Duane Lyman in Buffalo, NY

Duane S. Lyman
1886-1966
Lawrence H. Bley
1884-1939
Photo courtesy of Jack Edson
Williams Lansing
1860-1920

Lawrence H. Bley was born in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg on December 15th, 1884, where he resided throughout his life.  After graduating from Hamburg High School he worked in the offices of Lansing and Beierl before he partnered with Williams Lansing and Duane Lyman. 

After the departure of Williams Lansing, Bley and Lyman completed numerous notable works including the Saturn Club (1921-22, NR 2005), additions to the historic E. & B. Holmes Machinery Company Building (originally ca. 1850s, 1913 addition, NR 2009) the Johnston House (1934, NR 1997), the Buffalo Federal Courthouse (with E.B. Green, 1936), the Vars Building (1929), and the Niagara Mohawk Building in Syracuse, NY (1932, with Melvin L King).  Bley was a member of the AIA, the Hamburg Knights of Columbus, Hamburg Business Men’s Association and the Kiwanis Club among many other organizations.  Lawrence Bley died in 1939.


Duane Shuyler Lyman had a long and prominent architectural career in Buffalo and has been dubbed the “Dean of Western New York Architecture” due to the prominence of many of his projects.  Born in Lockport, NY on September 9th, 1886 Lyman attended Manlius Military Academy before studying architecture at Yale University’s Graduate Sheffield Scientific School, graduating in 1908. 

With his new bride Elizabeth Stimson, Lyman lived in Europe for several years before returning to Buffalo on the eve of World War I.  Lyman worked in the office of Lansing and Beierl from 1912 until 1914 when the firm of Lansing, Bley and Lyman was created.  During the War, Lyman left the firm and served as a Major in the Ordinance Department.  The firm of Lansing, Bley and Lyman lasted until about 1920 when Lansing left the partnership and Lyman returned from the war to partner with Bley.  The firm of Bley and Lyman existed from 1920-1938 when many of Lyman’s most notable works were created.  In 1938, the firm of Duane Lyman & Associates was established.  This firm was noted for their numerous school buildings which they designed around Western New York, including Williamsville South High School (1949-51, NR 2008).  The firm also was responsible for the Bethlehem Steel Co. Management Country Club (1964), M&T Central Bank (1964-66, under primary designer Minoru Yamasaki) and the Christ the King Chapel at Canisius College (1949-51). Outside of his architectural work, Duane Lyman was passionate about fishing, hunting and gardening, served as a dean of the Saturn Club and was active in the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.  Lyman died on April 30th, 1966 in his home at 78 Oakland Place, which he had designed for himself in 1948.

- Jennifer Walkowski, History of Buffalo Seminary: Lansing, Bley, Lyman

Born in Lockport, in 1886, Duane S. Lyman was the son of Richard B. and Molly Hayes Lyman. He attended the Manlius (N.Y.) School School for a year after graduating from Lafayette High School in 1904.

His attended Yale University 's Sheffield Scientific School where he studied architecture and mechanical engineering. After graduating in 1908, he followed the example of many young architects of the time and traveled abroad. An extended stay in Europe with his 1911 bride, Elizabeth Stimson, ended in 1913 when, on the eve of World War I, the couple returned to Buffalo.

1912-1919 Lansing Bley & Lyman: Lyman began his professional career in 1912, then with the firm of Lansing & Bley.

Lansing Bley & Lyman Example: W. Acheson Smith House, 327 Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY (1919. Built for W. Acheson Smith, the VP of Acheson Graphite Co.)

When Lyman volunteered for military service during the war, however, he severed his ties with the firm. He served in the nation's capital, emerging with the rank of major.

1919-1939? Bley & Lyman: Coming home to Buffalo after the war, Lyman formed a partnership with Lawrence Bley (pron. "bleye") that lasted twenty years. The new Tudor Revival Saturn Club was one of the first commissions to come their way. Many would list it as the best building Lyman designed. (See also Bley Lyman & Lansing.)

1939?-1966 Lyman & Associates: After Bley died (1938?), Lyman's firm became known as Duane Lyman & Associates.

See also: Drafting tools from the 1950s used by architect John Laskowski, a Notre Dame graduate who spent his entire career in Lyman's office.

Personal life

An enthusiastic sportsman for half a century, he hunted and fished on his approximately 100-acre farm near South Wales, did considerable hunting in Western New York and Canada, fished in Florida and New Brunswick, Canada, and maintained a hunting and fishing lodge near Bic., Que. He was a member of the Anglo-American Fish & Game Club of Bic, where he maintained his lodge since 1955.

Lyman's prime hobby was gardening and he raised flowers at both his Buffalo and Thunder Bay residences.

He was a member of the Saturn Club and its dean in 1946, life member and director of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.

He was survived by three daughters.

His funeral services were conducted at First Presbyterian Church. He was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Professional life

Among other works were over 100 school buildings, many churches, and numerous large city and suburban houses.

At a time when earnest modernist architects of the International Style sought to express the new age in buildings inspired by industrial design and made of the new materials of plate glass and steel, Lyman celebrated the warm textures of the traditional materials of brick, stone and wood and the reassuring feeling of the past. A talented conservative, Lyman could design in a variety of historical styles with finesse; his buildings always display fine craftsmanship and good taste.

Lyman died in 1966 in his home at 78 Oakland Place. Local newspapers described him as the "dean of Western New York Architecture."

Buildings designed by Lyman in Buffalo include the following:


After Lyman died, the chief designer of Duane Lyman & Assoc., Guy H. Baldwin, AIA (1912-1987) went into partnership with Peter Castle, a grandson of Duane Lyman.  They did business as Lyman, Baldwin and Castle from the same office at 505 Delaware Ave. for four or five years.  The partnership was dissolved in the early 70ís and Baldwin worked on his own thereafter.

Special thanks to Francis R. Kowsky and Bruce Baldwin for sharing their research.

Other sources: Obituary in the Courier Express, May 1 1966


Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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