341 Delaware Ave.
Hours: VIP Access: 9:00am/General Public: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Last admittance: 5:00 pm (unless an evening event is booked and set up time is required – this is to be determined)
Photography and filming allowed
Public parking available
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Public Restrooms: Yes
Offering: Guided tours; self-guided tours
Visitor Experience: Explore Babeville, a renovated church that now functions as a state-of-the-art multipurpose venue in the heart of downtown Buffalo, NY. We welcome you to Asbury Hall (the main performance space in the former church proper), The 9th Ward (Our small basement bar) and a backstage look at the dressing rooms.
Building Information: Located in the heart of Buffalo’s Theatre District, Babeville is a multi-use facility devoted to the arts – but it almost didn’t exist at all. The 19th Century Gothic Revival-style church was rescued from the wrecking ball and renovated by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco and Scot Fisher.
Boasting one of downtown’s most recognizable steeples, a magnificent exterior of Medina sandstone, and a roof of Vermont slate, it is the last known intact example of the work of architect John Henry Selkirk (1808-1878). The building also features stained glass windows designed by the Buffalo firm of Booth and Reister.
Selkirk began work on the building, originally the Delaware Avenue Methodist Church, in 1871, and construction ended three years later. It remained an active church until the 1980s; after years of neglect, it was slated for demolition in 1995, a threat that triggered widespread public opposition and led to a lengthy period of refurbishment.
Transforming the 19th century house of worship into a 21st century multi-purpose venue was fraught with complications, as you might imagine. But many times the difficulties lead to innovative solutions; take the state-of-the-art geothermal heating system, for instance, which employs wells 300 feet below the surface of the earth to heat and cool the building with minimal reliance on fossil fuels. It’s one of the first such systems of its kind in the area. The entire facility has been praised as a model of adaptive reuse.
From its inception on Selkirk’s drafting table to its reinvention at the hands of Flynn Battaglia Architects and Architectural Resources, the project has benefited from the creativity of its designers. It’s a building created by artists with artists in mind; both onstage and off, is informed by DiFranco’s experiences performing in venues around the world, while the staff of Hallwalls has tailor made their space to meet the needs of visual and media artists.
Babeville is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, but it’s not just a static reminder of Buffalo’s bygone glory. It’s an ever-evolving promise of things to come.