Chester Oakley

Born February 23, 1893 in Buffalo New York, Chester Oakley is the architect responsible for several of the buildings on the St. Bonaventure campus. 

Son of Edward and Theodora, Oakley learned how to draw from his mother at age four.  Oakley's road to becoming an architect was somewhat unorthodox.  He ended his formal schooling in ninth grade.  At sixteen he got a job as a designer in an architect's office. 

His rich talent quickly gained wide recognition and in just ten years he was operating his own office.  Oakley specialized in 12th century Lombardic style architecture much like that of northern Italy. 

In 1926 he was summoned by Father Thomas Plassmann to erect a dormitory...

Oakley was described by people who knew him has a perfectionist who loved his work.  He was also a heavy smoker.  He smoked two to five packs a day depending on whether he worked through the night or not. After his wife died in 1958 he lived by himself in their trailer in Kill Buck. There he is remembered as a lonely, fragile man who walked daily to the corner grocery-post office for a bit of conversation and companionship.  

For the last five years of his life he lived in Olean.  A scribbled note written by Oakley found in the Friedsam Archives writes "Tell him I want to live down here close to the Friars and not get into the worldly life."  Finally, after battling a lung ailment, Chester Oakley died in St. Joseph's Manor Hospital on July 23, 1968.  He was seventy-eight.

Joined Williams Lansing (Lansing & Oakley)  in 1919, but Lansing died in 1920.

Joined Albert J. Schallmo (Oakley & Schallmo) in 1921 until 1928 when Schallmo died.

1928-1968 he ran his own firm.

Outside of Western New York, Oakley designed a Romanesque building for Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. in 1930. he also designed the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY.

Married Hazel Webster who died in 1958.

On Buffalo Architecture and History website:

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