Polish-American Heritage
in
Buffalo and Erie County, New York

      

Polish Heritage Festival, 2004         ; Polish Heritage Festival, Inc.

BACKGROUND

        The Polish influence in Western New York can be traced back to Pieter Stadnitski, one of the partners of the Holland Land Office Company; the Dutch company which purchased and brought settlers to the area in the early 19th century. More specifically, Polish settlers of Jewish heritage began arriving in the area before 1860, while Catholic Poles began arriving in large numbers soon after. Between 1873 and 1922, Polish Americans established 34 church parishes in Greater Buffalo and Western New York .

        By 1940, there were 76,465 Western New Yorkers of Polish stock, and in the 1990s a great number of people from this area claim to be of some Polish descent. Many of them still live in the areas of the city that their grandparents and parents first settled: Broadway-Filmore, Clinton-Bailey, Black Rock, and Riverside, as well as Cheektowaga , Depew , and Lackawanna .
 

  PLACES TO VISIT

The Polish Community Center, 1081 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14214 [ (716) 893-7222 ] is housed in "Dom Polski," or the Polish HomeThe Home was organized in 1905 to assist Polish immigrants in adapting to their new countryThe PCC currently houses the J.C. Mazur Gallery and offers occasional film series and literary readings, all open to the publicThe PCC functions as a community-based human services center in a neighborhood that was once predominantly Polish.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Serviceman's Park, 1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo , NY [(716) 847-1773] There is a "Polish Room" located on board the Cruiser Little Rock.  The exhibit was created by and features the story of Polish-American veterans in WWIIIt also includes displays depicting the Polish Home Army.

Pulaski Monument , South Division and Main streets (adjacent to the Ellicott Square Building ).  This statue of General Kazimierz Pulaski was presented to the city by the people of Poland in 1976 as a gift during the bicentennial of the USA .

The Chopin Monument , Symphony Circle, Richmond and Porter, Buffalo , NY This monument was created by artist Jozef Mazur in the 1920sIt was originally located in front of the Buffalo Museum of Science but now stands before Kleinhan's Music Hall.

Holy Mother of the Rosary Polish National Cathedral, 6298 Broadway, Lancaster NY 14086 [(716-683-7527 and (716) 685-5767]This church replaces the original Cathedral located at Sobieski and Sycamore streets, where it served the people for 99 yearsIt is a contemporary structure that evokes the wooden churches of the Goral regionIt has incorporated many of the original windows, statues, and other furnishings, blended with new carvings and images.

St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church, 123 Townsend Street , Buffalo , NY 14212 [ (716) 854-5511] was f ounded in 1873 by Father John Pitass.  Oldest Polish-American Catholic Church in Western New York .  As the mother church, this is where historical events are commemorated and where ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries meetChurch was decorated by Jozef MazurSunday Masses are in Polish at 8 AM and 12 PM (radio Mass)The "Polska Czytelnia," the oldest Polish library in the USA , established in 1889, which has a collection of over 8,000 Polish books and journals, is located in the parish's Pitass Center .

St. Adalbert's Basilica, 212 Stanislaus St. , Buffalo , NY 14212 [ (716) 894-8366 ].  Founded in 1886, it was designated a basilica in 1907It is the home parish of artist Jozef Mazur. Polish Language Mass on Sunday at 9 AM .

St. John Kanty Roman Catholic Church, 101 Swinburne, Buffalo , NY 14212 [ (716) 893-0412].  Founded in 1890, parish holds Dozynki (Harvest Festival) and Christmas concerts.  Polish Language Mass on Sunday at 7:30 AM .

St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church, 160 Cable Street & Casimir, Buffalo , NY 14206 [(716) 824-9589].  Founded in 1890, it is an excellent example of Byzantine architecture.

Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 189 Clark Street , Buffalo , NY 14212 [(716) 896-1050].  Founded in 1899, it was the first home of the Polish Franciscan Fathers (O.F.M. Conventuals) established by Rev. Jacek FudzinskiThe parish holds a Dozynki (Harvest Festival) in AugustPolish language Masses on Sunday at 7:30 AM and 10:30 AM .

Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 435 Amherst Street , Buffalo , NY 14207 [ (716) 875-7626].  Founded in 1888, the Romanesque style church seats 1,600 people and offers a Polish-language Mass on Sundays at 10:30 AM The Church hosts an annual Polish Carnival in the spring, which includes films, concerts, a gourmet dinner, and a carnival dance. The sanctuary is decorated with scrafitto images from the life of the Virgin Mary done by artist Joseph Slawinski.

St. Francis Conventual Friary, S-4263 St. Francis Drive , Athol Springs , NY [(716) 627-2710] h ouses two chapels decorated with scraffito murals of Polish and Polish-American history by Slawinski and De Rosen, who also did a giant mosaic at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington , DC .  The Father Justin Rosary Hour, heard across the US and Canada, is produced here.

Bridge at Black Rock (over the Niagara River ).  Sir Casimir Gzowski built the first international suspension bridge over the Niagara River .

PLACES TO EAT

Polish Villa, 2954 Union Road , Cheektowaga , NY 14227 [(716) 683-9460].

Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo , NY 14212 [(716) 656-5788].

PLACES TO SHOP

Tradition Travel, 5421 Transit Road , Depew NY 14053 [(716) 686-0702 ].
A Polish-American travel agency that sells Polish books and gifts. Also houses the studio of Polonia Varieties, WHLD.

Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo , NY 14212 [(716) 893-0705 ].  A special place to visit especially in the two weeks before Easter. Temporary stands sell traditional eggs, pussy willows and craftsFor current information see the Market web page www.broadwaymarket.com.

Polish specialty shops at the Market include:

MEATS

Camellia Meats

Malczewski Poultry

BAKERY

EM Chrusciki

SPECIALTY SHOP

Cards & Gifts

PRODUCE

Famous Horseradish

Lewandowski Produce


 

 

 

 

 

Broadway Market at Easter Fish/NFFA

  LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave. , Buffalo , NY 14212 [ (716) 847-0839].
The Dramatic Circle was organized and began producing amateur theatricals in 1895. The library contains over 4,000 volumes and over 400 hand-written scripts for Polish plays. The building serves as a social center as well.

The Polish Room, Lockwood Library, SUNY Buffalo , North Campus, Amherst , NY 14260 [(716) 636-2815]. (http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/units/lml/polish-room/index.html) The Polish Collection was begun in 1955. Current holdings include books, periodicals, newspapers, films and artifacts covering the numerous contributions of the Poles in the humanities, science and US history. Over 9,000 volumes, over 30 video recordings and a small collection of rare books and documents.

Polish Academic Information Center , SUNY Buffalo, North Campus, Amherst NY opened in April 1997. Developed by Piotr Pienkowski, a professor at the Jagellonian University in Krakow , it is a unique inter-university agency of the Jagellonian University and SUNY BuffaloIt will serve as an information clearing house for those interested in pursuing studies related to Poland , its culture and language. More information can be gotten from its web site at http://wings.buffalo.edu /info-poland.

The Fronczak Room, Butler Library, BSC , 1300 Elmwood Avenue , Buffalo , NY [ (716) 878-6304] .
The collection was donated to Buffalo State College by the Fronczak Family. The bulk of materials documents Francis Fronczak whose extensive career included national work with the Polish relief efforts in WWI & II, and his 35-year tenure as Commissioner of Health in Erie County .

Villa Maria College , 240 Pine Ridge Rd. , Buffalo , NY 14225 ([716) 896-0700] . A special collection in the college library contains 3,000 volumes in the Polish language, with a focus on literary and historical subjects relating to Poland .

Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph , South Park Ave. , Hamburg , NY 14075 [ (716) 649-1205] .
The Sisters maintain a Polish Resource Center , which houses books, journals, records, audio cassettes, play books, and memorabilia relating to Polish heritage. Most of these are in the Polish language. The focus is on religion, history, literature, theology and philosophy.

Felician Sisters Archives, Immaculate Heart of Mary Province , 600 Doat St. , Cheektowaga , NY 14211 [(716) 892-4141] . Collection based on the Felician community and its ministries (schools, parishes) in New York , New England , and the Mid-Atlantic States . Four Sisters were editors of the Polish language magazine, Ave Maria. (1924-1984). A Heritage Room of artifacts and documents related to the religious order is open to the public is located in the Provincial Convent Buildig.

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Central Branch Lafayette Sq., Buffalo NY 14203 [ (716) 858-8900].
Local Polish Church records on microfilm, ca. 1874-1982. Also on microfilm are copies of the Polish newspaper, Dziennik dla Wszystkich, (Everybody's Daily), 1930-1957.

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Fronczak Branch, 1080 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14212 [(716) 892-3941] . Collection includes books on Polish Americans in Buffalo ; vertical files with materials on local Polish community; scrapbooks; and back issues of the newspapers, Am-Pol Eagle and Polish American Journal.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Polish Heritage Festival

The Polish Heritage Festival, held in June, serves to promote Polish culture and traditions.  It also highlights Polish-American organizations and provides college scholarships.

The Festival serves as a family-oriented gathering place that both Poles and non-Poles can enjoy.  It offers an excellent opportunity for Polish entertainers, artists, and crafters to perform in front of a large audience.  It also gives Polish-American organizations and vendors an opportunity to showcase their talents and services.

For more information,

Web Site:  www.polfunfest.com

Phone:  (716) 998-2501

E-Mail:  james@polfunfest.com


 

POLISH-AMERICAN ARTS FESTIVAL

Cheektowaga Town Park

Harlem Road

Cheektowaga, NY

 The Festival takes place the third weekend in August with food, traditional crafts, workshops, and entertainment.  For more information, call the Cheektowaga Town Hall at (716) 684-0120 .

ALSO OF INTEREST

Radio Shows

++ "Music Played in Poland Today" airs on Sunday from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on WJJL (1440 AM).

++ Some of the local polka shows are:

"Drive Time Polkas" with Ron Dombrowski on Monday through Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on WXRL (1300 AM) and on Sunday from 8:00 to 11:00 AM on WECK (1230 AM);

"Polkamotion" with Greg Chowjdak on Sunday from noon to 3:00 PM on WXRL (1300 AM);

"Stephanie's Polka Show" on Sunday from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on WXRL (1300 AM);

"Rockin' Polkas" with Mike Pasierb on Saturday from 2:00 to 3:00 PM and Sunday from 9:00 to 10:00 PM on WXRL (1300 AM);

"Tony Rozek's Polka Show" on Sunday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on WJJL (1440 AM);

"Polka Show" with Chet Kozlowski on Sunday from 10:00 AM to 12 noon on WDOE (1410 AM).

++ The Father Justin Rosary Hour is the oldest Polish language radio program of a religious nature in the USA .  Founded at Corpus Christi Parish by Father Justin Figas in 1931, it is still broadcast across the US and Canada on WXRL (1300 AM) and WHLD (1270 AM).

Newspapers and Periodicals

         Am-Pol Eagle, 3620 Harlem Road , Cheektowaga , NY 14215 [(716) 835-9454 ].  Owner:  Renee Harzewski. Founded about 1959 by Matt Pelczynski. Weekly paper focusing on local news, including a comprehensive calendar of events.

        Polish American Journal, 1275 Harlem Road , Buffalo , NY 14206 [ (716) 893-5771] Editor: Mark Kohan. Founded in Scranton , PA in 1911 the focus is on national and international news.

        Kronika, 337 McKinley Avenue , Kenmore NY 14217 .  Founded in 1995. Quarterly focusing on news for Poles on the Niagara Frontier.

        Komunikat, S-4098 Bryant Street , Blasdell , NY 14219 [(716) 822-2910] Founded by Col. Waldemer Czyz and Stan Biernacik. Focuses on the First Armored Division Association, Buffalo Post.

        Polish Union of America News, 745 Center Road, West Seneca, NY 14224-2108 [(716) 677-0220 or ( 800) 724-2782].  Life insurance and fraternal benefit society offers life insurance, annuities, and mortgages, as well as other benefits, such a college scholarships and f raternal activities, such as educational, cultural, civic, sporting, religious, and social events.

CLUBS

      Chopin Singing Society [ (716) 668-6888] .  Organized in 1899, the Chopin Singers have been featured on radio and television and appear regularly with local orchestrasThey have won international recognition as a premier mixed-voice chorus.

       I. J. Paderewski Singing Society, 327 Sweet Avenue , Buffalo , NY 14212.  Organized in 1939The Society has placed in several international competitions and has been heard on radio and televisionIn addition to an annual concert, the Society frequently appears at local religious, patriotic, and anniversary celebrations.

      Polish Singers Alliance of America , Region IX, 491 Amherst Street , Buffalo , NY 14207 .

     Quo Vadis Choir, 136 Medina Street , Cheektowaga , NY 14206.

     Villa Maria Choir,  562 Hopkins Road , Williamsville , NY 14221.

     St. Hyacinth's Men's Choir was founded in 1946 at a Lackawanna parish of the same nameThe Choir averages about 50 performances annually at various church and social events and has also produced an album.

     Polish Arts Club, 4712 Brentwood Drive, Williamsville , NY 14221.

     Polish Genealogical Society of New York State, 299 Barnard Street , Buffalo , NY 14206.  Founded in 1988 to promote the study of Polish family historyMonthly meetings held at Villa Maria College on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 PM .  For more information, see the web site at http://www.pgsnys.org/.

     Kalina Singing Society, 1279 French Road , Depew , NY 14043.  Organized in 1901 under the auspices of the Polish Singing Circle , it is a female chorus that has won many competitions and participates in many festivals and benefits in and outside the region.
 
 

DISTINGUISHED POLISH-AMERICANS

Jozef Mazur (1897-1970) was born in a Galician family in 1897. He studied at the Albright Art School in Buffalo and at the New York Art Institute. Mazur worked in a variety of media. His stained glass works can be found in churches in Philadelphia , New York City and Buffalo . Before he became 30, Mazur distinguished himself as an ecclesiastical painter in this area. His first commission was the complete decoration of St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo . His works can also be found in St. Adalbert's, Blessed Trinity, the Polish National Cathedral, St. John Gualbert's, and Villa Maria Academy , Holy Trinity in Niagara Falls , and St. Aloysius in Springville. Mazur also painted churches in Rochester , NY , Chicago , IL , Detroit , MI , Adams , MA , New Haven , CT , and Trenton and Perth Amboy in New Jersey . Mazur's secular works include the sculpted bust of Frederick Chopin (see Places to Visit), a life-size portrait of Kazimierz Pulaski in Olean , and interior decoration at the UB Main Street Campus.

Other famous Polish-American artists are sculptor Louis Dlugosz of Lackawanna; Joseph Bakos, a painter of western landscapes; Joseph Slawinski, scrafitto artist and sculptor; Marion M. Rzeznik, an ecclesiastical painter of numerous Western New York churches; and architect Joseph E. Fronczak.

 

IMPORTANT EVENTS IN BUFFALO 'S POLISH HERITAGE

1. Buffalo was the founding city of the Polish American Congress in 1944.

2. Buffalo is the home of the Polish Union of America, which was founded in 1890 and is the largest Polish fraternal headquartered in New York State.

3. Seat of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church is Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral in Lancaster NY (see Places to Visit).

4. Buffalo is the sister city to Rzeszow , Poland .

5. The Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland was founded in Buffalo in 1943.

6. The Polish Baptist Church movement originated in Buffalo with the founding of the Church of Our Savior in 1894.

7. Buffalo has elected four Polish mayors:  Joseph Mruk, Stephen Pankow, Chester Kowal, and Stanley Makowski.

8. Buffalo has the oldest and largest religious radio network in the Polish language.

9. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo observed Poland 's Millennium of Christianity in 1966.
 
 

CONTRIBUTORS

Michael Drabick

Pat Monaghan

Antoinette Mucilli

Nancy Piatkowski

Wanda Slawinska

Polish Union of America

 DECEMBER 2007

 

 

This HERITAGE SHEET is one of a series originally prepared by the Western New York DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE PROGRAM (DHP). The DHP was established by law in 1988. It is a statewide program designed to locate, organize, and make available the state's historical records that are critical to ensuring the survival of New York 's heritage. The DHP is administered by the New York State Archives and Records Administration, State Education Department. It consists of regional services provided throughout the nine Reference and Research Library Resource Systems and a statewide competitive grant. The Regional Archivist for this area serves Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie , Genesee , Niagara , and Orleans counties. The Documentary Heritage Program is administered in Western New York by the WNY Library Resources Council.

Other "Heritage Sheets" available from the DHP: African-American; Hispanic/Latino-American; Irish-American; and Italian-American (available in the future).

 For more information on the DHP, contact:

Documentary Heritage Program

4445 Genesee Street

PO Box 400

Buffalo, NY 14225

(716) 633-0705 x14

 If you have corrections for or suggestions regarding this Polish-American heritage sheet, please contact:

Polish Union of America

745 Center Road

West Seneca , NY 14224 -2108

(716) 677-0220 or (800) 724-2782

Photographs courtesy of the

Niagara Frontier Folklore Archives

c/o Department of Anthropology

Buffalo State College

1300 Elmwood Avenue

Buffalo , NY 14222

&

Polish Union of America

745 Center Road

West Seneca, NY 14224

 

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