Pierce-Arrow Showroom - Table of Contents
A Short History of the Pierce-Arrow Showroom
2421 Main Street at Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY
TEXT Beneath Illustrations
The first showroom was at 752-758 Main Street in what is now called the Vernor Building. The empty lot to the right was the location of the now razed Teck Theater.
The current Vernor Building owners illegally removed some of the building's valuableterra cotta ornamentation.
The Elmwood-Great Arrow plant
The Ford / Trico/ Tri-Main Building can be seen in the left background. Both Ford and Pierce-Arrow chose this location, in large part, because of the Belt Line railroad which ran between the two buildings
The Belt Line railroad behind the showroom. The Line continued to the Elmwood-Great Arrow plant
Kitty-corner neighbor: Central Presbyterian Church (Showroom wall is at the right)
In 1863 George N. Pierce (1846-1911) came to buffalo from Friendsville, Pennsylvania at the age of seventeen. He married into a well-to-do local family, and ten years and several jobs later, he partnered with two other local men and formed a company known as Heinz, Pierce and Munshauer for the manufacture of refrigerators, birdcages, iceboxes and bathtubs.
Pierce was a partner until 1878 when he left the firm to establish a rival concern under the name of George N. Pierce & Company, and in 1888 added a line of children's tricycles, a product that was becoming very popular at the time.
Shortly after 1889, Pierce started building a full line of adult hard-tired and cushion-tired "safety" bicycles. By 1892 Pierce had dropped all of his other products except birdcages and iceboxes and in 1895 he stopped manufacturing these, too. He then continued as just a bicycle company.
By 1901 the Pierce Cycle Company had grown tremendously and was located in a five-story 75,000-square-foot factory at 6-22 Hanover Street in Buffalo. The site was near where the present hockey arena now stands on lower Main Street.
Many of the early automobile makers were bicycle makers and by the turn of the century, the Pierce Company began experimenting with automobiles.
George N. Pierce & Company built two cars early in 1901, and they exhibited them to the public at the Pan-American Exposition along with their bicycle line when the exposition opened in May.
By 1905, Pierce was producing some of the biggest and most expensive automobiles on the U.S. market.
Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co.
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. was officially launched in 1907. Pierce resigned as president, and the Pierce family sold its interest and left the company. Pierce had taken on George Birge as a partner in 1899, and Birge was president of the newly named auto company from 1908-1916.
The Arrow automobile continued to be made in the same bicycle plant on Hanover Street until 1907, when the company split into two companies and the auto production was moved to a new plant that was built next to the New York Central Belt Line Railroad on Elmwood Avenue at Great Arrow
The first showroom
The first Pierce-Arrow showroom was the present Vernor Building at 752-758 Main Street next to the now razed Teck Theater.
The second showroom, Main Street and Jewett Avenue.
Pierce-Arrow affiliated with the Studebaker Corporation in 1928 and a new Art Deco showroom, designed by H.E. Plumer & Associates with Harold F. Kellogg, was built at the corner of Main Street and Jewett Avenue. Construction 1929-30.. Unfortunately, the timing was bad and the company was hit hard by the Depression.
See also: Highlights of Buffalo History, 1933
Although the Studebaker Corporation failed in 1933, a group of Buffalo businessmen led by George F. Rand Jr., bought control of the Pierce-Arrow operation and kept it open under the presidency of Arthur J. Chanter until 1938 when Pierce-Arrow also went bankrupt.
- 1936-1957 Maxson Cadillac dealership
- 1957-1981 Tinney Cadillac dealership
- 1981-1998 Braun Cadillac-Buick dealership
Current owner, Greater Buffalo Savings Bank
In 1999, the Greater Buffalo Savings Bank was formed and bought the building to use as their headquarters. In 2002, the bank restored the building.
Presently (March 2004), eighty employees work in the building, and plans to add an additional 120 are being finalized. The bank's three branches use the Main-Jewett building as the design prototype.
- "Buffalo's Bicycles," by Carl F. Burgwardt. Pub. by Pedaling History Bicycle Museum, Orchard Park, NY, 2001
- "A History of the City of Buffalo," published by the The Buffalo Evening News, 1908
- The Bicycle Museum of America
- Source of Kahn information: Great buildings
- Braun Cadillac Showroom (1995): Art Deco Showcase of the Fabulous Pierce-Arrow Painting by Dr. Roger Lalli; text by David M. Rote
- The Elegant Pierce-Arrow had a Birdcage in its Past (Richard A. Wright).
- The History of Pierce Arrow (About the Human Internet)
- "A Jewel in the Crown of Buffalo, New York," by D. John Bray