Saturn Club - Table of Contents................Saturn Club - Official web site

Saturn Club
977 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Completed:

1922

Architect:

Duane Lyman, of Bley & Lyman ("Bley" pron. "bleye")

Style:

Tudor Revival, specifically the Collegiate Gothic style of architecture that at the time was especially identified with the career of Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram.
Designer of the stone cutting of the planet Saturn over the front entrance of the Saturn Club as well as mottoes on the interior walls:
Lucius E. Bartlett

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


Postcard.
In 1889, the club, which now consisted of 150 members, became formally incorporated in Erie County and laid plans to construct its own building. By the end of January, the directors purchased a lot at the southeast corner of Delaware Avenue and Edward Streets, at 417 Delaware, near the Buffalo Club, for the construction of a three-story brick building to be designed by the rising firm of Marling & Burdett of Buffalo. It was dedicated December 13, 1890.

Architect's watercolor.
Eventually, in December 1920, a new building committee suggested selling the existing clubhouse and erecting a new building elsewhere. Duane Lyman (his firm was now Bley & Lyman) was asked to develop new plans for a clubhouse, together with Ralph Plumb, a club member. By February 1921, the club had purchased the property at 977 Delaware Avenue, an address on one of the nation's most fashionable avenues, and approved Lyman's plans for a picturesque Tudor style building enclosing an open court. On October 21, 1921, the cornerstone of the new building, which would cost $500,000, was laid. Exactly one year later, on October 21, 1922, the clubhouse was dedicated with an elaborate ceremony that featured members in full academic regalia processing from the old clubhouse to the new one.









Tudor Revival style. Limestone is used for trim elements, including quoins, window frames, water table, and copings



2-story brick porch:  Crenelated parapet ..... Window label molding / stringcourse




Main entrance: Tudor Revival arches  .....  Quoins at left .....  Flemish bond brick pattern with Flemish diagonal bond using flare headers (dark brick)



Planet Saturn .....  Tudor Revival arches


Main entrance: Tudor Revival arch .....  Trefoils and quatrefoils in spandril



Crenelated  parapet


Label molding



Parapeted  bay



Leaded glass in transom windows and casement windows



Half-timbering












Copper gutter and conductor head; slate roof






Chimney pots


In 1885, the young founders of the Saturn Club felt that the Buffalo Club (founded eighteen years earlier, in 1867) was too dignified and conservative. The first three founders, Carlton Sprague, William F. Kip, and Francis Almy, rounded up ten others, including men with such familiar Buffalo names as John B. Olmsted and Ansley Wilcox (whose home later became the inaugural site for his friend, Theodore Roosevelt).

They decided to form their own group, mainly for the purposes of card-playing and drinking like almost all men's clubs of the time. Their annual meeting was initially called Saturnalia.

The club grew quickly in membership and wealth and moved several times in its early years to ever better quarters. Initially,the group met in a house owned by Sprague's grandfather at 25 Johnson Park. By 1886, the members could afford to rent three rooms at the rear of a dwelling at 640 Main Street. The following year, they moved to another rented house, a small Second Empire style dwelling at 331 Delaware Avenue; two years later the club relocated to a larger, Italianate cottage at 393 Delaware Avenue, opposite the Buffalo Club.

In 1889, the club, which now consisted of 150 members, became formally incorporated in Erie County and laid plans to construct its own building. By the end of January, the directors purchased a lot at the southeast corner of Delaware Avenue and Edward Streets, at 417 Delaware, near the Buffalo Club, for the construction of a three-story brick building to be designed by the rising firm of Marling & Burdett of Buffalo. It was dedicated December 13, 1890.

Eventually, in December 1920, a new building committee suggested selling the existing clubhouse and erecting a new building elsewhere. Duane Lyman (his firm was now Bley & Lyman) was asked to develop new plans for a clubhouse, together with Ralph Plumb, a club member. By February 1921, the club had purchased the property at 977 Delaware Avenue, an address on one of the nation's most fashionable avenues, and approved Lyman's plans for a picturesque Tudor style building enclosing an open court. On October 21, 1921, the cornerstone of the new building, which would cost $500,000, was laid. Exactly one year later, on October 21, 1922, the clubhouse was dedicated with an elaborate ceremony that featured members in full academic regalia processing from the old clubhouse to the new one.

This the club's fourth home, and the second clubhouse.

Duane Lyman

The architect was Duane Lyman, of Bley & Lyman, who was also a club member.

A native of Lockport, New York, Duane S. Lyman (1886-1966) studied architecture at Yale University.

After graduating in 1908, he followed the example of many young architects of the time and travel abroad. An extended stay in Europe with his bride, Elizabeth Stimson, ended in 1913 when, on the eve of World War I, the couple returned to Buffalo.

Lyman began his professional career then with the firm of Lansing & Bley. The following year, Lyman joined the Saturn Club. Presumably, he was chiefly responsible for the proposal for the Renaissance style clubhouse that Lansing, Bley & Lyman submitted to the club in 1917. When Lyman volunteered for military service during the war, however, he severed his ties with the firm.

Coming home to Buffalo after the war, Lyman formed a partnership with Lawrence Bley that lasted twenty years. The new Saturn Club was one of the first commissions to come their way. Many would list is as the best building Lyman designed.

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. When Lyman died in 1966, local newspapers described him as the Dean of Western New York Architects.


Sources:


Special thanks to Saturn Club General Manager Vincent Tracy for his cooperation
and to Francis R. Kowsky for his assistance

Photos and their arrangement 2003 Chuck i
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