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From 1880 to Today: The Buffalo Evening News building

The News building, in the 1910s.

The year that the map we’ve been plotting out was published was also the year The Buffalo Evening News was founded by Edward H. Butler with headquarters at 200 Main St.

A few successful years later, a much-lauded News headquarters building was built a few doors down at 216-218 Main St. The spot is at the northern tip of the One Seneca Tower footprint, just south of Seneca Street.

The building was The News’ headquarters for 77 years.

The passerby might not have noticed anything extraordinary outside the building, save perhaps the founder’s daughter-in-law’s Rolls-Royce parked on the sidewalk in front of the building. Mrs. Kate Robinson Butler served as president of The News and later publisher after her husband’s death in 1956.

Her car pulled right up to the front door was a sign to the staff that the publisher was in the building. In her 90s, she was still a force at The News until her death in 1974.

Longtime News reporter, editor and columnist Jeff Simon remembers first setting foot in the building as a copyboy in 1964.

“That marble counter on the first floor and all of the brass atop of it was impressive,” said Simon. “You knew you'd walked into a serious place. I loved the old building as a copyboy. My favorite place in it was the ugliest and most unsavory – the sports department on the mezzanine floor between one and two.”

If you were impressed by the Rolls-Royce and the marble, the inverse was true on that sports mezzanine. Simon’s memories of the place make it sound like a film noir version of a newsroom, starting with the fact that it was the only place in the whole building where men could smoke at their desks.

“With the low ceilings the place was dense with cigarette and cigar smoke. You're lucky if you could see two feet in front of you. On the floor – even in the early '60s –there were spittoons. And they were used.”

When downtown progress pushed The News out of its longtime home, Mrs. Butler said cost wasn’t an option as she wanted a showpiece building designed and crafted in honor of her late husband’s memory. She wasn’t well enough to step inside the building that still serves as News headquarters at One News Plaza, but was able to take a car ride around the grounds as the structure neared completion, giving her seal of approval.

One News Plaza opened in 1973. Mrs. Butler died the following year.

Mrs. Kate Butler, with other News executives in the control room at WBEN-TV, Channel 4. Mrs. Butler was president of the Buffalo Evening News as well as The News’ radio and TV stations, WBEN-AM/FM/TV.

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