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History Uncovered: Chandler Street Industrial Buildings

Rocco Termini purchased 27 and 37 Chandler Street in December with plans to renovate the buildings into incubator space. They are two of three buildings proposed for designation as the Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District (the third being 41-63 Chandler). Preservation Studios started preparing the documentation for such a district and passed their information along.

Termini’s 27 Chandler is three-stories and 20,500 sq.ft. of space while neighboring 37 Chandler is 12,350 sq.ft. spread across two stories. The parcels extend to Grote Street. Like Termini’s reuse project at nearby 155 Chandler, BMS Design is the design lead and Schenne & Associates is project architect for 27-37 Chandler.

From the National Register of Historic Places registration form prepared by Preservation Studios:

The Jewett Refrigerator Company Factory

The Jewett Refrigerator Company Factory is located at 27 Chandler Street in the City of Buffalo in Erie County, New York. Located roughly five miles from downtown in the area of North Buffalo, the building is just east of Military Road and immediately across the street from the former New York Central Rail Road’s Belt Line. At one time, Chandler Street was a small, local industrial corridor and a number of other early-twentieth century industrial buildings remain on both sides of the street along with several empty lots where similar buildings once stood. The factory itself sits near the center of the block on the south side of the street and occupies a long, narrow lot that spans the full depth of the block between Chandler Street and Grote Street to the south.

The Jewett Refrigerator Company Factory is an elegant and symmetrical three-story, red brick building three bays in width and approximately twelve bays deep. Brick pilasters with stone bases and caps define each bay on the primary north-facing facade. At every floor, each bay contains a group of three windows with a concrete sill and a deep, continuous steel lintel. None of the original windows remain and those on the ground floor have been filled with metal panels. The main entry is located at grade in the westernmost bay and has a deep transom over the doorway. The building is capped on this façade by a simple belt course and a parapet with a denticulated brick cornice and an original clay tile coping.

The side elevations contain large regular window openings with stone sills and steel lintels. Most of these openings have been filled in and few original windows remain. The rear elevation is blank except for a ramped truck loading dock and garage door centered at the first floor and a single large replacement window centered at the second floor. Between 1940 and 1943, some single story frame storage additions were added along the rear by the Davenport Company, however these have since been demolished. Overall the exterior of the building is in good condition.

Interior

On the interior, the building has a largely open floor plate. An entry, office, and showroom are present at the northern end of the first floor and retain a number of original features including penny-tile flooring, original doors, trim, and window casings, and some beadboard ceilings. The southern portion is less highly-finished and has exposed brick walls, a plywood floor, and exposed wood structure at the ceiling supported by a heavy timber frame. An original, though modest, wood stair located in the northwest corner accesses the remainder of the building. The upper levels each have an open floor plate with a plywood floor and heavy timber framing throughout. Some non-historic partitions and portions of dropped ceilings are present on both the second and third floor.

The Jewett Refrigerator Company Factory still articulates a majority of its original design, materials, and craftsmanship. In addition, the location and setting adjacent to the New York Central Rail Road still greatly embody the feeling of a factory at the start of the twentieth century, as well as its association with the industrial legacy of the Grant-Amherst neighborhood.

The Double Truss Cornice Brake Company Factory

The Double Truss Cornice Brake Company Factory located at 37 Chandler Street in the City of Buffalo in Erie County, New York. Located roughly five miles from downtown in the area of North Buffalo, the building is just east of Military Road and immediately across the street from the former New York Central Rail Road’s Belt Line. At one time, Chandler Street was a small, local industrial corridor and a number of other early-twentieth century industrial buildings remain on both sides of the street along with several empty lots where similar buildings once stood. The factory itself sits near the center of the block on the south side of the street and occupies a long, narrow lot that spans the full depth of the block between Chandler Street and Grote Street to the south.

The Double Truss Cornice Brake Company factory is an L-shaped, two-story, red-brick building with a flat roof. The front portion is nine bays wide and four bays deep while the remaining eight bays to the south are only seven bays in width. The primary façade is simple and symmetrical and has a single window opening in each bay at the first and second floors. Each of the openings has a segmentally-arched brick lintel and a rough-hewn stone sill. None of the original windows remain and each of the openings is filled in with a plywood panel or a combination of plywood and glass block. The ground floor bay just east of center originally held the entry door but has been converted into a window opening matching the others. The primary façade is capped by a parapet and a simple corbelled cornice with a clay-tile coping. At some point in the late-twentieth century, the primary façade was clad with a modern red face brick differing from the brick of the rest of the building.

The side elevations have regular window openings matching those of the primary elevation. At the rear of the building, an original frame loading bay is present at the ground floor and has been enclosed with plywood. At the second floor are four single window openings with replacement windows. Overall, the exterior of the building is in good condition.

The interior of the factory building consists of an open floor plate with few remaining original features. The first floor has exposed post-and-beam construction with a concrete floor and an exposed wood ceiling. The second floor has a plywood floor with a painted exposed wood ceiling above. Non-historic gypsum partitions are present at both floors with non-historic wood stairs present in both the northwest and southeast corners of the building.

The Double Truss Cornice Brake Company Factory still articulates a majority of its original design, materials, and craftsmanship. In addition, the location and setting adjacent to the New York Central Rail Road still greatly embody the feeling of a factory at the start of the twentieth century, as well as its association with the industrial legacy of the Grant-Amherst neighborhood.

Statement of Significance

The Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District in Buffalo, New York, is a locally significant collection of three light industrial buildings that were built at 27 Chandler Street, 37 Chandler Street, and 41-63 Chandler Street between 1902 and 1903 and represent the industrial activity that characterized Chandler Street between the 1890s and 1980s. The historic district is located in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood, which developed following the completion of the New York Central Railroad Belt Line (hereafter abbreviated to the Belt Line), a nineteen-mile railroad line that was completed in 1883 and looped the City of Buffalo. The Belt Line opened new portions of Buffalo to industry, particularly in the city’s thinly settled northern quadrant.

The Grant-Amherst neighborhood, bordered to the north and west by the Belt Line’s tracks, was one of the major beneficiaries of this industrial growth and industrial nodes developed at several points along the railroad. These industrial nodes encouraged immigrants, primarily from Eastern Europe, to settle in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood and work in the factories. Largely due to its location near the Belt Line, Chandler Street became one of the Grant-Amherst neighborhood’s most significant industrial streets. Multi-building factory compounds like the Acme Steel and Malleable Iron Works Foundry (1895, nonextant), the Buffalo Weaving and Belting Company Factory (1891, nonextant), and the Linde Air Products Factory (1907, NR 2017) employed thousands of workers, many of whom came from the Grant-Amherst neighborhood. These large industrial buildings, specializing in heavy industry, were the most common type of industrial building in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood, however examples of smaller self-contained factories that produced specific consumer goods are present in the neighborhood.

The buildings in the Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District are representative of this self-contained light industry and consumer goods ranging from refrigerators, sheet metal brakes, hand tools, and mattresses were built inside the factories. The buildings were built over a two-year period when the industrial character of Chandler Street was developing and factories were being erected at multiple points along street. Like many of the factories on Chandler Street, the three buildings used the Belt Line to bring in raw materials, ship goods, and transport workers to and from the factory grounds.

The Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District is locally significant in Criterion A in the area of Industry. Erected in 1902 and 1903, the district’s factories were primary manufacturing facilities for five different industrial firms and contained executive office spaces for company leadership. The Jewett Refrigerator Company, the Double Truss Cornice Brake Company, and the Keystone Manufacturing Company erected the factories, seeking to take advantage of the Belt Line, power generated at Niagara Falls, and the large plots of land then available on Chandler Street. Of the three companies, the Jewett Refrigerator Company was the most established. The firm had been founded in 1849 and operated a seven-story factory at 249 Elm Street. This factory lacked the rail connections available at Chandler Street and was sold in 1912. Both the Double Truss Cornice Brake Company, and Keystone Manufacturing Company, which manufactured sheet metal brakes and hand tools respectively, had previously leased workshop space in other parts of Buffalo, but the construction their factories on Chandler Street marked a major expansion of operations for both companies. All three companies followed trends present in many of the factory buildings on Chandler Street and built office space in the manufacturing facilities to accommodate white-collar workers.

In addition to the aforementioned companies, two other significant industrial firms utilized the factories. The Buffalo Davenport Company, a mattress manufacturing firm occupied the factory at 27 Chandler Street after 1929, and the Acme Steel and Malleable Metal Company occupied the factory at 37 Chandler Street after circa 1930 and the firm used the factory as office and storage space for its large foundry across the street.

The Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District is also locally significant in Criterion C in the area of Architecture as a good representative collection of early twentieth century factory buildings. Additionally, the district is representative of the type of light industrial buildings that were erected on the south side of Chandler Street and in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These factories lacked direct access to the Belt Line and were generally contained in one-to-two buildings, as opposed to the multi-acre complexes that developed on the north side of Chandler Street and elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The factories have a number of architectural similarities including load bearing masonry walls and numerous window openings to allow for natural light infiltration, all common features of early twentieth century factories.  Inside the factories, heavy timber or steel framing was used to support the walls and floors. This framing method was common in the early twentieth century; heavy timber or steel beams were set at regular intervals, maximizing the available space for machinery and circulating workers. Additionally, the factories incorporated simple stylistic details such as detailed brickwork on the primary facades and arched window openings. The simple stylistic elements present in each factory reflect the presence of white-collar workers and company leadership. Each building contained dedicated office space, with the factories at 27 and 37 Chandler Street having offices on the first floor of their factories, while the factory at 41-63 Chandler Street had a two-story office block, separate from the manufacturing space. The presence of management typically resulted in factories containing more finished spaces and sophisticated architecture in order to present a professional appearance to prospective clients.

In 2010, an extensive survey of the Black Rock Neighborhood was completed with the support of the City of Buffalo’s Office of Strategic Planning, the Baird Foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Preservation League of New York State, and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. This survey resulted in the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF), Historic Resources of the Black Rock Planning Neighborhood. The purpose of the document is to streamline designation of the neighborhood’s eligible National Register properties. The MPDF discusses the role of the Black Rock neighborhood within the historical development of the City of Buffalo and states that eligible industrial buildings within the survey boundaries must, “be directly associated with a significant historical context; must have been constructed during the periods of significance; and must display the distinctive features characteristic to the period of construction.”

Based on the criteria outlined in the Historic Resources of the Black Rock Planning Neighborhood MPDF, the Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District clearly meets the requirements for National Register nomination. The historic district is located within the defined geographic boundaries of the Black Rock Planning Neighborhood and all of the district’s buildings were erected within the MPDF’s period of significance for the Grant-Amherst neighborhood. The MPDF identifies Chandler Street as one of the Grant-Amherst neighborhood’s most important industrial corridors and two of the factories in the proposed historic district are specifically mentioned as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The buildings display architectural conventions common to factory architecture from the early twentieth century. These conventions include masonry load-bearing walls, numerous window openings to allow light infiltration and modest stylistic details such as detailed brickwork, arched windows, and simple cornices. The buildings retain integrity to form, detail, materials, and their overall appearance clearly communicates heir function as industrial buildings dating to the early twentieth century.

The period of significance for the Chandler Street Industrial Buildings Historic District stretches from 1902 to 1979, beginning with the construction of the factories at 27 and 37 Chandler Street and ending with the construction of a one story warehouse and metalworking shop in the factory at 41-63 Chandler Street. This period of significance encompasses every major architectural change in the district, including the construction of the Keystone Manufacturing Company’s office block in the factory at 41-63 Chandler Street in 1911. The period of significance also covers the ownership period of the five major companies to utilize the factories. Though two of the companies, the Acme Steel & Malleable Iron Works Company and the Keystone Manufacturing Company, manufactured goods in the historic district after 1979, neither company’s activities had a significant impact on the district after 1979.

Get Connected:

Signature Development, 716.842.1938

Preservation Studios, 716.725.6410

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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