Henry Stinson is taking a unique approach to driving additional business to the Buffalo Grand Hotel. The owner of the former Adams Mark is proposing a $2 million wedding chapel addition to the southern front façade of the complex. It is modeled after a chapel Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1958 for Berkeley’s Fairmont Hotel that was never built.
“The chapel is particularly important to my vision for the hotel makeover program,” says Stinson. “Our objective is to make the Buffalo Grand Hotel into a real destination, like the Plaza Hotel; a place that is truly special and different. Not just different like a flavor-of-the-month, boutique hotel, but a hotel that has genuine unique character. Once upon a time, hotels had a more prestigious, ‘Grand Hotel’ status. Now the hotel industry is essentially cookie-cutter franchises; smaller buildings, providing consistent, good value overnight accommodation with limited services and minimal event space.”
Stinson says the chapel will have woodwork and furniture from the circa-1958 Paul Olfelt House in St. Louis Park, Minnesota that is being renovated.
“When word got out in Frank Lloyd Wright circles about the chapel, we received a call from a contractor in Minneapolis wanting to know if I would like to buy the original finishings and millwork from a Frank Lloyd Wright house he had been hired to gut and renovate,” says Stinson. “He had people calling him wanting to buy individual items but he said he really wanted to get rid of it to one buyer who might make good use of it. So yes, we bought the whole lot. Thus the chapel will actually have genuine woodwork and furniture personally designed and installed by Frank Lloyd Wright.”
And to further complement the 1958 chapel experience, Stinson has purchased a 1958 Austin Princess limousine to be used by the Buffalo Grand Hotel.
“Great hotels are social places where people get together in small or large groups; where special things happen,” says Stinson. “A wedding chapel is obviously a special place, and we want the event it to be even more memorable. It will also be a tourist attraction that fits right in with – and enhances – Buffalo’s growing reputation as an architectural destination.”
“The location of the chapel is pretty amazing; not just ‘front and center’ of the property and a landmark overlooking a primary entrance and exit to the city, but visually complementing the nearby cathedral spires,” adds Stinson. “It will likely become an essential selfie-site, with the Buffalo skyline and City Hall as a backdrop.”
Lauer-Manguso & Associates Architects is designing the project.