Green & Wicks-designed factory for Brunn & Company, designers of Lincoln,
Pierce Arrow, custom cars
Seymour Knox-backed Aqua-Cheetah made splash in WWII
Agent for Medical Campus recently demolished Green & Wicks house on site
On Tuesday October 24 at 2:00pm, the Buffalo Common Council's Committee on Legislation is holding a public hearing on the designation of the Brunn Coachworks site (also known as 980 Ellicott Street) as an official City of Buffalo landmark.
The Buffalo Preservation Board, after its own public hearing, recently voted unanimously to designate an early automobile factory as a City of Buffalo landmark. The landmark application was put together after months of research revealed a fascinating history of the site, not readily apparent in its modest scale, nor in the information provided to the Preservation Board when the owners applied to demolish parts of the site in February.
Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director Tim Tielman was appointed to an ad hoc committee that researched the property.
“The first thing we found was that a small house on the site was designed by Green & Wicks, then that most of the factory itself had been," said Tielman. "Every piece of digging led to more discovery. The very first presidential limousine made to Secret Service specifications was built there by the Brunn coachworks for Franklin Roosevelt (photo above). Then we found out an amphibious vehicle was manufactured there. It turned out to be the world's first. A U.S. Army representative was aboard for the launching at the South Grand Island Bridge (left). A film of the grand event, led by Seymour Knox, Jr., survives. So does the original amphibious vehicle—it is in a museum in New Jersey that I visited in July.
"We also pieced together the enduring partnership between an engineer who built a futuristic "Rocket Car" and his master 'body man.' After the war they produced the Playboy Motor Car. We have a letter from Hugh Hefner saying that was the source of the name of his magazine.
"The coachworks complex is the embodiment of how industries developed during Buffalo's peak—people with creativity and energy linking up with other creative people who had the capital to make it happen. On this site it happened again and again over a 50 year period. That's why the site deserves designation as a landmark."
Certainly to protect it from any more demolitions. Judge Diane Devlin refused to prolong a temporary restraining order the Campaign had obtained from Judge Henry Nowak in the spring, and the building owner contemptuously demolished the Green & Wicks house on the site before The Campaign's attorney, Richard Berger, had even seen the judge's decision and order, or been notified. There was no opportunity to appeal the decision. Tielman drove by the sight in the early evening of June 28, to find that the house had been demolished. So hastily, it seems, no fencing was up to protect the public. Apparently, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus had a standing instruction to demo the house as soon as a decision was reached. That is contempt.
Download the Coachworks site documentation below.
2017 Open-Air Autobus tours underway! Have fun, imbibe some entertaining information, and help historic preservation all at once!
Hi Gang, check out our tours for Summer 2017: our ever-popular Whirlwind Tour and our new Picturesque Buffalo Tour.
All the info you need is on the reproductions of our mini-posters below. You can download the pdfs, pass them along to friends, or print them out!
Reserve online by clicking the button below, or call us for reservations at 716-854-3749.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo's 2017 Open-Air Autobus tours
Dear Buffalo Lover, there is simply no better way to see Buffalo and grasp what it is all about than a tour on the Open-Air Autobus. 2017 is our 11th season. It really is the best way to get around and see, hear, and smell Buffalo (ahh, toasted oats, chicken wings, charcoal-grilled hot dogs!).
Open-Air Autobus tours are built on 30 years’ worth of architectural and his- torical research by members of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture in the course of preservation activities. The tours enhance our educational mission and help cover the costs of wide-ranging preservation work.
The Campaign is Buffalo’s most dynamic preservation organization. Our tours reflect our character: Passionate, lively, and knowledgeable. Five-star reviews: People rave about us on TripAdvisor.
The Campaign’s tours are popular, informative, well-done. We are the go-to organization for the general public and experts alike.
By doing a tour, you are doing good: We are a charitable organization chartered by the New York State Dept. of Education. Revenues are plowed directly back into local historic preservation.
The Buffalo Whirlwind Tour
• 10:00am Saturdays & Sundays July 1 - September 3.
• Meet at Elmwood & Potomac Aves. $25. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.
• Reservations: Click on button below or call 716-854-3749
There are few places you can see buildings by America’s Big Three architects— Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and H.H. Richardson— plus a park system by Frederick Law Olmsted. Buffalo is one of them.
On this tour, besides the master works by the Masters, you’ll see scores of other beautiful buildings and houses by prominent national and international architects and the streets and neighborhoods where Buffalonians carry on their everyday lives.
We start with the foundation of modern Buffalo, and modern urban America: The building and grounds of what was the Buffalo State Hospital, designed by H.H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted, conceived in 1870. We end with the Heath House by Frank Lloyd Wright of 1904.
In between, you’ll see world-altering industrial architecture, the preening mansions of Delaware Avenue, and the prototype for the skyscraper, Sullivan’s Guaranty Building. We’ll put it all in context for you, as we point out dozens of buildings as markers of Buffalo’s progress through the years.
• Kleinhans Music Hall • First Presbyterian Church • Ellicott Square by Daniel Burnham & Co. • St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral by Richard Upjohn • The Canal District • Niagara & Lafayette squares • Millionaires’ Row • Allentown Historic District • Delaware Historic District • City Hall and Old County Hall • Theater Historic District • Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln parkways
The Whirlwind tour is an astounding 90-minute tour of a great American city, given by the passionate experts of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture.
The Picturesque Buffalo Tour
• 12:30 Saturdays & Sundays July 1 - Sept. 3
• Meet at Elmwood & Potomac Aves. $20.
• Discounts for groups of 10 or more.
• Reservations: Click on button below or call 716-854-3749
Buffalo’s development wasn’t all about bare-knuckled capitalism, political turpitude, and pell-mell growth. Fun as that was, the sense that the city needed some civic grace came to the fore after the Civil War. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central Park in New York, were brought in. They conceived a system of expansive parkland and parkways with residential areas of curving streets.
It was capital-P-Picturesque, for the movement that shaped England from the late 18th century onward. Olmsted envisioned the neighborhood of Parkside, built by others a generation later, just as the Arts and Crafts movement was peaking, and wonderful examples of the style line the streets by the dozen.
Buffalo was left a legacy which pays dividends to this day. Enjoy a 60-minute ride through Buffalo’s most beguiling precincts and see how artistic principals were integrated with urban planning and domestic architecture. Delaware Park, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, and Craftsmen bungalows highlight this tour given by the capital-P Passionate Experts of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture.
Charter the Open-Air Autobus!
Tour anywhere around Buffalo anytime you want by chartering the Open-Air Autobus. There is no better way to see, hear, smell the city. We’ve done tours for students from grade 2 to graduate students, weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, and corporations. You get a ride like no other and expert commentary from the passionate pros of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture. We know our stuff!
• 46-person capacity • See-thru, roll-down rain fly • $700 for up to two hours with expert commentary; longer tours available • About $15 per person at capacity • $400 for up to three hours for bus & driver only • Take a walking tour with same top-notch experts: $200 for 2 hrs. for up to 20 people; $10 ea. add’l. Call now: 716-854-3749
Once again, The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is conducting a special Open-Air Autobus tour that covers the route of the annual Buffalo Marathon. Although focusing on runners and their friends and families, the tour is open to the general public. It is an ideal way to scout the route, fix landmarks and distances in your mind, and learn a little bit of the history and architecture of the city. While it has never been used, the bus has a roll-down, see-through roof in case of rain.
The cost is $40 per person in advance, plus convenience fee, and $50 at the curb. Seating is limited to the first luck 46 people to sign up, so you'd best do it today! Call 716-440-3691 today to charge by phone, or click on the button to pay now.
More info on our handy flyer: Download Marathon poster 2017
Tim Tielman, Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director and principal of neighborhood designers Place Advantage, rolled out an Outer Harbor Plan for 2017 before an audience of over 120 people on September 14. The plan had gained the enthusiastic support of Congressman Brian Higgins and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, as well as The Buffalo News.
Check out the story in the Buffalo News:
Download the abbreviated plan here, and voice your support! Download Buffalo Outer Harbor Plan
September is the season for great in-depth tours of the Buffalo for architectural and history aficionados and the people who love them.
We start off with a well-researched, revealing and fun tour of 1950's suburbia given by Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director Tim Tielman. Download his paper How Green Were My Acres: Builders, Designers, and Buyers in an Atomic Age Suburb, 1946-1956. Download Tielman, Green Acres narrative 2 That tour departs from in front of the Plaka Restaurant on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. A monument to 1960's design, it was formerly Watson's Restaurant (the candy store is still operating next door as Watson's). Before that, it was the Alcobar. Have breakfast there beforehand or lunch afterwards. Or both!
The next day, Sunday the 11th, city planner Chris Hawley, who may know more about the Belt Line Railroad and its adjacent neighborhoods and industries than anyone, is leading a tour of this fascinating wonder that continues to operate today.
Download the September Schedule:
The 10th Season of the Buffalo Open-Air Autobus is Underway! Explore Buffalo with entertaining experts who give the Buffalo tours to end all Buffalo tours!
Click on the link to view or download the 2016 schedule for the Buffalo Open-Air Autobus. Simply the best, most fun, most informative explorations of Buffalo available to mortals. Every Saturday and Sunday in July, August, and September.
Weekdays and weekends through September we are also available for charter.
Walk-ups are welcome, but seating is limited. You can mail us a check, stating the tours and number of seats you want (made out to The Campaign for Greater Buffalo, 14 Lafayette Square, suite 1425, Buffalo, NY 14203).
Better yet, call now to reserve: 716-854-3749. Have your bank card ready (a small fee applies).
Or order online below, but do BOTH steps!
STEP ONE: If you want to order through Paypal, text us at 716-854-3749 or email us at [email protected] Give us your name, the number of seats you want to purchase, the tour name, and date. Like this: "Hi, it's Pat Smith. I'm buying 3 seats for the Aug. 27 Whirlwind Tour."
If you don't text us or email us, we have no idea of the date you want; when you hit the Paypal button, YOU LEAVE OUR WEBSITE and Paypal's system doesn't allow you to enter date info or get back to this page. Paypal only gives us your name and amount paid, nothing else.
STEP TWO: Tap the Paypal buttons below to select the type and number of seats you want. Paypal will send us a message confirming that you have paid.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture has filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the Buffalo Common Council’s summary rejection of three landmark designation applications lon May 10th. The Campaign complaint charges that the Council, as the City Code requires, must provide valid reasons for rejecting applications, and those must be according to the standards established by the City Code.
The Campaign is also seeking an injunction against the demolition of the three properties in question, The Bachelor Apartment Building, the North Park Library, and the Pratt Street Industrial Heritage Area. Also named in the suit are the Ellicott Development Company and the Crosby Company.
The case has been assigned to Judge Catherine Nugent Panepinto, and has been scheduled to be heard on July 21. The Campaign is monitoring all three sites and will seek a temporary restraining order if any demolition seems imminent before the case can be heard.
“In not addressing the merits of the Preservation Board’s decision, the Council is acting arbitrarily, and in a way that is harmful not only to the properties involved , but in a way that erodes public confidence in the Council’s ability to safeguard the city’s cultural resources,” said Tim Tielman, Executive Director of the Campaign. “There is no credible protection for a city’s historic resources if a council or an administration can take such arbitrary action. It utterly undermines the landmarks law and the Preservation Board. The Preservation Board exists to provide expert, objective decisions removed from politics or whimsy. Citizens will see the decisions as politically motivated, and the preservation process as just another system that can be gamed. We have no choice but to take action.”
The Bachelor Building is an 1886 apartment building at Franklin and Tupper streets, designed by Green & Wicks, Buffalo’s most accomplished architectural firm.
The North Park Branch Library, at the corner of Delaware and Hertel avenues, is the work of prolific City Architect Howard Beck, who also deigned the grounds.
The Pratt Street Industrial Heritage Area, at Pratt and William streets, includes buildings constructed for distilleries, malthouses, and the Crosby metal stamping company fro the mid-1800’s to the early 1900’s.
All are threatened with demolition, the Bachelor Building for a parking ramp, the Pratt Street buildings because of benign neglect, and the North Park Library for a retail building.