“How Buffalo’s Lafayette Hotel Went From Fleabag to Fabulous”

From Micah H:

[Here's a] link to a story about Hotel@Lafayette’s history and rebirth, including some biographical info on its architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune:  “How Buffalo’s Lafayette Hotel Went From Fleabag to Fabulous” in the Wall Street Journal‘s online blog.

The story’s author, Carla Blank, is the wife of famed Buffalo poet/author Ishmael Reed.  As pointed out in the comments section, there are not a whole lot of photos of the hotel itself (just two, a historical image from Lafayette Square, and one of Blank and co-author Tania Martin standing in front of Woyshner’s florists), but it’s still a good read.

I especially like the last paragraph:

Even though the National Women’s Hall of Fame has rejected three applications to include Louise Blanchard Bethune in their ranks, if the imagination, creativity and sheer drive that it took to revive this grand lady, the Lafayette Hotel, is an example of Buffalo’s grit, will and determination, then the town can say with former resident Mark Twain that “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

 

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8 comments
grad94
grad94

i cringe when people play up the "fleabag" stage of the hotel's life.  for g*d's sake, the owner kept it heated and on the tax rolls.  without him, we'd have a vacant lot today.

AndoreaPuis
AndoreaPuis

Look at that picture. Its beautiful. I find it very difficult to understand what students are studying in Urban Planning and Architecture because there is nothing coming out of their schools that remotely creates the sense of space and where the street (environment) is alive for the pedestrian with storefronts and trees.

Anyone remember Shelton Square. Most people don't even know it existed but it did and it was quite a center of activity. There was another on the waterfront marked by the Spaulding Mercantile and a Liberty Pole.

Sad. Its very sad. 1 that we lost it. 2 that we aren't doing anything with our street grid and buildings to bring them back.

OldFirstWard
OldFirstWard

Even as this photo above illustrates, the placement of this building between the old Library and the Brisbane Building with the entrance corner facing the edge of Lafayette Square was a brilliant stroke of very late 19th century engineering.  

What ever happened to the cannons that were placed at the four corners of the monument facing out?  When were they removed?   

Next to the Richardson Complex, the Lafayette Hotel is the most important restoration in Buffalo of the 21st century.  Rocco Termini is a preservation icon.  Fifty years from now, history students of Buffalo will be forever grateful for the contributions to preservation and restoration that Rocco Termini and Howard Zemsky have bestowed upon our beloved city. 

micahh64
micahh64

@grad94

"i cringe when people play up the "fleabag" stage of the hotel's life.  for g*d's sake, the owner kept it heated and on the tax rolls."

And did little else.  As said in the article:

" . . . it was being managed by the family of the late Tran Dinh Truong, a Vietnamese businessman whose modus operandi was to buy run down hotels, change them into housing for welfare and homeless tenants, and cut operating costs by skimping on repairs and security."

BRO regularly excoriates other absentee landlords for allowing their properties in Buffalo to deteriorate;  the Truong family should be held to the same standard, IMO . . .

.

AndoreaPuis
AndoreaPuis

@grad94 

100% in agreement. Gratitude (like patience) is such a rare commodity and it seems to be getting more rare from one day to the next

grad94
grad94

@micahh64

and if he hadn't bought it?  we'd have a vacant lot today.  

Mark Wallis
Mark Wallis

@micahh64 @grad94 

No if someone else bought it, then the would have remodeled it. Most likely all of the interior historical elements would have been lost in that remodel

In Buffalo it is more likely it would have been demolished.

You forget there was a period of about 30 years where you couldn't give buildings away in the city of Buffalo even if they were historic. Look at everything that got demolished...they were all vying for someone to buy them and no one did.

micahh64
micahh64

@grad94

"and if he hadn't bought it?"

Someone else might have?  (Someone who didn't turn it into an SRO)

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