Old County Hall - Table of Contents

Old County Hall
92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY

Erected

1871-1876

Architect

Andrew J. Warner

Sculpture

Giovanni F. Sala, central tower figures

Exterior building material

Clark Island (Maine) granite
(See
The Maine Granite Industry Historical Society)

Renovation

1925, Harold Jewett Cook
1963-1980, Milstein, Wittek and Davis

Style

High Victorian Romanesque / Norman Romanesque

Status

Original function

City and County Hall.
In 1931, the present
Buffalo City Hall was completed

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


2015 photo


2002 Photos

Click on photos for larger size
- and additional information

Guaranty Building in left background; Telephone Building in right background

209' landmark tower

 

 

 

George Washington statue by J. Turkalj, 1976

The first story is of uncut Clark Island (Maine) granite with chiseled edges

 

Bush hammered Clark Island (Maine) granite

Billet

   

The clock and bell tower. The clock section and the tower originally held an observatory.

The statues were cut from 30 ton blocks of granite. Colossal figures of Justice, Mechanical Arts, Agriculture, and Commerce.

9' diameter clocks: originally illuminated by gas jets.

Each statue is 16' tall and weighed 16 tons - sculpted at Clark Island, Maine, by an Italian immigrant, Giovanni F. Sala


Background: The "new" 1965 County Hall, or, more precisely, the County hall addition

Left: Old County Hall
Right:
City Hall



The site

This building stands on the site of the Franklin Square Cemetery, Buffalo's second burial ground from 1804 to 1836, especially for soldiers of the War of 1812. (The first burial ground was east of Washington Street, above present Exchange.) In October, 1836, a brick wall was built around Franklin Square on the Eagle, Delaware and Church street sides, at a cost of $2,000, paid for by popular subscription. At that time, all the graves not marked by stones or monuments were leveled and graded even with the general surface. Many a resting-place of early residents, and of soldiers of 1812, was thus lost for identification.

It was on this site on December 10, 1813 that Colonel Cyrenius Chapin surrendered the village of Buffalo to the British However, the British then rejected his authority and proceeded to burn the village in retaliation for the American forces under General McClure having previously burned the British settlement of Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake). (See The Burning of Buffalo, by R. Arthur Bowler)

In 1851, the city bought the property of H. E. Howard, 95 by 115 1/2 feet, at the northwest corner of Church and Franklin streets. It was used for Mayor's office and other city offices until shortly before the completion of the present building in 1876.

In 1857, when Seth Grosvenor bequeathed $40,000 to the city of Buffalo for a library, $10,000 of which was to be used for a lot and building, old Franklin Square was strongly, but unsuccessfully, advocated for its site.

Style

Designed by perhaps Rochester's greatest architect, Andrew Jackson Warner, it is an outstanding example of High Victorian Romanesque. Warner was the supervising architect for Richardson's Buffalo Psychiatric Center (formerly Buffalo State Hospital), but his Romanesque style is quite different from Richardson's, although the buildings were constructed about the same time. Richardson has pointed turrets at the corners of his towers, for example, instead of the colossal female figures of Justice, Mechanical Arts, Agriculture, and Commerce that Warner uses.

Rochester's City Hall, also designed by Warner, is quite similar to Old County Hall.

Warner's Academy Building in Rochester, with its contrasting colors, is more typically Victorian.

According to Richard o. Reisem in Classic Buffalo, Warner described the style as "Norman", the term referring to Romanesque architecture in England. Regardless of the subtype, the tall tower and rounded windows and entrance mark this as Romanesque.

Interior

On the inside, only the registry of deed room, with its tall, cast-iron columns decorated with incised ornament, survives unchanged from Warner's time. The rest of the interior was thoroughly remodeled in 1925 by Harold Jewett Cook, a local architect well known for his many bank designs, into a rather typical example of "Bureaucratic classical."

McKinley lay in state here after his assassination at the 1901 Pan American Exposition. For photos, see The True Story of the Assassination of President McKinley at Buffalo


Sources:


Photos and their arrangement 2002, 2015 Chuck LaChiusa
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