The former Church of the Ascension is a contributing resource to the Allentown Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The Allentown neighborhood encompasses a primarily residential area of the city. The neighborhood was constructed primarily in the 19th century, with residential buildings in the Gothic Italianate and Queen Anne styles, and commercial corridors along Delaware and Elmwood Avenues containing late 19th and early 20th century low-rise commercial buildings. The Church of the Ascension, built c.1872 in the Dutch Colonial Revival, represents both the architectural diversity of the district, but also the history of the Episcopal Church.
During the 1850s, as Buffalo expanded northward to the Allentown neighborhood, the Episcopal Church identified a need for a new congregation in the area on North Street. Former members of both St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Episcopal Church requested that the Diocese open a new church. The Church of the Ascension was organized as a Protestant Episcopal church in 1855 in a small wood frame chapel in Walden Hill (no longer extant). In 1867 the wood frame building was enlarged to accommodate for Allentown’s growing population. By 1870 the Church had outgrown the building and began planning for a new sanctuary.
The Church completed construction on their new $72,000 building on North Street in 1872, and held their first service one year later in 1873. The Hopkins & Co. map of 1872 confirms that a T-shaped structure with entrance along North Street and a detached rectory located at the rear of the site was on the site.
The Journal of the Forty Eighth Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western New York, published in 1885, provides statistical information that documents a congregation of 150 families with the property containing a church and rectory, likely the structures shown in the 1872 map. Review of historic maps suggests that around 1885 the apse was added to the north, with the current altar. The Century Atlas map of 1915 shows the existing apse in place along with the existing church office extending to the northeast.
The Church of the Ascension continued to serve the Allentown neighborhood throughout the 20th century. During the early decades of the 20th century, the Church of the Ascension was one of twenty Protestant Episcopal Churches in the City of Buffalo, and one of the largest in terms of congregation size.
While the church prospered during most of the 20th century, like many churches, the last quarter of the 20th century witnessed a sharp decline in membership. In 1975 the parish had 338 active members, but that number dwindled to just 29 in 2013. The decision was made to close the church and the buildings were vacated in January 2015. Until that time, the property was in continuous use as a church.