Upon interviewing Elizabeth Licata on her new book, Secret Buffalo – A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure, we agreed that it would be fun to post three articles from the book. Together, we chose the articles, which was not an easy task considering that there are so many that spoke to both of us. In the end, we whittled down the list. The initial article that we opted to run is titled:
Second Life for a Demolished Landmark (Author: Elizabeth Licata)
Want to see a classic example of making the best of a bad hand?
In 1882, shortly after he joined the avant-garde architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, Stanford White designed the James F. Metcalfe House, a large, shingle style villa at 125 North Street. This area of Buffalo is known for its mansions, many designed by well-known architects, but some did not survive the 20th century, including the Metcalfe House, which was demolished in 1980 to provide parking for the owners of the large Williams-Butler mansion next door, also designed by Stanford White.
White was known for designing lavish interiors for his houses, and three interior elements of the Metcalfe House were saved from the demolition: the library, dining room, and staircase. The staircase is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the dining room and library have been reconstructed inside Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall, where they can be visited when classes are in session by contacting the Dean of Students office. White’s elegant ornamental woodwork makes these reconstructions well worth viewing.
Sadly, the purpose of the Metcalfe House’s demolition was to make room for a parking lot that was never built. It was requested by the Delaware North food service and hospitality company, which also owns the Williams-Butler Mansion adjacent to the MetCalfe House.
The reconstruction work of the rooms was financed through private donations, including $40,000 from Delaware North, and a large contribution from the Seymour H. Knox Foundation. The restored rooms opened at Buffalo State College in 1989.
Lead image courtesy Stephen Gabris
WHAT: Reconstructed rooms from a demolished landmark
WHERE: 122 Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave.
PRO TIP: To see these rooms, contact the Dean’s Office, 122 Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College; 716-878-6326.
Source: Multiple authors. Buffalo Architecture: A Guide. MIT Press, 1981
The book is available at Talking Leaves, Thin Ice. For those living out of town, Talking Leaves will ship the book directly to you – order online here.