LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

Washington IronWorks -Buffalo, NY
If you walk up Main Street
fromBankStreet toMcDonald’s,
you will go by the Ross Block.
It’s clearlymarkedon the top. If
you tap the columns, you’ll dis-
cover that they are iron and they
aremarkednear thebase “Wash-
ington IronWorksBuffaloN.Y.”
I have been curious about the
Washington iron foundryanddid
a little searching on the Internet.
It appears that the old foundry
building was still standing in
Buffalo in2003at419Broadway
and Pratt Street, although from
what I can gather, the building
was unoccupied. Whether it has
been razed since then, I don’t
in Buffalo, like the Ross Block,
that have facades manufactured
by theWashingtonIronWorks,all
marked in the sameway. Several
are on the National and State
Register ofHistoricBuildings.
According to one of the Na-
tional Register applications:
“Cast ironprovidedgreaterstruc-
tural strength, allowing forwider
first story openings, while easily
supporting the weight of the
masonry above. Larger shop
windows could be created, let-
tingmore light into the building
and providing additional display
space. Iron could be cast in a
variety of designs. Use of the
materialbecamesoprevalent that
ultimatelyentirecast iron facades
were constructed.
The ideawas tomoldallof the
decorative elements - columns,
lintels, dentilmoldings, and cor-
nices - out of iron and then paint
the iron to resemble stone.
Morecommon toBuffalo than
themulti-storied iron frontare fa-
cades consisting of ground-floor
iron columns supporting upper
stories of brick inwhich decora-
tive features, suchaswindowsills
and caps, are of cast iron.
Asquality stonebecamemore
expensive, cast ironwas an eco-
nomicalalternative thatproduced
a similar effect. In the latter half
of the 19th and first half of the
20th centuries, Buffalo, strate-
gically located between the ore
fields of the upper Great Lakes
and the coal mines (to fire the
blast furnaces) of Pennsylvania,
wasamajorproducerof ironand
steel, and several large architec-
tural ironwork firms, including
the Eagle IronWorks, Washing-
ton Iron Works, and Tifft Iron
Works, existed here after 1850.
These names can still be found
onmany buildings in the city.”
In addition to facades for
buildings cast by the Washing-
ton Iron Works, I discovered a
couple of iron garden planters,
a fountain and a very ornate
iron garden seat that have been
for saleor for auction. (I need to
search throughMacPelah Cem-
etery to see if any of the garden
plantersweremadeat theWash-
ington IronWorks.) I also have
to wonder, if the window caps
of theWashingtonBlock on the
north sideofMainStreet,might
have been cast inBuffalo at the
Washington IronWorks.
Detail of ironwork.
Details of iron work on Ross
Wonderful irondetails above thedoor.
Top of iron column.
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