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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 29-A Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Building (1994)

29-A Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Building (1994)

Narrative by - David M. Rote
(Narratives are copyrighted)

In May 1901, the New York State Pavilion at the Pan-American Exposition stood proud and gleaming with its mantle of beautiful white marble, ready to receive the first of nearly eight million visitors who would pass through the Exposition's gates over the next six months. As the Exposition's official host building, many receptions and lectures would take place here and the building's longevity was assured as plans were already in place to deed the structure to the Buffalo Historical Society as its permanent home at the close of the Exposition.

Buffalo architect George Cary, one of eight members of the Exposition's Board of Architects, had designed the building in the Neo-Classic style with the south portico, depicted in this watercolor, representing a 3/4 scale version of the great Doric Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The structure was constructed by Charles Berrick and Sons and faced with marble from quarries located at Isle la Motte and Danby, Vermont.

The assassination of President William McKinley at the Exposition's Temple of Music in September of 1901 extended a pall over the otherwise popular (but financially unsuccessful) extravaganza. The site of the temple of Music is now marked by a plaque mounted on a boulder located on Fordham Drive near Lincoln Parkway.

In 1925, architect Cary was again called upon to plan and execute two identical wings to enlarge the original building and the work was completed in 1929. In July of 1930, marble allegorical figures, executed by New York City Sculptor Edmond Amateis, were raised to their place in the south pediment. The figures representing Philosophy, Industry, Art, Husbandry, History, Science, the armored god Mars, Religion and Law are viewed from left to right, respectively. Facing out onto Olmsted's Delaware Park Lake is the bronze statue of Lincoln, the Emancipator by sculptor Charles H. Niehaus, originally dedicated in 1902. For thirty years this statue was located in the Grand Court inside the Historical Building before being placed on the south portico steps. Niehaus also produced the heroic statue of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in Buffalo's Front Park (1916).

The north facade of the building is faced with three-quarter columns and the public entrance is through 2-ton bronze doors - the gift of Society president Andrew Langdon. Over the windows are unique bas-relief tablets sculpted by Edmond Amateis depicting various historical scenes relating to Buffalo and Buffalo citizens. Directly opposite the entrance is the sculpture The Centaur by Charles Cary Rumsey, a kinsman of architect George Cary.