Saving Wildroot Building could be just the tonic for Buffalo's East Side!
Campaign for Greater Buffalo member Mark Paradowski has his own campaign to save the Wildroot Building on Bailey Ave. between Walden and Broadway. Wildroot was the country's largest manufacturer of men's hair tonic after WWII, made famous by extensive national advertising. The building, with its Carrera glass portal and stainless steel lettering spelling out "Wildroot," is a familiar landmark in the Lovejoy Council District (represented by Richard Fontana). Originally built for Grennan Bakery of Detroit in 1929, the 100,000 square- foot building housed the largest cake bakery in the world.
The Wildroot Company got its start in the barbershop of the grand Iroquois Hotel at Main and Eagle Streets in the early 20th century. The business grew faster than most customers' hair, and around the time of World War II it sought a new location. They found it on Bailey Ave., directly on the major rail lines which converged on the East Side. 200,000 bottles of hair product were produced each day. Nat King Cole sang the company jingle and future President Ronald Reagan modeled for the print ads. Chemist Emanuel Gundlach perfected the formula and his son Robert worked mixing batches of his creation. Robert invented the modern photocopy process for a Rochester company that became known to the world as Xerox.
The Wildroot building has value as an anchor structure to a large Buffalo neighborhood, as well as being the location of a national icon from Buffalo's manufacturing and entrepreneurial peak. The building has survied long after its peak usage due to its strong structure of steel reinforced concrete and brick facade that encompasses the entire site. It provides open floorplates and the dense urban scale sought by today's adaptive use projects.
A building worth saving!