SCVNGR Westside Revitalization
smartphone tour / game
Preservation Buffalo-Niagara’s Westside Revitalization Trek includes important cultural and architectural sites in the Westside neighborhoods of Allentown and Elmwood Village. These structures range from music halls to museums, and represent some of the most important cultural institutions in the city today. A list of SCVNGR Sanctuary sites (along with brief descriptions) is provided below; once you’ve downloaded the SCVNGR app, you can also view this and other Treks on your smartphone, visit associated sites, complete SCVNGR Challenges and earn points towards badges and rewards.
Each site is also marked by a small sign, indicating that the site is an official part of Preservation Buffalo-Niagara’s SCVNGR initiative, and containing a QR code. This QR code will bring you back to PBN’s website, where you can find more information about the building, its history and its importance for Buffalo’s culture. If you do not have a QR code reader on your smartphone, or you don’t know what this is, search “QR code” using your search engine of choice.
3 St. John's Place (formerly Dr. H. A. Forster Residence (Late 19th Century)
H. H. Little
H. H. Little was a prominent architect in Buffalo from 1874 until his death in 1917, and many of his works helped define the essential character of the city. Of the numerous projects that this architect realized in the city, 3 St. John’s Place (or the Dr. H. A. Forster Residence, as it is also known), was one of his personal favorites, and appeared frequently in the literature produced by his firm documenting his designs. The house has two principal entrances, a South entrance, facing St. John’s Place, which serves as the residential entrance, and an East entrance, on Wadsworth Street, which once opened into the doctor’s offices.
878 Main Street (c. 1890)
Long abandoned, this Allentown residence was purchased by ZeptoMetrix in 2007, and converted into the company’s headquarters. After extensive renovation of the property, the company moved into their new headquarters in 2011. The stunning interior woodwork was done by Block Industries, which is based in nearby Rochester, and includes some of the original dark-stained cherry that was salvaged from the original interior of the mansion.
Cyrus K. Porter
Like neighboring 878 Main Street, 918 Main is a late 19thcentury structure, consisting of four floors, located directly adjacent to the Red Jacket Building. The series of buildings that cover the corner of Main and Allen Streets is a nice of example of late 19thcentury architecture, with some spectacular detailing, especially on building at the corner of Allen and Main Streets.
Albright Knox Museum (1900-1905)
Green and Wicks
Designed by E. B. Green, who was not only one of Buffalo’s most famous architects at the time, but who was also a close friend of John J. Albright, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery harkens back to the Erectheum of the Athenian Acropolis for its main symbolic imagery. Seventy-four freestanding columns circumvent the structure, forming the porticoes, hemicycle and loggia of the building, which also includes two Erectheum porches, containing scaled-down duplicates of the original Greek buildings iconic columns. When completed, the building contained more than 5,000 tons of marble and had more columns than any other building in the United States, except for the Capitol Building in Washington D. C.
Birge Mansion (1896-1897)
Little and Browne
The Birge Mansion was commissioned by George Kingsley Birge, the successful son of Martin H. Birge, a local wallpaper manufacturer. In addition to becoming a partner in his father’s wallpaper company, George Birge was also a controlling interest in the Pierce-Arrow company, from which he retired in 1917. Birge Mansion is modeled off of a villa that George Birge had seen while in the Riviera. It consists of two corner pavilions, flanking a central section, which incorporates three arched windows supported and separated by two tiers of Tuscan columns, and fronted by faux balustrades at the second floor.
The only permanent building erected for the Pan-American Exposition, the building that now houses the Buffalo Historical Society served as the New York State Pavilion during the Expo. The building is designed in a Neo-Classical style, and is faced with Vermont Marble. The south portico, which overlooks Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park, is a scaled-down version of the East façade of the Parthenon. The building was expanded in 1927, to match the architect’s original plans for the building, by the addition of the Library and Auditorium.
Buffalo Zoo (Elephant House) (1912)
Esenwein and Johnson
Established in 1875, when the first curator was hired, the Buffalo Zoo held 270 animals at the time of the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. The largest early building in the zoo is the Elephant House, which was finished the same year as the Exposition. The monumental entrance to this historic structure includes a high-relief sculpture of an elephant head, by Ira Lake. The elephant relief dramatically breaks the classical pediment, in the middle of which it sits, and slightly overlaps the sculptural key-stone over the arch of the main entrance, unifying the design of this part of the building.
Coit House (c. 1818)
Possibly the oldest house standing in Buffalo, and one of the few surviving Federal Style residences, the Coit House was moved from its original site on the southeast corner of Swan and Pearl Streets in the 1867, as downtown became increasingly commercialized following the Civil War. After years of neglect, the building was slated for demolition, but was saved by the Landmark Society, who subsequently sold the property to a private owner for restoration.
Granite Works (Late 19th Century)
The Granite Works consists of five adjacent 19thcentury historic buildings that have been restored and renovated for a mixed-use complex that houses small businesses and residential apartments. The renovation of this site represents an ongoing effort for urban revitalization in this area, and is an example of the successful rehabilitation of some of Buffalo’s stunning 19thcentury architecture.
Kleinhans Music Hall (1938-1940)
Eliel and Eero Saarinen
Since its completion in 1940, Kleinhans Music Hall has been compared to a musical instrument. The analogy is apt, not only because the structure houses a symphony orchestra, but also because notions of ideal harmony informed the essential philosophical orientation of Eliel Saarinen’s designs. It is also apt, because (as many commentators have stated), there is an incredible resonance between the way in which the building is used, and its architectural articulation; the curvilinear interiors and exteriors of the building complement the symphonic program that they house, instead of masking them. There is an appropriateness of form and function that is the hallmark of the International Style, in which Kleinhans was designed.
Orin Foster Mansion (1904)
Frank H. Chappelle
This stone Italianate mansion, which exhibits Mediterranean detailing, both in the stone work and in the rounded arches of the windows and of the entrance porch. It has been fully renovated, and is currently being used for commercial purposes.
Located in the culturally and artistically rich Allentown area of Buffalo, the Theater of Youth represents an incredible success for the revitalization of an important theatrical venue in this historic neighborhood. Originally built in 1913, this Neo-Classical Revival theater originally included gold trimmed walls, leaded glass windows and a domed ceiling with dozens of modern lights. In 1919, the owner added a proscenium stage and dressing rooms. Renovation and preservation of this building has saved a number of its original attributes, including the interior decorative pilasters, its plaster moldings and the domed ceiling of the interior, as well as the buildings beautiful neoclassical façade.