Polish-American Heritage on the Niagara Frontier

Folk Festival at Artpark 1978 c. NFFA/Fish

 Places To Visit
  Libraries, Museums and Schools
Of Interest
Polish Folk Art
  Important Events in Buffalo's Polish Heritage
 Distinguished Local Polish-Americans

To Learn More

  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 ancestry, and in the 1990's 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.

The Polish Community of Buffalo and the Pan-American Exposition- a web site prepared for the 100th Anniversary of the Pan-American Exposition.

The Matthew Urban Community Center ( Formerly The Polish Community Center), 1081 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14214 (716) 893-7222 is housed in "Dom Polski," or the Polish Home. The Home was organized in 1905 to assist Polish immigrants in adapting to their new country. The PCC currently houses the J.C. Mazur Gallery and offers occasional film series and literary readings, all open to the public. The 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 World War II. It also includes displays depicting the Polish Home Army.

Pulaski Monument, S. Division and Main, (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 1920's. It was originally located in front of the Buffalo Museum of Science but now stands before Kleinhan's Music Hall.

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

Churches -

The Importance of the Polish Churches in Buffalo History


Roman Catholic


St. Stanislaus RC Church, 123 Townsend St., Buffalo, NY 14212 (716) 854-5511 http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/ststansbm.html. Founded 1873 by Fr. John Pitass, it is the oldest Polish-American Catholic Church in Western New York. As the mother church of Polonia, it is where historical events are commemorated and where ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries meet. Church was decorated by Jozef Mazur. Sunday Masses in Polish language, 8 AM & 12 PM (radio mass). The "Polska Czytelnia," the oldest Polish library in the USA, was established in 1889. This collection of over 8,000 Polish books and journals is located in the parish school.

Assumption RC Church, 435 Amherst St., Buffalo, NY 14207 (716) 875-7626 http://www2.pcom.net/assumprc/index.html Founded in 1888, the Romanesque style church seats 1,600 people. 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 sgrafitto images portraying important events in the life of the Virgin Mary done by artist Joseph Slawinski.

St. Adalbert's Basilica. 212 Stanislaus St., Buffalo, NY 14212 (716) 894-8366 http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/stadalbert.html . Founded 1886 it is the home parish of artist Jozef Mazur. Polish Language Mass Sunday 9 AM.

St. John Kanty RC Church. 101 Swinburne, Buffalo, NY 14212 (716) 893-0412
http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/stjohnkanty.html . Founded 1890; Holds Dozynki (Harvest Festival) and Christmas concerts. Polish Language Mass Sunday 7:30 AM.

St. Casimir RC Church. 160 Cable St. & Casimir, Buffalo, NY 14206 (716) 824-9589 http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/stcasimir.html was founded 1890; excellent example of Byzantine architecture.

Corpus Christi RC Church. 189 Clark St., Buffalo, NY 14212 (716) 896-1050 http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/corpuscristi.html and http://ah.bfn.org/a/carl/199/hp/hp.html for a look at the archivtecture. Founded 1899; First home of the Polish Franciscan Fathers (O.F.M. Conventuals) established by Rev. Jacek Fudzinski. The parish holds a Dozynki (Harvest Festival) in August. Polish language Mass Sunday 7:30 AM & 10:30 AM.

Holy Trinity RC Church. 1421 Falls St. Niagara Falls NY 14303 (716) 284-6628. Polish language Mass 11 AM Sunday. Summer festival

Our Lady of Czestochowa RC Church. Oliver and Center St. North Tonawanda NY 14120. Polish language Mass Sunday 8 AM.

St. Francis Conventual Friary, S-4263 St. Francis Dr., Athol Springs, NY (716) 627-2710
Houses two chapels decorated with sgraffito 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.

  Polish National
  Holy Mother of the Rosary Polish National Cathedral, 6298 Broadway, Lancaster NY 14086 (716-683-7527/685-5767) http://www.pgsnys.org/Churches/holymotherpncc.html.This church replaced the original Cathedral located at Sobieski and Sycamore where it served the people for 99 years. It is a contemporary structure that evokes the wooden churches of the Goral region. It has incorporated many of the original windows, statues and other furnishings blended with new carvings and images

 Polish American Festival and Pulaski Parade
 Cheektowaga Town Park, Harlem Rd. Cheektowaga NY

  The Festival usually takes place the third weekend in August with food, traditional crafts, workshops & entertainment.
Call the Cheektowaga Town Hall for more information: 716-684-0120.

  Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14212 (716) 656-5788 (See also Places to Shop)  

Gadawski's Restaurant, 1445 Falls Street, Niagara Falls NY 14303 (716) 282-7246

Polish Villa, 2954 Union Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14227 (716) 683-9460

Polish Villa II, 1085 Harlem Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14227 (716) 822-4908

The Polish Nook, 2242 Cudaback Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY 14303 (716) 282-6712

  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.

Ruda's Polkas & Polish Gifts, 2445 William St., Cheektowaga, NY 14206 (716) 892-1401
Sells selection of Polka and other Polish-American ethnic music and Polish folk art crafts. Source for information about polka happenings in the local area.

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 (pisanki), pussy willows and crafts. Polish specialty shops at the Market include:

E & M Bakery - Polish style baked goods from Canada

Wanda & Anna's - Polish sausages and cheese, meats imported from Chicago

Tombak's Bakery - braided breads and rolls

Burzynski Imports - specializes in Polish herbs & spices, teas, canned herring, pierogi, cheese, and Polish chocolate

Malczewski Poultry - the only homemade butter lambs at the Market at Easter time, homemade pierogi.

Lamb Cakes at the Broadway Market at Easter c.NFFA/Fish


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 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 handwritten 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. 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 Buffalo. It 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, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY (716) 878-6208. 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 W.W.I & 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 Building.

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.

Msgr Peter Adamski, P.A. Polish Saturday School -- For information see http://www.pssbuf.f2s.com/

 Radio Shows:
  ++ The oldest and most popular radio show is on WHLD (1270 AM) (M, Th, Fri.) "Polonia Varieties" in Polish was a daily program up to 1995.

 ++ Several local Polka shows are: Ron Dombrowski from 5-7 daily on WHLD (1270 AM) and "Saturday Polka Party" hosted by Jeff Pieczynski on WHLD(1270 AM) Saturdays 10-12:30.

 ++ The Father Justin Rosary Hour is the oldest Polish language radio program of a religious nature in the US. Founded at Corpus Christi Parish by Father Justin Figas in 1931, it is still transmitted across the US and Canada on WHTT (104 AM) and WHLD. (http://www.rosaryhour.net/)

 ++ Polish American programming can also be found on WHTT, Saturday & Sunday, WHLD, and WWKB (1570 AM).

 ++ The Sunday Polish-American Program on WHTT by Stan Jasinski. Broadcasts the Sunday Mass in Polish at noon from St. Stanislaus RC Church followed by four hours of music and news in Polish.

 Newspapers and Periodicals
  Am-Pol Eagle, 3620 Harlem Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14215 (716) 835-9454.
Owner: Renee Harzewski. Founded ca. 1959 by Matt Pelczynski. It is a weekly paper focusing on local news, including a comprehensive calendar of events

Polish American Journal, 1275 Harlem Rd., Buffalo, NY 14206 (716) 893-5771.
Editor: Mark Kohan. Founded in Scranton, PA in 1911 the focus is on national and international news. http://www.polamjournal.com/

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

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

PUA Parade, 745 Center Rd., PO Box 288, W.Seneca, NY 14224-0288, 677-0220 or 1-800-724-2782

  Chopin Singing Society, (716) 668-4090.
Organized in 1899, the Chopin Singers have been featured on radio and television, and appear regularly with local orchestras. They have won international recognition as a premier mixed voice chorus.Founded in 1899 by Boleslaus Michalski, it was located on Kosciuszko Street on Buffalo's East Side for over 60 years. They moved their club rooms to Old Union Road in Cheektowaga NY but have since closed them. It had been the location of Jozef Mazur murals, sgraffito by Josef Slawinski (temporaily moved to Villa Maria College) and wood carvings by Henryk Jarosz. Their special programs such as Dyngus Day (a day after Easter tradition), and Christmas "Wigilia" Dinner continue in other locations.

I.J. Paderewski Singing Society, 327 Sweet Ave., Buffalo, NY 14212
Organized 1939. The Society has placed in several international competitions and has been heard on radio and television. In 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 St., Buffalo, NY 14207

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

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

St. Hyacinth's Men's Choir,
Founded 1946 in a Lackawanna parish of the same name. The Choir averages about 50 performances annually at various church and social events and have produced an album of song.

Polish Arts Club, (716) 634-5053 http://bfn.org/~pacb The Club's mailing address is 864 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209 All Club's events are open to the public which is cordially invited. Through its programs (lectures, readings, musical events, film showings, social events, etc..), the Club seeks to provide the Western New York public with the opportunity to savor Poland's rich culture and heritage and to discover the contributions of the American Polonia. Membership in the Club, which currently stands at over 300, is open to all who find Polish culture and heritage of interest. Twelve month dues are $10 for student, $20 for individual, and $35 for dual memberships.

Polish Genealogical Society, http://www.pgsnys.org/ Founded in 1988 to promote the study of Polish family history. One of ten such societies across the US. Monthly meetings held at Villa Maria College, the 2nd Thursday of each month, 7 PM. For additional information on Polish Genealogy see http://www.familytreemagazine.com/ethnic_intro.asp. This site has links to many other organizations and sites.

Kalina Singing Society, 1279 French Rd., 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.

  Travel Avenue, Ltd., Wiesia Abczynska, 2130 Clinton Street, Buffalo NY 14206 (716)822-1083


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.

Jozef Bakos (1891-1977), a painter, was one of Los Cinco Pintores who worked in Santa Fe New Mexico. Bakos studied art with John E. Thompson at the Albright Art Institute in Buffalo New York. He later followed Thompson to Colorado and taught at the University of Boulder. In 1920 during a break from teaching, Bakos visited Walter Mruk, a childhood friend and artist who was living in Santa Fe New Mexico. During his stay he exhibited some paintings together with Mruk at the Museum of Fine Arts. The next year he moved to Santa Fe permanently and formed an artists' group called "Los Cinco Pintores" (the five painters) with Mruk, Fremont Ellis, Willard Nash and Will Schuster. Los Cinco Pintores was Santa Fe's first Modernist art group and produced works that depicted specifically American subjects such as the New Mexico landscape, local adobe architecture and Native American ceremonial dances

Joseph Slawinski, scrafitto artist and sculptor who died in 1983, did murals at Assumption Roman Catholic Church, the Stella Niagara Mother House Chapel, Daemon College, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston New York. The Polish Arts Club is raising money to move and restore a 18 x 12 foot mural currently on an exterior wall of a building at Graycliff in Derby NY. They plan on moving it to Assumption Church on Amherst Street. The mural depicts St. Joseph Calasanctius, founder of the Parist Priests who owned Graycliff for a number of years. Visit
http://bfn.org/~pacb/projects/graycliff/ for details of the mural and the project. See http://bfn.org/~pacb/projects/maid/ for additional photographs of his work at his home in Niagara Falls NY

The Peace Mural at the base of the hill opposite the Stella Niagara Mother House. photograph Dennis Piatkowski

photograph supplied by Wanda Slawinska, wife of the artist

This 24.5' x 9' panel was designed and executed in 1969. It is located in the auditorium lobby of West Hertel Academy, Hertel and Military Ave. in Buffalo NY
It depicts the school's historical background in the village of Black Rock during the War of 1812 when shipbuilding, salt and ferry service to Cananda shaped the industrial envirnment of the area. The life -size figures in the foreground are those of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Shipbuilder Thomas Eckford, Perry's manservant , Hannibal and Eckford's Chief Clerk.

Louis F. Dlugosz, (1915 - 2002). The sculptor-steelworker's only formal art training was at the old Art Institute of Buffalo. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned home and launched his career. Using his "pretzel-bending" technique, Dlugosz rolled clay into strips and bent them together for a lattice-work effect, resulting in sculpture with an open rather than a solid interior His work was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Beaux-Arts School and the Louvre in Paris. In 1982, his bust of Lech Walesa - surrounded by bars because the Polish labor leader was jailed by the Communist regime - was blessed by Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. A bust of kidnapped American reporter (Batavia New York native) Terry Anderson in chains was displayed in a downtown Batavia New York Mall until his release from a Lebanese prison. The chains were smashed by Anderson during a visit to his hometown.

From his early days as the "pretzel-bending sculptor" to his visits with Pope John Paul II, Dlugosz attracted attention - and often controversy - wherever he went. His most enduring mode of protest was to dress in a toga as the Greek cynic Diogenes, carrying a silver lantern and "looking for an honest man," whether it was on the streets of Lackawanna or on the steps of Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Probably his most outrageous protest came shortly after his retirement from Bethlehem Steel Corp., when he demonstrated in 1963 outside Roswell Park Cancer Institute, chiding scientists for refusing to take seriously a theory that the color of the environment - "too bright, too bright" - caused cancer.

Dlugosz created a life-sized sculpture of Sioux leader Sitting Bull in 1994, demonstrating his new medium of gluing small pieces of wood together in an "open" style. The Lackawanna City Council approved its display in the lobby of City Hall. For more on this often controversial artist see http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~adg8/

Other famous Polish-American artists from the Buffalo area are Marion M. Rzeznik, an ecclesiastical painter of numerous WNY churches, and architect Joseph E. Fronczak.

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

2. Buffalo is the home of the national fraternal
Polish Union of America founded in 1890.

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

 4. Buffalo is 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 4 Polish mayors: Joseph Mruk, Stephen Pankow, Chester Kowal, & Stanley Makowski.

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

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

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For information about selected Polish Folk Art and books to read about Polish Traditions click here -->

This HERITAGE SHEET was originally prepared under the sponsorship of the DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE PROGRAM. Established in 1988, the DHP is a statewide program designed to locate, organize and make available the state's historical records which 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 (Heidi Bamford) 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.

Page Designed by Nancy Piatkowski

Page Maintained by Beth Cadenhead

the late Michael Drabik -- Pat Monaghan
Antoinette Mucilli ---Wanda Slawinska
photographs courtesy
The Niagara Frontier Folklore Archives
c/o Department of Anthropology
Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo NY 14222

The paper cutouts (Wycinanki) are traditional Polish folk art.


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