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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 40-A Erie Community College - City Campus

40-A Erie Community College - City Campus

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

During the last decade of the 19th century the United States government, through the Department of the Treasury, launched major construction projects around the country to build a series of impressive post offices and government buildings in key cities, making Buffalo a natural choice as it was the 8th largest and one of the most progressive cities in the nation at the turn of the century.

This massive 5 ½ story pink granite Gothic structure, covering an entire city block bordered by Ellicott, South Division, Oak and Swan Streets, is dominated by a 244 foot Romanesque Florentine tower enhanced with studded finials and carved gargoyles. On the corners of a ledge below the gargoyles are four granite eagles and over the main entrance an impressive stone eagle, symbolizing the United States government, keeps vigil. To each side of the doorway is stylized bison head representing the great city of Buffalo and a series of gables dominate the mansard roofline with a safety railing skirting the roof’s edges.

The cornerstone was laid June 19, 1897 and the building officially dedicated on March 20, 1901. Built at a cost of $2,000,000.00 and replacing the old US post office and court house at Seneca and Washington Streets, the main floor of the new building was given over to the post office facilities while other floors housed federal courtrooms, the custom house and other government offices. A great skylighted court dominates the central portion of the building, which accesses four floors of arched galleries.

Supervising Treasury architect Jeremiah O’Rourke’s original plans were favorably modified by William M. Aiken and James Knox Taylor who continued the work with contributions by Buffalo consulting architects Edward Metzger and Edward A. Kent who was to later die in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

After the main post office was moved to new quarters on William Street in 1963, this building continued to serve as a branch post office and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. However it was soon threatened with demolition and thanks to the public spirit and tenacity of Erie County Legislator Joan Bozer and others, the old post office was readapted for use as a college in 1981 under the supervision of Cannon Design and is a key anchor in the rebuilding and regrowth of downtown Buffalo.