Preservation Buffalo Niagara is recognizing outstanding preservation projects and those contributing to preservation efforts at its annual awards ceremony. Buffalo Rising will profile this year’s winners leading up to the event on May 31 at Kleinhans Music Hall.
The Twentieth Century Club at 595 Delaware Avenue, an Italian Renaissance style edifice designed by the renowned architect E.B.Green, is one of the best remaining local examples of the Neo-Classical Revival phase of the American Renaissance. Three stories high, the building was constructed in three stages between 1895 and 1924.
Remarkably, this building and its grounds are little changed inside and outside from the final date of completion. Ownership, occupancy, and usage have also remained unchanged for over a century. Additionally, some of the finest historic interiors found in Buffalo are within its walls. In 2011, the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Places listed The Twentieth Century Club (TCC) building and grounds on the NYS Register of Historic Places. Shortly thereafter, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The TCC building is located on the east side of Delaware Avenue about midway between Allen and North Streets in Allentown. Delaware Avenue, once known as Millionaires’ Row, was the premier residential street in Buffalo during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, lined with imposing mansions, private clubs and churches, many of which still remain. As such, The TCC building is part of a nationally-recognized architectural treasure trove located in an established, historic neighborhood.
E.B. Green of Green & Wicks served as the principal designer of the original plan of the 1896 TCC building facing Delaware Avenue, a plan whose architecture reflected the influence of the Neo-Classical Revival that swept the country after the 1892 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The architectural firm of Green & Wicks was perhaps the most significant ever to practice in Buffalo. By the mid-1890s, the office was the leading firm in the city and designed the First Presbyterian Church, Market Arcade, Dun Building, and Buffalo Savings Bank as well as the TCC building. The 1896 building served the TCC members until November 1905, when the directors approved plans for enlargement.
The firm of Bley & Lyman, whose principal partner, Duane Lyman, was considered the dean of Buffalo architects, designed the dignified addition to the rear of the building. In 1924, Harold LeRoy Olmsted designed the rear garden surrounding the courtyard. This landscape architect focused almost exclusively on the planning of private gardens that united a building with the landscape. Two of his best known works have been listed in the National Register: the Olmsted Campus in Sardinia, NY, and the James and Fanny How House in Buffalo. The garden at the rear of the TCC building extends to Franklin Street and represents his most well-known and probably his grandest garden design.
In architectural design, the TCC building ranks among the finest buildings located along Delaware Avenue. The principal façade faces and is set back from the street. The first story is of horizontally rusticated limestone with the façade above composed of buff brick and cream-colored terra cotta trim. The main elevation is dominated by a large second story loggia within an arcade of five arches supported by paired, blue marble Ionic columns. The second level is the principal floor of the building, the piano nobile, as this level is known in the Italian Renaissance movement. Above this level is a third story with five large triple windows behind wrought iron grills, topped by a terra cotta cornice. At the right side of the main elevation is an iron fence on a low stone wall with a rusticated stone pier at the lot line.
In contrast to the rest of the building, the rear elevation is of stucco. The center of the first story features a vaulted loggia within an arcade of seven arches supported by Corinthian columns. On the second level, Corinthian columns support a wood roof with prominent exposed rafter tails sheathed in red terra cotta tiles. South of the loggia, a curved, stone staircase gives access to the balcony and second floor of the building. At the southeast corner, small rectangular windows are set in recessed arches flanked by Tuscan pilasters.
The Twentieth Century Club has preserved the exterior of its building for over 100 years, conscientiously maintaining its original form and integrity. Equally as remarkable, the TCC Building has remained almost structurally unaltered in its overall interior since final construction.