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Learning the History Behind the Iconic Buffalo Central Terminal

In June 1929, the Buffalo’s grand train station began its first train to depart from the Empire State Express. The launching ceremony was a momentous occasion in the city during that time. The operation went on for several decades until it shut down in October 1979.

The Buffalo Central Terminal is an iconic structure in Buffalo, New York. The multi-storey Deco design station was built by a world-renowned architect Fellheimer & Wagner. Since it was left inoperational for quite some time, it is recently owned by Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC), a non-profit group. Together with other contractors, the restoration project is in full swing.

Too Precious To Obliterate

The majority of the contractors and other agencies shared the same sentiment that the building was too valuable to demolish. The signs of the restoration jobs are visible in all parts of the building. The structure was known for its massive hall with vaulted ceilings, tessellated floors, and ornate railings. It was still a gem even though it was abandoned for decades and the obvious signs of decay were everywhere. Surely, if it were operational, people would continue to flood the train station.

Aside from the many ticket counters situated on the main hall, it held several business centers like a restaurant, post office, telegraph office, barbershop, soda fountain, and a cafe. For numerous years, the past owners got rid of and put almost everything in the market.

Several workers from the CTRC are weaving through every antique shop and auction center, trying to find the terminal’s original fixtures. They are hoping to repurchase them. Throughout the years of scouring, they were able to find the concourse clock and light fixtures. The rest of the materials ended up in different parts of the world, from Florida to Hong Kong. Some of them were just too far to reach unattainable.

Before the CTRC acquired the place, it went under the management of State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1984. When they planned to demolish the structure, it was estimated to cost more than $10 million to demolish. Hence, the wrecking ball project plan was terminated.

The renovation project of the Central Terminal will start on replacing its roof.

The Restoration Project

Last year, the famous East Side complex began its renovation, to finally continue its long-term restoration project. The organization is pushing through for its critical repair job, which starts by changing almost all the flat roofs on the main hall, repairing and adjusting the masonry. The existing roof tiles will be eliminated but kept on-site for reuse purposes.

The structure will be converted to a regional event area, with restored spaces on the main hall that will be operational the whole year-round. Organizers plan to make a venue to hold galas, concerts, and performances. It will be designed to cater to multicultural customers who may want to have their wedding, business meetings, festivals, food stalls, movie screenings, or art shows in the newly-renovated Buffalo Central Terminal.

Also included in the restoration project’s initial phase is the huge restaurant space that will be renovated and transformed into a multi-functional spot. The Preservation Board is now deliberating this proposal for approval.


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