Public School No. 53
329 Roehrer Avenue, Buffalo, New York


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Earnest Crimi

Date of Initial Construction


See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1928

Historical and Architectural Importance

The building no longer retains its original architectural integrity due to the one story annex that obscures the main block and the additions to the north elevation. The east and west wing facades remain unaltered.

The architect Earnest Crimi is responsible for the school building design. Crimi began his career with the firm Green and Wicks and later Wicks and Hopkins. He was a student of the landscape architect Bryant Fleming. In 1923 he became the architect for the Board of Education. Under his direction the following public schools were designed and built: nos. 6, 17, 28, 39, 53, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 73, t30, 81, Burgard Vocational High School and Emerson Vocational High School.

Public School No. 53 was organized in 1895 with the construction of a three story, brick Renaissance Revival style building. An addition was made to the building in 1903.

With enrollment reaching 1,000 students in 1927 the present structure was erected to facilitate pupil needs. The $260,000 addition includes a double gymnasium, science and art rooms, a manual training shop, cafeteria and administrative offices.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

The school building occupies an entire City block with Woodlawn Avenue bordering to the north, Glenwood Avenue to the south, Roehrer Avenue to the west and Wohlers Avenue to the east. The residential east side neighborhood is composed of two story, two family frame houses.

Other Notable Features of Building and Site

The school building is a two story, six bay, brick structure with Federal Revival style features. A two story, six bay wing spans the east and west elevations of the main block. The I-shaped plan has a side gabled roof main block with a six sided domical roof cupola. The wings have flat roofs. The structure has a low stone basement level with brick facing the principal elevations in a Flemish bond style using an alternating two toned brick.

The main block features four one and one half story round arched openings with keystone, enframing paired, straight headed 6/6 light windows capped by a semicircular panel. The flanking end bays have a one story 6/6 light window with cornice window head. The full entablature has a dented cornice and garland patterns in the frieze.

The building ends of the east and west wings are dressed in rusticated stone. Two story pilaster strips flank window bays of paired 6/6 light windows with stone sills. Stone lintels cap first floor windows, and diamond patterned brick work decorates the second floor spandrel area. The simple entablature has a stone cornice and diamond patterned brick work in the the frieze.

Building Materials

Stone, brick, concrete

Structural System

Steel Frame


Municipality of Buffalo, Henry W. Hill, 1923;
Buffalo Times, March 6, 1927;
Courier Express, February 19, 1928.

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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