Welcome Hall, First Presbyterian Church Buffalo NY

anotherlayer

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I have got a serious issue with this one right here. Have a look at "Welcome Hall". This was built in 1897 to house a mission for the First Presbyterian Church here in Buffalo. You might remember this church from this post (and I just caught it used in TheCrowHouse' latest video). The story goes...

It was also during this time on May 16th, 1897 that construction began for Welcome Hall. The building, designed by the same architectural firm of Green & Wicks, was located at 404-408 Seneca St. as a mission of First church to the community; the lands and buildings costing about $50,000.00.
Built 1897 at 404-408 Seneca St. as a mission ... "Because of the economics of the times; the church was forced to give up the mission of Welcome Hall following the retirement of Rev. William E. McLennan, who had been the director since 1909. The building and mission was sold to the City of Buffalo where it remained in operation as a community center before being closed and torn down a few years later." - Bruce McCausland, 1887-2012 History of the First Presbyterian Church
So, have a look at these two drawings. Unfortunately, there are no known photographs of this "Welcome Hall".

welcome_hall_1.jpg

welcomehall_2.jpg

We tend to talk about certain heroes of the past who have architected the entire US (Sullivan, HH Richardson, Green & Wicks, et al). Often times, it seems almost impossible someone like Richardson could have pulled off some of what he is credited with. Welp, now I have a problem with Green & Wicks and possibly false attribution.

Take a look at the second drawing. I highly doubt that Green & Wicks, one of the most almost-famous architecture firm in the US at the time would build something that is clearly "mudflooded". There is no way on earth that the Church would have let them build a front door that goes up between the first and second floor. And then the door that is sunk down on the right, why would they accept something so silly. The windows straight to the ground (in snowy Buffalo, real smart). You would have to shovel out that sunken door. Two chimneys in the entire building? Bell tower. Pointy steeple. Nah. This doesn't add up.

What I am saying is... I don't think this was built in 1897. Therefore, I don't think Green & Wicks are responsible for some of the work they get credit for. I feel like this slightly proves that. And... we don't have any existing photographs? How is that possible?

What I do know is that it was torn down a short 15 years later! 15 years!

- First Presbyterian Church
- First Presbyterian Church
- Now and Then: First Presbyterian Church Sans Tower
 
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KorbenDallas

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This "Welcome Hall" is a hard to zero in on type of a name. Even with all the additional attributes the search results are confusing.

I think those architects were assigned to fix up multiple existing structures. We have this same issue of mudflooded buildings being allegedly built by this or that name.

In my opinion these building were built by someone else - from the ground up that is. Of particular interest is why our traditional history chose not to provide the names of those original architects. Were those names lost due to some catastrophe, or due to various other reasons?
 

trismegistus

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@anotherlayer I'm glad someone is taking the time to do this area justice.

I grew up in Lewiston, about a 30 minute drive from Buffalo right on the Niagara river near the Tesla Hydroelectric Plant. I spent many days of my misspent youth hanging around Center St. and in my recollection I remember a house converted into a few small businesses looking quite strange. After spending five minutes on this site, I forgot just how many anomalous buildings are on that street. Here is some more general information on the town to paint a wider picture.

Lewiston was the first European settlement in Western New York. During the 1600s and 1700s, when the French and British traders settled in the area, Lewiston was instrumental in the development of the Great Lakes region because of its strategic location.


The first French explorer, Etienne Brule arrived in 1615. By then, the Five Nation Indian Alliance had been established since 1450 and each of the tribes — Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga — had its designated duties. The Senecas were the protectors of the land and waterway rights of the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Ontario. The Senecas were the “Keepers of the Western Door.”

On October 13, 1812, the United States invaded Canada. Lewiston was the staging area for the Battle of Queenston Heights, the first major battle of the War of 1812. Cannons installed on the lawn of Barton Hill were aimed at the village of Queenston, across the Niagara River in Canada. Troops were quartered on Major Barton’s property as well.

In early December of 1813, General McClure, the American General, ordered that the occupied town of Newark, then the capital of Upper Canada (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) and Fort George be burned. The residents, mostly women and children, who were ordered to leave the town before it was burned, were left homeless during a bitter cold winter. The able bodied men had joined the British troops who had retreated to Burlington when the town was captured.


Retaliation was swift and savage. In the early morning (near daybreak) on December 19, 1813, the citizens of Lewiston awoke to unimaginable horrors. Hours earlier, in the middle of the night, British-Canadian troops invaded the United States and captured Fort Niagara without firing a shot. And now, they were about to unleash an assault on Lewiston that could only be compared to today’s “shock and awe” campaigns.


The unrestrained British-Canadians, along with their allies from the First Nations, including the Mohawks, ran down River Road toward Lewiston, armed with torches, guns and tomahawks — intent on retribution and turning Lewiston into a pile of ashes.


But what happened that cold winter morning turned out to be much worse. Poorly defended, Lewiston citizens were on their own. They could only run for their lives through the snow and mud in hopes of escaping the atrocities. Civilians were murdered in the rampage and tormented parents found themselves helpless in trying to save their children — one 7-year-old was shot and scalped in front of his mother’s eyes.


At the moment when Lewiston citizens had lost all hope and thought they would all become victims of a bloody and merciless massacre, Native Americans from the the local Tuscarora village ran down from atop the Escarpment and offered the first resistance the British and Mohawks had seen. The Tuscarora’s ingenious and diversionary tactics gave the impression that their “numbers were legion.” Fearing a trap, the enemy stopped in its tracks.


Despite being outnumbered 30-to-1, the “Tuscarora Heroes” were able to buy the escaping residents enough time to get out of harm’s way, and saved the lives of dozens of citizens.


Meanwhile, Lewiston was burned the ground, except for one building. The exact number of civilians who were killed is unknown. Estimates range from close to a dozen to over 40. One American officer, reported soon after the attack, that “it is not yet ascertained how many were killed as most of the bodies were thrown into the burning houses and consumed.”
755_center_street.jpg


755 Center Street. Known as The First & Last Chance Saloon. Built in 1820 by Bates Cooke. The son of Lemuel, Bates was a lawyer, a U.S. congressman and later, the New York State Comptroller. Replacing the 1813 burned wood frame dwelling, it later became a tavern after Cooke’s death in 1841. In 1954 it was restored as an art gallery. It is a commercial site today.
here it is on google maps. It doesn't really seem practical to build a house in the ground like that, scroll back in forth in maps and zoom to get some better angles and you will see what I'm talking about.

Right across the street you have the Lewiston Opera House which has an anomaly worth pointing out.

opera hall 1.jpg


Here's another angle on google maps. Who builds a door and staircase in front of a "basement" window like that? It honestly looks like the foundation of a completely different structure that they built this on top of.

460_center.jpg


This building is a trip, as it used to be a creepy McDonalds in my youth. The drive-thru was on the opposite side of the building from where they typically are, so they used to hand you food in a basket with a long pole through the passenger window! Anyway, note the right side of the building and its door and windows at ground level. Thankfully this picture exists because nowadays there is overgrowth on the long since closed restaurant covering the area in question.

Known as the Frontier House. Built in 1824-5 by Joshua Fairbanks, Benjamin Barton and son, Samuel. The Frontier House was once recognized as the finest hotel west of Albany, and is Lewiston’s premiere historic landmark. Stage coaches once thundered up to its doors when it served as a stop when Lewiston was the center of the “Great Overland Route Across the Continent.” In those early days, Lewiston’s population was more than Buffalo’s. The Frontier House is constructed of stone from the Bay of Quinte at the Northeastern end of Lake Ontario. 18 men worked 18 months in laying up the solid stone 30 inch walls.
I apologize if this is a little too off topic compared to the OP. I can branch it off into its own thread if need be. Hell, Western NY likely needs its own subtopic there's so much anomaly here.
 
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anotherlayer

anotherlayer

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@anotherlayer I'm glad someone is taking the time to do this area justice.
Hey, hey, fantastic addition to the thread! If I am not mistaken, the last building "Frontier House" has a for sale sign on it now, yeah? My wife and I oogled it for a minute. I seriously would have looked at it, had we not lived in the city. I love Lewiston.

And half of 'Last Chance Saloon' is absolutely underground. Hmpf, this whole area and it's history should be tossed into the bin and written all over again. There is so much sketchy history we have here, particularly the burning of *every* town from here Buffalo to Fort Erie to Niagara Falls in 1813. I mean, we celebrate the idea that the British burned all churches and all the schools. Are we sure that's the type of people the British were?

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 11.58.38 AM.png
 

trismegistus

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If I am not mistaken, the last building "Frontier House" has a for sale sign on it now, yeah? My wife and I oogled it for a minute. I seriously would have looked at it, had we not lived in the city. I love Lewiston.
Considering you'd likely have to spend weeks and tons of money scrubbing french fry grease out of the building, I can't say I would recommend it! Also the only restrooms in the building were down in the dingy, creepy basement.

There is so much sketchy history we have here, particularly the burning of *every* town from here Buffalo to Fort Erie to Niagara Falls in 1813
Right next to the Frontier House, there is a small garden that is supposed to dedicate the women of WNY and Canada coming together to say "we're both sorry for burning down every square inch of your towns", so here's a plaque and some bushes!

As I'm sure you know, a few miles down you also have Fort Niagara.

PlandeNiagara1755-6_adjusted_smaller.jpg

Fort-Map-large.jpg

Not quite a full "Star fort" per se, but pretty damn close. Note the "unique" American flag it flew, as well.

Fort Niagara served as the Loyalist base in New York during the American Revolutionary War for Colonel John Butler and his Butler's Rangers, a Tory militia in the command of the British Army. Lt. Col. William Stacy, a high-ranking officer of the Continental Army, was captured at the attack on Cherry Valley, New York by Butler's Rangers. He was held captive at Fort Niagara during the summer of 1779.[1] Niagara became notorious for drinking, brawling, whoring, and cheating.
Doesn't sound too different from modern days, eh? :sneaky:

The three flags flown daily above the parade ground symbolize the nations which have held Fort Niagara. Each competed for the support of a fouth nation: the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. The French established the first post here, Fort Conti, in 1679. Its successor, Fort Denonville (1687-88) was equally short lived. In 1726 France finally erected a permanent fortification with the construction of the impressive "French Castle." Britain gained control of Fort Niagara in 1759, during the French & Indian War, after a nineteen-day seige. The British held the post throughout the American Revolution but were forced, by treaty, to yield it to the United States in 1796. Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813. It was ceded to the United States a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812.
I wonder if this wasn't an Iriquois fort before Europeans showed up. I bet there's some folks on the various Indian reservations in the area who might have some insight, if you can ever get them talking.
 
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anotherlayer

anotherlayer

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I wonder if this wasn't an Iriquois fort before Europeans showed up.
I'm pretty sure the Iroquois Senecas say that the star forts were there before them, actually. While we insist the natives helped build the "fort", the star was already there. In fact, Fort Niagara doesn't talk about the star formation, at all.

The winter weather and disease was severe, and all but twelve perished by the time a relief force returned from Montreal. It was decided in September 1688 to abandon the post and the stockade was pulled down.
So, there they were, sitting on top of a star "fort" and the best they could do was to put up stockade. And when they talk about how the existing Fort was built in 1726, it's the same story. They placed some junk on top of what was there. Not sure how we get along with each other when we have identical star forts in China and India and Vietnam, Canada, US, all of Europe, Russia, Africa... aren't we all enemies and havent we been enemies for thousands of years? Why are we all building "dutch-french star forts"?

And, I'd be ok with french fry grease, it's the basement bathrooms that my wife would not have a minute of. And I just have to snort "basement bathrooms". Of course, people way back when didn't poop, apparantly...
 

trismegistus

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I vaguely remember taking a tour of Fort Niagara in elementary or middle school. The tour guide mentioned how the "wedge" shape of the wall was tactically useful to stop a full-on frontal assault of the walls. Its funny how that detail stays with me after all these years. Maybe my subconscious knew that 20+ years later I would be researching the area with a completely new perspective. What is also funny that for all of these "star" protections against frontal assaults, the fort was taken by the Brits without "firing a single shot." So much good that did them!

niagara.jpgniagaracornerthumb.jpgniagararedoubtthumb.jpg

That first overhead looks like the star shaped bit was either shaped from dirt, or the structure that used to be above it was torn down.


And I just have to snort "basement bathrooms". Of course, people way back when didn't poop, apparantly...
You're right, that should have said first floor bathrooms.
 
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anotherlayer

anotherlayer

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What is also funny that for all of these "star" protections against frontal assaults, the fort was taken by the Brits without "firing a single shot." So much good that did them!
And that goes for all of these star forts. They all seem to point inwards, towards the citizens! Who were they scared of, the people? Doesn't add up. Same goes for the Great Wall. In countless sections of the wall, you could easily just be on the next hill over looking down and whatever you thought you were protecting.

You're right, that should have said first floor bathrooms.
Ah, ok. I thought this was a tie-in to the whole discussion about the Great Stink and how the people who built the Palace of Versailles didn't bother with bathrooms (or heating).
 

trismegistus

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Ah, ok. I thought this was a tie-in to the whole discussion about the Great Stink and how the people who built the Palace of Versailles didn't bother with bathrooms (or heating).
Could very well be, my comment was more tongue in cheek referencing the fact that the "basement" was probably the original first floor but mudfloods buried it to make it the "basement."

I did manage to find some more evidence of it, too.

Here is the back view of a building right across from Tops (local grocery store for those not from the area), it is currently an optometrist's office. Someone is going to have to come up with a really good explanation why someone would go out of their way to make a door that requires you to step down some stairs into.

I also found this interesting blurb about Vincenzo's pizza, right next door to the Lewiston Opera House. On that note, I know that a good pizza is easy to come by in the area, but Vincenzo's is a particular standout :D

From historiclewiston.org:

742 Center Street. Behind the modern additions which border the sidewalk on Center Street, there is a hidden brick building. This stone house is somewhat of a mystery and the name of the builder and the year the home was built is unknown. A cornerstone is inscribed “JBF 1811”, however no records exist of a person in Lewiston with those initials. Some historians believe the cornerstone was added later, which would indicate the home was built after that time. If the cornerstone was actually true, it would make this house the oldest standing structure in Lewiston and, other than Hustler’s Tavern, the only building to survive the British attack of 1813.
 

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