Burgard High School (#301)
400 Kensington Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Click on photos for larger size

William B. Kamprath, "The Man and the School"
Reprinted from the 1958 yearbook


Ernest Crimi

Date of Initial Construction


See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1929

Historical and Architectural Importance

The school building applies the Art Deco style with stylized Gothic Revival style features to an industrial form. The structure utilizes horizontal bands of window glazing between vertical pier supports, a common style seen in industrial factories built at this time.

The structure was designed by Ernest Crimi. Crimi began his career with the firm Green and Wicks and later Wicks and Hopkins. He was a student of the landscape architect Bryant Fleming. In 1923 he became the architect for the Board of Education. Under his direction the following public schools were designed and built: nos. 6, 17, 28, 39, 53, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 81, Burgard Vocational High School.

The school was organized in 1910 as a printing class in the vocational department opened in Public School No. 5 on Seneca Street and Public School No. 44 on Elm Street. In 1912 the two classes were combined and moved to a rented building at Michigan and Tupper Streets, under the name of School of Printing. A move in 1914 to Technical High School's vacated building on Elm Street established it as the Elm Vocational School. The curriculum was expanded to include aviation and automobile mechanics.

An appropriation of $1,000,000 was made by the City Council in 1926 for the construction of new facilities to house the vocational school. A donation of five acres of land on Kensington Avenue was made to the City by Henry P. Burgard, a paving contractor, with the understanding that the school be named Burgard Vocational school.

Ground breaking ceremonies were held on May 7, 1929 with the corner stone laid November 22, 1929. The school, which accommodates 1,500 students, was opened in September, 1930. The building houses forty seven classrooms and shops rooms, an auditorium that seats 1,200, a double gymnasium with bleachers to seat 1,000, a swimming pool [never built], library and cafeteria.

A unique feature to the school is a four story automobile ramp used to drive cars to the top floor auto shops, and underground oil and gasoline tanks. The stage of the auditorium was constructed to exhibit automobiles with a twenty five foot rear door opening onto an auto shop.

As an approved aviation training facility, the tower contains an aeronautical lecture room with the roof platform housing weather bureau and airport instruments.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

The school building is located on the north of side Kensington Avenue between Norma and Kenova Place. The east side residential neighborhood is composed of one and one half story bungalows on small lots. The Kensington Expressway runs parallel to Kensington Avenue to the southeast.

Other Notable Features of Building and Site

The school building is a three story, seventeen bay brick structure with Art Deco styling. The rectangular shape plan is surmounted by a flat roof. The symmetrical front (east) facade has a four story center bay tower. The building is divided horizontally by an oversize band course at the first floor level. Two story brick piers with stone fluted capitals flank second and third floor windows and extend to the roof line. Bands of stone and brick mark the first floor piers. The building has a stone faced first floor with buff brick dressing the principal elevations.

The four story center bay has three recessed entrances flanked by projecting brick piers. A three story segmental arched opening enframes the second through fourth floor windows. A semicircular moulded stone drop arch caps the window. Second and third floor four part windows are paired, four light casement style, with multi light transom. Fourth floor windows have two sets of paired, four light casement style windows with lighted transom. Continuous stone mullions extend from the second to the fourth floor. Three story, three sided piers accent the ends of the tower with a stone brick band at the parapet level.

The end bays feature recessed secondary entrances enframed in stone. Above the entrance is a narrow rectangular sixteen light window with a twelve light third floor window. Brick piers flank the ends of the bay.

Window fenestration consists of paired 8/8 light windows with paneled third floor spandrels and stone lintels capping the second floor windows.

Building Materials

Stone, brick, concrete

Structural System

Steel Frame


Building-Structure Inventory Sheet - 1984; Courier Express, May 26, 1910, December 12, 1968, December 29, 1927;
Buffalo News, November 16, 1957, August 25, 1928, August 22, 1929;
Buffalo Times, October 27, 1929, September 14, 1930.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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