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Architecture Around Buffalo: Sisters of Charity Hospital

By Lucas R. Watson, Features Contributor

Tucked within the city in an 1820s brick building is the first high school ever established in Buffalo. Originally, the Literary and Scientific Academy, built in 1829, served as a high school until 1848. When the Sisters of Charity – a religious community of women established in America by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton – were requested to create the city’s first hospital, six sisters came from Baltimore to Buffalo with Bishop John Timon. Three of the sisters were assigned to the hospital and three to an asylum and school. They set up in the former school building on the corner of Pearl and Virginia Streets. It was officially chartered as the first regional hospital in October 1848 and it was sorely tested by a devastating cholera outbreak in 1849. Their willingness to take a chance on new therapies resulted in an astounding recovery of 80 of the 134 cholera patients admitted to the small new hospital.

The city has had a long history of health care, being one of the leading cities in the nation with a hospital system and especially the cancer research center founded by the Pathological Laboratory of the University at Buffalo in 1898. The city has long been a strong proponent of supporting people with and helping cure physical and mental ailments, from the city’s extensive healthcare facilities from the 1840s to the new facilities today, like the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The building itself has gained much recognition due to its importance in Buffalo’s history. It still has its unique dentil molding and its characteristic stone window sills and lintels. It has had a rather useful life over the last number of years. It is now row house condominiums numbers 14, 18 and 20 on St. Louis Place.

This is one of the many buildings across the city of Buffalo that are hidden and tucked

away. There are so many buildings with histories that are not seen out in the open, but there’s almost always something there. They may just be buildings, but each one has their own story to tell. As this city sees a new growth, there is renewed hope for some of these buildings and increased concern for others. There is a ton of possibility that the potential and beauty of so many of these buildings can be seen again.

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