Online rosary

Polonia Trail highlights WNY’s significant historic sites, past and present

Featuring over 100 sites on a detailed, chronicled online website, the Polonia Trail of Western New York (https://poloniatrail.com/) gives interested readers a chance to really get to know some of the most important sites (still active or closed) across the region that have had significance to the Polish American community.

A September 21 presentation at the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo meeting by local historian/researcher Gregory Witul focused on newly established sites on the trail, to go along with highlights of his favorite places.
Recently, according to Witul, about 30 more sites have been added to the trail, spanning various regions and counties outside of the city of Buffalo and Erie County, with sites in Perry and Oakfield among the newly added highlights. implemented.
Witul served as a principal investigator on the initiative, which was founded (or, as Witul puts it, “mastered task”) by James Lawicki, President of the Polish U.S. Congress, WNY Division; and coordinated by Andy Golebiowski; with Carl Bucki editing and revising various related documents.
The Polonia Trail is funded by Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College. It is hosted by the Polish American Congress, Western New York Division, Inc. and The Polish Legacy Project Buffalo.
Among the sites described or mentioned as part of Witul’s truncated presentation were:
• St. Stanislaus Church, established in 1873, described as the “mother church” of WNY Polonia.
• Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, opened 119 years ago on Fillmore Avenue and is one of the oldest cultural organizations in the area.
• Cemetery of the Holy Mother of the Rosary, opened in 1890 and serving as the final resting place of Julian Lipinski, eminent founder of the Polish National Alliance; and Bishops Stefan Kaminski and Jan Jasinski.
• The Polish Cadets, established in 1899 in the Black Rock section of Buffalo, described as the “Rock of Polonia”.
• International rail bridge linking Buffalo and Fort Erie, Canada; designed by Polish Canadian Casimer Gzowski, spanning 1,968 feet in length.
• Dom Polski Club, Perry, serving the strong Polish community from 1921 to January 2014 before its closure.
• Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in North Tonawanda, opened 175 years ago.
• Olean Pulaski Club, created in 1948.
• Poles in Oakfield, with various churches, social clubs and prominent individuals in the community there.
• Saint-Adalbert Catholic cemetery.
• St. Luke’s of Mercy Mission on Walden Avenue in Buffalo.
• Church of the Assumption on Amherst Street in Buffalo.
• Matt Urban Center in East Buffalo.
“It’s a huge thing,” Witul said of the Trail. “I could spend literally six hours or more discussing this. PoloniaTrail.com is mobile-ready and works great on its own.”
Witul marveled at the significance of the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cemetery as the resting place of the aforementioned Polish historical individuals, as well as his own relatives who are buried there.
Witul, who is also currently working on a book called “The History of the Chopin Singing Society,” earned her undergraduate degree from the University at Buffalo before earning her MBA in International Management from Niagara University. He also researched and wrote a book describing the stained glass windows in Corpus Christi Church.
Sites featured as part of the “Polonia – Off Track” portion of the presentation included:
• Plewacki Post 799 on the east side of Buffalo, named after the first Buffalonian to perish in World War I, Adam Plewacki, who is of Polish descent.
• Niagara County Community College (NCCC); with Edward J. Pawenski, a local undertaker, having compiled a resolution to create a special committee to sound out the feasibility of a technical school serving Niagara County, with NCCC as the product of this brainstorming opening in 1962 .
• Saint Casimir Church in Elmira, with a neo-Gothic interior and three statues of important Polish saints.
• Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo, having served as the main filming site for the 1938 film “The Polish Peasant Wedding”, which was the first colored Polish picture in America, as Gena (Las) Jakubowski earned a film credit in as a soloist.
• Election for mayor of Lohr in Lackawanna with Walter J. Lohr winning election as mayor of Lackawanna in 1923 and helping to establish the American Bank of Lackawanna during his tenure. It was mentioned that Lackawanna was established as a municipality to help serve as a better functioning entity for those who had lived in the western part of West Seneca.
The September 21 meeting was the Polish Arts Club’s first regular Wednesday meeting in about three years, as the COVID-19 pandemic had greatly reduced/adjusted these sessions since 2020. Next month’s meeting topic (October 19, at 7 p.m.) is “Buffalo’s Best of Murals,” featuring Chuck LaChiusa’s presentation.