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Ellicott Square Angel To Be Re-headed? [UPDATE]

Downtown Buffalo’s Ellicott Square Building has 4 elaborate angels guarding over its main entries at Main Street and Washington Street.  They sit beautifully in repose over the arched door tops.  One of the angels on the Washington Street side has been sans head for decades.  I assume no one knows where the head is and it may no longer exist.

Recently,  I got word through Facebook that the angel head would soon  be replaced with a new head created by a local artist. I thought this was amazing news but probably not true.  I quickly tracked down the subject artist, Alphonso Butlak IV.  He insists that, yes, it is true, he will be sculpting a new head for the angel.  Alphonso goes on to say:

I basically just walked in and asked if I could replace the head. They just had a few questions, but no one else was doing it and I offered to do it for free, so they said if they like it, it goes up. It will be made of terracotta, which is what the rest of the statue is made of. It will be an original version of the head and not a copy of the original.

Alphonso’s Facebook page has a number of quirky but very well done and interesting drawings.  But, he includes no sculpture at last look. He says he is waiting for the weather to break before he gets up on the building to take measurements and record the basic proportions of the head and body.  I reached out to Ellicott’s William Paladino, for more information.  He directed me to his father Carl, for comment but, I have not gotten a response yet.

I can’t wait to see what Alphonso comes up with.  You have to admire his Chutzpah, just going in and asking to do the project.  It will be a shame if Ellicott does not pay for the work but, either way, Alphonso will win.  A successful installation will be great publicity for him and Buffalo will get a new original work of art.


Buffalo Rising reader, Ed Sullivan, writes to us to suggest correction to this story.  It turns out that the figures above the Ellicott Square doors are, in fact. not angels.  Mr Sullivan:

This is the god Mercury, not an angel. The opposite entryway has the identical figure with his head still in place. (See Main St. vs. Washington Street entry), The other figure is the goddess Minerva.

He goes on with a bit of editorial commentary on the merits of a new unique sculptural head versus creating a replication of the original:

Given the historical and architectural significance of this building the replacement head should be an exact copy of the original. Boston Valley Terra Cotta can digitally image the intact figure and produce the exact replica to replace the missing head.

Although I think a new unique head could be very interesting Sullivan does make a good point.  I also believe that this building is in a designated historic district which means any alterations on the building facade need to be reviewed by the preservation board.  Is no head better than a new non historical head?



Some work by Alphonso:




Images by Alphonso Butlak IV

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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