History

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    1980s

    The King Urban Life Center building began as St. Mary of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church at the turn of the century. It served as a spiritual haven to the community for over 100 years, but in the 1980s, the neighborhood had seen a steady pattern of decay and destruction and plans for demolition started to be developed.

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    1986

    • A group of community leaders and neighbors recognized that the demolition of the church would be the final blow to an already neglected neighborhood and sought out the Buffalo Landmark and Preservation Board to intervene.
    • The Preservation Board designated St. Mary of Sorrows as a Buffalo landmark, preventing the demolition.
    • The Preservation Board appointed an eight member "blue-ribbon" committee, consisting of elected officials, attorneys, businessmen, a developer and an architect, to study the building, restore it and to develop new uses for the structure that would best serve the neighborhood.
    • This committee developed into the first Board of Directors of the King Urban Life Center. The board consensus was that the building should be used to focus on education in order to combat the poverty of the neighborhood.
    • Negotiations began with the Diocese of Buffalo to donate the building to the city of Buffalo, which would then create a grandfather lease for the new non-profit, King Urban Life Center.
    • The King Urban Life Center opened its doors.
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    1994

    The King Urban Life Center funded a pilot project for intervention in four classrooms at Buffalo Public School (BPS) 90 to see what it would take to provide holistic care for the students and what the educational impact of that holistic care would be on the students and their families. This was collaboration between Houghton, Buffalo State and University at Buffalo.

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    1998

    • With the aid of private, Federal, State and City dollars, the King Urban Life Center completed reconstruction and reuse of the church building as a school. The King Urban Life Center leased the space to the BPS system as an annex to BPS 90 and the pilot program came to the King Urban Life Center.
    • In December, Charter School legislation passed in New York State. The King Urban Life Center felt a charter school would allow them to better serve the educational and holistic needs of its children.
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    2000

    • The King Center Charter School opened as the first charter school in Western New York.
    • The King Urban Life Center provides state-of-the-art facilities in collaboration with community partners to support educational, social and cultural programs for an underserved population.
    • The King Urban Life Center is committed to its role as custodian of this historic building and its continued preservation, renovation, restoration, and sharing with the local, national, and international communities
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    Today

    • Today, the King Urban Life Center has grown into a community center with local and nationally recognized educational programs. It serves over 250 children and families each year in an award-winning building that is a model of reuse and revitalization.
    • It is recognized as a Buffalo historic landmark.