Hotel Lafayette - Table of Contents

Exterior - Hotel Lafayette
 391 Washington Street, Buffalo, NY

Hotel @ The Lafayette - Official Website

Initial construction:
Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs
French Renaissance Revival

North elevation addition:
1909-12, by Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs
Installation of bathrooms in every guest room that did not originally have one:
1914-22, by Esenwein & Johnson
Ballroom added:
1916-17, by Esenwein & Johnson
South addition, seven stories facing Washington St.:
1924-26, by Esenwein & Johnson
Future Lafayette Tap Room in the early 1930s
Lobby completely remodeled in Art Moderne style:
1941-42, by Roswell E. Pfohl & Design
Renovated by Rocco Termini:
2011-12, by Carmina Wood Morris
Significance: "... one of the finest examples of a grand early-Twentieth Century hotel in the City of Buffalo and a remarkably intact example of the French Renaissance style of architecture." - WCPerspective, History of The Lafayette: The Interior

On this page, below:
Historic photographs and history

Historic postcards



North elevation

Lafayette Brewery

Note cannon in Lafayette Square
Source: The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo, Frank H. Severance, ed. Pub. by the Buffalo Historical Society Publications, Vol. 16, 1912, p.140

Source: 1905 Buffalo of Today: Domestic and Industrial

1899  Hotel for this site first mentioned (H. H. Little / Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs)
1900  Construction begins and stops at foundation (Henry Ives Cobb)
1902  Construction begins again, with new design (Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs)
1904  The hotel opens for business

1906  Expansion first proposed
1909  Construction begins on east addition (Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs)
1911  Addition is largely complete
1912  Addition is formally opened
1913  New marquee for main entrance (now gone); beginning of Esenwein & Johnson involvement
1914-1922 Bathroom alterations in original section (Esenwein & Johnson)
1916-1917 Ballroom addition (Esenwein & Johnson)
1924-1926 South addition, interior alterations (Esenwein & Johnson)
1928-1929 New elevators (Esenwein & Johnson)

1942  New main lobby installed (Roswell E. Pfohl and Design, Inc)
1946  Dining room remodeled
1952  New windows installed in all guest rooms
1953  Television antenna installed
1956  New marquees at both entrances

1962  Sold by Yates family to Carter chain
1970  Dropped ceilings installed in main floor spaces
1978  Sold by Carter chain to Tran Dinh Truong

Like a number of hotels and small apartment buildings in Buffalo, the Lafayette Hotel was planned to be ready for the expected influx of visitors at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. But financial problems delayed the hotel opening until 1904.

A handsome red brick and white terra cotta French Renaissance-style building, it was designed principally by Louise Blanchard Bethune of the respected Buffalo architectural firm of Bethune, Bethune and Fuchs. She was the first professional woman architect in the country, the first female member of the American Institute of of Architects, and the first woman to be made a Fellow of the A.I.A.

Originally, there was a portrait of General Lafayette in the lobby. The style of the building, French Renaissance, probably reflects the general's visit and the name change of Courthouse Square to Lafayette Square.

In its heyday, the Lafayette Hotel was considered one of the 15 finest hotels in the country.

With hot and cold water in all bathrooms, and telephones in all rooms, the seven-story hotel offered "the best that science, art and experience can offer for the comfort of the traveling public." Four years later, an addition doubled the size of the hotel, and fifty years later it was still operating as a luxury 400 room hotel, run by three generations of the Duffy family's ownership

The Lafayette's opulent interior once featured a splendid crystal chandelier-hung ballroom, leaded-glass skylights, marble columns, mahogany coatrooms, and a handsome oak-paneled men's bar and dining room.
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Historic Postcards

Compare Lafayette Hotel in this postcard to the later postcard below:

Note the hotel addition at left

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French Renaissance Revival style
Left: North elevation, Clinton Street
Middle: Facade - chamfered corner (original entrance)
Right: West elevation, Washington Street
The original Lafayette Hotel was just half the size of the building than stands today as a series of additions were completed after it opened.  The principal building was constructed between 1902 and 1911 by the architectural firm of Bethune, Bethune, & Fuchs of Buffalo, with two smaller, sympathetically designed additions by the Buffalo firm of Esenwein & Johnson in 1916-17 and 1924-26.  
When it opened, the building extended 122 feet on Washington Street and 147 feet on Clinton Street.  (The original east end of the building was just beyond the vertical band of terra cotta in the center of the present north elevation.)
First and seventh floors are almost entirely sheathed in semi-glazed ivory white terra cotta, which was also used extensively at the corners through all floors.

West and south elevations viewed from Washington Street

West elevation

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Middle: Facade - chamfered corner

Terra cotta cornice: cartouches and fleurs-de-lis (appropriate for a French Renaissance Revival style since the fleur-de-lis is the symbol for France)   ...  
Modillions supporting cornice ... Dentil molding

Modillions supporting cornice    ...  Rosettes   ...    Dentil molding

Facade - chamfered corner   ...  
Modillions supporting cornice    ...    Dentil molding    ...    Egg-and-dart molding    ...    Bottom: C scrolls  form a cartouche

Facade - chamfered corner   ...  
Top: Bead-and-reel molding    ...    Shell above lion's head (open mouth reflective of Classical Greek and Roman lion head scuppers)

Facade - chamfered corner

Facade - chamfered corner   ...  
Second floor balcony with wrought iron parapet    ...    Corbels supporting balcony    ...    Cartouche over entrance   ...   Decorative wrought iron made by August Feine of Buffalo

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North Elevation

North elevation   ...   Left: Central Library

North elevation   ...   Roof line   ...   Terra cotta: Cartouches   ...   Modillions   ...   Dentil molding

North elevation   ...   3rd through 6th stories    ...     Terra cotta Gibbs window surround   ...   Quoins   ...   Wrought iron  balconettes   ...   Corbel supports

North elevation   ...   Third story balconet   ...   Wrought iron parapet (note C scrolls)   ...   Terra cotta  corbels supporting balconet   ...   Terra cotta decorated keystones    ...    Numerous window balconies were of decorative wrought iron made by August Feine of Buffalo.

North elevation   ...   Balconet  made of wrought iron  features C scrolls

North elevation   ...    2nd story  balconet,  with wrought iron parapet    ...    Terra cotta  Gibbs surround    ...    Horizontal course delineating floors    ...    Far right window has terra  cotta sill

North elevation   ...    2nd story   ...   Terra cotta: Broken triangular pediment   ...   Cartouche and leaves in tympanum   ...   Corbels

North elevation   ...    2nd story Wrought iron balconet   ...   Guilloche molding between stories   ...   1st story panel decorated with beaded oval, volutes and leaves

North elevation first floor tripart transom window reflects neighboring Electric Tower

North Elevation
Rusticated terra cotta columns between arched windows   ...   Staircase at left leads to basement room    ...   Open area is a first story entrance (different angle below:)

Note newel posts (detailed below:)

North Elevation
Cast iron newel features guilloche pattern

North Elevation
Anatomy dress shop window reflects neighboring Public Library

North Elevation
Shop window reflects neighboring Tishman Building

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Lafayette Brewery Company

"To keep the Hotel Lafayette current with the latest trends, Esenwein & Johnson were commissioned in 1924 to make further alterations and additions.  The most significant of these was an addition to the south, which was seven stories high facing Washington Street but only two stories to the east, so as not to cut off daylight to the numerous light courts.  Construction began in 1924 and was completed in 1926.  Like the ballroom addition, it was also constructed of red brick with white terra cotta of a much simpler design than the original building. 

"The ground floor contained the new billiard room, while additional hotel rooms were located in the seven-story section; the second story of the rest of the addition contained hotel work rooms. 

"In the early 1930s, the billiard room was converted into a bar, the first hotel bar in Buffalo to open after the repeal of prohibition; soon named the Lafayette Tap Room, it has remained open until earlier this year." -  WCPerspective, History of The Lafayette: Part Two

Lafayette Tap Room changed to Lafayette Brewing Company in 2017.

West elevation

Left:  1904 original building    ...      Right: 1924-26 addition by Esenwein & Johnson

West Elevation
Pan American Grill & Brewery   ...   2017 name: Lafayette Brewery Company

Herringbone, basket weave patterns

Viewing side and back from Ellicott Street

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Photos and their arrangement 2017 Chuck LaChiusa
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