Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hoist a Piece of History: Louis Greenstein and the Buffalo Flag

Last December, I was at a loss for want of a great gift for my father. What to get the man who, as they say, has everything? After all, he can only use so many fountain pens before his fingers cramp up, and I didn’t want to be on the opposite end of his vindictive grin as he ripped the wrapping paper from a book and said, “too bad, I’ve already read this.” I challenge anyone to try the New York Times Bestseller List when picking out a gift for Jim Duggan. Go ahead, see what happens.

The Buffalo Flag from
After some anxiety and some failed attempts at purveying his bookshelf, I acquiesced to window shopping. Trudging along Elmwood, I resigned to getting him another old hat trinket. Yet what I found hanging in the window of a postershop piqued a recent infatuation of mine. My search ended right then, on the corner of Elmwood and Bird, where I put two and two together and bagged the Buffalo Flag for my father. I came across the design for the banner for the first time a few years ago, and I was enamored with it from the start: an instance of good design ordained with the sole purpose of representing the place where I grew up. As soon as I saw it, with a cog of thirteen white lightning bolts arranged around an image of the harbor, I knew it would look proud hanging from our flagpole at home. The holidays provided the excuse I needed to turn my own armchair historical fascination into an appreciated gift. When I handed it off to my father, I received no snarky remarks. He hung it up that afternoon.

Preservation Studios has given me the opportunity to rise from the armchair, and recently we’ve been working alongside the Faith Missionary Baptist congregation to nominate their church building on Humboldt Parkway to the National Register of Historic Places. The Beaux-Arts building testifies to the cohesive spirit of the congregation, which has thrived throughout the years of uncertainty surrounding the Parkway. It’s a monument to their society’s faith and integrity, and a mainstay in the Hamlin Park community. The building dates back to 1924, when the Temple Beth David congregation solicited a design from architect Louis Greenstein for a house of worship in the neighborhood which they then called home. After the demographics of the East Side shifted around the middle of the century, they sold the building to the Faith Missionary Baptist congregation.

Faith Missionary Church on Humboldt Parkway
Photo courtesy of the Black Churches Network
While researching the building’s history, the compelling details of the architect’s biography caught my attention. Louis Greenstein was one of the first Jewish architects in the city of Buffalo. He spent most of his life in here in Western New York, designing buildings and working to preserve the architectural legacy of the city through rehabilitation projects. He studied Beaux-Arts architecture and applied his livelihood to designing buildings such as the Bryant & Stratton building at 40 North Street and the Coplon Mansion on the Daemen College Campus. Greenstein participated in major municipal projects with other architectsas well, notably the Memorial Auditorium. The Beth David congregation solicited Greenstein's designs for multiple synagogues, including the former synagogue that the Faith Missionary Baptist congregation now calls home. He also worked as an educator, training architecture students who couldn’t afford to leave Western New York at the Buffalo Rectagon Atelier. We may have lost the old Aud, but Greenstein left his lasting imprimatur on Buffalo. The informed eye notices his legacy hiding all around the city: the Buffalo Flag, a reclaimed semiotic nod to our hometown, owes its composition to Greenstein.

The Buffalo Flag flying on West Delavan Avenue
The blue and white banner flies in front of some municipal buildings downtown, and recently I’ve stumbled across my vexillological muse in so many new and exciting places: adorning black t-shirts, hanging from flagpoles across the neighborhoods, and of course, tucked onto the label of Lockhouse and the Public’s Revolution Espresso Liqueur (mix one part with two parts chocolate cashew milk over ice: perfect for when you’re snowed in). Maybe it’s an alternative to the complications of overt nationalism, maybe it’s the result of pride for the Queen City’s recent revival, and maybe it’s the answer to an appetite for evocative locally-sourced design. Quite possibly, it’s a response to all of these urges. By brandishing Greenstein’s flag, Buffalonians clarify their belief in a powerful local tradition. Our city is thick with a history of aesthetic innovation and a legacy of local actors bent on making our corner of the world look good while building it from the ground up.

The Buffalo Flag looks good on a flagpole, for sure. But when Greenstein beat out seventy two other submissions in the 1924 competition to design the new Buffalo flag, he didn’t simply win a beauty contest. He laced his design with signifiers of Buffalo’s enterprise, from the lightning bolts, pointing to the early distribution of electricity in the city, to the image of the city harbor, representative of Buffalo’s near-forgotten office as the “gateway to the West.” The design offers onlookers a condensed mythology of the city, a mythology that now bolsters the local identity after years of flux.

A designer striving to shape our city of today from his office in the Guaranty Building gave us a banner to rally around as we carry Buffalo into the future. His legacy lives across the pages of history books and the wares of new businesses, along streets in Amherst and streets Downtown, and on cornerstones and flagpoles all across the city.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Legsweeps, Headlocks, and Bears, OH My!

By Matthew Shoen Associate Architectural Historian at Preservation Studios

In our last blog post I discussed my love of candy and how that love as intersected with a few of our projects over the last couple years. Today I wanted to bring up another of my passions, though unfortunately this has little to do with our work at Preservation Studios. Today I want to look at the history of professional wrestling in Buffalo.

Professional wrestling is a (sport, athletic display, entertainment spectacle) that dates back to the early nineteenth century with European circus troupes. Many troupes featured a strongman whose athletic feats were meant to awe the crowds. Some strongmen took things a step further, challenging audience members to knock them down for fixed sums.

In America the athletic displays presented in carnival wrestling tournaments were enlivened by carnival workers who created fictional back stories for the wrestlers often attributing great feats of strength and endurance to them. Many were also billed from exotic locals and grappling sheiks, hussars, and Cossacks toured the country after the Civil War.

In the 1920s professional wrestling underwent a major evolution with the development of the first wrestling promotions. Whereas earlier wrestling cards featured traveling carnival shows that pitted local grapplers against renowned traveling wrestlers like Frank Gotch and Martin Burns, the new promotions featured a roster of wrestlers who would stay in a territory for months and years, allowing for longer feuds between wrestlers and bigger payoffs for the fanbase.

By the 1950s the territory system was an engrained part of wrestling and the United States was divided up like fiefs by different major wrestling federations that were broadly governed under the National Wrestling Alliance (N.W.A.). The territory system thrived until the early 1980s when Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF now the WWE) started to spend heavily, drawing top wrestlers away from other promotions. In 1985 McMahon launched Wrestlemania, a massive closed circuit television extravaganza that featured a mix of nationally known wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Tito Santana and celebrities like Mr. T who wrestled with Hulk Hogan against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff and Cindi Lauper who served as a cornerwoman for Wendi Richter in her fight for the WWF Woman's Championship. The event proved to be a  major success and became a cornerstone in WWE's sustained dominance of professional wrestling.

Given professional wrestling's long history in America, of which I've only sketched a brief outline, it is unsurprising that Buffalo had an enthusiastic wrestling scene. During the 1910s and 1920s East Side residents packed the Broadway Auditorium to watch Polish grapplers like Wladek Zbyszko square off against wrestlers like George Sanders the Bavarian Tiger.
Wladek Zbyszko from

Polish wrestlers unsurprisingly drew heavy crowds in the Broadway Auditorium and ethnic champions dominated many professional wrestling territories. In one show from 1929 two-thousand people watched Wladek Zbyszko battle Nino Darnoldi who was reputed as a former Italian cavalry officer. In the thirty minute match Zbyszko twice pinned Darnoldi utilizing a pair of flying snapmares to win the bout (read the full match breakdown below).

Other matches on the card featured Cowboy Jack Rodgers of Powder River, Montana battling Ned McGuire of Ireland and Renato Gardini, Champion of Italy against Karol Zahorski of Poland. The ethnic nature of many of these names reflects the period as each wrestler's mysterious origins were masterfully hyped before the show.

Wladek Zbyszko and his brother Stanislaus were both particularly beloved in Buffalo and their appearances packed houses. In addition to the Zbyszko brothers, wrestler Ed Don George dominated Buffalo in the 1930s and 1940s, proving to be the city's most popular draw as he battled the likes of Bulgarian Don Koloff, and Joe Malcewicz.

Stanislaus Zbyszko from

The most interesting wrestling event I ran across in my search for Buffalo's professional wrestling history is a match between Gene Dubois and Terrible Ted. Gene Dubois was a French Canadian wrestler and Terrible Ted was a 600 pound black bear that Dubois had trained to wrestle. The match, as well as some useful commentary by wrestling experts Dave Meltzer and Jim Cornette is linked below and is worth watching.

The history of bears in wrestling is its own interesting topic, though wrestling bears were a sideshow attraction and never a regular part of the shows in Buffalo, the bout between Dubois and Terrible Ted shows the size of the crowds in Buffalo, though the audio is muted due to the commentary. Still you can see and hear enough to realize the popularity of professional wrestling in Buffalo.

Though professional wrestling has lost much of the mainstream appeal it had in the 1980s and late 1990s it remains a fascinating historical subject matter for me. While Buffalo doesn't have the wrestling history of cities like Detroit, Memphis, or New York City, the Queen City did have a vibrant wrestling scene dominated by Polish strongmen and the occasional hardworking bear.

If you have any wrestling stories that you'd like to share, feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page and thanks for reading.

Account of the Match between Zbyszko and Darnoldi

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Few of our Sweeter Projects

by Matthew Shoen, Associate Architectural Historian at Preservation Studios

I love candy.

In fact, if you told me the Parkside Candy Shoppe funded its rehabilitation through my patronage I could believe it. Dark chocolate is my weakness and I'm a very weak person.

The recent press around Parkside Candy's rehab has gotten me in the mood for a deep dive into some of Preservation Studios more sugary projects as well as a quick look at the history of chocolateering.

The consumption of chocolate has been part of the human experience since Central and South American Indians like the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs discovered how to brew chocolaty beverages. After European explorers made landfall in the Americas cocoa was sent back across the ocean and became a favorite treat of the wealthy and refined. This early cocoa was extremely different from the chocolate we consume today. First, chocolate was almost exclusively served in a liquid form and was quite bitter (cacao beans  themselves are bitter, the skins hold the sweetness). In Europe, honey was added to counteract this bitterness and hot and cold chocolate drinks were popular treats for nobles.

In 1847 Joseph Fry, an English chocolateer, discovered that by mixing cacao butter back into liquid chocolate he could make the mixture solidify. Further, he could mold his chocolates into different shapes, such as turtles, doves, and turtledoves. Fry's innovation of a solid chocolate bar allowed for new chocolate forms, however it didn't counteract the bitterness of chocolate. In 1875 Daniel Peter of Switzerland discovered that by mixing condensed milk with chocolate he improved the product's flavor immensely. Milk chocolate quickly became a favorite desert and treat for members of the middle class and children as chocolate had by this time been made affordable.

In Buffalo the popularity of chocolate skyrocketed after the introduction of milk chocolate. In 1857 the city had only 10 confectioners, by 1888 136 groups were producing chocolate and confectionary goods in the city. During the Pan-American Exposition, two buildings were dedicated to the display and sale of chocolates and the confectionary goods proved a major hit at the Exposition.

In 1921 one of the city's larger chocolate producers began operations at a former malt house at 520 7th Street. Merckens Chocolates specialized in chocolate bars as well as baking chocolate and the company became a powerhouse in the American confectionary scene. From their headquarters at 520 7th Street the company branched out and opened offices in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles among other cities. Merckens Chocolates remained in Buffalo until the 1950s, producing its much loved chocolate and employing over 100 people. Though the company closed its Buffalo offices in the late 1950s another important Buffalo based chocolate firm is still in business.

The Parkside Candy Company opened its first store in 1917; owned and operated by George, Molly, and Edward Kaiser. The company specialized in confectionary goods and serving light meals, operating in the vein of tea houses and public parlors. Ten years later the family opened a second location at the corner of Main Street and Winspear, possibly anticipating my arrival in 2015. In the meantime the University Heights neighborhood was growing quickly and this growth likely encouraged the family to build their second store. The family also added a sizable candy factory at the rear of the store wherein they produced chocolate, lollipops, sponge candy, and other confectionary treats.

In terms of its architecture the Parkside Candy Shoppe is one of my favorite buildings in Buffalo. The plastered ceiling and the walls with their beautiful reliefs always catch my eye, as does the rich dark woodwork around the doors and alcoves. Architect G. Morton Wolfe drew influence for the building from Robert Adam and the Adam Style of architecture. This style of interior design was popular in the colonial period and emphasized plasterwork and pastel color schemes like we see in the candy store. This beautiful architecture helped draw customers to the Parkside Candy Shoppe and allowed the company to thrive from 1927 when the building opened all the way to the present day.

Before the Rehab
After the Rehab
Photo from the Buffalo News

Friday, September 22, 2017

Buffalo's Historic Branch Libraries

In our last blog post we looked at the career of Isaac Perry, one of New York State's most important architects and the designer of everybody's favorite armory on Connecticut Street. Isaac Perry's buildings can be related back to important historical trends and movements. America's fear of anarchism and revolt among working class peoples encouraged the construction of the armories, and a desire to treat the mentally ill led to the construction of asylums like the St. Lawrence State Hospital.

In this week's blog we'll be focusing on a local historical building campaign undertaken by the Buffalo Public Library between 1901 and 1928. Between these years the public library created fourteen branch libraries in the city of which eight still exist. These branch libraries were critical to the Buffalo Public Library as they allowed residents in outlying neighborhoods access to library services and reduced pressure on the Central Library. Many of the libraries built during this period are still standing and a few remain active libraries. Before getting into the history of Buffalo's branch libraries it's important to take a brief look at the history of Buffalo's library system starting in 1836 when the Young Men's Association formed the Library.

The Young Men's Association was a collection of wealthy young businessmen and entrepreneurs with a similar spirit and affinity towards boosterism. The association was particularly concerned with Buffalo's meager literary scene. The organization's first act was to form a library subscription service. For fifty dollars a year members of the Young Men's Association could access the Buffalo Library's collection of 2,700 books.

The Young Men's Association controlled the Buffalo Library from 1836 until 1897, a period of sixty-one years. During this period the Association grew the library's collection to 84,000 pieces of literature and built the majestic Central Library in downtown. Despite its expanded collection, the Buffalo Library only had 2,900 subscribers by 1897. This amounted to around 1% of Buffalo's population in 1897. The Buffalo Library's reach was limited because the fifty dollar subscription fee remained prohibitive for all but the wealthiest and most literally inclined individuals. Further, the Central Library's location in downtown meant that residents on the East Side, in South Buffalo, and in certain parts of the West Side faced a long walk or trolley ride to the library. For many people the distance proved prohibitive.

By 1897 the Buffalo Library's low subscription base became untenable. The library's budget was $5,000 a year, nowhere near enough to pay for building maintenance and book purchases. Facing a slide into irrelevance the Buffalo Library made a deal with the city to transform the Buffalo Library into a tax supported public library service.

The Buffalo Public Library officially opened in September of 1897 and throngs of people soon inundated the Central Library on a daily basis. Almost from its inception, the library's Board of Managers recognized the need for branch libraries. In 1899 the library’s superintendent H. L. Elmendorf argued,

In other large cities a great proportion of the circulation is done through small libraries, located at convenient places in different parts of the city. If we had such collections of books, with commodious, well-stocked reading rooms – say, one in Black Rock, one in Cold Spring and two or three on the East side, each in charge of regular library assistants – we could, I think, double our usefulness.1 

The Buffalo Public Library set about erecting branch libraries soon after Elmendorf's proclamation. The first branch library, the William Ives Branch at 746 Broadway, was opened in 1901. Within two years the J.P Dudley Branch Library at 503 South Park Avenue and the Lafayette Branch Library inside the Lafayette High School had opened. These early branch libraries all occupied rented rooms inside commercial buildings or fraternal halls. Because of this, none of the libraries were considered up to the Buffalo Public Library's standards. The libraries were small and like the Central Library, became easily overcrowded, especially after school.  

Throughout the 1910s the Buffalo Public Library lobbied Common Council for the funds to build branch libraries. One particular focus of the public library was the former Buffalo Waterworks Building at 1936 Niagara Street. Almost from the public library's inception an agreement had been in place to allow the Buffalo Public Library to turn the waterworks building into a branch library. However Common Council continually frustrated the library's leadership, refusing to release the vital funds necessary to renovate the waterworks. Finally in 1915 the funds were released and the Jubilee Branch Library was opened.

The new library possessed two important features repeated in all future branch libraries. First, the building had a basement auditorium open to public organizations. Additionally, on the first floor the library was divided so that adults and children had separate reading rooms. The division of space between adult readers and children was considered important to the function of the branch library and future branches partitioned adult and child spaces, often employing two wings with a central librarian’s desk to do so. After the construction of the Jubilee Branch Library, branch library constriction stopped in Buffalo for nine years, though the Buffalo Public Library continued lobbying for funds. 

In 1923 the library received its much needed funds in the form of a $200,000 grant from Common Council. With the exception of the Jubilee Branch Library, all Buffalo's early branch libraries were built with money from this grant. The first libraries, the Cazenovia, Kensington, and Fairfield Branches were built in 1924. These were followed in 1927 by the Genesee Branch Library and in 1928 by the North Park Branch Library. Howard L. Beck, Buffalo's city architect, designed each building and employed popular revival styles such as Colonial, Tudor, and Renaissance Revival in his designs.

By 1930 Buffalo had fourteen branch libraries scattered throughout the city. The libraries circulated an average of 80,000 books a year and helped reduce overcrowding at the Central Library. More importantly however they gave children and adults in Buffalo access to literature and entertainment. A number of the city's branch libraries were placed in large immigrant communities where English was a second language. The branch libraries became a crucial meeting place for children and adults from Buffalo's different immigrant communities. The branches had foreign language books and newspapers catered to the demographic they served and librarians were attentive to the needs of small children as they attempted to learn English. 

Surprisingly the branch libraries erected between 1923 and 1928 are all still standing, though with the exception of the Cazenovia Branch Library, none of the branches are still active. The spaces inside these libraries have thankfully however been used since each library has closed and at least one is in the process of being rehabilitated. Though some branches sit empty, those that have been maintained, such as the Kensington Branch Library continue to provide tangible benefits to the community. One can only hope that the rest of the branches are brought back to life and put to use in the city.

Map of the Buffalo Public Library System in 1930
The Buffalo Public Library, Thirty-Fourth Annual Report of the Buffalo Public Library: 1930, (Buffalo: 1930), 26.    

[1] The Buffalo Public Library, Third Annual Report of the Buffalo Public Library: 1899 (Buffalo: 1900), 19.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Architect Spotlight: Isaac Perry

by Matthew Shoen
Associate Architectural Historian

Isaac Perry from

New York State is dotted with buildings and cities designed brilliant architects. Buffalo owes much of its shape to landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and much of its iconic skyline to H.H. Richardson, Alfred T. Fellheimer, and Frank Lloyd Wright. These nationally known architects are always present in our minds, and tourists coming to Buffalo make sure to visit their buildings. There is however another architect whose works are important not only to Buffalo but to the entire state of New York. That architect will be the subject of our latest blog. Today we'll be profiling Isaac Perry.

Isaac Perry was born in Vermont in 1822, but grew up in Keeseville in the Adirondack Mountains. Perry worked in the mountains with his father Seneca Perry as a carpenter and mason. Perry and his father worked throughout Clinton and Essex Counties for at least a decade, building homes and hotels in the small mountain towns that dotted the landscape. In 1852 Perry left the Adirondacks and moved south, establishing himself in Binghamton where he interned under the architect Thomas R. Jackson, a former protege of Richard Upjohn.

While in Binghamton, Perry got a breakthrough contract when, in 1856, he was selected to design the New York State Inebriate Asylum, the first alcohol treatment center ever built. The Inebriate Asylum occupied Perry until 1866, but the scale of the project made him a highly sought architect in Binghamton where he built a number of religious, commercial, and residential buildings, including the Phelps Mansion a beautiful three-story brick and stone mansion with a steep mansard roof.

The Binghamton Inebriate Asylum from
Perry's success in Binghamton was a decisive factor in his appointment as Commissioner of the New Capitol in Albany, a project to rebuilt New York's Capitol Building into a larger and more grandiose structure. The Capitol Building was constructed under the oversight of three teams of architects, the first led by Thomas Fuller between 1867-1875, the second by Leopold Eidlitz and H.H. Richardson between 1875-1883 and the final team by Isaac Perry between 1883-1899. Perry's creative input saved the project, which was decades behind schedule. While initially tasked with overseeing the work begun by his predecessors, Perry reworked their designs and shaped the capital building into its present form. His most notable contribution, came in the creation of the Eastern Approach, the monumental exterior staircase that leads up to the Capitol Building's entrance.

Monumental scale defines many of Isaac Perry's most memorable projects. While the Capitol Building was being constructed, Perry also built forty armories throughout the state, including the massive Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo, the Ogdensburg Armory, Niagara Falls Armory, and the Oswego Armory among many others. Perry also worked on the state's asylum system, building the St. Lawrence Asylum in Ogdensburg, and the Matteawan Asylum for Insane Criminals near Fishkill. 

In 1895 New York created the position of State Architect, a position Perry inherited since he'd been the lead architect on every major state building project for the preceding twenty years. Perry retired soon after getting his position however due to his advancing age. He returned to Binghamton where he died in 1904 at the age of 82. 

The monumental works of Isaac Perry, coupled with his position as the State Architect, means that almost every significant community in New York State is tied to Isaac Perry in some way. His architecture, though not stunningly original like his contemporary H.H. Richardson, is extremely beautiful and his perchance for the monumental make visiting his buildings an awesome experience (with an emphasis on the awe). Perry's buildings, particularly in smaller communities, are sources of pride and represent a level of grandeur not often seen due to financial restrictions. With his emphasis on turrets, towers, and beautiful stone arches, Perry captured our collective desire for powerful architecture and brought it to life throughout New York State.

The Administration Building of the Ogdensburg State Hospital from

The Ogdensburg Armory from

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Neighborhood Destruction

Matthew Shoen
Associate Architectural Historian 
May 24, 2017

A few weeks ago Preservation Studios, along with the Fruit Belt/McCarley Gardens Housing Task Force, came together to discuss the history of the Fruit Belt neighborhood. This old residential part of the city has been settled since the 1840s and was an important part of the Great German East Side, Buffalo's second major ethnic neighborhood (Following the Irish Old First Ward). The Fruit Belt was improved in the 1870s with the completion of the Parade and the Humboldt Parkway. These beautifully landscaped spaces were created by Frederic Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux two of America's premier landscape architects. The presence of such nice amenities and the Fruit Belt's proximity to work opportunities in the East Side or Downtown Buffalo helped Germans living in the Fruit Belt resist the call of the suburbs that swept through the rest of the city. Unfortunately, Urban Renewal programs instituted by the city caused significant harm to the Fruit Belt and its residents. Like our last piece, this blog will be heavy on photography. The destruction of the Fruit Belt was well documented as a sign of progress for the city, despite the fact that this progress came at the cost of homes, businesses, thousands of residents, and the much beloved Humboldt Parkway. 

The destruction of the Fruit Belt affected the German residents who were the area's historic population, however it had a more dramatic impact on African Americans who moved into the neighborhood after they were forcibly evicted from their homes during the destruction of the Ellicott District in the early 1950s.1 Thousands of African Americans were rendered homeless by Urban Renewal that demolished their homes in the Ellicott District and replaced the buildings with low income housing projects. With no other option, African Americans sought out housing in neighborhoods like Hamlin Park, Masten Park, and the Fruit Belt. Here they were greeted by predatory landlords and the city's attempt to modernize itself and make downtown more accessible, the Kensington Expressway. 

People have written at length about the Kensington Expressway and the catastrophic impact it had on Buffalo's East Side. Organizations like the Restore Our Community Coalition ( have done a fantastic job documenting the destruction of Humboldt Parkway, but I want to draw your attention south to the Fruit Belt where much of the residential destruction necessary to build the Kensington Expressway occurred. 

Property destruction between Rose and Mulberry Streets.

To build the Kensington Expressway, over 500 buildings were destroyed, many of which were demolished in a 1.8 mile section of Buffalo between Michigan Avenue and Utica Street. The majority of the buildings destroyed were homes, however German saloons, brick factories, and a sheet metal factory were also destroyed, depriving the neighborhood of local industry, commerce, and recreation. 

The Kensington Expressway was announced in 1954 and work on the expressway began in 1957. In those three years properties around Cherry Street deteriorated as owners stopped investing in their upkeep, knowing the buildings were doomed. Rats also began to multiply in abandoned buildings, and became a prevalent issue in the community. 

The Kensington Expressway encouraged Germans to leave the Fruit Belt and became a major eyesore for the African Americans who moved into the newly vacated homes of the Fruit Belt's German residents. The expressway soon became more than an aesthetic issue. After its completion, the Kensington Expressway became a moat separating the Fruit Belt from the East Side, and the East Side from the rest of Buffalo. 

During its construction however the expressway was a morass of construction equipment, mud, and closed streets. Residents who drove to work were never sure if their streets would be open when they came back or if construction equipment had ripped up the road surface. Parents had to be vigilant with small children around the construction site and at least one man died (from cardiac arrest) after he fell down the banks of the expressway construction site. The mud, noise, and traffic issues made the Kensington Expressway one of of the worst aspects of living in the Fruit Belt in the 1950s and the expressway has continued to be an eyesore and a major health hazard. 

The destruction of so many beautiful buildings in the Fruit Belt was seen as progress for the city of Buffalo. The loss was viewed as necessary, a step forward by a community trying to remain vibrant in the modern world. We should take the Kensington Expressway as a warning from the past, and never engage in destructive programs like this ever again. Collectively we need to lay a critical eye across all projects that ask us to demolish the buildings that give our city character. While the Fruit Belt continues to be an active neighborhood, there is no way to ignore the Expressway's presence and the ghosts of all the properties and families who were pushed out to build it. 

Inspector at the temporary bridge across Lemon Street.

Early work on the Kensington Expressway's below grade sections near the Fruit Belt.

1. The destruction of the Ellicott District will be covered further in future blog posts. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Harry James Horwood

By Matthew Shoen 
Associate Architectural Historian 

Occasionally we've taken time to blog about the architects we've encountered in our research. Today I want to change things up a little and discuss briefly discuss a stained glass artist whose works form a critical component of our next nomination. Today's blog is about Harry James Horwood a resident of Ogdensburg, New York, who along with his father Harry Horwood, was one of the most accomplished stained glass artists in the United States during the early twentieth century. (For clarity Harry James Horwood will always be addressed by his full name)

From the First Baptist Church of Ogdensburg
Photos taken by David Martin of the Horwood Stained Glass Museum

Harry James Horwood was born in England in 1864 though he soon moved to Prescott, Ontario Canada where his father had set up a stained glass studio. During the 1870s and 1880s Ottawa was experiencing a massive construction boom. Large churches and government buildings were built during this period and Harry Horwood took advantage of the construction boom and earned multiple contracts installing windows in buildings like Ottawa's Parliament Building, Ottawa's Carnegie Library, and Notre Dame Cathedral.

In 1880 Harry Horwood opened a branch studio in Ogdensburg, New York. Ogdensburg is just across the St. Lawrence River from Prescott and Harry Horwood's artistry had attracted the city's attention. In 1880, city leaders commissioned Horwood to install stained glass windows in the Ogdensburg Opera House. The massive circular rose colored window Horwood created was widely considered the opera house's most beautiful element, though it was sadly lost in 1926 due to a fire. 
The Ogdensburg Opera House after the fire.
The space occupied by Harry Horwood's rose window is clearly visible.
From Julie Madlin's Ogdensburg History Blog.

The Ogdensburg Opera House's rose colored window made the Horwood name universally known in Upstate New York and numerous orders for stained glass windows came to Harry Horwood's Ogdensburg studio from area churches. Horwood remained active in Upstate New York until 1917 when he died. After Harry Horwood died, Harry James Horwood took over the Ogdensburg studio and continued providing beautiful stained glass windows to the residents of Upstate New York. 

While his father was better known, Harry James Horwood was arguably more important to Upstate New York. After taking over his father's business Harry James Horwood moved the business to a different part of the Ogdensburg. After completing the move, Harry James Horwood began taking orders from churches and private individuals from around the region. His work displayed a high level of artistry, but crucially his windows were inexpensive. Harry James Horwood retailed some of his windows for as little as thirty-five dollars and churches eagerly bought them. 

One church that patronized Horwood repeatedly was the First Baptist Church in Ogdensburg. This church contains eleven Horwood stained glass windows, eight of which are visible and in beautiful condition. The windows were installed between 1931 and 1944 and memorialize various church members and former pastors. The windows display scenes from the bible such as the Last Supper, the Resurrection, and the Coming of the Three Wise Men. Additionally, the church had a special relationship with Harry James Horwood, as he was the church's choirmaster.

These stained glass windows and the many hundreds made by Harry James Horwood and his father Harry Horwood beautify churches across New York and Canada. The beauty of these windows make visits to any of the churches in Upstate New York a treat and an excellent reason to stop by and go inside. So if you're every traveling to Ottawa, take 81 north and stop by some of the churches in Ogdensburg or the other local communities and ask to see the stained glass artistry of Harry James Horwood. 

Christ the Good Shepard from the First Baptist Church of Ogdensburg
Photo by David Martin
The Last Supper from the First Baptist Church
Photo by David Martin

The transom above the First Baptist Church's front door is Harry James Horwood's simplest piece of art in the church.
Photo by David Martin