Architecture

Porch Party!

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The Buffalo History Museum grooves into its 11th Annual Party on the Portico summer happy hour series on M&T Third Fridays – June, July, and August. The popular outdoor summer soiree features historic delights and great live music – all happening the most magnificent back porch steps and surrounding grounds in town. This year’s line-up brings to stage a mix of young talent swinging the local scene and the finest venerated musicians around. First up (June 17) is Fredtown Stompers (Sean Ebert, trumpet/cornet/vocals; Mike “Magoo” McGough- piano/vocals; Melissa Sauers, clarinet /vocals; Ralph DeMarco, tenor sax; Brian DeJesus, bass; Brian McKenna, drums) a fun six-piece band who bring Dixieland tunes into full swing. Nothing says summer like some good Naw ‘leans jazz in Western New York. Next (July 15) features the sultrier side of summer with The Shadows featuring DeeAnn DiMeo. All with a pulse will groove and dance to the smokin’ hot soul and R&B music by venerated musicians: Bob Falk (guitar, vocals); Ron Davis (keyboards vocals); Reggie Evans (drums, vocals); and, Chris Haug (bass). Finally (Aug 19), and so worth the wait, The Willies take the stage with Buffalo’s revered players: Willie Schoellkopf (guitar, vocals); Bob Falk (guitar, vocals); Jim Ehinger (keyboards, vocals); Steve Sadoff (Fender bass); and, Mike Phelps (drums). Clapton, The Band, and Steely Dan lovers become joyful when this band cuts loose.

2015-08-21 16.47.23Party on the Portico, guests meet up with friends and enjoy live music, party snacks, cash bar, free 15-minute mini tours of the Museum, and spectacular views of Delaware Park. Always a great time…Come hang on our porch with us!

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Tix: $5 member/$10 general (Tickets go on sale May 15)
Additional parking in McKinley High School lot
The general public may contact 716-873-9644 / info@buffalohistory.org  or visit www.buffalohistory.org.
The series runs rain or shine and is exclusively for guests ages 21 and over.
Party on the Portico – August is sponsored by Medaille College
M&T THIRD FRIDAYS is sponsored by M&T Bank.
Media Sponsor: WBBZ-TV

Constance Caldwell
Director of Communications and Community Engagement

 

142 years old and still in service: Buffalo’s oldest bridge

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International Railroad Bridge, opened in 1873.

Thousands of Thruway drivers pass it around the clock with a quick glance at best. It has been in service for over 51,000 days, built before the invention of the automobile, airplane, and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.  It shares a birth year with the first typewriter to have a QWERTY keyboard. It opened for business in 1873 during Ulysses Grant’s administration as the International Railroad Bridge.

The need for a rail crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie became evident after the Suspension Bridge opened in Niagara Falls (1854) and the area was soon overwhelmed by rail traffic. Negotiations between the State of New York and the Dominion Parliament began in 1857 but were interrupted by the Civil War. Finally, in 1870, Congress and Parliament agreed on terms and budgeted $1,500,000 for the project. The International Bridge Company, formed by the Grand Trunk Railroad, was awarded a charter to design and construct the bridge. The Gzowski-MacPherson Company won the contract and began work, supervised by Polish-Canadian engineer Sir Casimir Gzowski (1813-1898).

Gzowski must have been a gifted child, because he entered the Military Engineering College at Kremnitz at age 9. As a young man, he took part in Polish uprisings against the Russian forces. Exiled to New York after the defeat of these efforts, Gzowski learned English, studied law, and eventually settled in Toronto, where he supervised public works on roads and harbors in Ontario and Montreal and developed an interest in rail engineering.

When Gzowski began work on the International Bridge, a crossing at this point was considered impossible. The currents of the Niagara River were too swift and treacherous, the water levels too unpredictable, the ice build-up too heavy, and the storms too intense. Gzowski was almost 60 when he took on the challenge.

In spite of construction challenges and setbacks, the 1.11 mile bridge opened on November 3, 1873 without the loss of any lives. It quickly became one of the busiest international crossing points in North America. In 1890, Gzowski was knighted by Queen Victoria.

While the bridge mostly carried freight trains, until 1934 it also carried one daily passenger car. It had wooden plank sidewalks until 1900, when the trusses were fully redesigned and replaced. Its busiest day was July 10, 1916, when 264 trains crossed. Today it serves 15 trains per day and is a handsome, sturdy reminder of 19th century engineering prowess.

Read more about it:
https://archive.org/details/cihm_05136
Gzowski, Casimir Stanislaus
Description of the International Bridge: Constructed over the Niagara River, near Fort Erie, Canada, and Buffalo, U.S. of America
Toronto: Copp, Clark & Co., 1873

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The international railroad bridge, Fort Erie to Buffalo, 1873-1973 and Colonel Casimir S. Gzowski
Buffalo, NY : Published by Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, Engineering Institute of Canada, N.Y. State Society of Professional Engineers, Erie-Niagara Section, American Society of Civil Engineers, Buffalo Section, ©1973


Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in The Buffalo History Museum‘s Fall 2015 issue of The Album.

Letter from the Executive Director

Spring 2016 Newsletter CoverGreetings!

This spring we explore “connections” of all sorts, starting with our three buildings. Each building has fascinating history; sharing those stories remains a focus. However, with the buildings’ unique character so goes the upkeep. Last March, a thaw of snow and ice caused 500 gallons of water to pour into The Buffalo History Museum’s Reinstein Center. The water intrusion wreaked havoc on our daily operations forcing Buffalo State’s Museum Studies program to halt their work cataloguing the Howard Beach Collection and 7 of our full-time staff members set up make-shift offices in public areas of the Pan-Am building which was closed for City funded electrical renovations. A twist of “luck” for the relocation, indeed!

It didn’t take a waterfall to let us know a thorough and sound plan for repairs was in order. A generous grant by John R. Oishei Foundation funded a $120K facility and space utilization study of our three building campus to be delivered summer 2016. The resulting road map will explore the potential of our entire campus, services and relationships, while prioritizing capital projects and estimating costs.

In January, the Museum board and staff participated in a transformational planning session assessing TBHM priorities and considering national trends for history museums. This precious time for sharing and thinking, facilitated by author, architect and historian Franklin Vagnone, opened the floor to discussions around relevancy, identity, physical fitness and commitment to the community. The results of these discussions and our facility “road map” will frame our strategic vision for 2016-2019.

I encourage you to remain, or become, engaged in the further processes ahead so that through our actions we better serve and reflect your aspirations and expectations of The Buffalo History Museum.

All my best,

Melissa

P.S. Please remember to check out our calendar of events and join us for a season of fascinating stories!

History of the Julia Boyer Reinstein Center

Julia Boyer Reinstein Center

Julia Boyer Reinstein Center

Every wonder what the story is behind that little building across from The Buffalo History Museum lot? Well here are some fun facts to learn more about The Julia Boyer Reinstein Center!

The Reinstein Center is on the National Register of Historical Places.

• Built in 1920 for Leonard Adams. Mr. Adams helped to design the house, which he used as both a residence and a music studio before his death in 1984.

Purchased in 1989 by The Buffalo History Museum as a project of the “History Lives here” capital campaign to serve as office/meeting space.

• The Historical Rehabilitation project was completed August 1, 1992, by Hamilton Houston and Lownie Architects, P.C.

• The building was named after Julia Boyer Reinstein. Dedicated to both history and libraries, Julia Boyer Reinstein served as the Cheektowaga town historian for many years and was active in the creation of numerous town historical societies across WNY.

• The contributions of Julia Boyer Reinstein and others throughout the community made the purchase and historical rehabilitation of the building possible.

• A full-length portrait of Julia Boyer Reinstein painted by local artist Mary Smith hangs on the landing of the split staircase.

IMG_4994• The Reinstein Center features two meeting rooms (40 people/15 people). The larger room is graced by an arched window measuring approximately 12’x 12’. The window sits in an “Architectural Frame” that centers the window both in the main room and across the outside of the building.

• In 1994, the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier awarded the Pewter Plate Award to The Buffalo History Museum in the recognition of the Julia Boyer Reinstein Center as an exemplary restoration and adaptive re-use project.