North Pearl Street - Table of Contents

174-182 North Pearl Street
Buffalo, NY

Fred Fischer
1972 restoration architect:
E. Bruce Garver
Romanesque Revival
Additional information:
STEEL, My Favorite Buildings: All Lined Up
(Buffalo Rising, Online Nov. 2012)
Allentown Historic District (National, State, Local)
Other North Pearl Street sites: Buffalo as an Architectural Museum - By Address
HISTORY of the Building Beneath Illustrations
Photos taken on January 8, 2012

Brackets support dentillated cornice ..... Brick corbel table

Corbel-supported oriel


Note white corbel supporting the oriel ... Medina sandstone  stringcourse / sills ... Romanesque style  arch with brick voussoirs framing the porch

Above the arches are voussoirs ... Wrought iron column combines Tuscan and Ionic styles

Bullnose bricks  at bottom of the voussoirs... House address decorates the tympanum ... Note C scrolls in the wrought iron arches

Stringcourse ... C scrolls in the wrought iron gate

174-182 North Pearl Street

Across the intersection [north of Allen Street] , Romanesque becomes the rule. A style of architecture which depends on low massing of structure, pyramidal accentuation and a broad semi-elliptical arching of additive forms, the Romanesque style has been most successfully used in churches and institutional buildings where the overwhelming weight informs the visitor of the ponderous importance of the business within. North Pearl Street, however, stands out as a prime example of the Romanesque form well turned to home uses.

Down at the end of North Pearl Street are five abutting buildings which are incomparable in the city. Nos. 174-182 North Pearl Street are five tenements built in 1888 by architect Fred Fischer. Individual rooms were rented, and a central kitchen, dining and living room area were available for the use of gentlemen tenants. Eighty or so years later, the buildings had deteriorated to seedy rooming houses, the original spaces divided and sub-divided into rooms no bigger than jail cells.

When architect E. Bruce Garver bought the buildings in 1972, the stench, the debris and the sheer effort required by their condition seemed unbelievable. Nonetheless, the well-built shells had been virtually untouched by time and every original feature was intact.

The three-storey structures are nearly identical, being flat roofed, and having the first floor facade entirely consumed by a semi-elliptical arch which is accented with delicate cast iron traceries. Porch and basement rails are wrought iron. Three-sided bays of copper on wood overhang the entry arch and have alternating pyramidic and round caps.

Corner pilasters divide each unit, and corbel panels under the frieze provide an ornamental note to the otherwise austere facades. Restored and renovated as townhouses and apartments, the Romanesque buildings are a demonstration of the wonders that can be worked on an old house by a sensitive and creative hand.

- Allentown Association (Online Nov.. 2012)
E. Bruce Garver, architect, city urban design coordinator

Mr. Garver, a graduate of Nichols School and Princeton University, earned his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and served as Buffalo’s urban design coordinator in the early 1970s.

His career as an architect and designer continued in New York City, Newport, R.I., and Silicon Valley. In the Los Angeles area, he was known for designing two medical office buildings for health insurer Kaiser Permanente.

His Buffalo legacy includes rescuing five connected, brick, tenement-style houses on North Pearl Street. He bought them for little money just before they were to be torn down, remembers his niece Julia Garver.

The 1888 Romanesque buildings with intact porches under wrought-iron- trimmed archways were intended for gentlemen tenants but were neglected and filled with debris and stench when Mr. Garver began to renovate them in 1972.
Excerpts from The Buffalo news obituary

Photos and their arrangement 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
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