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Sardinia site makes history

An 1829 Baptist church that became a community center and then a town hall, while keeping its old horse shed intact, has landed on the state and national registers of historic places -- a designation that came through last month and now may help attract restoration grants.

The old building on Savage Road has a Greek revival front and a long side addition that has turned out to be a former horse shed. It may be the second oldest church in the county, said Leo McCarthy, the Sardinia town historian.

"It's kind of tucked away in Sardinia," he said of his town, nearly an hour's drive from Buffalo. "It just has a very grand and big Greek temple look to it, and it hasn't changed that much at all."

The oldest church is thought to be the 1821 Quaker meeting house in Orchard Park, McCarthy said.

Sardinia's 19th century church is unusual for its horse shed, an addition McCarthy didn't understand the origins of until he did research to win the historic designation. Now the shed has a history museum on the second floor in what once was the hayloft. The main building, with two elegant spindled balconies, is used little -- on Tuesday nights by clogger folk dancers -- and is not handicapped-accessible.

The new historic status should help the town win grants to help with restoration, McCarthy said.

"The plan now is to restore it to a usable community center again," he said. A few weeks ago, people started the work by removing the drop ceiling to reveal the high, airy ceiling that had long been obscured.

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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