The Concordia Foundation, a 501C3 charitable organization, was founded in 2012 to allow access to funds for the preservation and restoration of Historic Concordia Cemetery, one of Buffalo oldest cemeteries.
Historic Concordia Cemetery has been part of Western New York’s history for over 153 years and in 2008 both New York State and the United States government recognized its historical significance by adding it to the New York State Register of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, in 2011, the volunteers of Concordia were recognized for their hard work by winning the prestigious Neighborhood Conservation Award from Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
Concordia was cited as a significant historic property because of its representation of Buffalo’s early German immigrant population and its collection of grave monuments of the period. The land, which was originally part of lot 51 on the Holland Land Survey, was sold in 1859 to three German Lutheran churches to be shared as their burial ground: St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church founded in 1835, St. Stephen’s Evangelical Church organized in 1853, and First Trinity Lutheran Church founded in 1839. The term ”concordia” means harmony, and is a reference to the coming-together of the 3 church congregations to share this property. This in itself is very unique.
Encompassing 15 acres, the cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of early residents of Buffalo, including over 450 war veterans of which 132 are Civil War soldiers including members of the famous Weidrich’s Battalion First Light Infantry which is memorialized by a monument at Gettysburg. Currently there are over 17,000 people of all ethnic backgrounds and religions buried here.
Originally the cemetery was founded to contain the remains of the German immigrants who came to Western New York in the first half of the 19th century and helped build Buffalo into the second-largest city in New York State and the eighth largest city in America by the turn of the century. It was Buffalo’s reputation as a progressive city that led to its being selected to host the Pan American Exposition in 1901.
Concordia contains many lovely and unique memorials including a cast zinc memorial, a metal cross, many red Medina sandstone (a material indigenous to Western New York) monuments, and many tombstones containing epitaphs, poetry and biblical passages in German or displaying biographical information such as the interred’s place of birth in Germany. The carvings on the tombstones reflect the Victorian perception of death as a peaceful sleep instead of earlier views of death as something fearful (as seen by the use of skull and crossbones which were common in the 18th century). Our monuments feature carvings of flowers such as passion flowers and lilies, cherubs, angels, ivy, willow trees, religious symbols, and lambs. In addition to tablet shaped headstones there are many obelisks common to Victorian era cemeteries.
Concordia contains many monuments made of Medina sandstone which came from quarries in nearby Medina, New York and was discovered during the digging of Erie Canal. Because the sandstone was located so near the surface it was easy to mine. Its beautiful red color made it a much sought-after architectural material and it was shipped all over the country. Medina sandstone can be found in the steps of the State Capital in Albany, in the streets of Rochester, Chicago, St. Louis and even as far as Havana Cuba; the sandstone was also used in the construction of Buckingham Palace and Toronto City Hall.
Once a showplace and the pride of the community, Concordia boasted many large urns overflowing with flowers located in large rotundas and a large wrought-iron Lichgate sign which greeted visitors. These urns are gone now, the cemetery having been decimated by vandals after a former treasurer embezzled $154,000 in 2001 and the board then resigned.
The cemetery was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair until volunteers came forth recognizing the historical importance of the property and committed to preserve and renovate it. A new board took over in September 2003 and began the task of finding records, and organizing volunteers to repair and renovate the grounds and tombstones which had tipped over or sunk beneath the surface of the soil. Gardens have been planted, the wrought-iron fencing has been repaired, and the new reproduction of the original lichgate nameplate was installed in 2006. Records have been located and transcribed into a database.
Staffed only by volunteers, Concordia depends upon donations to keep its gates open. Through We-Care.com, you can support The Concordia Foundation anytime you shop, search, or book travel online.
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