Lafayette Square - Table of Contents

2006 photos

Exterior - Mooney & Brisbane Building / Brisbane Building
403 Main Street at Lafayette Square Buffalo, NY
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size - and additional information

See also:
Beaux Arts
Main Street Entrance

The Arcade, Main, Clinton, and Washington Streets. Built 1855. Destroyed by fire in 1893.

Ruins of The Arcade, Main and Clinton Streets, after the fire of December 14, 1893






Milton E. Beebe

Mooney & Brisbane Building C. 1895

Mooney & Brisbane Building C. 1895



Note modernized entrance facing Lafayette Square

Lafayette Hotel at left



Main Place Mall at right

Left: Vacant AM&A's Building on Washington Street.

Note entrance.

Washington Street entrance.

Acanthus leaves on frieze and on keystone

Composite pilasters








Milton E. Beebe and Son

This is the premier production of the father and son firm of local architects, Milton E. Beebe and Son, who were in demand to design churches and commercial and residential buildings in the city in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Milton E. Beebe (1840-1922) who was a grandson of one of the first settlers in Buffalo, worked as a carpenter before setting himself up as an architect after the Civil War. His son, Henry, joined him in the 1880s.

This firm also designed the original Masten Park High School.


Beaux Arts Classical Revival

Preceding building:

The Arcade Building: Albert and George Brisbane family had first built an "Arcade" on this site in the early 1850's following a disastrous fire, which leveled the block. Architects were the Rose brothers. The Arcade, which was the largest office building in the city, housed Shea's Music Hall, Robinson's Mus閑 Theatre, T.C. Tanke Jewelers and other businesses, also succumbed to a fire on December 14, 1893.

Original Owners:

Mooneys: Originally known as the Mooney and Brisbane Building, since it was built for James Mooney of Buffalo and James Brisbane of New York City.

(According to his great grandson, Mooney funded the Fenian Raid into Canada. Afterwards, he could never visit the family's summer home in Canada, since there was a price on his head.)

Mooney's brother, Henry (Henry Mooney House), also was a partner.

In 1906 James Brisbane assumed complete ownership.


Covers half a city block, with 180 feet of frontage on Main Street, 200 feet on Clinton Street overlooking Lafayette Square, and 180 feet on Washington Street.

Materials included over 2,000 tons of iron and steel, about 3,000,000 bricks, and over 40,000 square feet of glass, terra cotta and marble. The interior floor-arching and partitions were fireproof. The heating and power was furnished by 4 one hundred and twenty-five horsepower boilers.

At the time it was built, the Brisbane Building was the largest mercantile and office building in the city. It was designed to accommodate a single retail establishment on the first floor and offices on floors 3 through 7. The second floor was set up as a "Bon March?" with two immense skylights over a central court that served 16 small stores.

1908 Tenants:

In 1908, the ground floor of the building was occupied by the three largest stores of their line in the city:

  • The Kleinhans Men's Clothing Store, which came to occupy the basement, half of the first floor and the entire second floor
  • Faxon, Williams, & Faxon, the most prominent grocers in Western New York
  • S. H. Knox's five and ten cent store (photos)

The second floor included a 50-feet wide court covered by a colored glass dome.

Text sources:

Photos and their arrangement ?2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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