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Mr. Architecture: Chuck LaChiusa

After teaching English at City Honors High school for 26 years, Chuck LaChiusa is enjoying a second career as a tour guide and speaker, an outgrowth of his 11-year-old hobby involving the study of Architecture.
Around 1995, LaChiusa and his wife Nancy attended a meeting of the Erie County Preservation Coalition, and he raised his hand when they called for a photographer to begin documenting the architecture in and around Erie County. “I was hooked immediately,” LaChiusa said. Starting with photos of a few buildings, his collection grew and grew.
“I started with photos, but then I got involved with vocabulary and history,” LaChiusa said. Starting with a rudimentary knowledge of computers that was cultivated as a result of a grant to City Honors from poet Robert Creely, LaChiusa maintained a site for his students to publish poetry. “I learned the mechanics of it there,” he said. His burgeoning architectural website is a far cry from those meager beginnings.
LaChiusa said he and his wife take vacations with architecture in mind. “We try to visit buildings in and out of the United States in order to connect world-wide architecture with Buffalo. The more I see, the more I think that the whole world’s architecture was a prelude to Buffalo.” Links to most of these out-of-Buffalo buildings can be found on LaChiusa’s website.
“I also have an affection for well-designed furniture. A lot of the terminology used to describe elements and details of architecture is the same for furniture,” LaChiusa says in reference to his site’s furniture link. “I’m continually photographing more, giving more tours and lectures.”
As an aside, LaChiusa shares a story, a thought he’s had, “I grew up in a house on Linwood and Lafayette, that was demolished when the hospital was built there. My next-door neighbor was Austin Fox, who was one of the earliest preservationists. He also taught English at Nichols, and it didn’t click until I spoke about his work at Nichols’ 50th anniversary.” LaChiusa may not have known his neighbor, but what they share is unmistakable.
Already the photographer of the book, Oakland Place, Gracious Living in Buffalo, LaChiusa is looking to publish a field guide of his architectural vocabulary. You can see all of LaChiusa’s work at www.ah.bfn.org.

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  • 601

    Chuck is the finest teacher I’ve ever had, at any level.
    Any opportunity you have to encounter his work, I’d advise you to take.

  • I’ve used Mr. LaChiusa’s website for the past 10 years, watching “grey” buildings turn “blue” as he linked narrative and photos. Astonishing in its depth and breadth, this website stands as a testament to the power of an individual to make a timeless contribution to Buffalo’s future by preserving its past. This seems like a good opportunity to say thank-you!

  • 683

    Hey chuck can the preservation website have a real estate section or all of Buffalos most abandoned and unmaintained buildings..
    How about some pictures of buildings that just arent being maintained…everytime Idrive through Buffalo the one thing that shocks me is that even in decent neighborhoods people just dont clean gutters, plant bushes or paint their homes.

  • Celia, I couldn’t agree more- Chuck was a great English teacher.
    I think his website is enormously important as a historical chronicle. It’s also really useful on a practical level. For example, I found my wedding venue (the International Institute) by searching his list for rental options.

  • I attended Chuck’s lecture at the AKAG last summer during Buffalo Old Home Week. He was a very good lecturer and even did a ‘name that building’ segment, in which I answered a few correctly. I remember stumbling upon his website many years ago when I was researching something else, and frequently stop by the website to see whats new. I enjoy how he adds other information from the to the website, not about architecture. One example is a house on Depew, he adds that it was built for the Barcalo family, who invented the Barcalounger. Very informative tidbits like the are fun points of conversation sometimes.

  • 330

    Kudos to Chuck, he made a lasting impression on his students and continues to preserve impressions of Buffalo through his website. I’ve bookmarked it and use it often for my research, like the story I did on the history of Our Lady of Lourdes.

  • 876

    Hey Chuck!….A big Thanks for all you do.
    Chuck passion for Buffalo architecture and history is infectious. His does this as a service to the community.
    His website not only gives you the history of the building but also documents the fine details of each unique site.
    He saves us that are interested in architecture the tedious task of researching the buildings.
    Hint: sign up on his website and he will email you when the site is updated with new info… that is a real treat!

  • Three cheers for Chuck LaChiusa and his unquenchable love affair with Buffalo architecture. He’s a true gentleman and a Buffalo original. Thanks for all the splendid work.

  • 347

    I do love the website but it could really use a little “cleaning” I think it has a ton of useful information It really needs some sources of data as well as a better look. It could easily become the premier place to get historical information on buffalo (if it isn’t already) it just needs a little polish and elbow grease. Perhaps there is someone who likes to spend their evenings coding HTML that wouldn’t mind a hobby for a while
    If I wasn’t 3 months behind on my thesis, I would do it myself. Who knows maybe if and when I finish it I will try to make contact.

  • Just a question…I tried to get onto Chuck LaChiusa’s website today to look at something and the site isn’t working…it’s one of my favorite sites (stuck in Syracuse as I am, the website feeds my Buffalo nostalgia…lol) and I was just wondering if anyone knows what’s going on…He’s not closing the site, is he???