A. F. Oliver Gear & Machine Co.
1114 Niagara St.
, Buffalo, NY

Company founded:
1907 by A. F. Oliver
First location:
60 Cherry Street
Third location
1114 Niagara Street
1114 Niagara Street construction: 1931
Style: Art Deco
1973 purchaser:
Gear Motions (official website in June 2017)
2017 name: Oliver/Pro-Gear Division
It was Oliver’s ability to produce large pitch and large diameter gearing up to 10 feet that was very appealing to Gear Motions.

2017 Photos

Art Deco vertical emphasis with symmetric side bays   ...   Roofline marked with a small central parapet

Entrance with wide glass surround

Frieze with cavetto molding


October 2017 photo ...   View from Broderick Park   ...   Note I 190 where the car is traveling and the Back Rock Channel   ...   Building to the right: Curtiss Malting/GLF

1114 Niagara Street

The  building at 1114 Niagara Street is set on a long lot, located on the west side of the street on the block between Albany Street and Gull Street.

Niagara Street is a longstanding thoroughfare in the far west of the neighborhood along the river. Already laid out in 1809, Broadway as it was originally called, connected Buffalo with Niagara Falls. Though currently dominated by aging industrial and commercial properties, Niagara was once a residential street with a number of fine dwellings - Buffalo’s first Delaware Avenue.

The transformation of Niagara Street from residential to industrial began in the 1880s and 1890s. The property is located in the far south western section of the Grant-Ferry-Forest neighborhood.

A one-story, flat roofed, early-mid-twentieth century, urban, brick, commercial building with simple Art Deco styling. The main entrance is located centrally on the facade, with wide glass surround. Symmetric side bays defined by three even spaced windows, with feature panels above incorporating gear ornamentation. Upper decorative band of contrasting stone with detail. Roofline marked with a small central parapet. Narrowed rear section with multiple loading bays visible on the south elevation, and complete frieze with flared cornice molding [cavetto].

The building at 1114 Niagara Street is significant as a good representative example of an architect designed one-story, flat roofed, early- mid-twentieth century, urban, brick, commercial building with simple Art Deco styling. Built for the A. F. Oliver Gear & Machine Co. This firm was founded in 1907 for the production of custom-made gears.
- Grant-Ferry-Forest, Buffalo, NY Intensive Level Historic Resources Survey

Oliver Gear, Inc. / Gear Motions

From its beginnings as a machine shop in 1892, Oliver Gear, Inc. is one of the oldest gear works in the United States. Oliver Gear was formally incorporated as a gear works in 1907 and was the first exclusive gear manufacturing plant in Buffalo, NY and the Niagara Frontier.

The founder, Arthur F. Oliver, was born in Boston, Ontario in 1870. He came to Buffalo, NY to work at the New York Car Wheel Company. After several years he moved on to work for a machine shop in a small building on [60] Cherry Street that was to become A.F. Oliver Manufacturing. In the early days on Cherry Street, gears were manufactured without the conveniences that electricity would later bring. By using a system of pulleys and belts, power was provided to the original gear making equipment.

By the early 1920’s the company had outgrown its first home and moved to larger quarters. By 1931 the growth of the company required a third move, this time to its present location on Niagara Street over looking the Niagara River. This era saw the company grow from 18 employees to about 45 people in 1947.

In 1947 A.F. Oliver retired at the age of 77 and sold the company to the Smith family of Buffalo. It remained under the control of the Smith family until Samuel T. Haines purchased it in 1973. Oliver Gear was brought into the Gear Motions family as part of a strategy to build a diverse group of custom gear shops organized into one corporate family. It was Oliver’s ability to produce large pitch and large diameter gearing up to 10 feet that was very appealing to Gear Motions.

In Oliver Gear’s 100 years they have made gears for all types of equipment including: elevators, ski lifts, petroleum exploration, production and refining equipment, agricultural machinery, machine tools, power generation, valve actuators, container filling equipment, compressors, and more. Oliver’s extensive production facilities are devoted almost exclusively to the manufacturing of custom gears in many sizes and styles in low to moderate volumes. Through a plant renovation in 1995, the edition of gear grinding capabilities up to 700mm , and an ongoing re-structuring of the quality system to attain ISO 9001: 2008 certification in 2010, Oliver has reached new heights, setting a new benchmark for growth.

In 2012, Gear Motions acquired Pro-Gear from Gary Rackley and integrated this operation into the Oliver Gear facility. This acquisition broadened the capability of Gear Motions for short lead-time and quick turnaround for the gear grind only business.

Today Oliver Gear employs the latest technology and world class processes to meet and exceed its customers’ expectations. With a highly skilled workforce, it incorporates experience with modern equipment to continue the principles of the its founder, A.F. Oliver.
- Gear Motions: Oliver Gear/Pro-Ger History (online June 2017)

Special thanks to Cindy Gorski and Margaret Logan for sharing their research
Photos and their arrangement  2017 Chuck LaChiusa
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