Remember driving down the 190 along the waterfront and seeing the façade of a church-like building? Except there was no building behind it, just a large, stone wall resembling an entrance-way to the other side. As a kid, I always wondered why it was the only remaining piece left, and why it hadn’t been demolished yet. At the same time, that façade had always intrigued me – not knowing what its story was – so I thought that would be a good place to start.
Turns out that stone wall was the last remaining piece of the Buffalo Gas Light Company. The building itself was constructed in 1848, followed by the Romanesque façade in 1859. Buffalo’s first architect, John H Selkirk is credited for the design of this 250-foot façade, which is composed of ashlar stone. Characteristics of this façade that categorize it as Romanesque include its rounded arches, octagonal turrets, and the corbeling along the crest of the
The Buffalo Gas Light Company was the first occupant of the heavily sought after land at the foot of Genesee Street, and was the first gas-manufacturing facility in the country. At the time of its construction, the complex was only a few yards away from Lake Erie and the Erie Canal, allowing for easy unloading of coal off of the boats and into the complex. The coal was then burned, creating illuminating natural gas. This gas was used primarily for the lighting of streets, homes, and surrounding industrial businesses. At this time, there were 179 street lamps that functioned off of illuminating gas.
The gas light company had no competitor in the region until 1870, when the Buffalo Mutual Gas Light Company formed. The next year, a second competitor established itself in the region, Buffalo Oxygen and Hydrogen Gas, which eventually became known as the Buffalo City Gas Company in 1897. In 1899, The Buffalo Gas Light Company and the Buffalo City Gas Company were consolidated under the name, Buffalo Gas Company, which dominated the supply of artificial gas to the city. It eventually became a part of Iroquois Gas, now known as National Fuel Gas.
The Buffalo Gas Light Company was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Despite this, the complex was demolished in 2000 leaving only the façade of this historical site.
Find out what became of this company by visiting The Buffalo Light House Company:Now