Richard A. Waite in Buffalo - Table of Contents

Buffalo Architect: Richard A. Waite, 1848-1911
Text by Joseph R. Galvin

May, 2003

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and for more information

Pierce's Palace Hotel
Destroyed by fire

Mayor Philip Becker's house at 534 Delaware Ave.

White Brothers Livery & Boarding Stable
428-430 Jersey Street

Photo - Frank Hamlin House at 420 Franklin St.

Detail - 1877 Frank Hamlin House

Williams House at 249 North St.

Detail - Williams House

Walden-Myer Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Detail - Walden-Myer Mausoleum

Photos - Three homes on Pennsylvania St.

Photo - Richard A. Waite House
361 Pennsylvania St.

Photo - Detail - Richard A. Waite House

Photo - 357 Pennsylvania St.

Photo - Detail - 357 Pennsylvania St.

Photo - 355 Pennsylvania St.

Photo - Detail - 355 Pennsylvania St.

See also:
1888 newspaper article about Waite

Waite and wife tombstones at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Photo - Richard A. Waite
Photo courtesy of Christopher Brown

Photo - Buffalo German Insurance Co. Building
Photo courtesy of Dale and Janice Rossi. Demolished 1957.

Canadian buildings by Waite:

See also: 1888 newspaper article about Waite

In the news recently, there is talk of a new museum coming to the Allentown Community. It will house the local Mark Twain collection, at 249 North Street (photo above), and is expected to have a limited opening by June of 2003. This is good news for those who are interested in Mark Twain and wonderful news if you are interested in architecture. [The museum closed after a short period of time.]

The structure was originally planned as a home for George Williams, and he hired Richard A. Waite to design it for him.

Richard A. Waite was an architect who practiced in Buffalo during the last quarter of the 19th century. He lived in a house that he built in 1875, at 361 Pennsylvania Avenue (photo above), in Allentown. Most of his remaining structures in Buffalo are in the Allentown District, but his impressive accomplishments can be found on the main streets of some very famous cities.

Richard was born in England in 1848. He was the son of Charles Henry Waite and his wife Harriet Humphries Holland. The Waites emigrated to the U. S. in 1856 from England, with seven children in the family at the time. Charles was involved in the Buffalo printing company of Clapp, Matthews, and Waite, in the early 1860's. Charles also had an association with the Buffalo Express. (How's that for a Mark Twain connection?) Both of Richard's parents died by the time he reached 17.

Richard received his training in an apprenticeship, rather than formal schooling. After first obtaining Mechanical (Engineering) training under John Ericsson, the inventor of the ironclad Civil War ship, the Monitor, he worked with architect John Kellum in NYC.

Career in Buffalo
Buffalo gave him his start. He began his career in 1871 after more than eight years of learning in NYC.

In 1872, many people disliked the present A.J. Warner exterior design for
the City and County Hall on Franklin Street, in Buffalo. A newspaper commissioned Waite to redesign the exterior based on existing foundations. Although his design was not chosen, it received rave reviews and left a good impression of the city on the young architect.

In 1874 he settled in Buffalo and opened an architectural office.

In his office he employed many people who went on to their own success and in his career and he achieved an international status from work in Canada and Scotland.

Richard A. Waite worked side by side with the first generation of trained architects in America. Some of his contemporaries were
Louis Sullivan, H.H. Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Wellborn Root, Daniel Burnham, William Le Baron Jenney, Frank Lloyd Wright and Stanford White to name a few. These are all national figures that worked in Buffalo (except for Jenney) and might have come into contact with Richard socially or professionally (as well as Mark Twain perhaps?).

During his lifetime, 1848-1911, America went through tremendous change architecturally, specifically the period 1870-1890's with the introduction of high rise buildings, structural steel framing, elevators, telephone and telegraph communications, running water, heat systems, plate glass/display windows, etc. This was a big revolution in architecture and it happened right here in America. Our man Waite was right in the thick of it!

Consider these facts:

No other American architect had more large scale commissions from her Majesty's people than Waite.

In closing, let me give you some more Buffalo examples of his work:

Homes to his credit include

Photos and their arrangement 2003 Chuck LaChiusa
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