Draft Nomination - National Register of Historic Places
Parkside Candy Shoppe and Factory
3208 Main Street, Buffalo NY
By Francis R. Kowsky and Martin Wachadlo
[Edited by Jennifer Walkowski, NYSHPO]
|Narrative Description of Property
The Parkside Candy Shoppe and Factory is a group of three buildings located at the northwest corner of Main Street and West Winspear Avenue in the University Heights neighborhood of the City of Buffalo. All three buildings have a high degree of integrity and are still used for the purpose for which they were built. The most prominent component of the complex is the two-story brick and stone commercial Candy Shoppe building (1925-1927), located at the angled intersection of Main Street and West Winspear Avenue. This commercial building contains the Parkside Candy Shoppe’s primary retail showroom, as well as additional commercial and residential space. A two-story brick and tile daylight factory building, erected in two stages (1925-1927; 1928), is located immediately behind and to the west of the candy store building. A one-story, three-bay frame garage (1928) is located immediately to the west of the factory. A small parking lot on West Winspear Avenue fills the space behind the candy shop and next to the factory building. The neighborhood, which takes its name from the nearby South Campus of the University at Buffalo, is largely residential with commerce limited primarily to Main Street. The area is near the northeastern boundary of the city.
The southwest corner of Main Street and Winspear Avenue is occupied by a gas station (1970), the third on the site since 1925. The southeast corner was also the longtime site of a gas station, but it is now occupied by a parking lot fronting a one-story convenience store. On the northeast corner is a frame two-story, ground floor commercial building with apartments above. It was erected in 1911 and thus predates the Parkside Candy complex, as does the store and apartment building built in 1922, immediately north of the nominated property. Along both sides of Main Street in this vicinity, the streetscape is composed primarily of low-rise commercial buildings (some of which are converted houses) with stores or offices on the ground floor and apartments above. Most of these buildings date to the early decades of the twentieth century. The intersecting cross streets of the University Heights neighborhood are occupied by single and double family residences of similar vintage. A few blocks to the north on Main Street is the South Campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo, originally developed in the 1920s as the private University of Buffalo.
Candy Shoppe Building
Exterior: Principal Elevation
The store, office and apartment building is an irregularly shaped two-story brick and stone building occupying the obtuse angle at the northwest corner of Main Street and West Winspear Avenue. The principal elevation (east) faces Main Street. At ground level, it is a somewhat symmetrical composition with a conspicuous door between the two storefronts. This entrance, framed in masonry with Classical details, and which apparently retains the original wooden door and transom, opens onto a staircase that leads to the second floor apartments and offices. The doorway cornice projects over a dentil course with a row of egg and dart molding below and rests on a pair of brackets with guttae at their bases. Above the architrave, an oval cartouche proudly bears a capital letter “P” surmounted by an anthemion and flanked by a pair of cornucopia.
The two storefronts to either side of the center entrance feature large plate glass windows on gray masonry bulkheads. Iron bars protect basement openings (now blocked) beneath each display window. A shallow stone cornice extends across both of the storefronts and is surmounted by an egg and dart molding beneath a dentil course. The top of this cornice serves as the sill course for a row of eight windows regularly spaced between brick piers. Each of the piers is crowned by a cast stone oval cartouche containing the capital letter “P.” Each of the openings contains six-over-six double-hung metal sash windows that are modern replacements for the original wooden fenestration. There is a three-light transom above each window. Immediately above the windows at the lintel level is a flat architrave topped by an egg and dart molding surmounting a dentil course with a shallow projecting cornice above, all rendered in metal painted dark brown. Above the cornice, a brick parapet with stone coping borders the building’s flat roof.
At the southern corner of the east façade, the candy store entranceway announces the building’s more important commercial space. It consists of a large plate glass display window facing Main Street and a recessed entranceway to the left of that leading into candy shop. The recessed area of this entrance is flanked by plate glass showcases that feature seasonal presentations related to the sale of candy. Beige and tan tile flooring and double wooden and plate glass entrance doors with brass fittings welcome customers to the delightful interior.
On the front of the building, a large chocolate colored metal and neon sign occupies the space between the top of the display window and the first story cornice. Prominently proclaiming the name of the establishment, it wraps itself around the West Winspear Avenue (south) side of the building as well. The name “Parkside Candies” is repeated on the Winspear Avenue and Main Street sides of the festive placard, which, although not original to the building, has long been the identifying feature of the exterior. Now badly deteriorated--the neon tubes no longer function—the signboard appears to date to the 1950s. No records, however, have been found related to its installation. This date has been established based on the style of its design and lettering.
The northern commercial rental space, which is currently leased by a wholesale spice dealer, is marked by two plate glass windows on either side of a recessed entrance. These window showcases are curtained off from public view.
The two-story southern elevation, facing West Winspear Avenue, continues elements of the Main Street elevation. The stone-and-plate-glass showcase with signboard above that forms a unit with the entrance to the candy shop occupies the eastern end of the south elevation. A more somber note is struck by a bronze plaque affixed to the wall adjacent to the showcase commemorating fallen fighters in World War II. The remainder of the first floor elevation is blank, buff colored textured brick, except for four small windows with stone sills at the western end. (These light an interior kitchen.) A shallow stone cornice extends across the first story and defines the second level. An egg and dart molding and dentil course ornaments the underside of this cornice. Above this cornice, a stone sill course continues from the Main Street elevation. It supports a row of ten regularly spaced windows that alternate with brick piers. Each of the brick piers is topped with a cream-colored masonry oval cartouche bearing a majuscule “P.” There is no window in the westernmost bay; it is filled with a recessed brick panel that appears to be original to the building. The seven eastern bays have recent six-over-six metal double-hung sash windows with three transoms above; the three western windows have similar sash but no transoms. This area above these windows is filled with brick. Immediately above the windows, a dark brown metal architrave and cornice runs the full length of the elevation. This feature represents a continuation of the same feature present on the Main Street elevation. Above this cornice, a brick parapet with stone coping conceals the flat roof.
West and North Elevations
The west and north sides of the building have no architectural features. (A small exception to this is the two-foot strip at the south corner of the west elevation that repeats the elements of the south elevation.) The remainder of this rear side of the building is faced in common brick painted red. Irregularly sized windows with stone sills and utilitarian doors are placed according to interior functions in this elevation. A square brick chimney projects at approximately the center of the elevation. A modern wooden balcony addition with metal staircase is located on the west second story immediately north of the chimney. The north elevation, which is inches away from the neighboring building, is composed of fireproof tile and brick and has no openings in it.
The ground floor layout consists of two commercial spaces divided by a staircase leading from the street to a second floor transverse corridor. To the right along this corridor is a small office that overlooks Main Street; to the left, the corridor leads to another office that also overlooks Main Street and to a third office that overlooks West Winspear Avenue. A second corridor leads from the juncture of the second floor staircase landing and the first corridor to the back of the building. It gives access to a two-bedroom apartment overlooking West Winspear Avenue (on the south side of the building) and a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the rear (west side) of the building. On the ground floor, a rental office on the north side of the entrance to the second floor has a central doorway recessed between two, large, plate glass showcases and leading into the large single room of the interior. To the left of the doorway to the second floor is a large plate glass showcase for the candy store and beyond that a recessed doorway leading to the entrance to the candy shop and restaurant.
Candy Shop and Restaurant
The principal interior space in the building is the candy shop and restaurant in the southeast portion of the ground floor. This large oval space with a domed ceiling retains its as-built appearance, reflecting its original Adams Revival decoration. Customers enter this brightly lit, colorful room from the street through the original paired wooden doors at the east end of the long axis of the oval. The windowless space is surrounded by a series of alternating, narrow, round and wide segmental-arched openings framed with unpainted walnut moldings. These dark moldings contrast pleasantly with the pale, “pistachio” green color of the lower level of the room. Plaster pilasters filled with grotesque decorative reliefs and topped by stylized Corinthian capitals separate the arched areas from each other. A distinctive feature of the capitals is the small, identical feminine face that peers into the room from between the volutes. Perforated gold metal sconces of recent vintage mounted beneath the capitals have replaced original candelabra sconces but still cast soft light upon the little faces.
Starting at the left or south side of the entrance as one enters the room, the sixteen bays of the arcade are organized in the following order. Along the south wall is a wide segmental arch with recessed wooden paneling and slightly projecting wainscoting; a narrow round arch containing a stationary mirrored panel; a wide segmental-arched opening sheltering a wooden counter that projects into the room and from which ice cream is served (on the wall behind the counter is an original wall cupboard for holding glassware); a narrow round arched opening leading to the kitchen in the southwest corner of the building and to the area behind the ice cream counter; a wide segmental arch filled with recessed wood paneling on which is hung a large oil painting, dated 1939, by local artist Carlo Nista (of the Kaiser family farm in East Aurora); and a narrow round arch filled with a mirrored glass door leading to a restroom. Along the west wall is a wider segmental arch sheltering a seating alcove (this element is opposite the entrance on the long axis of the oval) in which there is a curved upholstered bench beneath a segmentally arched leaded glass casement window and a narrow round arch giving access to the service area along the entire eastern wall of the oval room. Along the north wall is a wide segmental arch sheltering two glass candy display cases; a narrow round arch giving access to the service area behind the candy cases; a wide segmental arch sheltering two glass candy display cases; a narrow round arch with a Dutch door giving access to the service area behind the candy cases, and a wide segmental arch sheltering two glass candy display cases. Along the north wall is a narrow round arch filled with a mirrored glass door opening into a small closet; a wide segmental arch sheltering the main entrance with two wood and glass doors; and a narrow round arch containing a mirrored glass door that opens into a small closet.
The pilasters of the arcade support a green entablature that extends around the circumference of the space and is ornamented with gold low relief urns alternating with swags. Above this border, a shallow cornice supported on small brackets projects into the room. A line of diminutive urns alternating with swags crowns this cornice and conceals an area of indirect lighting behind it. The ceiling dome rises without visible support from behind this recessed light ledge, as if hovering over the room. The light from concealed bulbs bathes the shallow dome in a soft glow and casts the acroterion-like urns and swags into sharp relief.
The dome itself is made of plaster painted a light cream color. In the manner of Robert Adam, it is ornamented with Classical moldings and decorative designs in low relief arranged in an overall symmetrical pattern. The decoration features an outer border of lyres linked by garlands. From each lyre a straight line of small lilies extends inward to eight symmetrically disposed rectangular panels. Each of these frames a pair of sphinxes facing a vase. These panels are joined to another by delicate garlands that border a central recessed oval oculus. This oculus is itself defined by a series of handsome moldings. The middle of the oculus holds a sunburst pattern in low relief. Unfortunately, a large circular air-conditioning ventilator obscures much of this decorative feature.
This handsome sales room preserves many of its original furnishings and fixtures. Three permanently fixed, metal, torchère-style floor lamps are aligned along the long axis of the room. Each of the seven-foot-tall lamp stands support a bowl consisting of six curved, white frosted glass panes concealing electric lights. Open at the top, the uplifted bowls shed additional light on the dome. The central lamp stand is directly under the oculus. These freestanding lamps also have grilled panels in their bases that provided seasonally warm and/or cool air to the sales space. In the center alcove of the south side of the room is the original soda fountain counter. Behind it is the original walnut buffet and shelves for glassware. Both naturally finished pieces also are detailed with pilasters, urns and swags similar to those found throughout the room. Three alcoves along the north end of the room contain the original natural walnut-base display cases. Most of the tables and chairs used to serve diners are also original, as are the faux marble baseboards and marbleized cream and black linoleum tiles on the floor.
The Parkside Candy Shoppe: “A modern building, classic in design, arose.”
The two-story candy shop building with offices and apartments on the second level is a good example of a modest early twentieth-century commercial building.
The rather plain brick and stone exterior is highlighted by simple Arts and Crafts decorative elements, e.g. the letter “P” set within shield-like panels between the upper story windows, and Classical ornamental details such as those around the ground floor entrance to the second floor and along the first floor cornice.
While the exterior of the building is a stylish, well rendered early twentieth century design, it is the interior of the candy showroom that creates a truly memorable, whimsical space. The Parkside Candy Shoppe sales room is a splendid, intact example of Adam Revival style of interior design. The oval dome that encompasses the entire space displays delicate grotesque designs in low relief. They designs carry over onto pilasters that define various alcoves—“lux urius nooks included as part of the decoration plan permit one to enjoy to the full the restful beauty of the shoppe.” All of these elements and the pastel color scheme (which resembles the original shades) evoke an elegant and festive atmosphere perfectly suited to the display and enjoyment of confections.
The architect G. Morton Wolfe clearly based his interior design on the work of the eighteenth-century Scottish architect and interior designer, Robert Adam (1728-1792). The distinctive style associated with his name came to be called Adams Revival. Robert Adam had made a study of ancient Roman architecture and he found that many large Roman dwellings had rooms of square, elliptical, circular plan. Alcoves and half domes were also common features that expanded the main space of a room. A popular form of surface decoration was low relief stucco worked into delicate designs featuring plants, mythical creatures, and other devices and even landscape scenes. (These types of ornamentation designers call grotesque work, for it was often found in garden grottos.) Moreover, interiors were often painted in bright colors, even pastel shades. From these discoveries, Adam evolved a modern, lighthearted Neo-Classicism that attracted a wide clientele in England and Scotland. The Library at Kenwood House, London, which Adam designed in 1767-1769, is a textbook example of Adam’s work.
The influence of Robert Adam (who later collaborated with his brother James) passed to colonial America, where the Adam style came to be known as the Federal style. The first significant instance of a Robert Adam style interior is the dining room that George Washington added to Mount Vernon in 1759. An artisan Washington invited to come from England to do the work made the delicate plaster ornament that enlivens the ceiling.
Other examples famous in the annals of American architecture include Charles Bulfinch’s Massachusetts State House, Boston, (1795), Samuel McIntire’s Gardner-Pingree House, Salem, Massachusetts (1804), and the anonymous Woodlands House, Philadelphia, (1788).
When G. Morton Wolfe designed the Parkside Candy Shoppe in the mid-1920s, he demonstrated a thorough understanding of the letter and spirit of Robert Adam’s architecture. (Books on the Adam brothers’ architecture had appeared recently in 1917 and 1922.) The choice of style may have been influenced by the new attention being focused in the early 1920s on colonial America by the reconstruction of Williamsburg, Virginia. It might also have come about through the wishes of the owners, who desired to create an atmosphere of refined taste in their new establishment. They specifically mentioned Adam as the inspiration for the interior of the candy shop. Robert Adam himself had said that he viewed his interior designs as settings for “the parade, the convenience, and the social pleasures of life” and ideal for “receiving company.
The Parkside Candy Shoppe, A Feminine Preserve: “A modern salon where friends and patrons might come and enjoy rare fountain treats and dainty luncheons.”
Perfectly suited to the refined atmosphere the owners wished to create, the Parkside Candy Shoppe unquestionably made special appeal to women customers. The atmosphere was decidedly feminine. As was the case with the contemporary Huyler’s restaurants, especially the one at 374 Delaware Avenue (1926; listed in the National Register in 2011), the Kaisers clearly intended to make women feel comfortable here. They were demonstrably intended as the primary consumers of the “dainty lunches” on offer at the Parkside Candy Shoppe. Moreover, the identification of candy as an especially feminine taste had a long history. As social historian Wendy Woloson states, the mechanized production of sugar that came about in the late nineteenth century caused the price of that commodity to drop dramatically. Sugar, contend Woloson, “became linked with femininity; its economic devaluation coincided with its cultural demotion." Moreover, social convention held that it was unmanly for men to crave candy; but such indulgence was acceptable in women and children.
The origins of the Parkside Candy Company, as described in a promotional pamphlet printed by the proprietors at the time of the opening of the new candy store in 1927, confirm the strong feminine influence that came to bear on the formation of the business plan. We are told that the store and restaurant was a “vision realized” of Molly H. Kaiser, the wife of Edward Kaiser. The brochure touted the candy shop as a “silent tribute” and “monument to her untiring co-operation.” It went on to elaborate on the romantic origins of the business:
In the measured count of time, it is only a few short years since two destines were moulded by a vision. Man and wife they were, building their hopes for the future on a modest candy store. There, by day, the woman sold sugared sweets, while the man gave his time teaching in a nearby school. Then one day came a vision, the vision of a candy shoppe that would surpass even the most modern in its beauty and convenience. And so they promised each other, the woman of sweets and the schoolmaster man, to build a modern salon where friends and patrons might come and enjoy rare fountain treats and dainty luncheons.The business model followed by the Kaisers for the Parkside Candy Shoppe actually combined two forms of businesses that traditionally catered to women: the candy store and the tearoom. Light fare and non-alcoholic beverages had been the staple of tearooms since the mid-nineteenth century. Such places as the Casino, which Calvert Vaux designed in 1862 for a site in New York’s Central Park, were ancestors to such refined places as the Parkside Candy Shoppe. The picturesque stone cottage in Central Park was the special province of women and was officially known as the Ladies’ Refreshment House. It and other tearooms pioneered catering to the new social phenomenon of middle class women who had leisure time to spend outside the home. By the early twentieth century, the tearoom was an established institution in American business, and it was regarded as mainly the province of women. Indeed, most tearooms were owned or managed by women.
Notices in the local newspapers reinforce the impression that predominant clientele of the Parkside Candy Shoppe was feminine. Articles extoling the shop and restaurant appeared often in the society pages, notably in a Buffalo Courier-Express column entitled “Shop Talk” that was written especially for women. From this source, we learn that one “can always get a delicious light luncheon at either of these two Parkside Candy Shoppes. Sandwiches as tempting as any you make yourself at home . . . sundaes and sodas so good they're famous all over town.” The author, who identified herself simply as Marjorie, also informed her readers that a
favorite luncheon haunt with the University crowd is Parkside Candy Shop, 3208 Main, near Winspear. And the advent of a tealeaf reader there, two weeks ago, has sent the stock of Parkside up even higher in the minds of the erstwhile students. Many of the coeds, who don't consider their mothers too old for that sort of thing, have suggested that they too go for a reading.Marjorie also suggested the Parkside Candy Shoppe as an “evening rendezvous” of a summer evening: “Possibly you haven't yet discovered how pleasant it is these warm evenings to stop at Parkside Candy Shoppe, 3208 Main, near Winspear,” she wrote, “and, as you lazily remain in your car, have them bring you a refreshing, delicious sundae, soda, or cool drink. There's a large parking space on the cool Winspear side of the shop which seems far away from Main Street.”
Later History of the Parkside Candy Company
The Kaiser family continued to direct the Parkside Candy Shoppe for several decades after World War II. (The company had two other retail outlets, the original store at 2304 Main Street and another venue at 571 Delaware Avenue [the present Panaro’s restaurant]. The family eventually ceased operations at these locations in order to concentrate on the business at the Main and Winspear store and factory.) After the death of George Kaiser in 1951, his son, James, took over running the business. Thirty years later, the current owner, Philip Buffamonte, purchased the entire operation at Main and Winspear from the estate of George Kaiser (who had previously leased the business to his nephew, James Kaiser). Mr. Buffamonte continues to operate the candy factory, making lollipops (for which the company was famous—“a breath of old summer days in every lick”), sponge candy, and chocolates utilizing original vacuum cooker equipment, candy molds, and other equipment he acquired from the original owners. When this elaborate and massive equipment is functioning, the visitor is easily transported back in time to an earlier era of candy making. The company enjoys demand for its products from many wholesalers in several states. Mr. Buffamonte also maintains the operation of the candy shop/restaurant (sans curb service) in the tradition of Molly Kaiser and her descendants. Thanks to his management and dedication, a venerable Buffalo commercial institution from the city’s golden years has survived into the twenty-first century.
Statement of Significance:
The Parkside Candy Shoppe and Factory are significant under criteria A in the area of commerce for their associations with Buffalo’s commercial history for more than 80 years. The store and factory complex is a good representative example of the type of independent candy store and candy manufacturer that frequently existed in American cities. The buildings are also significant under C as intact representatives of their types, and the store is additionally significant for its outstanding Adams Revival interior design.
The Parkside Candy Company Complex is locally significant as a largely intact example of an early-twentieth-century confectionary production and sales facility. Located on Main Street in Buffalo’s University Heights neighborhood, the Parkside Candy Company complex consists of three separate buildings located on the same parcel: a two-story commercial building housing a retail space, restaurant, apartments, and offices; a two-story candy factory building; and a single-story garage attached to the west side of the factory. Local architect G. Morton Wolfe (1886-1966), who planned other commercial buildings during this era in Buffalo’s growing northern neighborhoods, designed the commercial building and the separate factory in 1925, the year the building permit was filed with the city. The buildings were constructed in 1925-1928. While the exterior of the commercial building is rendered in a modest Arts and Crafts mode, the interior contains a remarkable and comprehensive Adams Revival style sales space.
The period of significance for the Parkside Candy Shoppe and Factory begins with the initial construction of the commercial building and factory in 1925. It ends with the placement of the large neon sign over the entrance to the candy shop in the mid-1950s. Although no records support this date, it was established based on the sign’s style of design. The candy shop is still in business today.
|Candy and Candy Manufacturing - Reprinted separately
The Neighborhood around the Parkside Candy Company: University Heights - Reprinted separately
The Architect: G. Morton Wolfe - Reprinted separately
A Vision Realized. Buffalo: Parkside Candy Company, 1927.
Brady, Erik. “Parkside Candy: A 60-Year Tradition.” Buffalo Courier-Express, March 17, 1978.
Dickson, Paul. The Great American Ice Cream Book. New York: Athenaeum, 1972.
Ellis, Bill. ”Whispers in an Ice Cream Parlor: Culinary Tourism, Contemporary Legends, and the Urbane Interzone.” Journal of American Folklore. 122 (2009), 53-74.
Funderburg, Anne Cooper. Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1995.
“G. M. Wolfe Rites Slated, Ex-Architect.” Buffalo Courier-Express, March 3, 1966.
“G. Morton Wolfe Dies at 80; Prominent Buffalo Architect.” Buffalo Evening News, March 3, 1966.
Hirsch, Dick. “Last Licks; A few words about Parkside Candy, about to become a sweet memory.” Buffalo Courier-Express, August 23, 1981.
Kawash, Samira. Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. New York. Faber and Faber, 2013.
Kearns, Michelle. “Area has more than a dozen candy makers busy far beyond February 14th. ” Buffalo News, February 12, 2006.
Licata, Elizabeth. “Sweet times: Selected moments in WNY candy history.” Buffalo Spree, February 2012, 18-19.
“Parkside Candy Story.” http://parksidecandy.com/the-parkside-candy-story-intro.
“Shop Talk: Fun For All.” Buffalo Courier-Express, January 30, 1939.
“Shop Talk: Evening Rendezvous. ” Buffalo Courier-Express, July 10, 1939.
“Shop Talk: Far from Town.” Buffalo Courier-Express, October 25, 1939.
Woloson, Wendy A. Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002