Citing a need for a larger community and resource center, the Seneca Nation of Indians has acquired a vacant Riverside church with the intent of renovating the complex into an enlarged center for its members.

The Seneca Nation, according to May 21 filings in the Erie County Clerk's office, paid $625,000 for the former Nazareth Lutheran Church at 265 Skillen St. in Buffalo’s Riverside neighborhood.

The 17,379-square-foot church, built in 1949, had been owned by the Eighth District Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Lutheran Church put the property on the market last summer with a $685,000 asking price.

Seneca Nation officials said the Skillen Street church - now to be called Buffalo Creek Community Center - replaces an aging center at 533 Amherst St.

The center serves more than 750 enrolled Seneca Nation members who live in Buffalo and provides a number of social and educational services.

Funding for the new center and its renovations came from $1.59 million allocation made to the Seneca Nation last year by the federal HUD Indian Community Block Grant program.

Seneca officials hope the new Buffalo Creek Community Center complex will be ready by late fall.

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