In June of 1874, four Franciscan Sisters, Sister Leonarda Hanappel, Sister Veronica Conradi, Sister Felicitas Dues, and Mother Aloysia Lenders, emigrated from Germany.  They lived in a small home on Ellicott Street in the City of Buffalo, where they worked at St. Michael School with the Jesuit Fathers.  On September 3, 1877, the school opened with eight students, and in March 1878, this arrangement became permanent as the Sisters established “Sacred Heart High School” at 749 Washington Street.  This new building served as both convent and school and with the increased space came increased enrollment.  By 1885, enrollment had doubled from fifteen to thirty-four, mostly girls of German immigrant parents.  Students focused their studies on religion, languages, literature, music, and art.  They were  expected to practice their needlework, but were also occasionally intellectually challenged with courses in political science, arithmetic, typewriting, and stenography.  Musically-inclined girls received training in guitar, piano, and the zither.  In 1892, Sacred Heart began its strong tradition of alumnae commitment.  Not only did the Alumnae Association meet to support the school, but they studied music and literature and, led by the Mistress of Needlework, an elected alumna, sewed items to gift to local churches.  In 1893, the school was officially chartered as “Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart” by the State of New York.  The school also was honored to have an art display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  By 1897 with an average attendance of 130 students, the present building had outlived its capacity.  At a cost of $85,000 ($2.5 million in 2015 dollars), a brownstone chapel and a five-story new school was built.  Completed by October 1st, the new school consisted of 12 classrooms, assembly hall, museum, art gallery, and a library.

The second-half of the 19th century, especially the years between the end of the Civil War and turn-of-the-century, is known as Buffalo’s “Golden Age,” a period when the economy of the city was booming and the population was growing.  Darwin Martin, Edward Kleinhans, John Larkin, Elbert Hubbard, and George N. Pierce, all names Buffalonians recognize today, enjoyed the heights of business success.  The beautiful Buffalo parks system, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, was completed in 1876.  Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, lived in the city and worked as the managing editor of the Buffalo Express.  It was also an important period for the Catholic community of Western New York.  In addition to the establishment of the Buffalo community of the Sisters of St. Francis and Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, many other religious congregations began schools and hospitals in the Diocese of Buffalo.  In 1896, electricity was first conveyed from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, where it powered the streetcar system.  This era also laid the groundwork for the Buffalo we know today and gave us two Buffalo institutions: The Buffalo Zoo in 1875 and the Buffalo Bisons baseball team in 1877.


To take a closer look at any of these photographs, select Memories to the right.