Fight to Save Historic St. Ann's Church Continues; “Save St. Ann’s” Video Dedicated to Lifelong Parishioner

November 01, 2013

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The fight to save the historic St. Ann's Church continued today with a heartfelt tribute to a Western New Yorker who recently died after spending his entire life – all 93 years – as a parishioner of St. Ann's Church. Even in his final days, John Rynn, a Buffalo resident, remained committed to the effort to preserve St. Ann's and protect it from demolition.

Mr. Rynn was featured in a Buffalostyle video produced to help save the threatened church on Buffalo's East Side. Now, with his recent passing, producers of the video have decided to dedicate the film to Rynn’s memory.

The announcement of the video dedication was made at Sts Columba-Brigid Church by Marc Odien of WNYMedia and Christina Abt of Buffalostyle, producers of the video.They were joined by New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Buffalo Common Council Member Darius G.Pridgen, (D-Ellicott), Chairman of the Buffalo Preservation Board Paul McDonnell, members of the Save St. Ann’s Committee and members of John Rynn’s family.  

Senator Kennedy, who has publicly supported saving St. Ann’s spoke about the importance of the landmark East Side building. "The legacy of St. Ann's Church runs deep into Buffalo's storied history. For 127 years, this beautiful church has towered over the East Side neighborhood," said Senator Kennedy. "Children grew up here, couples were married here, neighbors gathered here, and families relied on St. Ann's. So much of the history will live on in our hearts, but we could never recreate this unique architecture. It would be a tragedy to lose such a treasure. Efforts are underway to ensure St Anne's is protected from demolition, and I believe if we continue to think creatively, we can protect St. Ann's Church for generations to come.”

According to Abt, the decision to dedicate the video to Rynn was easily made. “Throughout John’s interview he kept saying that he wasn’t all that smart about a lot of things,” Abt said.  “Yet at the end of the day, John made one of the most astute observations about St. Ann’s being just as important to the Western New York Community as the Darwin Martin House and Graycliff, two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s crowning architectural jewels.  His life was entwined with St. Ann’s and it would be wonderful if the church could be saved in his memory.”

St Ann’s was constructed between 1878 and 1886 and immediately became a religious, community and architectural focal point within the east side neighborhood. Rynn’s parents joined the parish in the early 1900’s and raised their family as members of St. Ann’s. John was educated there and remained dedicated to the parish until his death last week, at the age of 93. In describing the church where he was baptized and grew up, Rynn termed it, “an icon” and spoke fervently about the need for its preservation.

A group of community activists, preservationists and St. Ann’s parishioners have joined together in support of restoring the church. Committee member John Sawicz notes the importance of John Rynn’s support to their efforts. “John’s knowledge about St Ann’s was amazing,” Sawicz said. “He not only knew the history of the church, he lived it and was totally dedicated to saving it. It would be great if we could now get people to join in our efforts to save St. Ann’s in John’s memory.”

Council Member Pridgen noted that a vote to grant historical landmark status to St. Ann’s will come before Buffalo’s Common Council on November 6. "John kept the ball rolling to keep the wrecking ball from demolishing St. Ann. It is my job to ensure that his and others' efforts to save the St. Ann building are not in vain."

The St. Ann’s Buffalostyle video includes interviews with St. Ann’s Pastor, Fr. Roy Herberger, Chair of the Buffalo Preservation Board, Paul McDonald and St. Ann’s parishioners Kathrine Freeland and John Rynn. The video can be viewed at the following link  as well as on the Share Your St. Ann’s Memories Facebook Page

Senator Kennedy with supporters of the ongoing efforts to save St. Ann's Church.

ABOUT ST. ANN’S CHURCH:  St. Ann’s was constructed between 1878 and 1886 at the corner of Broadway and Emslie Streets.  The church is one of Buffalo's finest examples of neo-gothic architecture. It contains exquisite woodcarvings including a 32-foot high, hand carved altar. The 35 stained glass windows highlighting the church were created by German glass makers in Munich and shipped to the US in 1889.  The church school was once the largest Catholic elementary school in the country with over 2,000 students. For more information, visit: