Another Architectural Masterpiece Hiding In Plain Sight

Another Architectural Masterpiece Hiding In Plain Sight

A couple of days ago, on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, I got to thinking about the Twin Towers in NYC, One M&T Plaza here in Buffalo, and their common designer/architect, Minoru Yamasaki.  

Yep, that’s right, One M&T Plaza was designed by the same architect who designed the World Trade Center.  As a matter of fact, Yamasaki completed the design for the World Trade Center while One M&T Plaza was being built.

Photo Credit:  Nancy Wohlfeil.  One of the Twin Towers pre 2001.  Looks like a photo I would have taken, doesn’t it?

Yamasaki (rt.) shown with colleagues and a model of the World Trade Center.  Photo Credit:  Tony Vaccaro

You could say that One M&T Plaza is another one of our architectural treasures that is hiding in plain sight.  We pass by it all the time.  We watch bands there every weekday in the summer.  We run over there to grab a quick bite from a food truck, or to do our banking on our breaks.  But do we ever really look at it?  Or even recognize it for the masterpiece that it is, or for the incredibly talented architect who designed it? 

Let’s start with the architect.  Who was Minoru Yamasaki?  

Well, he was born in Seattle, Washington in 1912.  Yamasaki was a second generation Japanese American who put himself through college by working at a salmon cannery for 17 cents an hour.  Seeing the elderly men working in the cannery, he became very determined to take his life in a completely different direction.  

His uncle, architect Koken Ito, visited the family and showed Yamasaki plans for the U.S. Embassy Building in Tokyo.  It was then that Yamasaki set his sights on becoming an architect.  After graduating from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s Degree, he went on to receive a Master’s Degree from New York University. 

Early in his career, Yamasaki was heavily influenced by the practicality and austerity of the modern or international style of architecture.  But in 1955, he traveled to Japan to get some ideas for a U.S. Consulate building in Kobe. While he was there, he was particularly struck by the temples hidden among the commotion of the city streets.  The beautiful, calm, serene effect that was achieved in these designs fascinated him.

Robertson Hall, Princeton University.  Photo Credit:

He set out to perfect the art of delighting the senses while using modern building materials such as concrete and steel.  His designs always drew attention, but not always in a positive way. They were criticized for being both too dainty and later too great and powerful looking.  I guess it’s true what ‘they’ say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

While working for Duane Lyman and Associates, Yamasaki was commissioned to design One M&T Plaza.  Executives at M&T had a vision of a serene place for their employees to work unencumbered by poor design, with a place out of doors, in the sun to relax during break times.  They wanted their employees to enjoy being at work, feel stress free and surrounded by beauty. In 1966 that was quite a change in vision from the Ellicott Square Building across the street, which was built in 1895 and advertised as the “place where you can get two days worth of work done in one day”.  It seems to me that in 1966 we were moving in the right direction. And Yamasaki was just the person to design this building.  

It’s in the International style like almost all of Yamasaki’s designs and has 21 stories.  It’s a classic tripartite design, which simply means that the design has three sections.  

The first floor with high ceilings and tall arched windows, faced with marble in white and green, the green being on both the north and south elevations make up the first section.  It’s followed by the office block which houses narrow windows, and piers made with concrete aggregate with small pores that self clean the building when it rains. (It’s effective too. Think about it, you’ve never seen this building appear dirty like some others.  Case in point, the Rand Building.)  The office block is topped by the third and final section, which is a series of white verticals with just a slight hint of a cornice above.  This is the basis for most modern skyscrapers.

As a side note, Yamasaki designed the windows to be tall and narrow with very narrow piers.  This is said to alleviate that woozy feeling that accompanies the fear of heights from the inside of the building.  He did this on all of his tall buildings you see, because he was afraid of heights. Can you imagine? A designer of skyscrapers, afraid of heights?

The steel for the frame was purchased from Bethlehem Steel here in Buffalo, and wraps around the outside of the structure leaving the inside of the building wide open at the center.  The spine at the back of the building on Washington Street houses all the utilities and elevator shafts, allowing for this great openness on the inside.  

Incidentally, this spine was built of concrete in a process known as slipforming, a method of construction in which concrete is poured into the top of a continuously moving formwork.  As the concrete is poured, the formwork is raised vertically at a speed which allows the concrete to harden before it is freed from the formwork at the bottom.  Slipforming was used extensively in Buffalo in the building of our grain silos.

The fountain outside the Main Street entrance was designed by famed sculptor Harry Bertoia.  The curves of the sculpture contrast nicely against the straight lines of the building itself.  The fountain is designed to make you feel as if the water flows out of the sculpture itself onto the ground of the plaza, which is entirely stone, in M&T signature green.  That same stone continues right through the front doors and into the enormous open lobby.

And the lobby is impressive.  You only need to walk through the door (use the revolving door for the full effect) to be awed by the sheer size and openness of it!  I’m told on this visit today that there will be a reorganization of the lobby in the coming months and will be completed in early 2020.

The photo above was taken by me today 9/13/2019.  I’m told the chairs in this photo will be replaced with the original chairs (below) when the reorganization of the lobby is complete.

Photo credit:  Mark Mulville, Buffalo News.

Think for a moment about Manufacturers & Traders Trust Bank.  It was founded in Buffalo in 1856, as Manufacturers and Traders Bank by two very prominent Buffalo businessmen, Hascal Pratt and Bronson Rumsey. That’s 163 years ago!  And M&T has maintained a very strong presence here ever since. Even when businesses and people alike were leaving Buffalo in droves in the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s, M&T stayed.  And on top of that, just as everyone else was leaving, they hired one of America’s best architects to build this building in the heart of the downtown business district, with a clear vision for their employees. 


A place to work in relative serenity.  A place to sit in the sun and relax on breaks and at lunch time.  Anyone who works or spends any time downtown knows that this is exactly what happens in the plaza that surrounds the building.  Especially in the warm months. Yamasaki realized that vision in both the building and the plaza.

As I sit on the wall in the sun today outside One M&T Plaza, I am grateful that Yamasaki didn’t live to see the horrifying fate of his World Trade Center and the massive loss of lives on September 11, 2001.  

But I do sort of wish he could sit here with me today, seeing his plaza at the M&T Building still being used fifty some years later just as he had intended.

If you have never experienced lunch hour at M&T Plaza, head over to the corner of North Division and Main Street to take in some rays, sit back and relax for an hour and just enjoy the people and the plaza.  

And don’t forget to head inside to see that awe inspiring lobby!

Share your thoughts on One M&T Plaza in the comments below.

The Glenny Building

The Glenny Building

The Glenny Building has intrigued me ever since I learned that the entire facade of the building, all five stories, is made of cast iron.  I have never heard of that before.  The whole front of a building being built with the stuff of frying pans!  I mean everyone who is of, ahem, a certain age, has owned a cast iron frying pan at some point in their lives.  I still use the one my mother-in-law received as a wedding shower gift.  They absolutely last forever!  But buildings?

I guess it makes sense.  Especially here in Buffalo, which happens to be located at about the halfway point between the iron ore fields of the upper Great Lakes, and the coal mines of Pennsylvania (coal to fuel the blast furnaces).  Iron and steel works have long been associated with the Buffalo area.  When the Glenny was built in 1873, Buffalo had at least three architectural ironworks firms, Tift Ironworks, Washington Ironworks, and Eagle Ironworks, all familiar names in this area.  Due to renovations of the first floor facade, it is not clear where the iron on the Glenny is from.  It is however, the only remaining building in Buffalo with a cast iron front.

Photo Credit:

The architect of the building is none other than Richard A. Waite, who was the owner of a well respected architectural firm here in Buffalo.  He is also the man who hired and helped train the country’s first woman architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune.  The Glenny is of the Italian Renaissance Revival style, evidenced by the broad openings in the first floor allowing for large plate glass windows to let light into the building, and the rounded arched windows in the upper floors.

The Glenny’s Namesake

The Glenny was built for William H. Glenny, an Irish immigrant who came to Buffalo in 1836.  He found employment as a clerk at a bookstore before opening a small crockery store in 1840.  He married Esther Ann Burwell in 1844, and together they had four children, William, Bryant, John and George. 

The timing of all this was perfect for a crockery business in Buffalo, and Glenny’s business thrived.  Buffalo was growing rapidly and money was being made; and spent.  Glenny’s business is a perfect example of what I like to think of as a support business for Buffalo’s giants at the time, which were shipping, railroads, and grain.  We tend to forget about all the other businesses that grew up around those giants. 

Here’s what I mean.  People moving to Buffalo and beyond needed general household items like simple crockery. Not to mention that those giants of industry who were building empires here in Buffalo, also needed crockery, fine china and crystal to fill their mansions.  Glenny provided it at a time when it was not readily available here.  The business took off, and W. H. Glenny, Sons & Co. went on to become one of the largest crockery businesses in the country.  

Photo Credit:

William Glenny served on several boards in Buffalo, including Manufacturers and Traders Bank, Erie County Savings Bank, and was a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church, of which he was a regular attendee.  He passed away a very wealthy man in 1882 at the age of 64. Glenny is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

William H. Glenny – Photo credit:

 Who Owns It Now?

The Glenny Building was purchased in 2014 by Paul Kolkmeyer’s Priam Enterprises.  It’s been transformed into modern upscale apartments and two story lofts, lending new life and energy to the downtown core.  

My Impressions

The Glenny is a building that has its roots in a humble immigrant who arrived in Buffalo with virtually nothing and became a leader of industry through, by all accounts, hard work, integrity, and perseverance.  His story is one of ‘rags to riches’ in the history of our city.  One that was repeated over and over again in Buffalo.  This parallels the history of the city itself.  From its humble beginnings as a small fledgling village, into the rich gilded age of the late 1800s and early 1900s.  And it’s being repeated again through the hard times of the late 20th century, to the resurgence we are enjoying today. 

Looking at the building as I walk by it today, I’m glad William Glenny came to America and eventually to Buffalo.  I am happy for his success, and the successes of Buffalo itself.  I am also happy that we as a city still welcome immigrants and refugees with open arms, promising to them all that we have to offer.  And I hope that we will always be a welcoming community.  That to me is success.   

Every building, every street, every neighborhood has a story to tell.  They’ve all meant something to someone.  Like William H. Glenny and his building on Main Street.  These are the stories that mean something to me.  These are the creative, hard working people who built our town.  And it’s the same type of people who are rebuilding it even as I write this and as you read it. 

Go See It

Next time you’re out and about downtown, take a closer look at 251 Main Street; the Glenny Building.  While there, take a moment to think about what it may have meant to all the people who have spent time there. 

Have an opinion on this post?  Please leave a comment below.

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The Rand Building – No Respect

The Rand Building – No Respect

The Rand Building was built in 1929, just as the country was torn from the Roaring Twenties and plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  It was in fact, the last skyscraper completed in Buffalo before the stock market crashed.

It was designed by Franklyn & William Kidd along with James W. Kideney & Associates. And although you can’t miss it in the Buffalo skyline, it seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of Buffalo Architecture.  It just doesn’t get much respect.  I mean, it’s supposedly the inspiration behind the Empire State Building! 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s go back to what was here before the Rand Building.  It’s located on Lafayette Square, and the spot it sits on used to be a lumber yard.  If you can imagine that!  That was in 1832 when Buffalo was incorporated as a city.  Shortly after the incorporation, a series of churches used the site.  In 1845, Dr. Grosvenor Heacock started the Park Church Society (later named Lafayette Street Presbyterian Church for the street it stood on; it’s now called Broadway).  There was also a private residence at the corner of the site.  In 1850, the church burned to the ground and was rebuilt in 1851.  The photo below shows the 1851 church.

Circa 1890 – Photo Credit: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

In 1896 the church moved north of the city center to follow many of the people in their congregation who were moving north to avoid the newer, somewhat dirty industrial landscape in the heart of the city.  

Here’s an interesting little Buffalo tidbit.  When the congregation heard that the old church building was being sold to a burlesque theater, they felt it would be improper to profit from such a transaction.  They arranged to turn the property over to Nathaniel Norton, who was President of the Board of Trustees, and his brother Herbert.  They would sell it to the theater and then transfer the money back to the church.  Sounds like a technicality to me, but that was to be the deal.

Unbeknownst to the congregation, the brothers added $52,000 to the selling price and kept the extra for themselves.  Nice guys those Nortons. Of course, once the transaction took place, the sale price became public record and the congregation found out.  They sued the brothers for the extra money and won in 1908.  

Ahhh Buffalo.  I’m sure this isn’t the only shady deal you’ve ever seen.  But that’s for another day.

The church was indeed renovated in 1901 into a burlesque house called The Lafayette Theater.  This later became the Olympic Theater, featuring vaudeville shows and movies. The private residence on the corner was demolished in 1908 and a new building was built and used as a German restaurant called The Park Hof.  This corner building would become the Lafayette National Bank and was eventually purchased by the Marine Trust Company, who later purchased the Olympic Theater as well.

Circa 1914 – Photo Credit Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Circa 1915 – Photo Credit Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

The Marine Trust Company built the Rand Building.  It was named for George F. Rand, Sr. who was born in Niagara County in 1867, and began his banking career when he was 16 as an assistant cashier at the State Bank of North Tonawanda.  He married at 21 (in 1888) to Vina S. Fisher. Together they had four children, Evelyn, George F. Jr., Gretchen and Calvin. 

In the same year he was married, George Sr. was elected president of the First National Bank of Tonawanda. Can you imagine?  A bank president at 21?  1888 was a good year for George Rand!  He held that position for ten years until he took the post of vice president of the Columbia National Bank of Buffalo.  Rand moved to Buffalo in 1901 when he became the president of that same bank. He was made president of the Marine National Bank of Buffalo only a few years later.  Rand is largely credited with giving New York State its first consolidated banking system by merging several banking institutions into the Marine Trust Company, which eventually was to become the Marine Midland Corporation.

George F. Rand Sr.  Photo Credit:  Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families, by Edward T. Dunn

Sadly George Rand Sr. passed away in a plane crash overseas in 1919, at the age of only 52.  His son George Jr. followed him as President of Marine Trust in 1926.  He was present and participated in the laying of the cornerstone of the Rand Building in 1929.

It was reported in the Buffalo Evening News about the laying of the cornerstone of the Rand Building on September 18, 1929: “When the cornerstone, a ton of Indiana limestone, had been lowered in place, it sealed in a cavity a copper box containing documents that hold an interesting record of the structure, its founders, and the city of Buffalo.”  I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I would love to see the contents of this box.  But not at the expense of losing the building.  I guess.

My obligatory look up at the sky shot.

Buffalo radio stations WGR and WKBW moved into the building when it opened and remained tenants until the late 1950’s.  Incidentally, the ‘GR’ in WGR stands for George Rand.  The Federal Telephone and Telegraph Company founded the station, of which Rand was a major investor.  Now, the stations in the Townsquare Media cluster reside here, among many, many other tenants.

The Rand Building is presently owned by Paul J. Kolkmeyer.  Together with his firm Priam Enterprises LLC and its affiliates, he owns several buildings in the Buffalo area.  

I love the way they’ve kept the lobby of the building original. The ships on the elevator doors (The Marine Midland Corporation used the name Marine from the fact that most of its original customers were largely from the grain and marine trade on the great  lakes and along the Buffalo River).  The plaque in honor of George Rand.  The ash trays still on the wall right under the no smoking sign.  Even the friendly security workers who were in the lobby when I walked in to take these photos.  Thanks for your help guys.



Getting back to the building not getting respect from the experts and among the great buildings in Buffalo.  This is my take on why. 

Everything about the Rand Building is conservative.  It positively screams conservative banker.  I mean, it’s a decent example of art deco style, but when you compare it to say, city hall, well, it’s very conservative.  Understated if you prefer.  Like a good bank should be, she said with just the slightest hint of sarcasm.

Let’s face it though.  It could just be those unsightly radio towers on the roof.  

Not to mention the entire exterior itself could use a good cleaning.  And some lights.  In my research for this post, I found several mentions about the exterior lights when it was first built, and how beautiful the building looked lit up at night.  It would go a long way for the owners to add some lighting to get the building noticed as the solid architectural structure that it is.  It could contribute greatly to the beauty of Buffalo at night. 

I suppose that when compared to all the greats in Buffalo, the Guaranty Building, the Ellicott Square Building, City Hall, the Darwin Martin House etc., the Rand Building does come off as being not as great.  Perhaps we are spoiled with a plethora of fantastic architecture here in Buffalo.

Respect or no respect, the Rand Building is here to stay.  Next time you’re in Lafayette Square checking out the Hotel Lafayette or the Brisbane Building, look across the way and take a closer look at the Rand Building. 

Leave a comment below and give us your opinion of this historic Buffalo building.   

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The Dun Building – Tall and Strong

The Dun Building – Tall and Strong

The Dun Building.  It’s one that I’ve been admiring for a long, long time.  There’s just something about it.  For roughly 15 years, I drove toward it on Swan Street on my way to work.  It’s my favorite view of it.  I walked by it daily as well.  And still when I see it, I get a feeling that I don’t quite know how to describe.  

The Dun Building was designed by none other than E.B. Green and William Wicks for the Union Central Life Insurance Company, who placed a contingency on the plan stating that they’d build it if enough Buffalonians bought policies with their company.  Buffalonians didn’t, and the plans were acquired and set into motion by R.G. Dun & Company. 

R.G. Dun & Company was founded in 1841 as a credit check service.  In those days a small business owner would see his local banker to secure funds for simple loans.  These transactions were often completed between virtual strangers, judgments were made in just a few minutes, and the lender frequently lost on the deal due to lack of information about the borrower.

R.G. Dun hired what they called ‘reporters’ to look into the character and record of the borrowers, therefore helping to secure repayment of such loans.  Dun had upwards of one hundred thousand reporters in 1900, offices in most large American cities and indeed many cities worldwide. The Buffalo office was one of its most active.  And it’s not hard to see why. At the time, Buffalo was still growing by leaps and bounds and business was booming. The need for capital would have been great, going hand in hand with the need for credit checks.

R.G. Dun & Company later became Dun & Bradstreet, which still operates globally today.

When construction began, the Dun Building was to be the tallest building in the city, in keeping with the building trends of the late 19th century, a time when cities were becoming more and more crowded.  Up seemed to be the only way to go.  There are a couple of other interesting things about the building that you wouldn’t notice at first glance.  There’s a restaurant space in the basement which has independent entrances, along with approaches from inside the building.  Also, the utilities of the building are located under the sidewalk along Swan Street. 

When it was completed the Dun Building was indeed the tallest building in the city.  But only for a very short time as the Guaranty Building at 13 stories was completed shortly thereafter.

Let’s take a minute to compare these two buildings.  

The Dun Building was completed in 1895.  It is Neoclassical in style, but it has both Greek and Roman influences, as evidenced by the giant arched windows and the highly decorative round windows.  It is an odd shape as well, referred to as a flatiron.

At 10 stories, its is considered Buffalo’s first high-rise building.  But its not considered a skyscraper in the true sense of the word. 

And here’s why.  

In the late 1800’s architects were struggling to learn how to design buildings that were taller, but the weight of traditional wood frame construction was too heavy to go more than 4 or 5 stories.  Major cities had also experienced tragic fires among these wooden structures, with great loss of lives. The job fell to architects to solve these problems.


By 1890 most architects knew that steel frame construction was the wave of the future, but were unsure how to use it, and didn’t quite trust its strength.  These architects were pioneers of a sort, testing the newest technology on the newest type of building to date.

When Green & Wicks set out to build the Dun Building, they started with a steel frame design with load bearing masonry walls ensuring the strength the tall, oddly shaped building needed. They built it in three distinct ‘layers’ if you will.  Some refer to it as a ‘stacked’ design, or a ‘wedding cake’ design. The first two floors were built first, the third through seventh floors followed, and the three uppermost floors came last. The Dun Building is also a very narrow building, and these extra precautions may have been undertaken to withstand the high winds coming off Lake Erie as well.  None of this is in keeping with what we have come to associate with traditional skyscraper design.

By contrast, the Guaranty Building, completed in 1896 by architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, is everything a true skyscraper has become.  Tall, drawing the eye skyward with no breaks to interrupt the movement of your eye straight through to the sky. Everything about this building is vertical. It is a total steel frame construction, built with twice the necessary piers in order to emphasize the verticality of the building. 

Almost all skyscrapers to this day follow pretty much the same rules of architecture that were employed in the Guaranty Building.  The base, which normally consist of the first floor or two, and hold somewhat public spaces. Retail, conference rooms and the like.  The shaft, which holds the offices. And lastly, the capital, which is usually the top floor and cornice of the building itself.

Read more about the Guaranty Building in an earlier blog post here. 

The Dun Building and the Guaranty Building are equally beautiful in completely different ways, but it’s the Dun Building that holds my attention longer.  Not because I think it’s architecturally superior, because I don’t think it is.  There’s just something about it.

The Dun Building was purchased in 2013 by 110 Pearl LLC, an affiliate of Priam Enterprises.  It remains a thriving office building, with Sato Brewery (which should be on everyone’s list of things to do) in the basement.  And to this writer, the building adds an interesting  figure in our city’s skyline. There’s that feeling again.

Now this is going to sound strange, but hear me out.  The feeling I get when I see it is that it’s almost like the Dun Building represents Buffalo itself.  Both were built during a time of huge growth, both were beautifully designed, and both were built to withstand the test of time.  And both have.  Each in their own way.  And I get all this while merely walking by.  There’s just something about this building.

See it for yourself  at the southwest corner of Pearl and Swan Streets, standing tall and strong against the elements.

The Dun Building is a City of Buffalo Landmark and is located within the Joseph Ellicott Historic District.  Thank you for taking the time to read about it!

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Buffalo’s Residential Parks, Part 3 of 3: Johnson Park

Buffalo’s Residential Parks, Part 3 of 3: Johnson Park

This is the last in my three part series about Buffalo’s Residential Parks.  Click the links if you are interested reading about part one, Day’s Park, and part two, Arlington Park.

The West Village Historic District of Buffalo is a 22 acre neighborhood in one of the city’s oldest residential areas.  It is one of only a few in our country to achieve three designations as an Historic District under both the City of Buffalo and New York State, and it is also listed in the Federal National Register of Historic Places. The jewel of the West Village Historic District is unquestionably Johnson Park.

It is named for Ebenezer Johnson.  So who is he, and why is this park named for him?

Ebenezer Johnson.  Photo from Buffalo City Hall photos.

Ebenezer Johnson was from Connecticut. He studied as a physician in Cherry Valley, New York, where he met and married his first wife, Sally.  He came here in 1810 and opened his medical practice in what was just a glimmer of what he himself would witness Buffalo become during his time here.  During the War of 1812 he accepted a position as an assistant surgeon with the volunteers of New York State.

After the war, he returned to Buffalo and opened a drug store as well as resuming his medical practice.  After 1823 he became very active in business and eventually became well known for construction, real estate, trade and banking.  No small feat. He became quite successful and next turned to politics.  He held several posts and sat on many boards, and in 1832 when Buffalo was incorporated as a city he was elected by the common council as Buffalo’s first mayor.  Ah, that’s why the park is named for him! That, and the following…

That same year Johnson broke ground on a grand home located on a large piece of property he owned on Delaware Avenue between Chippewa and West Tupper.  It was completed in 1834. The home was referred to as “the Cottage” and was considered the most palatial home in Buffalo to date. On the property itself there was a man made lake, fruit orchards, a large vegetable garden and flower gardens.  The 25 acre property and “Cottage” was a well known spot for socializing among the elite in Buffalo.

The “Cottage”.  Photo from “Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families”, by Edward T. Dunn. 

Johnson served a second term as Mayor of Buffalo in 1834-35, after having turned down the nomination in 1833. Mayoral terms at the time were one year.  

Sadly his wife passed away in 1834.  He remarried a year later to Lucy Lord. Johnson continued to be an influential member of Buffalo society until selling his estate and leaving the city sometime around 1847, when he moved to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, where he owned an iron ore mine with his brother.  He passed away there in 1849.

During the 1850’s Johnson’s property was divided up into one of the most elegant residential sections of the city at the time.   The lake became part of Rumsey Park on the estate of Bronson and Evelyn Hall Rumsey. The Cottage was re-purposed as The Female Academy, the most elite, all girls school in the city.  Incidentally, it was the first institute of higher learning for women in the country. (!) The Female Academy still exists today as Buffalo Seminary, now located on Bidwell Parkway.

The “Cottage” Photo credit to “History of the City of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.” Published by The Times, 1896.

An 1876 map of city parkland indicates that Frederick Law Olmsted redesigned the green space in the center of Johnson Park and incorporated it into his overall design of our Park System.  And it shows. You only have to walk through the park to feel Olmsted’s presence here. The flow of the park is just lovely. No other way to describe it.

Many of the homes on Johnson Park that were built in the 1850’s still exist, and many have been recently restored to their former glory.  They are close together, fostering that “neighborly, friendly” feel we discussed in the second part of this series. And like the other residential parks as well, Johnson Park is a great place to walk and to meet and talk to fellow Buffalonians, whether you live there or not.  The people here are indeed friendly, and more than willing to discuss what they know of the park and the homes lining it.



Johnson Park has suffered through the socio-economic troubles that have touched our city, and indeed our whole country.  Thankfully, Johnson Park and the city of Buffalo both have committed residents willing to stay the course. And like the city itself, the results in Johnson Park are showing.  This is due in great part to the commitment of the Johnson Park Association and the Cary Street Association, both of whom lead the way in ensuring that both Johnson Park and the West Village Historic District will remain as an integral, thriving neighborhood in Buffalo for a long time to come.  

Hutchinson Technical Institute which borders Johnson Park on South Elmwood Avenue

I get a feeling in this park.  It’s a nostalgic feeling of days gone by.  At the same time I feel a sense of future here, like the residents have a clear vision of what they hope for the neighborhood.  It makes me want to stay. Live here. Experience city living at its absolute best. That, is Johnson Park.

Go see it, you will be enchanted!

I hope you enjoyed my series about Buffalo’s Residential Parks.  

Click the links if you are interested in reading part one, Day’s Park, or part two, Arlington Park.

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