German-American History in Buffalo, NY - Table of Contents

Architecture and Early German Music in Buffalo

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

Birthplace of the Buffalo Saengerbund, 1853

1853 Buffalo Saengerbund formed

Birthplace of the Buffalo Saengerbund. Charles Dorn's house, corner of Cherry and Maple Streets, in which this famous Buffalo singing society was organized, 1853.

New York Central Depot

1860 Saengerfest ("Feast of Song)

The two oldest singing societies in Buffalo, the Glee Club and the Sängerbund, established during the first decade of the North American Singing Society, participated in the song festival in Cleveland in 1859 and wished to host the song festival for 1860.

At that time Buffalo had about 80,000 residents and had no specific location for holding the festival. The great depot of the New York Central Railway was by the kind permisssion of the railway authority, changed into a concert hall for the main concert. Railway business was conducted during the intermissions.

On the 23rd of July, 1860, the song festival began with an opening concert in St. James Hall. The singers were under the direction of Julius Moevius. According to those groups present, afterwards the singers were picked up and carried through the festively decorated streets to their quarters.

Great Saengerfest Parade

1883 Great Saengerfest Parade, Main Street, July 19th, 1883

The second Saengerfest parade in Buffalo.

Mayor Philip Becker and Jacob Schoellkopf were the principals in building the Music Hall and designating Buffalo as the site of the great 1883 German Sangerfest.

1883- Saengerhalle, The First Music Hall
Southwest corner of Main and Edward Streets, across the street from St. Louis RC Church

August Esenwein, architect (before he partnered with James Johnson).

French Renaissance Revival style

Upper right: The stage and part of auditorium first Music Hall

Lower right: Ruins of Music Hall, burned March 25th 1885

Mayor Philip Becker and Jacob Schoellkopf were the principals in building the Music Hall and designating Buffalo as the site of the great 1883 German Sangerfest.

1887 The Rebuilt Music Hall (Demolished)

Far left: Built on the site of the former Saengerhalle, the Music Hall opened on October 18, 1887 and later was completely remodeled into the Teck Theater in 1900, with a seating capacity in two separate halls of 3,350. Presently a vacant lot.

Upper right: Stone carvers take a break from their work on the rebuilt Music Hall about 1886. The building, which housed Buffalo's fist symphony orchestra, later became the Teck Theatre.

Lower right: Interior of the second Music Hall as originally finished.

1901 Pan-American Exposition - Buffalo's third Saengerfest

The Saengerest, as it was called by the German population of Buffalo, had not been to the city since 1883 for its 23rd concert cycle. This festival of song was a highly publicized event, which occurred between June 25th and June 27th.

Connecticut St. Armory
One of the features of the Pan-American Exposition was the "Saengerbund," a series of concerts offered by the North American German Singing Society, a group comprised of 105 choruses from all over the country. The event was so big that it was hosted at the Connecticut St. Armory, known back then as The New 74th Regimental Armory, located at the corner of Connecticut and Niagara Streets. The armory had room for 10,000. Concerts by about 40 societies and 2,000 singers were given in the large new 74th Regiment Arsenal

Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition
The Temple of Music was designed by August Esenwein of the second most active Buffalo architectural firm at the time, Esenwein and Johnson. Esenwein was born in Germany in 1856. His family, which belonged to the knightly order, lived for more than 500 years on its ancestral estates called Esenwein-Virnsberg, in the Kingdom of Wuertemburg, South Germany. He received his education in Germany and emigrated to America in 1880. As one of the three Bufalo architects on the Pan-Am Board of Architects, he represented the substantial Buffalo German interests inthe Exposition.

A number of organ and other concerts were held in the Temple of Music.


Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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