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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 30-A Shelton Square (1994)

30-A Shelton Square (1994)

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

Shelton Square was named in honor of the Rev. Dr. William Shelton, longtime rector (1829-1882) of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the heart of downtown Buffalo. Shelton Square was an important confluence of four major Buffalo arteries - Main Street, Erie Street, Church Street and Niagara Street and was one of the busiest transportation transfer sites in the entire city, serving the International Railway Company system as well as the later Niagara Frontier Transit system. Today, the Buffalo transportation hub is located just to the east of Shelton Square on North Division Street.

The imposing Victorian Gothic church was designed by famed architect Richard Upjohn in 1850. The interior of the church was destroyed by fire in 1888 but was soon reconstructed. The Medina sandstone exterior, which withstood the fire, was once heavily covered with English ivy before a complete cleaning and restoration project was completed in 1985. The imposing steeple and its base are actually separate from the main church structure and were built a number of years after the church itself was completed, but the unique blending of the great sandstone blocks provides a unified wholeness to the entire church. In 1866 St. Paul's became the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, a position it continues to hold today.

Directly west of the cathedral is Adler and Sullivan's Guaranty (Prudential) Building, constructed in 1895-96. This is the final collaborative venture of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, giants of the "Chicago School." One of Sullivan's most gifted and prolific students was Frank Lloyd Wright whose own architectural renderings have graced Buffalo's landscape since the beginnings of this century. When Wright moved on to his own studio, he was replaced by George Elmslie whose ornamental terra cotta tiles may be seen at every level of the Guaranty Building. Themes from nature dominate these tile designs and are highly representative of the ideas which Louis Sullivan carried into his work during this period of time. The Guaranty Building is a world-class architectural site and appears in most of the architectural digests of today.

The white-sheathed terra cotta and brick Telephone Building rises to the west of the Guaranty Building and was first erected in 1903 with additions being added over the next few years. The Gothic entrance on Church Street is stunning.

To the extreme left of the painting may be seen the White Building and behind it the Dun Building. To the right of the painting rises Empire Tower, part of the Main Place Mall complex, which replaced an irreplaceable Medina sandstone edifice - the old Erie County Savings Bank building.