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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 36-A Delaware Park Casino (1996)

36-A Delaware Park Casino (1996)

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

Frederick Law Olmsted’s environmental ideas for natural, picturesque landscaping schemes in his various park designs also included a more formal area which would serve as a focal point for public gatherings. Such a place was designed in Buffalo by Olmsted’s partner Calvert Vaux in 1874-75 in the form of a “boat house” located at the western end of Delaware Park Lake (Hoyt Lake). Its overall appearance was a distinctive blend of Tudor and Gothic details. By 1885 the popularity of the “boat house” location led to an enlarging of the original structure under the watchful eye of architect E.L.Holmes who retained the Vaux-inspired "look."

The excitement generated by the proposed Pan-American Exposition in 1901 encouraged a bold design for a new building of brick and stone to be built just to the southeast of Vaux "boat house." Responsibility for this structure rested with famed Buffalo architect E.B. Green and the resulting three-story “casino” with its Mediterranean-style tile roof was to dominate the lake area until 1960. Green also designed the adjacent Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the stone bridge which crosses Scajaquada Creek.

The movement from the “old” inner city to the “new” suburbs was in full force by 1960, the Scajaquada Expressway now knifed its way through the area and a desire for things “modern” was dominating architectural concerns across the land.

The Casino became a “victim” of such modernization in 1961 under a full-blown renovation by Melvin Morris. All signs of the historic E.B. Green structure had disappeared under a new facade of enamel panels, concrete and a lowered roof line. Yet by 1990, the 1961 renovation was to give way to a more traditional “restored” version under the guidance of Buffalo’s City Architect Edward Lindsay and it is this “restored” Casino, reflecting the Green influence but with greater simplicity more in tune to an Olmsted/Vaux sensibility, which is depicted in this watercolor.

“Shakespeare In The Park”, held behind the Casino adjacent to the restored Rose Garden, draws thousands each year for a series of cultural treats and memories again paint a picture of canoes and row boats moving peacefully across the surface of the lake on a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon.