= Grosvenor Room of the Buffalo & Erie
BHM = Research Library at the
Buffalo History Museum
= Butler Library at Buffalo State College
= One of several libraries at the State
New York at Buffalo
Will It Tell Me?
Plans & Blueprints
there are no large or comprehensive
collections of local architectural plans and blueprints. A lucky
homeowner might find original house plans stuffed in the attic. The
City of Buffalo did not require owners to submit building plans or
drawings until the early 20th century. Nineteenth century house plans
blueprints are scarce. Some builders knew how to erect
certain house types without custom blueprints the same way you know how
certain meals without recipes.
Then as now, many average-income families could not afford a private
bought house plans from catalogs. Aladdin is one such company
their catalogs are online
There are now hundreds of house plan books online in full text at
Books. We made a list of all we could find.
Sales Catalogs, 1908-1954
House plan books at Google Books
Records at BHM
Technology Heritage Library at Archive.org
the Plans for Your Old House
Quackenboss & Kennedy
New Century, vol.1
New Century, vol.2
New Century, vol.3
published in these years show every
building in Buffalo. Some are digitized, as per the links to the left.
also Sanborn maps.
Index to Architectural Periodicals
to the present
|| The Avery
Index, a proprietary database,
is the premier source for locating
articles from architectural periodicals. There are dozens of citations
for Buffalo alone. BECPL has the print volumes and UB subscribes to the
|| List of
|Biographies of Architects
American Institute of Architects (AIA) has digitized its
of over 50,000 members who joined before 1978. It gives basic
career information but
not lists of buildings.
of American Architects offers
more in the way of narrative, but includes few Buffalonians.
of American Architects Who Died Between 1897-1947
Address Books, Dau’s Society
with some gaps
|| These directories
concentrated on Buffalo’s
wealthy west side and usually omitted South and East
Buffalo. Like Buffalo City Directories (see below), they contain a
geographic section, which lists families by street address.
Buffalo Address Books are online at
Address Books Online
Register, Buffalo: Owning Libraries
|Buffalo Architecture Map
& 20th century
Google map of over 1100 houses & buildings by six major
Buffalo architectural firms, sorted by architect.
to present, with some gaps
directories, also called Polk
Directories, list Buffalo
residents in order
by last name, usually including occupations. From 1930 to the
city directories have a street section, listing occupants by address.
For those with deep pockets, EDR (link at right) will compile city
directory reports on a given property.
Common Council Proceedings
City of Buffalo began issuing building permits
as soon as it was incorporated in 1832. Permits required Common
Council approval. If you have a wood frame house, the permit will date
your building. It appears
that permits were not required for masonry or brick buildings until the
early 20th century.
For 1832-1887, check the index for the owner’s last
1887-1906, permits are grouped in the index under Permits
arranged by owner’s name.
From 1907-1950, the Permits
arranged by address.
Original permits from 1895 to present are on file
at City Hall, Room 301.
microfilm and 1854-1996 in hard copy
has 1854-1996 in hard copy
Full list of owning libraries
Council Proceedings, 1861-62
Council Proceedings, 1991 to present
|| The Grosvenor Room has over
articles about homes, houses of worship, hotels & taverns,
businesses, charities, major buildings, theaters, transportation, and
prominent Buffalonians. The scrapbooks are indexed in the Local History
File (see below).
Theatres Prior to 1930
comprehensive 400 page manuscript is by
theater historian Ranjit Sandhu. It documents every known place with a
stage or screen built in Buffalo prior to 1930, with indexes by name
BECPL has it in
Structure Inventory Forms
3,000 buildings in Buffalo have been
documented since the 1970s on what are informally known as Blue Forms.
The best documented neighborhoods are Allentown, Hamlin Park,
Broadway-Fillmore, Grant-Ferry- Forest, and Triangle. They may be seen
by appointment by contacting the City of Buffalo
business records is often the only way to
conclusively identify clients, dates, and everything a firm designed.
Most Buffalo architects have come and gone without their business
being saved. Try searching WorldCat with the
architect's name in the Author field.
Records at BHM
1995, James Napora completed a thesis, Houses
of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York,
giving a short architectural
history of every surviving church in the City of Buffalo. He has
graciously consented to allow pages to be reproduced
& Ownership Records
1804 to present
you are researching a building that you do not
own and/or do not have a title search for, all
property transactions in Erie County are in the Erie
Clerk's office. Some records from 1808-1964 are now online.
links are now at Delicious
graduate students at UB and elsewhere have
devoted their academic years to studying architects, buildings, styles
& periods, neighborhoods, city planning, and urban history in
Buffalo. UB has the largest collection of theses relevant to Buffalo.
& Planning Library
& State Census
years ending in zero (and some years ending in
federal & state census enumerators went door to door collecting
demographic data on the members of every household in Erie County.
Fortunately for architectural researchers, census records are arranged
geographically (by address), so you do not need to know the name of an
owner or occupant to find a specific building. Census research will
narrow down when a house was built and identify who lived in it. All
surviving census records are on microfilm and the federal ones are
online at Ancestry.com. Online indexes rarely include
Lloyd Wright and Darwin Martin Collection
correspondence, photographs, plans, and other
documentation of Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D.
are preserved in the UB Archives. About 600 photos from this collection
are online at UB and NewYorkHeritage.org.
Darwin D. Martin
American Buildings Survey (HABS)
50 local buildings have been carefully
documented for HABS, many prior to demolition. The original reports are
in the Library of Congress and are gradually being digitized.
American Buildings Survey for Buffalo, NY
Intensive Level Surveys
been carefully surveyed to the level of individual buildings: Black
Rock, Prospect Hill, Broadway-Fillmore, Triangle (South
Park/Abbot Rd.), and
Grant-Ferry-Forest, which stretches east almost to Emwood.
|Buffalo Preservation Board
Historic Resource Surveys
& Historic Districts
your house or building a designated landmark?
Is it in a preservation district or on the National
Register? The links
at the right show which properties and neighborhoods in Buffalo have
which designations. The National Register Information Service is
searchable by city/town or name of building.
the City of Buffalo
Districts in the City of Buffalo
Register Properties in the CIty of Buffalo
Register Information Service
|| WorldCat is one
for thousands of libraries around the world. Try a
search on Buffalo
Or search on the names of local architects, "name" buildings,
maps of Buffalo are useful for tracing how
the city expanded and developed over time. By comparing older and newer
maps, you can see when your neighborhood came into existence. See also Sanborn
Online Buffalo Maps
York State Historic Preservation Office Document Imaging
provides downloadable PDF National Register nominations for thousands
properties across New York state. Users can look up
historic buildings and sites within specific municipalities.
and Newspaper Indexes
century to the present
indexes, whether in the form of
pre-computer card files or online databases, are essential for finding
articles about people, places, things, and events in
Buffalo. BECPL calls their newspaper index the Local History
Buffalo newspapers from 1811 to the present are on microfilm.
The New York State Newspaper Project provides a comprehensive list of
newspapers published in Erie County and who owns them.
century to the present
one exists, an obituary often provides a wealth
of biographical information about the architect or former occupant of
your building, including employer, interests, memberships, next of kin,
and maybe a photograph.
and Death Notices in
to ca. 1925
Law Olmsted and his sons
35 projects for Buffalo & Erie County, including public parks
private residences. To get a list, search the Olmsted Research Guide
to the right by city/community.
& Journal Articles
at the National
Library Index to get citations
for 100 articles about Buffalo
neighborhoods, and preservation efforts. Most are from the Buffalo
prize-winning newspaper of the
Preservation Coalition of Erie County (now Preservation
Poole's lists articles from a variety of late 19th c. periodicals.
Google Books now has lots of American architectural journals online in
full text. We made a llist of as many as we could find.
journals at Google Books
& Builder, 1869-1894
|| 1840 to present
photographs are invaluable for
understanding a building's evolution over time. Unfortunately, there
aren't surviving pictures of every single building in Buffalo. Interior
pictures are especially rare. BHM has the largest
Buffalo house pictures. They are not digitized and must be
viewed in person.
| BHM Image
Buffalo Image Links
10 years, these oversized atlases were produced
for fire insurance purposes. They diagram every city building and
structure in great detail and are superb for studying the physical
characteristics of existing and demolished buildings and structures.
Local libraries have Sanborns only for the City of Buffalo, not
the towns or villages. The exception is BECPL and UB,
which subscribe to the Digital
Sanborn Maps, which includes all
of New York state.
Maps: Who Owns Them
Fire Insurance Maps
Buffalo architects or buildings have had books
written about them. That's where Vertical Files come in. They are
collections of newspaper clippings, journal articles, brochures, and
about city planning, urban design, local architects, and
major buildings & residences.
& Estate Papers
group of records falls into the Long Shot
category. There are cases in which owners leave properties
to their heirs, leaving a paper trial that helps document the existence
and ownership of houses.
now at Delicious
This table of
sources and the institutions that own them should not be considered
exhaustive. It reflects only what the webmaster has been able to verify
at this time.