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Calumet Building may change hands

The historic Calumet Building on West Chippewa Street in downtown Buffalo could be in for new ownership and a major overhaul.

Longtime owner Mark Goldman confirmed he's in talks with real estate entrepreneur Anthony Kissling to sell the historic structure, known for its detailed terra cotta facade.

According to Goldman, Kissling, who owns numerous residential and commercial properties in Buffalo and New York City, is interested in adding floors to the three-story structure to develop upscale residential space.

"He's got quite ambitious plans for the Calumet, and I just don't have the ambition or desire to do more than I already have. It's time for new energy I guess," Goldman said.

Kissling declined to comment, but Goldman said he has a sale contract with the prospective buyer that will expire at the end of March.

"He's doing his homework, and we'll see what happens next month," Goldman said.

Goldman, who bought the building in 1988 for $305,000, did extensive repairs to its elaborate terra cotta facade, which features elaborate patterns in glazed cream and burnt sienna tile work.

In addition to restoring one of Buffalo's architectural gems, Goldman is credited with kicking off the transformation of West Chippewa from a rough and tumble corridor to Buffalo's entertainment centerpiece by opening the Calumet Arts Cafe on the building's ground floor in 1990.

"I still have strong ties to the building. It's a beautiful, wonderful thing, no question about it," Goldman said.

Designed by Esenwein & Johnson, the Art Nouveau structure, located at the corner of West Chippewa and Franklin streets, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The building's unusual facade features an extravagant display of terra cotta stalks and leaves that seem to climb up the face of the building to meet rows of sunflowers at the cornice.

The name Calumet, which is spelled out in tile relief above one of its West Chippewa entrances, is a reference to a long-stemmed ceremonial pipe used by Native Americans. The building's stem designs resemble those found on the pipes.

After purchasing the then-derelict building, Goldman had the building's steel frame restored and had damaged and missing sections of the terra cotta replicated by Boston Valley Terra Cotta.

The interior of the building is much less historically significant due to the multitude of uses over its lifetime -- including as a meeting place for the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan -- which have left it devoid of most original details.

The ground floors are currently tenanted by Bacchus, a wine bar and restaurant operated by Steve Calvaneso, as well as the Third Room and La Luna, run by Goldman's son.


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