An application was approved on December 7th placing the circa-1896 'Zink Block' on the National Register of Historic Places. Most recently the home of Horsefeathers before moving to Black Rock, the Zink Block is located at 346 Connecticut Street on the West Side. The Zink Block name comes from the original owner of the building, William T. Zink who hired Charles Day Swan to design his furniture store which he would operate for thirty years. Not only did the building serve as a showroom, but also was used for repairs and storage.
Charles Swan was a Buffalo native who lived on nearby Jersey Street. Throughout his career, Swan designed many residential and commercial structures in both the Allentown neighborhood and the West-Side of Buffalo. 346 Connecticut is the most intact building by Swan that remains today.
The building exterior has Italian Renaissance detailing and other aspects including pilasters, arched windows, and bay windows. The building largely remains the way it was in 1896, its period of significance. The listing application was prepared by Tom Yots and Jason Wilson of Preservation Studios on behalf of Karl Frizlen who is planning a restoration of the building for commercial space and residential units.
The Connecticut street façade is composed of red brick, wood, stone, and metal and the storefronts have been boarded up over time. Thankfully not much was significantly altered so the fabric of the original storefront remains. As detailed in the application, "the exterior is composed of smoothly fired red face brick laid in running bond with detailing in wood, stone, and metal. Storefronts have been altered and are currently obscured, however, the original configuration is evident, and, as built, consisted of thick brick end piers with carved stone banding at either end and central iron columns finished with ionic capitals and swags. The two three-story stacked bays sit above a stone belt course and are divided by raised moldings and inset panels, each topped by a dentil molding and layered wood cornice. Between the flanking bays contain a beautifully articulated five bay ensemble runs from the second through fourth floors."
Looking to the façade on Normal Avenue, themes from the principal façade repeat. All the same elements of main façade except for the bay windows are repeated. One of the best aspects of the Normal Avenue façade is the faded lettering which adds a lot of character to the building describing one of the previous tenants.
The post and beam structural supports combined with exposed brick walls add to the character of the interior spaces. The floor plan which was once divided up for furniture sales and office space is largely now gone, resulting in large open spaces. Cast iron elements in addition to original wood supports also remain. Upper floors of the building are mostly unfinished because they appear to have been used primarily for storage.
The building is significant because it remains an intact example of late 19th Century post-and-beam construction . The period of significance is defined only by the date of construction and no other prominent event, alteration, etc.
Connecticut Street, with easy access via the streetcars, developed with a variety of commercial structures to provide for the needs of the nearby residences most built in the latter part of the 19th Century. These included an upholstering shop, wallpaper store, cabinet shop, and tin shop along with the expected drug, bakery and dairy stores. As the largest building on the Connecticut Street commercial corridor, the Zink Block was an anchor.
During the Great Depression, building permits were issued to one of Zink's family members in 1930 for use as an indoor golf course; however the building would be vacant by 1932 and remain so until 1936. Grocers 'Giant Market' occupied the building for nearly 20 years until a permit was issued to alter the building for use as a dry goods and notions store. Calabrese Brothers Paper Products used the building for retail sales and light manufacturing until it became a variety store on the first floor with auction use on the second floor, the remainder serving as warehouse space. This use lasted for over ten years, followed by a period of vacancy and then was occupied by Horsefeathers for 20 years for the sales and warehousing of architectural artifacts. Horsefeathers is now located on Chandler Street.
The application concludes:
Today the West Side neighborhood is experience a renaissance with the rehabilitation of multiple properties and the reuse of many of its commercial buildings along Connecticut Street. The Zink Block towers over the surrounding buildings and stands as a neighborhood anchor at the corner Connecticut Street and Normal Avenue. The building is remarkably intact from its period of construction and its survival reflects the historic development of the neighborhood.
Source: National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. Tom Yots and Jason Wilson.
Ad above and entry image, circa-1900