Share this article

print logo

Take a photo tour of six of Buffalo's architectural time capsules

Buffalo's architectural treasure trove includes a number of places that might be considered frozen in time, as Michelle Kearns documented in her "Buffalo: Frozen in Time" piece.

Visit any of these places and you'll feel like you've stepped back in the 1940s, or the 1960s, or even the 1700s.

Here are the six locations Kearns spotlighted. Click on the photos to view a more extensive gallery of each.


M&T Gold Dome Bank

The lobby of M&T Bank's Gold Dome building. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

The lobby of M&T Bank's Gold Dome building. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Opened in 1901, the bank was designed by architect E. B. Green with William Sydney Wicks, with the interior completed in 1925. The building is made from granite and done in a Neoclassical Beaux-Arts style. The dome is covered in 23.75 carat gold leaf sheets.

"The bankers were trying to create a place that looked like your money would be safe," said Robert W. VonLangen, M&T Bank property manager, who remembers coming to the building as a boy with his father to open up his first bank account.


M&T Bank headquarters

1005011795 M&T BANK ONE M#3

Push through the revolving doors of the M&T Bank headquarters in the heart of downtown Buffalo and step into a scene from 1960s Mad Men Style. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

The M&T Bank headquarters was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the samr architect of the World Trade Center's twin towers, opened in 1967. The lobby features high ceilings and windows that stretch from the floor up.

"Feels like an episode of 'Mad Men' in here. In a good way," said Mark Shepard, property manager.


Darren's Tavern

1005012316 DAREN'S TAVERN#6

Pull up a stool at the well-worn wooden bar at Darren's Tavern on Howard Street, and it's like having a beer when it was an 1894 watering hole. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

The old workingman’s bar on the corner of Howard and Metcalfe streets has the sleepy calm of its century-old ingredients that surrounded patrons since they drank beer by its bygone owner, Magnus Beck Brewing Co.

The tin ceiling pressed with curlicues is yellow with nicotine. A small lion carved into the mirror frame roars over the long wood bar top. Buffed and worn to a lighter shade of dark chocolate, that’s where 72-year-old proprietor Renate Ayerst now sets down bottles of Budweiser for her afternoon regulars.


Fort Niagara

1002783563 Old Fort Niagara

Imagine befriending Senecas in 1726 as a French soldier at the stone house “castle” of Fort Niagara. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The oldest of the grey limestone Fort Niagara buildings the French built in 1726 on the Niagara River looks more like a grand old house than a fort. It’s called the “castle” and was designed to appease the wary Senecas.

They preferred wood forts, which they could more easily burn down when relationships soured. So the openings in the roof for soldiers to shoot from look more like attic windows than gun holes. “They had to carefully hide any defensive features,” said the fort’s executive director, Bob Emerson.


Col. Ward Pumping Station

1005130499 pumping statio#5

The steampunk vibe of the Col. Ward Pumping Station. (Derek Gee/ The Buffalo News)

Step inside Buffalo’s Porter Avenue waterworks, which first opened in 1916, and see towering steam engines with black tubes, wheels and scaffolding surrounded by a walkway lined with street lamps.

A century ago, citizens came to the Col. Ward Pumping Station to pay their water bills and take in the surreal, sky-lit scene beneath the trussed roof, said Martin Wachadlo, a local architectural historian.

“You knew where your money was going,” said Wachadlo. “It’s one of the few places in the country where you can see these gigantic steam engines still in place. There’s almost nowhere you can see something like this. It’s really an extraordinary vision of America’s industrial past.”


St. Gerard's Lyceum bowling alley

1005047526 Frozen time Ge#5

The 1950s-style bowling alley at St. Gerard's Place. (Robert Kirkham/ The Buffalo News)

The furnishings of St. Gerard's Church's parish hall – called a “lyceum” after the Latin term for a social and educational place – were carefully crafted in an artisan style common to post-war America. Even the bowling ball return machine has stylized fins, like those common on 1950s-era cars.

“It’s a bowling alley at a church and it looks like something out of the Jetsons,” said Marty Biniasz, co-founder of Forgotten Buffalo tours.

There are no comments - be the first to comment