Dedicated to Buffalo: Louis Greenstein ~ An Early Preservation Advocate

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(By Danielle Huber – Dedicated to Buffalo)  It was suggested to me last Spring to park on the top ramp of the Broadway Market for a spectacular view of Corpus Christi as well as the Central Terminal and the Polonia district holistically.  When I did, my eye caught a unique art-deco ornamented building that boasted the name Lederman’s. For the past year, I have not been able to get this building out of mind, as I feel that it is slowly decaying and its beauty is not being valued.  I chose to look further into its history only to find an interesting one.  Lederman’s, 239-241 Lomabard Street, was once a furniture store with a circa of 1929.  It is a commercial building designed by Louis Greenstein adjacent to the Broadway Market and in the heart of the Broadway commercial district.

While researching the history of the architect, I made a tremendous connection.  Louis Greenstein, early in his career, won $250 in 1924 for designing the City of Buffalo flag.  He also won $100 in 1925 for designing the Erie County seal still in use today.

Greenstein, a Buffalo native, was born in 1886 and was a senior draftsman for the renowned Green & Wicks in 1907.  After returning from Columbia University, he established his own practice in the Guaranty Building.

Some of  Greenstein’s built work include:

  • Columbus Hospital
  • the Lutheran Home on East Delavan
  • the Bryant & Stratton School (now Tapestry Charter)
  • Temple Shaarey Zedek on Starin Avenue
  • the Tudor style house on Tudor Place and Cleveland Avenue
  • the Coplan Mansion in Amherst (Italian Renaissance)
  • Willowdale Country Club in Williamsville, NY (Westwood Country Club)
  • the Medical Arts Office Building in Buffalo
  • Riverside Men’s Shop that featured the city’s first air-conditioning, first plate-glass doors, and first fluorescent lighting
Greenstein was also a participant in:
  • the Kenfield Housing Project (1935-36)
  • the construction of Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium

In addition, Greenstein was involved in rehabbing historically significant buildings around Buffalo.  This was fundamental due to the fact that historic preservation standards were not written yet and nothing was thought of demolishing “old” buildings for new construction.  Greenstein was an early preservation pioneer and advocate throughout the 1940s and 50s when he was noted for rehabbing and readapting.

I feel compelled to express the significance of Greenstein’s role in Buffalo’s early preservation and how we owe it to him, our city, and the surrounding community’s future to save the breath-taking commercial Lederman’s building before it is “too late” and becomes a victim to the demo-machine.

Greenstein died in 1972.

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