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Church to use state funds for green renovation

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Lafayette Presbyterian Church was built in 1896.

The exterior of an iconic Buffalo church will receive a facelift with the aid of a $200,000 state grant.

The 114-year old Lafayette Presbyterian Church still maintains a core of a few hundred members, but it used to count hundreds of families among its flock. That’s left the cavernous structure with a lot of unused space and corresponding utility bills that have been drawing on the congregation’s endowment.

The grant has been earmarked to spiff up the exterior of the church as it prepared to convert office space to private living space.

“We’re spending down our endowment to try and maintain this place. Once the apartments are in place to pay for the upkeep of the building. Then any income we have, we’re a non-profit, we’re going to keep a lean and balanced budget. We go from asking for money to all our monies become a chance to practice generosity,” said Drew Ludwig, pastor of the church.

Ludwig says the grant represents an appropriate use of tax dollars even though his is a faith-based organization.

“Regardless of any religious programming that happens here, the public has an interest in the ongoing preservation of this building. If this building isn’t kept open it’s no longer a resource for the community which is shared by people of all and no faith,” Ludwig said.

Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who lives less than a block from the church, secured the funds for the building. He says the state will pay for improvements to the building’s exterior because of its architectural and historic significance. The Lafayette Presbyterian building is listed in National Register of Historic Places.

“Government partners with faith-based organizations constantly. I thought it was appropriate to try to help them with their structural maintenance with their exterior because if [the church] falls into disrepair, it’s a scar on Elmwood,” Hoyt said.

The grant comes from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. Work on converting the space to apartments could begin before the end of the year.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.