Historic Structures

Prudential Building (Guaranty Building), Buffalo New York

Date added: March 16, 2010 Categories: New York Commercial Chicago School

Built by the Guaranty Building Company, the Prudential Building was sold in 1895, to the Chicago Syndicate headed by Leonard Downis. In 1945, it was owned by the Prudential Company. The Buffalo Holding Company purchased the building in 1955.

When the building was planned and opened, the United States Weather Bureau occupied the northwest corner office suite on the thirteenth floor.

The original owner and operator of the Prudential Building, the Guaranty Building Company, had as its officers in 1896, George M. Moulton, President; W. D. Richardson, Vice-President; Charles H. Keep, Treasurer; and George Baker Long, Secretary. The building was renamed the Prudential Building in 1899.

On February 21, 1974, a fire on the tenth floor resulted in severe smoke and water damage to the upper floors, as well as minor damage to the facade. Repairs were undertaken. At this time, the owners offered the building to the public realm. John Randall, State University of New York at Buffalo, has developed plans to open a museum of Sullivan and Wright artifacts in the building.

The Church Street entrance leads to an enclosed vestibule which opens to the east-west entrance hall containing four elevators. Single entrances open from the hall to a small shop, 14 feet by 18 feet, west of the vestibule; a larger commercial space, 33 feet by 59 feet, at the northwest corner; and a square area, 49 feet by 46 feet--originally intended for a bank--at the northeast corner. An open stairwell to the west of the elevator bank rises to the second floor. The Pearl Street entrance opens to an enclosed vestibule which leads to a rear east-west hall containing a postal counter backed against the elevator core and a stairway to the basement. The hall terminates at a door to the commercial area in the northwest corner of the building. There is a single entrance to the northeast or bank area. Two entrances open from the hall to the commercial area--31 feet by 101 feet--located along the south side of the building. Skylights opening from the light court above illuminate the western end of the hall. The second floor contains a series of interconnected offices--each one bay wide--which are located along the north side of the building. Originally the two arms facing the court were open areas. Each of the succeeding floors contains a series of office suites arranged around a U-shaped corridor. Each office or room has at least two windows.

Each room was furnished originally with a marble washstand with hot and cold water. Cabinet finished coatrooms were located in every office. Oak telephone closets were furnished where desired. Many rooms were equipped with vaults. The thirteenth floor contains offices along the north and east walls. The west arm originally contained a stairway to the roof, a large storeroom, male and female janitorial locker rooms, a locker room for elevator men, and a fan chamber. The west side of the east arm contained a storeroom. On the seventh floor, the west arm contained a gentlemen's lavatory, two bathrooms, and a barber shop. A smaller, six-stall ladies' toilet room was located on the west side of the east arm. In the original plan, the basement contained a large restaurant along the north wall. The kitchen was located on the west wall. The first floor area intended for a bank had access via a semicircular stairway to a large storeroom and vault in the northeast corner. There was also an engine room with an independent electrical plant and three boilers, and a bicycle storage room.