Say "Parkside Lutheran" and people around Western New York are filled with images and memories - both secular and religious. For those who know her well, Parkside means faith and fellowship. To others she means architecture, "one of the three most beautiful churches in Buffalo." To many, "Parkside" recalls music. Still others associate Parkside with the education of their children. However, of the many people who have strong connections to the church, few may actually be aware of the long illustrious history of the building, her pastors, her mission, and the generations of people who - in the words of E.B. White - have walked through the red doors into "this unique, this holy spot." (Excerpt from "The church on the triangle": A History Of Parkside Lutheran Church)
The first stirrings of what was to become Parkside Evangelical Lutheran Church were both religious and demographical- part accident, part coincidence, part design. In July 1911, St. John's German Lutheran Church, Hickory Street in Buffalo, New York began to consider the need for a German mission church in the area of the city known as Central Park. In the first decade of the 20th century, Central Park was considered "suburban"- a new neighborhood with newly paved streets, new homes that "beckond to those who wanted something a little better for this families," and so much wide open space that a line in the church's 25th Anniversary Pagent reads. "A church way out here at the edge of town... I'll bet there ain't twenty houses between here and Kenmore."
When it became known to members of St. John's that the Parkside Unitarian Church at the corner of Amherst and Fairfield Streets in the "extreme north end of Buffalo" was for rent at $22.50 per month with an option for a second year's renewal, the committee- intending to place the Rev. Paul Kirsch in charge- pronounced it ideal as a mission church. "Amherst St. on which it is located, divides two of Buffalo's newest and most popular residence sections, namels Central Park and Parkside Districts." For reasons that are not clear, however, when the matter came before St. John's Church Council for final action in January 1912, it was decided that the expansion was not advisable and the matter was dropped.
Not long afterwards, several laymen of the English Lutheran Churchs, recognizing the opportunity before them, took immediate steps to form a committee to explore the potential for a new English Lutheran mission: Federick Henrich of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; the Rev. L.j. Sibole, Pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, and the Rev. John Keehly, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection. Buoyed by the availability of a building in this "splendid field for extension" and by the prospect of a new English mission in a city where most Lutherans were still worshiping in German, the men expanded the committee.
News of a proposed church first appeared publicly during Easter week 1912. The Organizing committee arranged for announcements to be made in English Lutheran Pulpits around the city, and the City Mission Society printed notices in the daily papers and distributed flyers. Two thousand posters proclaiming WELCOME were distributed throughout the North and Northeaster portions of Buffalo in poster and handbill campaign.
On March 10, 1912, one hundred and twenty interested people appeared at 3:00 Sunday afternoon in the church building at Fairfield and Amherst Streets- what is today the Fairfield Branch of the Buffalo Library. The first two people to arrive at the church were Charles Martzloff and Federick Henrich, who were to open the churhc and welcome the worshipers. Neither one, however had the key. When they found an open basement window, Martzloff was lowered into the basement and was able to open the church from the inside. Then, however, the men discovered there was no Bible in the building. Louis P. Reimann, who had by now arrived- and who lived near by- returned home and quickly reappeared with a large Family Bible. These initial frustrations paled in the face of the enthusiasm with which the church founders were met.
Excerpt taken from "The Lutheran Church on the Triangle": A History of Parkside Lutheran Church. Written by Deborah Kelly Kloepfer