Sterling Engine Co. - Table of Contents  ......................  Niagara Street Industrial Heritage

Sterling Engine Company

The two buildings of the Sterling Engine Company:
1246-1278 Niagara Street
42 Breckenridge Street

Belt Line Railroad   ...   20 Auburn Street   ...   Niagara Street   ...  19 Mason Street   ...   Breckenridge Street Church   ...    Rich Products Corp.

Historic signage in front of 1246-1278 Niagara Street
The Porter-Allen House House

Sterling Engine Company - Building #1
1246-1278 Niagara Street

Looking south, (Former) Sterling Engine Company, 1246-1278 Niagara Street.
Built 1907-1925   ...
One of two buildings that comprised the Sterling Engine Company.  The other building (photo below) was located directly west  parallel to Niagara Street on Mason Street, with an entrance on Breckenridge Street.

Looking north

See also: Resurgence Brewing Company at 1250 Niagara Street and Smith McDonald Corp. at 1270 Niagara Street

Sterling Engine Company - Building #2
42 Breckenridge Street

Looking north on Mason Street, (Former) Sterling Engine Company, 42 Breckenridge Street   ...
Built c. 1925   ...  
The address for the corner entrance at the left is 42 Breckenridge Street   ...   Street is Mason Street, from Breckenridge to Auburn Avenue   ...

This Sterling Engine Company building was directly across the street from the 1246-1278 Niagara Street building, the back of which is on  Mason Street.

Mason Street

Looking south on Mason Street from Auburn Avenue   ...   Left: (Former) Sterling Engine Company, 1246-1278 Niagara Street   ...   Right: (Former) Sterling Engine Company, 42 Breckenridge Street    ...   Center background: Rich Products Corporation, 1200 Niagara Street

The Sterling Engine Company was a dominant presence on Niagara Street, between Breckenridge and Auburn Avenue for much of the 20th century. The company, which manufactured gas engines, constructed a factory building at 1252-1278 Niagara Street in 1907 (currently 1270 Niagara Street). The “semi- fireproof” building featured steel frame, not covered construction with brick walls and concrete floors and roof, and consisted of stock and locker rooms to the south, an assembling room to the north and drafting rooms, stock rooms, machine shops and a testing building.

Neighboring properties on the block between Breckenridge Street and Auburn Avenue, and along Mason Street were residential, with the Buffalo Detention Home & Children’s Court located in the former First Presbyterian Church of Black Rock. To the west were the Black Rock CanaI, the Belt Line and the Niagara Falls Branch of the New York Central Rail Road.

By 1925, Sterling Engine’s address had expanded to south to include 1246 Niagara Street.

More significantly, by 1925 Sterling Engine had usurped the entire residential area on Mason Street and had constructed a second factory building at 42 Breckenridge Street,, which ran [almost] the entire length of Mason Street adjacent to the rail way lines. On this block of Niagara Street from 1925 until 1951, only 12 structures stood that were not owned and operated by Sterling Engine.

In a 1946 advertisement, Sterling Engine provides three addresses besides their Buffalo location: 900 Chrysler Building in New York City, 806 Evans Building in Washington, D.C., and 855 Board of Trade Building in Chicago. Sterling Engine was producing in every major city in America, including Buffalo.

Sterling Engine prided itself on modernizing old equipment. As early as 1908, Sterling Engine was utilizing interchangeable parts in its marine engine construction. At that time, Sterling Engine’s “only goal” was marine construction, but by 1946, the company was producing engines for ships, airplanes, cars, and trains. Sterling Engine produced engines that powered ships, such as the 83 Footer and landing craft in World War II. In a 1908 issue of the journal Motorboat, Sterling Engine claims, “aggressiveness, individuality, and honest endeavor are the principles under which business is conducted.”

Sometime in the late 1950s Sterling Engine was purchased by Phillips Petroleum Company of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Phillips Petroleum moved Sterling Engine’s production facilities to Paola, Kansas, and left a large gap on Niagara Street.

Photos and their arrangement  2017 Chuck LaChiusa
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