The Genesee Gateway
The Genesee Gateway is a historic row of buildings on the south side of Genesee Street leading into downtown Buffalo. The block serves as a gateway for traffic coming from the east and is situated between Oak and Ellicott Streets. This historic row of properties is made up of several buildings, with the earliest completed 1845 and the most recent completed in 2009. Sporting over 60,000 square feet in space, it houses a number of commercial and residential tenants as well as eateries and one of Buffalo's favorite bars: Eddie Brady's.
My love affair for this block started with the Werner Building and it's signature glass window. Constructed in 1895 for Albert Werner's photography studio, the front curved window was designed to only allow natural light to enter his studio. The façade was specifically oriented northward to avoid direct sunlight. The design of the skylight was likely influenced by the Caulkins Building, now demolished but formerly a part of the Genesee Gateway area. After Werner, later businesses included a shoe store, dentist, and mattress company. Charlie Baker Clothier, a men’s store, resided in the building from the 1940s to the 1980s and have since been vacant.
West of the Werner Building is the Giesser Building, a simple two story row building constructed in 1915 for the Giesser family to run a business and live above it. A cutlery business occupied the space until the 1930s, and a tailor business in the 1940s. It has been vacant since the 1970s.
The corner Seeberg Building is the oldest part of Genesee Gateway, and one of the oldest buildings in Buffalo, with the corner on Oak Street dating 1845. This building was added to several times up until the 1940s, which is visible in its uneven floor heights and varying window layouts facing Genesee Street. Beginning as a grocery store, eventually turning to house other companies, residences, and a men’s clothing factory and store. It was occupied until the 1980s and remained vacant until recently as several eateries have filled the ground level space.
The Schwinn-Mandel Building to the east of Seeberg now serves as the main entrance and lobby for the upper floors of Genesee Gateway. Constructed in 1878, the building was constructed for umbrella manufacturers Jacob John Schwinn and later Henry Mandel. Since, it has housed hairdressers, a cigarmaker, jewelers, and physicians. It was occupied as a warehouse until 1950.
Rounding out the row in the center is the Baldwin Building. Currently housing the US Passport Agency, it was built in 1903 by the same architects that designed the nearby Electric Tower. The Baldwin Specialty Company sold furniture, household equipment, clothing, and other products. The building’s ornate detailing and Neoclassical elements have largely survived, but the storefront has changed many times.
The last building in the gateway is the Denzinger-Sigwald Building which houses the infamous Eddie Brady's. Constructed in 1870, the building boasts a rare, mostly intact Second Empire commercial architecture from the post-Civil War era. By 1872 William Denzinger and Charles Sigwald owned the successful mixed use building and thus gave the building it's current name today. It served as a cabinetry and furniture shop, tobacco shop, shoe and boot retail shop, pawnshop, several taverns, Jewelry shop and other forms of businesses. During this time of commercial downtown, it was very common for the shopkeepers to live above their stores. With the Washington Market across the street and significant foot traffic in this block, the building served as a high demand area for all entrepreneurs.
I hate to leave out the rest of the area, but this is technically it for the Genesee Gateway. Across the street has several beautiful buildings as well, including the four-story "Ellicott Paint" building. Next time you're down at the Washington Market or heading to dinner at Marble & Rye, take a moment and give this row of buildings a stare - you won't be disappointed!