Value-engineering may be king, particularly in the real estate business, but there are those that still seek out quality craftsmanship. Take for instance Buffalo Plastering and Architectural Casting at 315 Hinman Avenue in north Buffalo. Their impressive work can be found in many of the area's restored architectural treasures.
Gary Bolles started the firm in 1989 after working as an apprentice under old world craftsmen. He currently boasts 30 years of experience in the trade. Bolles later partnered with European-trained sculptor Leo Lysy who oversees the ornamental and sculpting aspects of their work. For the last twenty years Gary, Leo, and others at the company have produced many incredible works for local and national projects.
The company has worked on countless local buildings over the years including Shea's Buffalo Theater, Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Dunn Building, Babeville, Historical Society, and the Allendale Theater to name a few. The most challenging commission they have had according to Bolles was their work at Shea's.
When the movie palace first opened in 1926 there was a beautiful carved pediment atop the building but it was removed in the early 1930's. Due to wind patterns and other factors, the heavy terra cotta piece became unstable and had to be removed. Buffalo Plastering replicated the original pediment in 2004 based only on one black and white photograph that was found at the Historical Society.
While Buffalo Plastering has done a lot locally, they also work around the country including New York City, California, and Florida. Their work is a mix between residential, restoration, and replication and they work on a lot of custom homes and new buildings particularly downstate. "We're not a specialty firm for any one venue, if it is casting or reproduction we can do it," says Bolles. "They know we do precision work so they don't go to anyone else."
One of the most incredible stories Bolles talks about is the molds from the International Institute on Delaware Avenue. When Leo first joined Buffalo Plastering twenty years ago, he was learning English at the Institute and spotted a pair of beautiful ornately carved marble lions which were the supports for a marble topped table. Buffalo Plastering was allowed to make a mold of the legs, but the original pieces were stolen three years later.
About fifteen years after the originals were stolen there was a fire and the building was restored. When hearing about the reopening, Buffalo Plastering cast the legs from their molds and presented them to the International Institute. The director of the Institute had completely forgotten about the molds and was so emotionally overwhelmed when the casts were presented to her.
The firm's customers include designers, builders, architects and historic restoration contractors. Their columns, cornices, mantels, domes and architectural sculptures are all made specifically at the time of order. The company won the Excellence in Design Award from Walls and Ceilings Magazine in both 2005 and 2010.
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