by Fred Schrock

Archive for September, 2013

Buffalo Themed Wedding

Jennifer and I were married on Saturday. Photos may come later but I wanted to post some images of the centerpieces. They are custom laser etchings designed and produced by Sean Nowicki of BFLOMADE, with Jennifer’s input. Sean recently put up an Etsy page so people can contact him directly. Our centerpieces were a bit large but he can create 2-D and 3-D etchings of most anything in different sizes.

Is This the Most Architecturally Significant Building in Buffalo?

The century-old Delaware Court is an elegant, unobtrusive building on the Chippewa Strip. The events that took place inside, however, changed the city forever. For decades, Delaware Court was a mecca for Buffalo’s most important architects as they built Buffalo’s most important buildings.

The Delaware Court Building, planned for demolition. Photo from September 2013

A much earlier photo with Delaware Court in background. From listing on Preservation Ready Sites

Delaware Court was designed by architects Lansing, Bley & Lyman and opened in 1917. Lawrence Bley hailed from nearby Hamburg, while Duane Lyman, once declared the “Dean of Western New York Architecture,” was originally from Lockport. Williams Lansing worked previously as a draftsman for the prolific Green & Wicks firm, then partnered with Green & Wicks draftsman Max Beierl to build landmarks such as the Connecticut Street Armory and St. Francis Xavier Church (now the Buffalo Religious Arts Center). Lansing, Bley & Lyman worked together for less than ten years and Delaware Court is one of their few remaining commissions. Still, they created some notable buildings, including the current President’s House for Buffalo State College on Lincoln Parkway. Lansing left the firm in 1919 to partner with Chester Oakley, but Lansing died a year later. Oakley continued until his own death in 1968, best known for a trinity of ornate Catholic Churches: St. John the Baptist, Blessed Trinity, and St. Casimir’s.

Minoru Yamasaki, lower left, and Duane Lyman, upper right, in 1963. Photo from Chris Brown

Bley & Lyman worked together for another two decades, designing the Saturn Club, building 800 West Ferry for Darwin R. Martin, and partnering with EB Green for what is now the Old Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square. When Bley died in 1939, Lyman carried on as Lyman & Associates until his passing in 1966. That firm supervised the addition to the Liberty Building, Minuro Yamasaki’s One M&T Plaza, and several buildings on the University of Buffalo’s South Campus. Like many later architects they used the Delaware Court location as a springboard for bigger and bigger opportunities.

Postcard of Rand Building at night

Delaware Court immediately attracted other architects as tenants.  In 1917 architect William A. Kidd moved in with partner and brother Franklyn J. Kidd, where they remained until 1922. Their most well-known work from that period is probably the Rand House on Delaware Avenue’s “Millionaire’s Row.” Today the mansion is home to Canisius High School. Later, Kidd & Kidd would also design the Rand Building on Lafayette Square and assist Eliel & Eero Saarinen on the world-famous Kleinhans Music Hall on Symphony Circle.

After World War I, Delaware Court became a hive of activity.  Buffalo’s booming population required the city to set aside $8 million for construction of not one but eighteen new public schools. Rather than compete for eighteen separate commissions, thirty-five architectural firms banded together to form Associated Buffalo Architects, Inc. and opened an office in Room 40 of Delaware Court. Individual firms would be given buildings but recognition would go to the ABA. Contracting directly with the Buffalo Board of Education, the entire project was put under the auspices of an internally chosen board of local architects. Duane Lyman was appointed Secretary.

A rendering of Intermediate School #11 by the Association of Buffalo Architects, designed by George Cary and located at Doat Street and Poplar Avenue. Cary was on the Board of Architects for the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 and designed the Buffalo History Museum.

“It will no doubt come as a shock . . . to learn that fifty architects in the city of Buffalo consented to have seven of their number pass judgement on their professional qualifications,” noted the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. The Engineering News Record called the association “A very striking example of disinterested service to the public by a group of professional men–the most striking we can recall in the construction professions.” Contractors could still bid on specific construction projects through the BoE, but blueprints and other plans were only available through the Delaware Court office.

A rendering of Intermediate School #2 by the Association of Buffalo Architects, designed by Esenwein & Johnson (closed in 1961 and later demolished). Esenwein & Johnson are best known for the Electric Tower, the Calumet Building, and Lafayette High School.

Even more notable, the association brought in the nationally renowned William B. Ittner of St. Louis as Consulting Architect for all school designs. Ittner promoted a general “E” formation of central schools throughout the country, using distanced wings for subject-specific classrooms and labs and a middle third wing for gymnasium, auditorium, and cafeteria use. If you attended a school built between World War I and World War II you were probably in some version of an “E” plan school, and the man who popularized it worked out of Delaware Court.  This format was used in cities as well as rural schools, as the era of one-room schoolhouses subsided in favor of central school districts around this time. Ittner’s push for orderly and efficient school plants was promoted in earnest with the aid of the Department of the Interior. The “E” type is probably the most ubiquitous public architecture in American history.  ABA no longer exists, but Ittner’s firm established in 1899 still creates schools.

Did your school look like this? Image from the American School Board Journal; click to enlarge

Buffalo City Hall under construction. Photo from Library of Congress

In 1926 the new firm of Dietel & Wade moved into Delaware Court.  For the next five years, plans for one of the biggest buildings of its kind in the nation came out of their office.  While at Delaware and Chippewa they designed and oversaw the construction of Buffalo City Hall–one of the premier examples of Art Deco anywhere.  Architect John Wade brought in extra staff including his mentor, Sullivan W. Jones, to assist on the large project.  Jones was simultaneously the State Architect under Governor Al Smith.  (One of the few remaining buildings by George Dietel, the St. Francis de Sales church in Hamlin Park, is currently for sale.)

National Gypsum Company headquarters on Delaware Avenue. Photo from WNY Heritage

Like Duane Lyman, Frederick C. Backus was a veteran of World War I; he worked as a draftsman for Bley & Lyman for a time.  At one point Backus was also Buffalo’s City Architect before striking out on his own, and the City Architect’s office is where he found draftsman Donald Love.  Backus originally hired David Crane, who worked in EB Green’s office, as his personal draftsman in 1936 but elevated him to partner.  Love would take leave during World War II but would return after being wounded in battle. Backus, Crane & Love remained in Delaware Court into the 1960s and were trailblazers for Buffalo’s modernist, post-war construction period.  They designed major projects including Erie County’s Rath Building, the Marine Drive Apartments, and the National Gypsum Company Building.

Willert Park Courts. Photo from the Library of Congress

Backus, Crane & Love’s most historic accomplishment–like the Delaware Court building where it was conceived–is under threat of demolition.  The Willert Park Courts, the first public housing open to African-Americans in Buffalo, began construction in 1939.  A WPA project, the first phase consisted of 172 apartments.   For years it was the only public housing for the city’s African-Americans, and it remains a cultural landmark for generations of residents to this day.  Walls and private entrances still exhibit unique sculptures by Depression-era artists Robert Cronbach and Harold Ambellan.  In 1940, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City published a Guide to Modern Architecture featuring the most vital modern buildings of the 20th century.  MoMA highlighted Willert Park alongside Louis Sullivan & Dankmar Adler’s Guaranty Building and commissions by Frank Lloyd Wright as Buffalo’s best examples of modern design.

The office of Backus, Crane & Love in Delaware Court c.1946. Photo from American Institute of Architects

Delaware Court’s convenient location for networking, its large windows able to flood sunlight onto drafting tables, and an attractive, classically designed facade (as if to advertise “Professional Architects Inside”) are all reasons why it became a mecca for Buffalo architects. Recent hotel development plans for the property involve complete demolition of the building and the removal of all tenants.  New construction, however, would mimic the curved corner entrance. Developers have hinted as preserving pieces of terra cotta decoration but those plans appear tenuous at best. Toronto’s Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place comes immediately to mind as an example of how older buildings can be woven into new construction if an inspired architect is involved.  One wonders what a Duane Lyman, John Wade, or Frederick Backus would design for the property if they were alive today. . . .

Proposed new building for Delaware Court Site. Image from Buffalo Rising.

Thanks to Jennifer Walkowski for some of the information in this post.

Buffalo Bills Boogie: You’ve Lost That Winning Feeling

Recently I rediscovered my old Buffalo Bills Boogie cassettes, song parodies played the week before each Bills game on oldies station 104.1 WHTT-FM. Here are the songs I have; maybe you can help me find more. Coincidentally, one track is “You’ve Lost that Winning Feeling” from the 1993 season opener versus the New England Patriots.  (The Bills won at home, 38-14).

Cassette cover from the 1992 edition. Tapes and CDs were sold at Dunn Tire locations and supported local charities.

For anyone meeting up with friends before kickoff, you can turn these tapes into a game.  For example, take a drink anytime a player is mentioned who is in the Hall of Fame.  Take another drink whenever the singer references “Oldies 104” and personalities like Danny Neaverth.  Also below are the final scores of each game and what song is parodied (except for one I just can’t recall).  Unless that team relocated or did not exist twenty years ago you will find a song for each team Buffalo will play in 2013.

I only own tapes from 1991 and 1992, the Bills’ second and third Super Bowl years.  Someone named Matt Mavi uploaded the years I have to YouTube in addition to the 1993 song above.  (Thanks!)  Another blogger named Tim Minneci posted earlier files dubbed right from radio broadcasts.   Once I read there were recordings made from 1988 through 1994 but I can’t confirm it.  If you know anything about these or other parodies, please leave a comment!  The closest modern equivalent to these songs would have to be the weekly Let’s Go Bills Rap.

Buffalo Bills Boogie 1991 (Intro)

Buffalo is Going to London Town (Eagles-Preseason)
Parody of “I Feel Fine” by The Beatles; Won 17–13

Go Bills (Dolphins)
Parody of “Good Lovin'” by The Young Rascals; Won 35-31

Please Mr. Bubby (Steelers)
Parody of “Mr. Custer” by Larry Verne; Won 52-34

We’re Gonna Beat the Jets (Jets)
Parody of “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits; Won 23-20

Return to Tampa (Buccaneers)
Parody of “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley; Won 17-10

Beatin’ the Bears (Chicago)
Parody of “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James and the Shondells; Won 35-20

Kansas City Here We Come (Chiefs)
Parody of “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison; Lost 33-6

The Bills Went On a Tear (Colts)
Parody of “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles; Won 42-6

Blowin’ Away Cincinnati (Bengals)
Parody of “Working My Way Back to You” by The Four Seasons; Won 35-16

Rock New England (Patriots)
Parody of “Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim; Won 22-17

We’ll Beat You (Packers)
Parody of “She Loves You” by The Beatles; Won 34-24

Buff-Buffalo (Miami)
Parody of “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys; Won 41-27 (See photo at end of post)

Blowin’ Out New England Again (Patriots)
Parody of “Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; Lost 16-13

Rock & Roll the Jets (Jets)
Parody of “At the Hop” by Danny & The Juniors; Won 24-13

See Ya Later L.A. Raiders (Raiders)
Parody of “See You Later Alligator” by Bill Haley & The Comets; Won 30-27

Indy Colts (Colts)
Parody of “Charlie Brown” by The Coasters; Won 35-7

Ain’t No Cure For the Buffalo Bills (Lions)
Parody of “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran; Lost 17-14

Buffalo Bills Boogie 1992 (Intro)

Football Season In Buffalo (Rams)
Parody of “No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry; Won 40-7

Goodness Gracious, Bills Are On Fire (49ers)
Parody of “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis; Won 34-31.  Fun fact: The first game in NFL history without a punt by either team.

Beat The Colts (Colts)
Parody of “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” by Danny and the Juniors; Won 38-0

Roll Over New England (Patriots)
Parody of “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry; Won 41-7

Put The Whammy On Miami (Dolphins)
Parody of “Woolly Bully” by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs; Lost 37-10

Beat L.A. (Raiders)
Parody of “Gloria” by Them; Lost 20-3

Beat’em Up Buffalo (Jets)
Parody of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations; Won 24-20

Beatin’ New England (Patriots)
***What song does this parody? I can’t remember!*** Won 16-7

Taking Care Of Pittsburgh (Steelers)
Parody of “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive; Won 28-30

Beat Up Miami (Dolphins)
Parody of “Wake Up Little Suzie” by The Everly Brothers; Won 26-20

Beat Atlanta (Falcons)
Parody of “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five; Won 41-14

The Buffalo Bills (Colts)
Parody of “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and The Starlighters; Lost 16-13

Blowin’ Out The Jets (Jets)
Parody of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; Lost 24-17

Right Here In Buffalo (Broncos)
Parody of “Runaway” by Del Shannon; Won 27-17

Battle Of New Orleans (Saints)
Parody of “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton; Won 20-16

Take The Team Plane To Houston (Oilers)
Parody of “Last Train to Clarksville” by The Monkees; Lost 27-3.
Fun Fact: Backup quarterback Frank Reich would take over for an injured Jim Kelly. The Bills would play the Oilers one week later in what simply became known as “The Comeback,” winning 41-38 in overtime.

Where is he now?

Bonus Boogies (1988? 1989?)

Linebacker Cornelius Bennett had a forced fumble, sack, and a touchdown on a Monday night game against the Dolphins in 1991, so McDonald’s created a sandwich. Click the photo for more info.

50 Ways to Beat Seattle
Beat Miami
Beat New England
Beat the New York Jets
Green Bay
Let’s Beat Cincinnati
Let’s Go Buffalo
Super Bowl
Taking Care of Pittsburgh
We Are Going to the Top