Niagara Square - Table of Contents

Buffalo Federal Court House
Michael J. Dillon U. S. Court House
64 Court St., Buffalo, NY

Official GSA Description (Sept. 2012)

Built: 1936
Architects: Lawrence Bley and Duane Lyman with Edward B. Green and Son
("Bley" is pron. "Bley")
Style: Art Deco
Neoclassical Monumental
See also:
2011 Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square

Click on photos to enlarge

Federal Courthouse is directly behind the McKinley Monument.
Far right:
Buffalo Athletic Club

Far left: Liberty Bank Building

Art Deco features:


Art Deco geometric design

Art Deco stylized Corinthian capital
with two
acanthus leaves and volutes, and stylized honeysuckle

Stylized eagle (Cf.. City Hall eagle)

 Great seal of the US

After the turn of the century Buffalo became one of the nation's important industrial cities, and the home of many Federal agencies. With the passage of the Public Buildings Act of 1926, a new Federal building to house the already over-crowded agency offices, became feasible. By 1928, conditions were so over-crowded that the city's citizens began to put pressure on Congress to construct a building which could house all local Federal offices. The Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932 authorized the construction of a number of Federal buildings. The Dillon Courthouse was part of this authorization. The cost estimate for the building and the land was $2.5 million.

The Public Buildings Act had specified that the Supervising Architect of the Department of the Treasury be responsible for the design of all public buildings; however, due to the economic pressures of the Depression on small architectural firms, local architects were hired to design some federal buildings. In January of 1933, two Buffalo architectural firms were retained to prepare plans for the U.S. Court House. Edward Green was probably Buffalo's most influential and prolific architect. Duane Lyman, who led the second firm of Bley and Lyman, also had a long and productive career.

Because of the unusual shape of the site, the architects created a pentagonal shaped building. A twelve-story building was planned originally but due to reduction of funds, the building was reduced to seven stories. The corner stone of the building was laid by Federal Judge John K. Hazel on May 29, 1936. The new Federal building was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt on October 17, 1936. With the dedication, he emphasized the partnership of the Federal government and local officials in creating public works (such as the U.S. Court House) in order to overcome the economic disaster of the Depression. The building plan of the Courthouse was dictated by the shape of the site; and the creativity of the architects in linking the site and the building design resulted in a federal building of distinct architectural significance.

See also

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| ..

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.