Louis Greenstein in Buffalo, NY
40 North Street
H. Seeberg Building Application for Listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places
By Jennifer Walkowski
Louis Greenstein was a well-known and respected architect who worked in Buffalo during the early and mid-twentieth century. Like many architects of the time, Greenstein was a sort of “journeyman” architect, working on primarily smaller, less high-profile projects yet building a solid reputation throughout the community.
Born in Buffalo on November 10, 1886, Greenstein worked as a junior draftsman in the office of McCreary, Wood and Bradney in Buffalo in 1907, as well as working as a senior draftsman with Green & Wicks in 1908.
In 1908 Greenstein took a position as Chief Draftsman, Associate Designer and Superintendant of Construction with the firm of Edgar E. Joralemon who had offices in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and New York City. Greenstein appears to have transferred to Joralemon’s New York City office (where he worked until 1913), as he attended and graduated from Columbia University’s School of Architecture in 1909.
Between 1913 and 1914, while continuing work at Columbia University, Greenstein was a part of the Columbia Atelier of the Society of Beaux Arts Architects, an organization in New York City which trained architects in the same atelier manner as the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
By 1914, Louis Greenstein returned to Buffalo to establish his own practice, setting up his office in the Adler and Sullivan-designed Prudential (Guaranty) Building.
Like many of his time, Greenstein was active in the Buffalo-area architectural scene. He was an active member of the Buffalo and Western NY Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), joining as a member in 1920 and serving as Secretary in 1920, Treasurer in 1922, and President in 1923-24. He also served on the Buffalo AIA chapter’s executive board for several terms and was the chapter’s historian for over 20 years.
Greenstein published work on architecture for the Buffalo Torch Club, and in the New York State Architect magazine. He was a member of other organizations outside of architecture as well, including the Buffalo Consistory, Buffalo Torch Club, Buffalo Construction Club, Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons (F & AM) and several others. Greenstein was also an organizer of the Buffalo Rectagon Atelier, a part of the Society of Beaux-Arts organization at which he had trained in New York City. The Rectagon atelier was led by several prominent architects in Buffalo between 1923 and 1940 and at the University at Buffalo following World War II in 1947-48, and helped to educate young Buffalo-area architects who could not attend an architectural college program or a Parisian or New York City-based Beaux-Arts program.
Greenstein’s work can be found throughout Buffalo and Western New York. Notable projects include the Coplan Mansion in Amherst, NY (1918-1919, Amherst Local Landmark 2007), Willowdale Country Club in Williamsville, NY now known as Westwood Country Club (1923), the Medical Arts Office Building in Buffalo (1925), Bryant & Stratton Business Institute/Tapestry Charter School (1925), Buffalo’s Temple Beth-David on Humboldt Parkway (1926), the Art Deco Lederman's Furniture Store building (1929) and the Niagara Memorial Park Chapel and Gates in Lewiston, NY (1937-38). Greenstein was also involved in the Kenfield Housing Project (1935-36), and the construction of Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium (1938-40, demolished).
Beyond new construction, Greenstein worked on several early rehabilitation projects on historic buildings throughout Buffalo including work on the Stewart and Benson Travel Service Building at 501 Main Street (1957, building dates to ca. 1870s, contributing building to NPS certified 500 Block of Main local district) as well as his 1944/45 work to the H. Seeberg Building. Working in a time before historic preservation standards were written and where many small-scale historic buildings were demolished for new construction, Greenstein’s work on rehabilitating and adapting historic buildings during the 1940s and 50s makes him perhaps an early preservation advocate.
Louis Greenstein also appears to have made other contributions to Buffalo, beyond his architectural work. He designed the flag and logo used during Buffalo’s Old Home Week celebration in 1907. In 1924 a contest was held for a new flag for Buffalo, and out of seventy-three designs, Louis Greenstein's was selected. In 1925 he designed the official seal of the City of Buffalo.
Louis Greenstein died in April 1972.
|I was very interested to read
about Louis Greenstein. I was aware he had done the building at
the corner of N Pearl and North Street as a medical building and the
My husband and I purchased Louis Greenstein’s home at 64 Tudor Place from the estate of his brother-in-law Dr. Abe Aaron in 1975.
Dr. Aaron, Greenstein and his wife, Aaron’s sister, lived in the house from 1925 until each died; Aaron died in either late 74 or 75.
Many of the architectural drawings for the home were left for us to enjoy. It is a lovely Tudor ‘cottage’ with many delightful features and has had loving care for most of its existence, We sold it in 2005, and it was sold again in 2013.
Another lovely Greenstein home is at 39 Nottingham Terrace.
I believe the Aarons and Greenstein are buried in a lovely Mausoleum designed by Greenstein in Forest Lawn cemetery.
We are blessed with wonderful domestic architecture in Buffalo and I am happy to see you champion it.
- Jane Griffin, April 4, 2016