Treasure-trove documenting Atomic Age suburbia, saved by Campaign, made accessible by History Museum
The staggering archives of house builders Pearce & Pearce—including over 4,000 file folders stuffed architectural renderings, paint specifications, finishing options, costs, sale prices, and more, plus hundreds of blueprints–saved through the efforts of Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman in 2017, have now been digitally indexed by The Buffalo History Museum, where the invaluable collection resides.
Tielman first laid eyes on the files in 2003 while researching a bicycle tour that included Pearce & Pearce's Green Acres subdivision. The staff was just then preparing to dispose thousands of deteriorating blueprints, going back to the immediate post-war building boom. Tielman, agog at the blueprints and the 1950's office-as-time-capsule they were contained in, persuaded Bill Pearce, family scion, not to toss them.
Eight years later, Tielman was back, doing research for his paper, "How Green Were My Acres: Builders, Designers, and Buyers in an Atomic Age Suburb, 1946-1956." In 2016, Tielman got a call from Bill Pearce, notifying him that the company's real estate assets were being put up for sale and the office would have to be cleared out. Now was the time to find a permanent home. Not wanting the archives to end up outside the area, Tielman eventually was able to link up Pearce with the History Museum Director Melissa Brown and Library & Archives Director Cynthia Van Ness (a long-time Campaign member).
The History Museum accepted the archives in 2017; intern Alexander Morehouse (Syracuse University) did yeoman's work indexing the file drawers.
There is no comparable archive anywhere. There are dozens of theses and books waiting to be written based on the material, which can keep historians busy for decades. Viewing the material itself requires a visit to the museum, but you can see what is there with the index: https://tinyurl.com/
And the finding aid: https://opac.