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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 34-A Braun Cadillac Showroom (1995)

34-A Braun Cadillac Showroom (1995)

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

Buffalo was one of the country's earliest centers for the automobile industry and more than thirty different automobiles were manufactured in Buffalo beginning at the end of the 19th century. The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company of Buffalo was to become one of the world's premier automobile and truck manufacturers.

The Pierce-Arrow Company had its origins in the firm of Heinz, Pierce and Munshauer, first organized in 1865 as Gesellgen, Heinz & Co. for the manufacture of refrigerators and birdcages. Pierce was a partner from 1873 until 1878 when he left the firm to establish a rival concern under the name of George N. Pierce & Company and in time added a line of bicycles and tricycles. Pierce introduced his "Motorette" at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 and Pierce-Arrow trucks were used extensively in Europe during World War I. The original Pierce-Arrow plant on Hanover Street was soon outgrown and a new plant was built on Elmwood Avenue at Great Arrow - land once occupied by a portion of the Midway of the Pan-American Exposition - covering fifteen acres of land. The complex had one million, sixteen thousand four hundred square feet of floor space. The main Pierce-Arrow showroom was the present Vernor Building at 752-758 Main Street next to the now razed Teck Theater. Pierce-Arrow affiliated with the Studebaker Corporation in 1928 and a new Art Deco showroom, designed by H.E. Plumer Associates and Harold F. Kellogg, was built in 1929-30 at the corner of Main Street and Jewett Avenue. Although the Studebaker Corporation failed in 1933, a group of Buffalo businessmen led by George F. Rand Jr., bought control of the Pierce-Arrow operation and kept it open under the presidency of Arthur J. Chanter until 1938 when Pierce-Arrow also went bankrupt.

This striking showroom, with its ornate exterior, beautiful tile floor and elaborate lighting system, has been the site of a Cadillac dealership for well over a half-century, beginning with the Maxson Pontiac-Cadillac Corp. A Maxson general manager, Gilbert M. Tinney, purchased the dealership in 1954 and formed Tinney Cadillac-Pontiac Corp. Since 1981, Paul J. Braun and his family have continued this long tradition of excellence and service to the Buffalo community and have in turn preserved this historic building for Buffalo's unfolding future. Mr. Braun is seen seated in a 1931 Cadillac Opera Coupe and a 1928 Pierce-Arrow Phaeton is attended by Mr. Braun's sons Christopher and Gregory. The red brick Ford Motor Company plant, built in 1915 and later used by the Trico Corporation, is seen in the background.