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DURHAM MEMORIAL AME ZION CHURCH

It was among the first Buffalo churches built entirely by African-Americans. Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, at 174 E. Eagle St., was erected almost 80 years ago and features exquisite stained-glass windows.

The landmark church represented the devotion of its parishioners, many of whom were earning -- if they were lucky -- $30 a week. Their sacrifice is still a source of comfort for today's worshipers. The church, for instance, was where the community mourned slain Buffalo Police Officer Charles E. McDougald.

According to its pastor, the Rev. Richard G. Stewart, Durham Memorial was named after its first paster, Henry Durham, "who walked the streets of Buffalo raising money for church."

Designed by Louis Greenstein, the brick and cast-stone church is a neo-Gothic structure, with a bell tower to its side.

"For many African-Americans, the church is more than just a beautiful building; it is the center of their lives," noted Mr. Stewart. "It was in church that African-Americans were able to take control of their lives free from outside interference. The church was a haven from an oppressive world, a place where blacks could tend to their own needs, nurture a positive identity, and pursue their own dreams."

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