B. Green and Associates - Table of Contents
The Greening of Buffalo: How Architect E. B. Green Shaped the Profile of the City
By Austin M. Fox
Text reprinted from "E. B. Green: Buffalo's Architect" with permission from the Austin Fox estate
In his Harvard thesis on John J. Albright, Birge Albright tells this anecdote involving his illustrious and implacable grandfather and the Buffalo architect Edward B. Green. The occasion was the burning, in 1901, of the first Albright house at 730 West Ferry Street near Delaware. During the fire Albright encountered his architect Green on the grounds and queried, "Well, Green, have you brought the new plans with you?"
Although the story does not reveal what Green responded, it does show something about Green's relationship with the affluent people of Buffalo. They respected his abilities and his taste. This respect explains why Green designed so many buildings and houses for the prominent citizens of the city. His architectural relationship to Buffalo is comparable to that of Stanford White in New York. Like White and his partners McKim and Mead in New York, Edward B. Green and his partners left an indelible imprint on Buffalo. It is hard to visualize the city without Green's buildings. They help form the profile of the city and give it some of its personality and its refinement.
What is amazing about Green's architectural contribution to Buffalo in not only the number of his surviving buildings in the city but also their variety of styles and high quality of the work he did in these styles.
The Albright house, for example, was a superb example of Tudor Gothic. (It was taken down in 1933 during the Depression.) Green also used Tudor effectively in Albright Hall (1909) at Nichols School, with its charming trussed-ceiling chapel, and later in Mitchell Hall (1925), with its baronial dining hall, its leaded casement windows, and its protective parapet.
Perhaps the Green firm's outstanding Tudor accomplishment is Mayfair Lane, the English-village row houses on North Street, west of Delaware. Its condominium plan and lower-level parking were innovations at the time it was built. Green himself lived at 19 Mayfair Lane during the last years of his life, and his architect son, Edward B. Green Jr., resided in the turreted, drawbridge-protected mini-castle at the end of the upper-level lane.
Edward Brodhead Green Sr. was born in Utica, New York in 1855.He was graduated from Cornell with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1878.
After three years in an architectural office, he,joined with William S. Wicks in opening an architectural practice in Auburn, New York.
The firm of Green and Wicks moved to Buffalo in 1881. In 1917, it became Edward B. Green and Sons. After his son died in 1933, the firm became Green and James in 1936, and Green, James and Meadows in 1945. When Green died at the age of 94 in 1950 the company named was shortened to James and Meadows. Then Lewis E. Howard joined the organization in 1952, and his name was added. Finally, James, Meadows and Howard was dissolved in 1974, ninety-four illustrious years after the founding of the original firm.
Doubtless Green's most distinguished Buffalo building is the Albright Art Gallery (1900-1905) , a gift to the city of his illustrious client, John J. Albright with appropriate architectural acumen, Green designed the columns with the entasis or slightly convex profile which takes away from a feeling of rigidity. For the same purpose, the columns are not quite equidistant and set so that they lean slightly towards the center.
Green's Toledo Art Gallery (1910-1912) is another beautifully harmonious classical building. Still another is the imposing Lockwood Library on the University of Buffalo Main Street campus, perhaps the outstanding edifice there.
But Green and his associates were also capable of outstanding work in other styles too. The Romanesque, for example. There is the First Presbyterian Church at Symphony Circle, with its sentinel-like campanile dominating the southern end of Richmond Avenue. Also notable are his Medina sandstone crematory on West Delavan across from Forest Lawn Cemetery and his Gothic addition to the chapel in Forest Lawn.
Green's outstanding work in the Renaissance or Neoclassical style is the Buffalo Savings Bank, whose gilded dome, chamfered corners, and imposing engaged columns which over the intersection of Main and Genesee. A superlative small Renaissance-style residence designed by Green is the row house at 477 Delaware Avenue, near Virginia. Built in 1895 for H. M. Birge at a cost of $16,000, it is now the local DAR chapter headquarters, named in honor of Katherine Pratt Horton. The building is worthy of Stanford White at his best.
Like White, too, Green and his firm did a number of clubs. For the ladies there is the Garret Club on Cleveland, with its charming Florentine terrace and walled garden, and for the men the proud brick Buffalo Athletic Club (BAC), which appropriately echoes the architectural feeling of the Statler Hotel on the opposite side of Niagara Square. Its Renaissance balustrade and exterior detailing, its paneled lounge now a banking space with its magnificent coffered ceiling and its medieval, grotto-like grill exude dignity and opulence.
Next to the BAC at One Niagara Square the firm designed, for its on offices, a remarkable small Venetian-style palazzo with an arcaded facade, grilled second-story windows and pilasters, and a tile roof.
The sheer quantity of Green's work in and around Buffalo is staggering. On the Main Street UB campus alone, the firm did, in addition to the Lockwood Library, about sixteen buildings.
The number of quietly tasteful, prosperity-suggestive Buffalo residences Green designed is also amazing. Among the finest are the former Josiah Letchworth house at 180 Summer Street, with its suggestion of a European chalet in the midst of a park-like setting, and the former A. Conger Goodyear house at the corner of Penhurst Park and Penhurst Place. They show Green's inclination toward stucco, generous windows, an wrought-iron detailing.
The Green firm's Genesee Building on Main and Genesee is facing demolition to make way for the planned munificent Hyatt Hotel. Some of Green's fine homes (like the Albright house) are gone, but fortunately, many more remain, though too numerous to mention in the space of this article They remind us of a standard of taste, a life style, a culture, without which our city would be sadly diminished.
In conferring the Chancellor's Medal on Green in 1938, Chancellor Capell commented, ''...buildings not only led a city its tangible and remembered outline, they also register the stages of its evolution and something of its quality."
Green and his associates have given us much of the tangible and remembered outline of Buffalo.
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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