BUFFALO, N.Y. — One of the oldest settlement houses in the country is looking to find out more about its history.

The Westminster Community House can be found on Monroe Street in Buffalo.

What You Need To Know

  • The Westminster Community House is located on Monroe Street in Buffalo

  • It has served people in the area since the 1800s

  • The building has been a settlement house, a location for community programming and much more

  • People are being asked to share their family connection to the historic site

“There’s so much history behind these walls,” said Chandra Redfern, the CEO of the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, which now operates in the building.

Since the 1800s, the Westminster Community House has served people in the area, from a settlement house for European immigrants, to providing resources to African-Americans moving from the South, and community programming today as the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers.

“Certainly a lot of things that have happened over the past two and a half years have shown that the struggle is still very real and present,” said Redfern.

But it’s that past they’re looking to find.

About 15 people have told BFNC about connections they or their families have, some of which the center never even knew existed. 

“I met a woman last weekend who said, 'oh, I used to take ballet classes in this building.' So that was pretty cool,” Redfern recalled.

While it still has a lot of its old charm, with a lot of the original woodwork maintained, the location has been renovated. Roger Brandt worked on that and got to know some of his own history in the process.

“[My father] said your great grandfather, your great-great grandfather, your grandfather, we all went there. I went there as a child. And the story goes that your great grandfather, when he came over from Germany, he used to go to the Westminster Settlement House and that's where they would connect with other Germans,” said Brandt.

He found a piece of history that he never knew about.

“That was very intriguing to me to be able to walk through here and recognize that this is where they started their life in America,” Brandt remarked.

Stories like this will hopefully be displayed on the walls and in video displays if more people come forward.

“It's important that people are able to connect the stories with the building because it just shows that we're all human,” said Redfern.

The hope is that in sharing the past, more will be able to learn about their roots.

“Now I've got this connection with my great grandfather, walking the same hallways that we helped to furnish and refurnish," said Brandt. "If you hear history, pursue it, and you'll never know what you'll find."

If you or someone you know has a story to share, you can contact BFNC at pr@bfnc.org or at (716) 852-5065.