Buffalo was once known as The Emerald City due to its majestic, lush, tree-laden Olmsted parks that were interconnected by elaborate tree-lined parkways. Over the years, as the parks and the parkways were squandered, many of the Olmsted parks fell prey to City disinvestment and urban renewal folly. In its wake, many of the parks buildings were decimated, along with bits and pieces of the parks and parkways. The buildings that remained were treated poorly and left in rough shape.
In years to come, as the Olmsted Parks Conservancy pushes forward with its Master Plan to restore the park system, we will see incremental moves to repair forlorn buildings, and we might even see a day when some of the original lost Calvert Vaux beauties are rebuilt.
In the meantime, we are seeing positive signs that the existing building stock is finally being given the respect that it deserves. One such building is the Parkside Lodge, located at 84 Parkside Avenue. Years ago, during Buffalo’s “dark time”, the lodge was “sacked” and much of the architectural detail was removed, including the original French doors. Recently the doors were rebuilt and incorporated back into the design of the building. “The doors recreate the original relationship between the beautiful pastoral park setting and the interior of the building, adding light and vistas into what was a very dark and even gloomy setting,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, the Conservancy’s President and CEO. “It now “feels” like a high Arts and Crafts park building.”
“Over time a number of changes have been made to Parkside Lodge, including the loss of the pergola facing the golf course and the replacement of all the original French doors,” added Anthony O. James, R.A., the Conservancy’s Park Architect. “Some of the doors had been replaced with windows, of several different types, and others had been replaced with solid steel doors. During the building restoration in 2001, which brought back the pergola, it had been planned to restore the nine original French doors as well, however there was not enough money to carry out the project. Fortunately the Conservancy was able to procure an EPF grant, and the doors were restored at the end of last year, based on the photographs we have from the original period of construction. Replacing the doors in 2013 was very appropriate, as construction was originally begun on the building in 1913, and completed in 1914. Thus we are now in the Centennial year of the building’s construction and celebrate that fact with the restoration of the French doors.”