Richard A. Waite in Buffalo - Table of Contents

Richard A. Waite
Buffalo Express Extra Number Sept. 1888

Mr. Waite was born in London, England, May 14, 1848, and is a descendant of an old Somerset family who have borne their arms, crest, and motto since 1612. One ancestor was the Rev. D. G. Waite, LL. D., F. S. A., and another the Rev. R. Waite, LL. D., A. M.

In the year 1856 Mr. Waite's father emigrated with his family to America, and after a brief experience in New-York came to Buffalo. Thus the boyhood and school-days of our subject were passed chiefly in this city. Having a distaste for a college career, Mr. Waite began quite early in life to learn the machinist's trade in conformity with the wish of his father that he should fit himself for the profession of a mechanical engineer.

After three years experience in the workshop, he entered the draughting department of the largest marines engine works in New-York City, and while there employed was first led to contemplate architecture as a profession. An exceptional opportunity to engage in the new calling presented itself in the office of one of the leading metropolitan architects [John Kellum], and he there acquitted himself so well that the engagement was made permanent. This business relation continued some years, when Mr. Waite was led to the conclusion that it was expedient to devote his time and talents exclusively to his own work.

Mr. Waite was first brought to public attention while visiting in this city in 1872. Being invited to prepare a suggestive exterior design for the City and County Hall in place of the one accepted [by Rochester architect Andrew Warner], he submitted a perspective of which the local press said: "Although hampered by the foundations as laid, his design is in harmony with the popular idea of what a great city hall should be handsome, compact, noble in its proportions, and with a striking character of its own."

In the fall of 1873 Mr. Waite was engaged to prepare the plans and superintend the erection of the Buffalo German Insurance Company's building. and before the completion of this attractive and permanent iron structure he was commissioned to erect what was in its day Buffalo's proudest architectural ornament -- Pierce's Palace Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in February, 1881.

Each year thereafter brought its full quantum of work. Among the structures which he designed were office and bank buildings, hotels, stores, theatres, schoolhouses, and fine dwellings in this and other cities.

One of his masterpieces is the new Music Hall, Which contains much that is unique and is generally conceded to combine more points of excellence than any other great public hall in America.

The chief work which is now engrossing Mr. Waite's attention is the new Parliament and Departmental building of the Province of Ontario at Toronto. The details of this vast and complex structure, together with the requirements of several fire-proof bank and office structures which he makes his specialty, have compelled him for some months to decline all new work, among those offered having been a number of large structures in this and other cities.

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