City Hall - Table of Contents

Buffalo City Hall - Lobby

2002 photos

Vestibule bronze transom is identical in design to exterior transoms

Entering the building from the high-ceilinged portico, one passes through a low vestibule in preparafion for entrance to the dramatic vaulted space of the central lobby. Under the three- story-high barrel vault, every surface is ornamented with rich materials and fine craftsmanship. An air of solemnity, even mystery, is sensed.     ...    Each of the square floor files is locked to the adjacent tile with an inlaid brass butterfly.     ...    The floor around the panels is figured green carcluth marble. The green marble also forms a continuous baseboard around the entire lobby.

Reeded pilasters of green carduth marble

The corridors are two-story-high vaults forming, at their termination, a semi-circular wall at the second story level.

The front and rear end walls of the lobby at the second floor level, display large richly colored mural paintings by William de Leftwich Dodge, a New York City artist. appear to be held aloft by two green marble pillars, as though on an easel, The painting at the rear, facing the entrance, is titled "Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form."

William de Leftwich Dodge studied in the late 19th century in Europe, notably with the French academic painter, Jean Leon Gerome. Dodge's murals won many awards in late 19th century international expositions and received praise in numerous installations in Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. His mural "Ambition" in the Library of Congress is well known. Other mural work is in respected New York hotels, among them the Astor, Algonquin, Devon, and Waldorf Astoria, in the Majestic Theater in Boston, Esquire Theater in New York, Academy of Music in Brooklyn, and Orpheum Theater in Kansas City.

Seated in the center is a heroic female figure of Buffalo, haloed in a sunburst. She is holding forth festoons of golden fruit.


The mural represents the industries of Buffalo at which her citizens work.     ...    Grain storage, agriculture, water commerce, steel making, construction, and transportation are all represented.

Larger-than-life-size solemn figures, two male, two female. They are allegorical representations of character traits that are expected of the public servant, namely: VIRTUE, DILIGENCE, FIDELITY, and SERVICE.

The four centrally located figures were sculpted by Albert T. Stewart, the sculptor of the exterior friezes. From the shoulders downward, the sculpted lines become less distinct and completely dissolve at their base.

Figures stand against a light stone pier, in a shallow niche. The stone pier rises to become a band of stone arching over the surface of the vault, united to the opposite pier, as one continuous element. The two arches divide the vault into three areas of painted acoustic tiles.

The system of interlocking "Akoustolith" tiles forming a continuous curved vault surface was installed by the Raphael Guastavino Co. of New York City.     ...    There are thousands of individual tiles in the vaults. The tiles are decorated with painted panels of designs derived from Native American signs and symbols.    ...   The center of the larger middle area has an octagon containing feathers outlined in gold, representing a Native American headdress.   ...    See ceiling by Gustavino Co. in St. Francis de Sales Church.

Captions sources:

  • Buffalo City Hall: An Americanesque Masterpiece, by John H. Conlin. Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, Buffalo, NY, 1993. Available through Western New York Wares

  • City Hall Part of the "Buffalo's Best" series

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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