Preservation Horror Story #1

Welcome to Door Number 1! I hope you are ready for a tale of beauty, grace, deception, and loss!

This is the story of The Larkin Admin Building!

The Larkin Administration building opened its doors in 1906 exhibiting the mastery of design that Frank Lloyd Wright had… we won’t get into his personality. This imposing building 5 stories tall of dark red brick once entered gave way to a light-filled awe-inspiring office space flanked by balconies with custom furniture filling the space, an organ that had pipes on the third and fourth floors, a conservatory, a restaurant, and even a branch of the Buffalo Public Library, this space was filled with noise and life. A temple to the Larkin Empire that was built to last forever… or so they thought.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin and Johnson Wax Workspaces ...

Over 84 years ago, on October 4th, 1939, it was announced that the admin building would be remodeled for a new Larkin showroom, thus showing the first cracks in its enduring legacy. The built-in furniture, which was a signature of the building, was dismantled and the showrooms moved into the bottom three floors. With the fanatical strain of the Great Depression and the start of World War II Larkin began to falter, and by 1942 the Larkin Company that Buffalo knew, was gone.

Over the next seven years, this property bounced from owner to owner, the vacant temple stripped by vandals for the interior wires and fixtures, but the building still stood strong, until…

November 15, 1949, the Admin Building was sold to its last buyer, The Western Trading Corporation, with full intent for demolition. Architects and the public pleaded for the building to be saved, alas, the fate was sealed.

Demolition began in February of 1950; however, the building didn’t go without a fight, built with ten-inch-thick reinforced concrete in slabs seven feet wide and thirty-four feet long this 44-year-old building was built to last forever. After 5 long months of ripping down her walls and beams, the Larkin Administration Building was gone, her bricks and stones thrown into the Ohio Basin infill and buried forever.

WNY History

The sole reminder of her majesty is a brick pier, as a reminder and an omen of what can be lost with senseless demolitions!

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Works - Larkin Administration Building Video - SDA Website

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.