Holy Angels’ College
Buffalo, New York
The Research Library of the Buffalo History Museum has the 1895-96 college catalog and kindly provided a photocopy. The image to the right is from that catalog. Both History of the Diocese of Buffalo by Rev. Thomas Donohue, D.D and the website for Oblate Communications have good background information on the college. The National Collegiate Athletic Association Annual Football Guide shows the 1902 schedule and results, as well as a photo of the team.
In 1851 the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate came to Buffalo to direct a parish church and college. The Fathers opened the college on September 1, 1851 with eleven seminarians, seven boarders, and ten day scholars. For lack of funds, that school closed in 1855. In 1891 the Oblates opened a juniorate, a preparatory college to train aspirants to the order. In 1894 they opened a college, which also accepted lay students. Aspirants were accepted as boarding students; lay students could only attend as day scholars.
The catalog shows that Holy Angels’ College offered both classical and commercial courses. The school’s purpose was “to educate the mind and heart of its students, so that, while fitting them for a commercial or a professional career, it may accustom them to be ever mindful of the Social and Religious duties.”
The Hoffmann Catholic Directory for 1897 lists 50 day scholars and another 33 junior or missionary students. The 1899 Annual Report of the University of the State of New York gives an enrollment of 45—all “subfreshmen” and lower grades. The 1894 faculty consisted of nine Oblate Fathers and one lay teacher. Most taught in both the classical and commercial courses.
The school day extended from 8:30 until 4:00, with four classes, two study periods and a recreation period. Vocal music and elocution were a part of both courses of study. But students were able to take instrumental music lessons and practice on a school piano for extra fees.
Students were in five forms, suggesting a European model thirteenth grade. In the fifth or highest form the classical curriculum included Latin, Greek, English, French, History, Geography, Mathematics, Natural Science, Christian Doctrine and German. Commercial courses extended only through the fourth form.
In November 1897 Holy Angels’ College was awarded a “provisional college charter without degree-conferring powers” for a period of four years. In May of 1902 The University of the State of New York exchanged the provisional charter for an academic charter under the name Holy Angels’ Collegiate Institute. In 1908 Holy Angels’ College dropped the Day School portion, accepting only students studying for the oblate priesthood. Thereafter, references to the school disappear.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1852 the Oblate Fathers purchased land on the west side of Buffalo. The land contained two derelict buildings: the “Old Poor House” and the Insane Asylum. Classes were first held in the poor house while the asylum served as a church. In 1856 the foundation was laid for a new church, which was dedicated in 1859. While the college had the same 348 Porter Avenue address as the church, the catalog shows it to be at the corner of Porter and Fargo Avenues. Holy Angels’ Academy and D’Youville College—both under the direction of the Grey Nuns—were also part of the Holy Angels’ complex. The red brick church still serves the Holy Angels’ parish.
A 2016 Google image of the buildings at the corner of Porter and Fargo Avenues. (https://www.google.com/maps/place/212+Fargo+Ave,+Buffalo,+NY)
The 1902 Holy Angels' College football team. Image from the NCAA football guide (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510014155349;view=1up;seq=454)
The catalog notes, “A spacious athletic field adjoins the College. . . affording the students ample opportunity to enjoy all out-door games.” Holy Angels’ College organized a football team in 1902, playing a five-game schedule. The team lost an opener 6-5 to Masten Park High School After that, the Angels defeated Oaklands Football Club 17-12, the Westside Athletic Association 42-0, the Holy Angels’ Alumni 30-0 and their Scrub team 24-0.
That season seems to be the sum of football experience at Holy Angels. The Spalding basketball guide shows a basketball team in 1907 with a game against St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute—a 42-20 loss.