Yesterday’s historic image is of the Bosche Building located at 918 Main Street near Allen. Greenleaf & Co. is seeking to redevelop the City-owned building into a mix of residential and commercial space. The four-story building would be combined with Greenleaf’s three story building at 916 Main Street to create approximately 17 apartments and first floor commercial space.
A hole in the Bosche Building’s roof has steadily grown in recent years and many feared the building would collapse due to neglect or fall under an emergency demolition. The Allentown Association and neighbors have lobbied to preserve the building’s façade for later use. That effort was assisted last fall when the City received grant funding through the Restore New York program to stabilize and restore the building’s façade. Greenleaf was recently granted designated developer status for the building. The developer is working with Carmina Wood Morris on the reuse plan.
From the Allentown Association’s research on the building:
The Bosche Building is on a block across the street from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the historic streetscape is currently intact. It is one of the last remaining intact nineteenth century blocks of three-to-four story row-type buildings that once characterized much of downtown Buffalo. In other words, it’s one of the last blocks where one can get a sense of what downtown Buffalo looked like in the mid-to-late 19th century.
If the building is lost, it will not only be an irreparable loss to the Allentown community, it will create a gaping hole in the fabric of the street that threatens the viability of the very strong and successful residential block of North Pearl Street between Virginia and Allen Streets. The loss of the building would unintentionally create a virtual alley that cuts through the middle of the block and erodes the feeling of insulation and safety from the Main Street commercial corridor that lies behind North Pearl Street.
Building Type: Four story masonry and stone load-bearing commercial structure
Style: Vernacular commercial structure with Richardson Romanesque style details
Architect: Cyrus K. Porter & Son
Mason: Smith Brothers
Carpenter: Hager & Feist (E. M. Hager)
Completed: April 2, 1891
Original Cost: $18,000
Bldg. Size: 48 X 122
Square Feet: 23,000
Original Owners: Robert C. & Charles C. Bosche (Brothers)
Original Use: First floor – Offices and carriage repository
Second floor – Carriages and harness displays
Basement & third floor – storage
Fourth floor – repair shops
Historic Facts: Business can be traced back to 1837 when founder John Bosche was an apprentice to Watkins Williams a carriage builder on Main Street. Bosche started his own firm and after his death in 1883, the firm was carried on by sons Charles C. (April 2, 1856 – August 4, 1931) and Robert C. The carriage manufactory was located at 168-170 Ellicott Street and 918-920 Main Street was constructed as the firm’s offices and showplace.
The firm struggled after the turn of the twentieth century and the rise of the automobile. For a time, the firm constructed automobile bodies for the Thomas Motor Company. The 1907 Buffalo-built Thomas Flyer won the first and only “Great Race” of 1908, an around-the-world automobile race originating in Paris France. The Thomas Motor Car Company closed in 1912 and Bosche closed in 1914.