City Hall - Table of Contents

East and west friezes - City Hall
Buffalo, NY



Frieze designer:

John Wade


Albert T. Stewart

Chief Stonecutter:

Joseph Graf

Building material:

Ohio sandstone


Art Deco bas-relief

Frieze: 1. The middle section of the Classic entablature, located above the architrave and below the cornice; a panel below the upper molding or cornice of a wall; 2. Any sculptured or richly ornamented band in a building

ADDITIONAL TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size - and additional information

Chief Stonecutter Joseph Graf, Sculptor Albert Stewart and Architects John J. Wade and Sullivan W. Jones

East frieze on Niagara Square

Electricity and its subsidiaries

Chemistry and Healing

Building and Growth of the City

Architecture and Poetry

City of Buffalo as a Woman

The Family

Water Commerce

Education and Culture

Modern transportation


West frieze

West frieze

West frieze

West frieze

West frieze on Elmwood Avenue








Excerpt from
Buffalo City Hall: American Masterpiece," by John H. Conlin
Pub. by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, 1993, p. 21

The central figure is an adaptation of a Sibyl of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. The ancient Sibyls were recorders and foreseerers of events. [Sculptor Albert T.] Stewart collaborated with Architect Wade to insure "that the rhythms and composition of the panel would harmonize precisely with the rhythms and composition of the massive architecture of the building itself."

Wade had designed a complete frieze with Native Americans on the left and settlers on the right of a sibyl He discarded it because it did not fit the proportions of the building. Here placed the generic subjects with ordinary people of the city, "something of Buffalo."

It was hoped that the use of sculpture in conjunction with this building would influence the use of sculpture in other buildings. Stewart was the sculptor of the rear frieze and of four large figures in the center of the main lobby. His work may also be found on buildings at Amherst and Williams Colleges, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Photos and their arrangement © 2008 Chuck LaChiusa
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