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Reconstructing Buffalo’s Lost Buildings

A BR reader has reached out to say that Buffalo might want to consider taking a look at some its lost architectural heritage, to see if it might be possible to reclaim some of what has been vanquished.

“There is a little known trend in architecture of reconstructing demolished historic buildings, specifically buildings that once were intimately identified with that city.”

The reader pointed out that Paris has launched a commission to rebuild the Tuileries Palace adjacent to the Louvre which the museum will use to expand. He also noted that Berlin has rebuilt the Berlin Palace (exterior only but rebuilt in such a way that they can restore the interior rooms over time). He added that other cities were in the process of rebuilding or restoring their architectural heritage, including:

  • Dresden rebuilt the Frauenkirche
  • NYC is rebuilding Penn Station
  • Warsaw rebuilt its Royal Castle
  • Moscow is rebuilding its most famous church and 2 of its most famous monasteries

While Buffalo has managed to retain and secure much of its architectural heritage, there is so much that it lost, which can be readily seen by browsing the site

Aside from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building, which I have suggested in the past should be/could be rebuilt, the reader posed numerous other thoughts and suggestions.

“The building that uniquely brands Buffalo instantly recognizable was the Erie Savings Bank and possibly the light green terra cotta Art Nouveau Hotel Buffalo. I should add that no developer or company ever decided to rebuild anything in any of these cities around the world. All these buildings and town squares were rebuilt exactly as they were by the people who demanded they be brought back. In politics it’s called the nationalist – populist movement. In the book Megatrends it was called high tech – soft touch (meaning as  technology became more virtual with less personal and physical interaction… people would seek out their individuality and uniqueness in their nation, in their region, in their city, in their sense of place and in the places they gathered, in their culture, language, religion, traditions, etc).

“It is said that we stand on the foundations of the past so that we may see our paths into the future. If we destroy our past or forget our past, then we become ignorant of the possibilities of the future. It might be wise to remember this as Buffalo continues on its path rebuilding itself and reinventing itself we should take note that we have a unique legacy. Buffalo is the first city of the Great Lakes and the first city of the midwestern rust belt. The people that settled the Ohio Basin and the northern prairies and even went all the way to the Pacific Northwest came thru Buffalo (though we were not part of the Oregon Trail).”

After expounding upon the virtues of attempting to rebuild a few notable and prized buildings that have been lost over time, the reader wondered if people had any suggestions about lost Buffalo buildings that they identify with (to possibly rebuild)… or whether this forsaken architecture has been largely forgotten with the winds of time.

It would also be interesting to see just how much the new generations of Buffalonians have forgotten about their city, or have no knowledge of such things ever happening or existing.”

Unfortunately, as we have seen time and time again, Buffalo’s precious architectural stock is still in jeopardy of being lost, even as we ramp up our stance on preservation. It would be pertinent to save what we still have, while pondering (even for the fun of it) what we could possibly recreate given the resources. At any rate, it’s an interesting exercise to consider, especially in a city like Buffalo where we are just now realizing our true potential.

If you want to see some of Buffalo’s lost architectural gems, click here. Be forewarned, it’s not pretty.

Lead image: Photo circa 1963 – today this is a parking lot at the corner of Franklin and Edward Street | The Cyclorama Building (towards the back) still remains – photo courtesy Biff Henrich

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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