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Larkin Administration Building: A 'Wright' of Passage in Buffalo | Arts & Culture

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Larkin Administration Building: A 'Wright' of Passage in Buffalo
Larkin Administration Building: A 'Wright' of Passage in Buffalo

An Account of the final years of the Larkin Administration Building On Seneca Street -

   Destruction of Buffalo's Larkin Building will be a great loss to coming generations, Architect J. Stanley Sharp contends in a letter to the New York Herald Tribune. The paper had carried remarks of Andrew C. Ritchie of the Museum of Modern Art, former director of Buffalo's Albright Art Gallery, and an editorial of it's own deploring the demolition of such monuments.

  "As an architect," writes Mr. Sharp, "I share the concern of many others over the destruction of the Frank Lloyd Wright's world famous office building in Buffalo. It is not merely a matter of sentiment; from a practical standpoint this structure can function efficiently for centuries. Modern engineering has improved upon the lighting and ventilation systems Mr. Wright used but that is hardly excuse enough to efface the work of the man who successfully pioneered in the solving of such problems. The Larkin Building set a precedent for many an office building we admire today and should be regarded not as an outmoded utilitarian structure but as a monument, if not to Mr. Wright's creative imagination, to the inventiveness of American design."

Larkin Company Office Building Changes Hands

BEN May 24, 1943

   The Larkin Administration Building, 680 Seneca Street, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, noted architect, has been sold to L.B. Smith, a Harrisburg contractor. The company made no comment on reports the structure, at one time reputed to be the largest private office building in the world, would be taken over by the Army to house many War Department offices in Buffalo. A. H. Miller, comptroller of L.B. Smith, Inc. who handled the negotiations for Mr. Smith, said there is nothing definite with respect to disposition of the building and that acquisition by the Army "is still in the talk stage."

Building Erected in 1906

  It was from this building, completed in 1906, that the Larkin Company, guided by the principles of it's founder, John D. Larkin, directed its "factory to family" dealings in the heyday of a mail order enterprise that flourished long before other similar concerns.  The retail business of the Larkin Store Corporation, which has been carried on in this building for the last five or six years, will be continued at this location. The store corporation has a lease on the building which runs for about nine months., Mr. Miller said. The company also will continue to carry on it's mail order business in household supplies, furniture and soft goods.

  Organ Included In Sale

  The building has a giant Moehler Pipe Organ, said to have been at the time of construction the fifth largest in the world, and which formally was played for the Larkin employees. The organ has been purchase with the building, and Mr. Miller said the purchasers plan to get in touch with the manufacturer, ascertain it's condition, and get an estimate of it's value in the event it is offered for sale. Mr. Smith heads a group of large construction companies. He is engaged in coal-stripping and quarrying enterprises in Pennsylvania and West Virginia....

This Timeline of the events leading up to the demise of the Larkin Administration Building in 1950, Continues in the Buffalo History Gazette.  It is one of the most significant of many Buffalo Landmarks that won't be seen by attendees of the National Preservation Conference this month. 

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