the original layout for the Village of Buffalo.  Due to the growth of the city over the next half-century, his lands increased in value to create a substantial estate.

outerlots goodell

Properties owned by Jabez Goodell

Mr. Goodell owned Outer Lots 135, 136, 137 and 145, 146, and 147.  This included properties along Genesee Street and the property where Goodell Street would eventually be laid out.  He also owned lot 33, west of Delaware Avenue near Tupper.

Goodell Street ran through Mr. Goodell’s property.  He operated the Broadwheel Tavern at the corner of Goodell and Main Streets.  The Tavern was located where the Sidway Building now stands.  It was said that his tavern “entertained man and beast”.  His house was burned during the War of 1812, along with the rest of Buffalo.  He rebuilt at Goodell and Oak Street.  His house was later owned by Mayor Solomon Scheu.

st peters

The former St. Peter’s Evangelical Church

Mr. Goodell donated land on Genesee Street at Hickory to the German Evangelical Society of Buffalo in 1834.  The first worshiped on the site in a building that was originally built as the original First Presbyterian Church but was moved to the Genesee Street Site.  Their second church was the original St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which was moved to their property in 1850.  In 1851, they became St. Peters German United Evangelical Church.  In 1877, they built the current Victorian Gothic church that is located on the site.  The tower on the church was removed in 1991, along with small pinnacles that had been surrounding it.  The congregation moved in 1974 when they merged with Lloyd’s Memorial Church to become New Covenant Church of Christ.

Mr. Jabez was a stockholder in the Batavia Street Plank Road Company and served as President of the company.  Batavia Street became Broadway.   Plank roads were common in New York State during the late 1840s and 1850s.  A plank road is made of wooden planks or logs.  The wooden roads were easier and cheaper to maintain that McAdam roads, another common road type of the time period.  The first plank road in the United States was built in Syracuse.  The Batavia Street Plank Road Company controlled 2.5 miles of the roadway and invested $13,000 ($428,910 in 2019 dollars) of capital improvements into the road in 1850.  These road companies were organized and regulated under New York State law.

6Mr. Goodell died in September 1851 at 75 years old.  In death, he donated 10 acres and $10,000 (about $333,000 in 2019 dollars) to the newly formed Buffalo Female Academy to build a 30,0000 square foot school.  Ten months after he died, Goodell Hall opened at the school, just behind the Evergreen Cottage at the corner of Johnson Park and Delaware.  Classes had been held in Evergreen Cottage (Mayor Ebenezer Johnson’s former home) for the 1851 school year.  In 1852, the school moved into Goodell Hall and the cottage was used as a home for the Principal.  The Academy was renamed Buffalo Seminary in 1889 and they moved to their current location on Bidwell Parkway in 1909.

goodell

Jabez Goodell Grave

Mr. Goodell married Diadamia Day, but they had no children.  After the donation to the school, he left his the remainder of his property and estate to be distributed to different societies as well as to religious, missionary and education associations of the Presbyterian church.  Mr. Goodell had been an elder at First Presbyterian Church.  The Goodell estate at his time of death was worth about $400,000 when he died.  That would be more than $13 Million today.  At the time of his death, he was the largest public benefactor who had lived in Buffalo.  He also left $500 ($16,672 in 2019 dollars) to his hometown of Holland, Massachusetts, to provide perpetual care of the cemetery.  He is buried in Forest Lawn, which opened only two years before he passed away.

The rest of the Goodell family was also prominent in Western New York and the Southern Tier.  The Goodell Family at the time was reportedly considered the way the Kennedy Family is in Massachusetts.  Robert Goodell was born in 1601 and immigrated from Dennington England to Massachusetts with his wife and children in 1634.  Jabez was a sixth generation Goodell in America.  Robert was his great-great-great grandfather.  The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a 12th generation Goodell and fourth cousin, six times removed to Jabez Goodell.

It is often said in Buffalo that the road is actually pronounced “GOOD-ul”, but because Roger Goodell’s branch of the family pronounces it as “Good-elle”, the pronunciation has changed as his career has risen in the NFL.  I’d love to hear from some Buffalo old timers, especially those who live in the Fruit Belt…how do you pronounce it?

To learn more about other streets, check out the Street Index.   Stay tuned for my upcoming series about more streets in the Fruit Belt area!  You can subscribe to the site on the homepage and new articles will be emailed to you as soon as they are posted.

Sources:

  1. Boltwood, Robert.  “St. Louis’ Pioneer Catholic Church, Enters 12th Decade”.  Buffalo Courier Express, Sunday August 27, 1939, p L7.
  2. “St. Peter’s to Honor Founding 102 Years Ago”. Buffalo Courier Express.  Feb 6, 1937, p 25.
  3. Graham, Tim.  “The Other Goodell:  How NFL commissioner’s dad ran afoul of Nixon”.  Buffalo News.  February, 3 2018.
  4. Ketchum, William.  An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo.  Rockwell, Baker & Hill Printers:  Buffalo NY.  1865.
  5. Severance, Frank.  “Jabez Goodell”.  As found in Lovering, Martin. History of the Town of Holland, Massachusetts.  The Tuttle Company:  Rutland, Vermont.  1915.
  6. “Batavia Street Plank Road Co”.  Daily Courier.  January 15, 1850.
  7. Zobel, Michael.  “Letter: Learn the correct pronunciation of Buffalo’s Goodell Street”.  Buffalo News.  April 29, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

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churchChurch Street is one of the main east-west streets in Downtown Buffalo, connecting to Main Street to what is now the Interstate-190.  The street was originally laid out by Joseph Ellicott and was named Stadnitski after Pieter Stadnitski, a Dutch banker and one of the agents of the Holland Land Company.  The street was renamed in honor of St. Paul’s Episcopal, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic and First Presbyterian Churches.

The Downtown Buffalo core used to be home to other churches, but many moved uptown as their congregants moved out of downtown towards “suburbs”, such as the case with First Presbyterian Church or Lafayette Presbyterian Church.

The Three Church Street Churches circa 1880s

The Three Church Street churches circa 1880s

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.  The congregation started in 1820, and their first church was built on land donated by Joseph Ellicott, at the corner of Main and Erie Streets.  Reverend William Shelton came to the church in September 1829 and served as Rector until 1881.  The congregation started to grow significantly following the opening of the Erie Canal.  The current church opened (on the site of the old church) in 1851, on Shelton Square.  The church was designed by Richard Upjohn, who is considered one of the greatest American Gothic church designers.  The congregation wanted the church to be made out of limestone; however, they could not afford the limestone.  Upjohn instead used Medina sandstone.

On May 10, 1888, the church was almost destroyed following an explosion and fire.  All that remained was the walls.  The church was rebuilt according to Upjohn’s original plans and reopened in 1890.  St. Paul’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Rev. Shelton

Rev. Shelton

Shelton Square was named after Reverend William Shelton in 1897.  Shelton Square was a public space within Joseph Ellicott’s original street layout for Buffalo, at the intersection of Erie, Church, Main and Niagara, North Division and South Division Streets.  The area was where Joseph Ellicott originally planned to build his house.  He later donated land at Shelton Square to the churches.  In the 1950s, Shelton Square was considered Buffalo’s “Piccadilly Circus”.  A trolley/bus shelter was located in the middle of the square, and this served as the main hub for the entire city – serving the International Railway Company and then the Niagara Frontier Transit system.   Shelton Square disappeared during the 1970s, when a portion of Shelton Square was covered by the Main Place Mall, and Erie street was replaced by Cathedral Park.

Shelton Square 1908

Shelton Square 1908

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1914

St. Joseph’s Cathedral in 1914

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is located at 50 Franklin Street.  The church serves as the cathedral church for the Buffalo Diocese.  Buffalo’s first Bishop, John Timon, established St. Joseph’s in 1847.  The cathedral was dedicated in 1855 and was consecrated in 1863.  The original plans for the cathedral called for two towers at the north and south ends of the facade, but only the south tower was built.  The tower contained a 43 bell carillon (a musical instrument consisting of bells, typically found in church towers or municipal buildings).  At the time of installation in 1869, the carillon was the largest in America and the third largest in the world.  The bells were too large for the tower and never worked properly, so all but two were removed from the church.

In 1902, the Buffalo Diocese determined that a new cathedral was necessary, so property was purchased at Delaware Avenue and West Utica Street.  The New St. Joseph Cathedral opened in 1915, and St. Joseph’s downtown was known as “St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral”. The new cathedral was not built for Buffalo’s climate and major repairs had to be made as soon as 1924.  The exterior marble started to fall off and in 1976, the Bishop decided repairs would be too costly.  In 1977, after demolition of the new cathedral, the “old cathedral” reverted to its former name of St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

First Presbyterian Church

Color Portrait of the First Building of the First Presbyterian Church  (First Presbyterian Church archives)

Color Portrait of the First Building of the First Presbyterian Church (First Presbyterian Church archives)

The third of the churches was First Presbyterian Church.  When First Presbyterian Church was organized on February 2, 1812, it was the first organized religious body formed in Western New York.  The first building for the church was built at the corner of Pearl Street and Niagara Street.  The church opened in 1824 and was used by the church until 1827. As the congregation grew, the building was sold to another congregation in 1828 and moved to the corner of Genesee and Hickory Streets, and was later moved to Walnut Street in 1878.  The building saw many uses over the years – a school-house, a tenement,  a cooper’s shop and an icehouse for a brewery.  It was destroyed by a fire in 1882.  No pictures of the building are known to exist.

"Old First" Presbyterian Church (1827-1890) from the First Presbyterian Church Archives

“Old First” Presbyterian Church (1827-1890) from the First Presbyterian Church Archives

First Presbyterian’s “Brick Church” was dedicated in March 1827.  With seating for 800, it was the largest church west of the Genesee River.  The church’s bell was referred to as the “town clock bell” and served all of Buffalo as a fire alarm.  When sounding alarm for a fire in 1833, the bell cracked, but was quickly recast and served the church until the church was razed.  The bell was then presented to a church in North Tonawanda.

As the congregation grew, members also moved away from the central part of the City of Buffalo.  At the time of founding, most of the congregation lived near the church, but as the central business district developed, many had moved uptown and found congregations closer to their homes.  The church was at risk of closing.  Many members of the congregation were against moving the church, so the matter had to be taken up with the Presbytery and was taken to court.  The matter was resolved in favor of moving.

First Presbyterian Church today on Symphony Circle

First Presbyterian Church today on Symphony Circle

In 1887, Mrs. Truman Avery, who lived where Kleinhans Music Hall is now located, donated a parcel of land across the circle, at the corner of Wadsworth and Pennsylvania Streets.  In April 1889, the congregation was ordered by the city to sell the property to Erie County Savings Bank to make way for the bank’s new office.  (the bank was located at Shelton Square until the 1970s, when it was demolished for construction of the Main Place Mall).

Sources:

  1. The Catholic Church in the United States of America:  Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X.  Volume 3.  Catholic Editing Company, New York, 1914.
  2. DeMille, George.  St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, 1817-1967:  A Brief History.
  3. Rote, David.  30-A Shelton Square.  1994.  accessed through City of Buffalo Website:  https://www.ci.buffalo.ny.us/Home/OurCity/Buffalo_My_City/Buffalo_My_City_Watercolors/30A_Shelton_Square_1994

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