Electric Tower - Table of Contents

Exterior - Electric Tower
535 Washington St., Buffalo NY

SITE

The building occupies the entire block. Here Washington Street is bordered by Genesee St. on the north, E. Huron St. on the south, and Ellicott St. on the east.

ERECTED

1912
Additions: 1924, 1927

ARCHITECTS

Esenwein & Johnson

STYLE

Beaux-Arts Classical Revival

BUILDING MATERIALS

Steel frame
White, glazed Terra cotta exterior

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

Triangular site on Washington, Genesee and Huron streets

White, glazed terra cotta parapet, overlooking Genesee Building/Hyatt Hotel, City Hall, and the Niagara River

White, glazed terra cotta parapet, overlooking Liberty Bank.

Genesee St. looking west. Genesee Building/Hyatt Hotel and Buffalo Savings Bank/M&T Bank at the right.

 

 

Beaux Arts style white, glazed terra cotta garlands

Beaux Arts style white, glazed terra cotta garlands

The original octagonal tower (at left) with wing added in the 1920s

Electric Tower - Table of Contents

The original octagonal tower (at left) with wing added in the 1920s

Huron Street wing

The 294-foot-high General Electric Building was completed in 1912 to administer the sales and distribution of electricity from Niagara Falls.

The Electric Building, now called the Niagara Mohawk Building, was opened on the site of Gruener's Hotel and Gardens and is one of the most outstanding sights on the Buffalo skyline.

The models

The archtitects, Esenwein & Johnson, had designed a building for the Pan-American Exposition the Temple of Music (where President McKinley was shot). The tallest building at the Pan-American Exposition (the theme of which was electric power) had been the Electric Tower (architect, John Galen Howard) which had been brilliantly painted and electrically lighted from top to bottom. The Goddess of Light surmounted the tower, making it 386 feet tall.

General Electric Building resembles, but is not a replica of the Pan-American's Electric Tower. Furthermore, in the 1920s, wings were added .

The General Electric Tower also echoes nineteenth-century archeologists' reconstructions of the Pharos, the lighthouse at Alexandria, that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The imagery is most persuasive at night when floodlights illuminate the top of the building.

Features

The building is a slender, octagonal 294-foot-high skyscraper sheathed in white-glazed terra cotta that makes it gleam after every rainfall. On top of the 14-story building there in a three-tiered tower crowned with a cupola and ball, looking very much like a white-frosted wedding cake in both daylight and floodlight.

The original building included the octagonal tower plus a Huron Street wing which was heightened in the 1920's when an additonal wing on Broadway was also added.

The 14th level of the tower originally contained an auditorium and a stage (later dismantled).


Sources:


Special thanks to Anthony Diina, President of Metrodata Services, Inc., for his cooperation and assistance

Photos and their arrangement © 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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