Ellicott Square Building - Exterior
295 Main St., Buffalo, New York

Ellicott Square Building - Table of Contents

In 1797, Joseph Ellicott, agent of the Holland Land Co., laid out the village of New Amsterdam, now the city of Buffalo. He reserved for his residence and private estate the most desirable location in the village, which was on the east side of Main Street, extending from Swan Street to Eagle Street.

Subsequently, for about 100 years, his heirs and their successors retained title to that part of the property between Swan Street and South Division Street, extending from Main Street to Washington Street. This area has therefore been known, and is still known, as "Ellicott Square." See Ellicott Square Block for six photos of the buildings that were located on the block prior to the Ellicott Square Building


Click on photos to enlarge

Joseph Ellicott

Daniel H. Burnham

C. 1900 photo



2001 photo

Postcard. Note cornice on top of building

Cornice removed in 1971

Terra cotta Medusa cornice ornament

South facade (Swan St.)

Front Main Street facade - above the entrance. Terra-cotta ornamentation. Note dentils and triglyphs and drops

South facade (Swan St.). Note keystones and Roman arches with egg-and-dart ornamentation

South facade (Swan St.)

South facade (Swan St.). Note egg-and-dart and bead-and-reel ornamentation

South facade (Swan St.). Leaf-and-dart, egg-and-dart , laurel leaves and rosette

South facade (Swan St.). Vermiculated bricks, wave scroll, dentils

South facade (Swan St.) iron ornamentation

South facade (Swan St.). Detail of previous photo

In 1895, the Ellicott Company commissioned architect Daniel H. Burnham of Chicago to design what they referred to as an "office block" in downtown Buffalo. The result was a building occupying the entire space between Main, South Division, Washington, and Swan Streets. Its 10 stories, 60 offices, and 40 stores, along with its central court, made it the world's largest office structure of its time, at a cost of 3.5 million dollars. It was on May 30, 1896, only one year following its inception, that the Ellicott Square Building -- the largest, finest, and most complete office building in America -- took its place as a finished structure in the front rank of the notable features of the city of Buffalo.

Like Burnham and Root's Rookery in Chicago, it is constructed around a large interior court. The elaborate terra-cotta exterior, now painted gray, which in its essential lines follows Richardson's Marshall Field Wholesale Store in Chicago, was conceived by Charles B. Atwood (1849 - 1895), the designer-in-chief of the World's Columbian Exposition and master of "all artistic matters" in the Chicago-based firm of D. H. Burnham and Company.

The architecture of Ellicott Square may be termed "Italian Renaissance," with refined and classic ornamental features. To the top of the second story, the outer walls consist of granite, iron, and terra-cotta , with a veneer of pearl-gray brick and terra cotta trimmings above -- the whole being adequately crowned with a cornice of massive proportions and great beauty (removed in the 1970s). The effect was to reproduce the quiet dignity, repose, and impressive grandeur of the great palaces of Rome and Florence.

See also: 2011 - Photo taken from the Liberty Building


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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