20th Century Club - Table of Contents

History - Twentieth Century Club
595 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Miss Charlotte Mulligan
Pres. 1894-1897

Delaware Avenue Baptist Church
Source: The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo, Frank H. Severance, ed.
Pub. by the Buffalo Historical Society Publications
Vol. 16, 1912, p. 144

The text below is excerpted from
Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families
By Edward T. Dunn

Pub. by
Canisius College Press, 2003

Delaware Avenue Baptist Church
The roots of the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church at 961 [Delaware Avenue] lay in the Olivet Chapel, a Sunday school organized in 1874 .... A small brick carpenter shop at #595 Delaware was modified for a school by adding a hall to the rear. The site had formerly been occupied by the officers' quarters of the Poinsett Barracks. As early as September 1874 services for adults were held at the school, and demands were being made a full-blown establishment. The result was the Oliver Baptist Church, organized in 1882 which erected a $30,000 building known as the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church.

The Baptists remained at #595 for only eleven years yielding place in to the Twentieth Century Club.

Twentieth Century Club purchase
This [Twentieth Century Club] had developed out of the Graduates Association of the Buffalo Seminary, whose president, Charlotte Mulligan, learning that the church property was for sale, secured approval for the issuance of bonds to members to raise the $35,000 asking price for the church. She believed that the chapter house of the Graduates Association in Johnson Park was inadequate.

The costs involved in purchase and conversion caused the suggestion to open membership in the association to non-graduates, which generated some opposition. The solution was to set up a separate club, The Twentieth Century Club, to which the deed to the church property, which had been delivered to the alumnae association, was in turn transferred on May 1, 1894, and $8,101.55 was spent on entirely changing the church at the back of the property into an assembly hall with a silver and terra cotta Gothic interior ... the club historian stressed the ambiance of its acquisition:

Located centrally, the property was in what was probably the most beautiful section of the city. Imposing mansions on Delaware Avenue, constructed in an era of carved marble and stone, echoed with the gaiety of fairs, balls, debuts. There were cotillions and masques and musicals. The ladies were magnificent in velvet and satin and lace and brocade. Jeweled tiaras, necklaces, bracelets gleamed under soft lights.

Present fašade
Within months officials of the club arranged to erect a bona fide clubhouse in front of the converted church provided the expense would not exceed $42,000 ($732,060 in 1997 dollars.) Work began on October 8, 1895, the architects being Green & Wicks. An optimistic report with an engraved picture in the Commercial saluted the opening of the new facility on November 4, 1896.

This new club house for women is one of the handsomest, if not the handsomest, in the country The exterior architecture is of the Italian renaissance style. The building is 78 feet wide and 96 feet deep. The first story is of Indiana limestone and the rest of the structure of pressed brick, of a warm red tone, with a cornice of terra cotta. The ionic pillars across the front of the second story are of blue marble. The entrance gates, on either side of the clubhouse are of wrought iron, and the windows of the top story are covered with iron grills of very artistic design ....

Interior changes
By 1904 it was clear that the seating capacity of the Assembly Hall was too small and the few exits and aisles unsafe. The converted church was demolished and a hall was erected with a seating capacity of 576 on the ground floor and 150 in the gallery A gymnasium, pool, showers, and a hot room were added. At a cost of $50,000 the addition was opened on November 1905.

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