Sovereign Apartments........................................Stratford Arms

 Charles N. Agree in Buffalo, NY
Text by Patrick Mahoney

Charles Nathaniel Agree (1897-1982)

Charles N. Agree, an architect from Detroit. He was the designer of the Stratford Arms (25 West Utica) and the Sovereign Apartments (1165 Delaware Ave.).

He was associated with the Buffalo architects Lewis and Hill on both projects. (Robert A. Hill was the architect who created the Lawrence Tea Room in the Wilcox Mansion in 1938).

Agree is has been called one of the fifteen best architects from Detroit (in the company of Albert Kahn, The Saarinens, & Yamasaki).

Charles Nathaniel Agree was born in Russia and emigrated to the United States in 1904. Agree was schooled in Detroit, Michigan at the YMCA Technical School. After graduation he was employed by the Russian born attorney and real estate developer, Louis Smilansky (1884-1946). Smilansky owned the ‘Elless’ Company (based upon Smilansky’s initials) which developed Agree’s first major architectural project, The Whittier Hotel.  Agree became Vice President of the Elless Company and also maintained his own architectural practice. His firm specialized in upscale apartment buildings and later developed an expertise in live theater design. 
Agree determined that the waterfront location for the Whittier possessed poor soil conditions which made conventional foundation systems impractical.  These soil conditions led him to develop a floating slab foundation inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s foundations for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Early landmark structures designed by Agree in Detroit include the Whittier Hotel (1921/1926), Belcrest Hotel (1926), The Hollywood Theatre (1927), Grande Ballroom (1928), Vanity Ballroom (1929), and Harpos Theatre (1939). After World War Two the firm specialized in Shopping Center design and was joined by Charles son, A. Arnold Agree (1923-2003).

Charles N. Agree designed the Sovereign Apartments
at the Northeast corner of Delaware Avenue and West Ferry in 1924

The Buffalo firm of Lewis and Hill acted as Associate Architects for the project. 

The Buffalo Sunday Express reported that the Sovereign surpassed all local apartments in size and was of the ‘Colonial Type’. 

M.M. Robinson of Lincoln Properties Corp. of Detroit was the principal owner during construction. The fifty-nine apartment structure contained one hundred ninety three rooms and was sold to the Reed Service Corporation upon completion. The building’s primary materials are cut stone and tapestry brick.

Following the construction of the Sovereign Apartments Agree designed a second Buffalo project, The Stratford Arms bachelor hotel at 25 West Utica Street. The hotel was also developed by M.M. Robinson and was reported to have cost five hundred thousand dollars. The English Tudor styled project was also overseen by Associate Architects Lewis and Hill of Buffalo.  The structure was acquired by the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition in 1992 and is operated as Basilone Manor [in 2016].

Color photos and their arrangement 2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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