M&T Bank - Table of Contents                           St. James Hall and the Buffalo Library

History of Site- One M&T Plaza
Buffalo, NY

1850 - Group of eight businessmen from across the state formed Marine Bank.

1856 - Manufacturers & Traders Bank receives charter with $200,000. and Bronson Case Rumsey and Pascal Paoli Pratt are the founders' Pratt was the first president. Pratt's businesses included Pratt and Co. Hardware and Pratt and Letchworth Ironworks.

1856 - Office space leased at 2 E. Swan St. for $100 per month.

1856 - Buffalo's ten grain elevators handled 19.7 million bushels of grain, making it the world's largest grain port.

1900 - Pascal Paoli Pratt was president of M&T when it moved into its own Green and Wicks-designed bank near the southwest corner of Main and Swan streets.

1913 - Previous to the merger with Fidelity Trust Bank, M&T built a new bank at Main and Swan streets which occupied the entire historic Townsend and Coit site. Robert Livingston Fryer was president.  After the merger with Fidelity Trust this building became the Federal Reserve Bank. It was demolished in 1959.

1914 - Harry T. Ramsdell was the fourth president of the bank.

1919? - Lewis G. Harriman became the fifth president of M&T.

Originally, One M&T Plaza was part of Inner Lot No. 104 of the Holland Land Company's Survey, which was reserved by the local agent, Joseph Ellicott, for his residence and private estate. Consisting of 100 acres, it was on the west side of Main Street, extending from Swan to Eagle, and down to Jefferson.

Eagle Street has retained its name from 1804 to the present day. On July 13, 1826, Van Staphorst Avenue, named to perpetuate the name of Nicholas Van Staphorst of the Holland Land Company, was changed to Main Street north of Shelton Square, and Onondaga became Washington Street.

The Ellicott tract was subdivided by Jacob S. Otto, successor to Joseph Ellicott as local agent, and in 1825 he laid out North Division from Main to Washington: it was extended in 1831 to Jefferson.

Eagle Street Theater: Buffalo's first theater building, the Eagle Street Theater, was built by Albert Brisbane of Batavia on the southwest corner of Washington and Eagle. Opened on July 20,1835, it was constructed in the style of the leading theaters of Europe. The auditorium a semicircle, with four tiers of boxes and a gallery. The tiers were one directly over the other. The theatrical season was the period of navigation on the lakes and canal, from May 1st, when the ice had disappeared from the lakes, until the close of navigation about December 1st.

St. James Hall / Bunnell's Museum: The
Eagle Street Theater, was destroyed by fire on May 11, 1852. The walls of the building were used in construction of St. James Hall in 1853. The hall was used for all manner of entertainments from poultry shows to grand opera. Many famous men, Ralph Waldow Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, Kentucky's Tom Marshall and a host of others spoke from its platforms. Old Settlers' dances were held there as well as firemen's balls and sparring matches. In its last six years it was known as Bunnell's Museum.

St. James Hotel / Young Men's Association: Albert and George Brisbane built the St. James Hotel on the southeast corner of Main and Eagle in 1855. They sold the hotel and St. James Hill for $112.500 on March 24, 1864 to the Young Men's Association. Members of the association moved to their new home in the St. James Building on January 10, 1865. Rooms were provided for the Buffalo Historical Society, Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Buffalo Fine Library, Young Men's Christian Association, Erie County Medical Society and the Firemen's Benevolent Association.

The Young Men's Association, five years after moving to the site of One M & T Plaza, established a fund for large purchases of books, and within two years increased its total from 16,000 to 25,000 volumes available to Buffalonians. In 1886 the YMA changed its name to Buffalo Public Library. The move to the present location on Lafayette Square was completed February 1, 1887.

Abraham Lincoln: On Thursday, April 27, 1865, Abraham Lincoln lay in state in St. James Hall on the site of One M&T Plaza. A report of the times estimates that 100,000 heartsick Buffalonians passed through the hall to view the body of the martyred President. Lincoln's funeral staff told Buffalo leaders that the reception here was the most favored accorded the President on his last, long trip.

Half-hour guns were fired by a battery in Court House Park  (Lafayette Square) throughout the day, and during the marching of the funeral procession to and from the hall minute guns were fired. The cortege moved from the Exchange Street Station in Exchange Street to Main, up Main to Niagara, to Delaware, to Tupper, to Main, to Eagle, and to the hall.

Samuel F. Pratt, Warren Bryant, Gibson T. Williams, Thomas J. Dudley, George R. Babcock, William Wildeson, Jacob Heimlich and Isaac Holloway were the pall bearers. Among the citizens whose carriages were used to accompany the escort guarding the remains were these incorporators and first directors of the Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company: Stephen V.R. Watson, Myron P. Bush, Pascal P. Pratt and Sherman S. Jewett.

Mayor William G. Fargo was chairman of the Buffalo committee on arrangements. His committee included the following M & T incorporators and directors: Bronson Rumsey, Francis H. Root and Sidney Shepard.

The Buffalo committee which rode the funeral train from Batavia to Buffalo was headed by Millard Fillmore and included Henry Martin, president of M & T, Sherman Jewett and John Wildeson, Incorporators and first directors of M & T; Nelson K. Hopkins, Isaac A. Verplanck, Joseph G. Masten, Frederick P. Stevens, James Sheldon, Philip Dorsheimer and S.H. Fish.

William Henry Harrison: A log cabin was built in 1840 on the southeast corner of Main and Eagle. It was part of the successful Whig campaign to elect William Henry Harrison as President and John Tyler, Vice President. Over the cabin was a banner, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."

A barrel of hard cider was on tap most of the time. Keepsakes, tokens and ornaments in the form of log cabins and other devices were given to potential voters.

1887 Richmond Hotel fire.
Source: Victorian Buffalo, by Cynthia Van Ness

Source: Victorian Buffalo, by Cynthia Van Ness

Richmond Hotel: Another floor was added to St. James Hotel and the name was changed to Richmond Hotel. It was ready for guests on February 20, 1887, and was destroyed by fire, along with St. James Hall on March 18, 1887, with a loss of 22 lives. The hall at the time was occupied by Bunnell's Museum.

The hotel and museum were replaced by the Hotel Iroquois, the pride of Buffalo from its opening on August 3, 1889, until closing the doors at 2 p.m. on May 19th, 1923, with the opening of the Hotel Statler on Niagara Square. Three floors were added to the Hotel Iroquois in 1899. It was operated by William H. Woodley and H. Montgomery Gerrans.

From the very beginning of Buffalo, Main Street, from North Division to Eagle has been called "Men's Row." More men pass along that block than in any other in the city.

The Gold Dollar Hotel / Strand Theater: The Gold Dollar Hotel at 355 Main Street was remodeled in 1911 into the Strand Theater.

Charles W. Evans: The theater auditorium was on the site of the Washington Street home of Charles W. Evans.

James Cary Evans / King and Eisele Jewelry: The home of James Cary Evans at the northwest corner of Washington and North Division was replaced in 1891 by the wholesale jewelry building of King and Eisele.

Bijou Dream / Bank of Buffalo: Buffalo's first nickelodeon, the Bijou Dream, was on the northeast corner of Main and North Division from 1907 to 1914, and razed for erection of the Bank of Buffalo building.

The Iroquois Hotel
Source: "A History of the City of Buffalo," published by the The Buffalo Evening News, 1908


Block to the south of M&T Plaza.                 Source: Buffalfo Evending news 6/16/65

Source: The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo, Severance, Frank H., ed. Buffalo Historical Society, Vol. 16, 1912, p. 504

Source: Views of Old-Time Buffalo, pub. by The Express, Jan. 1, 1916, back cover

1916 ad

C. 1916
Postcard courtesy of Jerome Maragliano

See also:

Special thanks to M&T Manager Corporate Communications C. Michael Zabel for his assistance

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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