Lafayette High School - Table of Contents

Lafayette High School
370 Lafayette Avenue, Buffalo, NY

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size and captions

The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places




The central ornamental tower is a neighborhood landmark


Lantern atop pavilion-roofed tower


Air vent

Gibbs surround.
Entablature supported by fluted curved brackets

Light fixture on either side of front doors


Brick and Medina sandstone.
Rusticated Gibbs surround

Brick. Medina sandstone courses

Front entranceway

Front entrance

Tin ceiling in classroom

Front entrance

Auditorium seating





Solid oak sliding shutters in auditorium


Esenwein & Johnson



Architectural Style

French Renaissance Revival

French Revival incorporated stylistic features from a broad period of French architecture spanning several centuries, but found its essence in the landed country estates of Brittany and Normandy. The most distinctive identifying features are the steeply pitched hipped pavilion roof and French doors. This popular style lasted well into the 1940s.


The school building is a three-story, nine bay, brick structure.


Listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1980).
Designated a local landmark by the Buffalo Preservation Board (1979).

Building Material

stone, brick, terra-cotta

Structural System

Steel frame


The school building is located on the northwest corner of Lafayette Avenue and Baynes Avenue. The west side residential neighborhood is composed of two-story late nineteenth century homes.

The size is roughly 200 feet long and 200 feet wide. It stands back 60 feet from the sidewalk on the Lafayette avenue side, and 25 feet back on the Baynes street side It is a few feet higher than sidewalk level and the lawn surrounding slopes easily and is bordered with a brownstone retaining wall, which corresponds to the steps leading to the entrances and to the trimmings in the walls of the first story.

Structural Changes

1921 - an addition was added to the rear of the building and included a gymnasium, swimming pool, cafeteria, and some classrooms.

1999 - cupola restored and returned

Historical Background

The structure is the oldest secondary school building in the city of Buffalo which has been in continuous use as an educational institution.

By 1900 the site at Lafayette and Baynes Avenues had been selected and a committee of City officials appointed to select the design of the school. 32 designs were submitted for consideration! The committee authorized the Buffalo School Association to employ an out-of-town architect (Walter Cook of NY City) to examine the perspectives and to choose six for committee consideration Ultimately, the local firm of Esenwein & Johnson was selected as architect.

The estimated cost was $250,000, although the actual cost was closer to $400,000. The school opened in September of 1903, having an attendance of 1,050 students.. (The two other existing high schools, Masten Park and Central, had 1,100 and 800 students respectively.)

The central ornamental tower, 120 feet high, with its mansard roof, is a neighborhood landmark. The body of the building is 75 feet high.

The building is E shaped. with the broken end of the letter to the rear, the top and bottom strokes representing two wings, in which the study and recitation-rooms and laboratories are located, and the central stroke the part in which the auditorium is located. This part is two stories high, while the wings are three stories high.

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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