Dec 30, 2014

Heavy Winds Do Damage at Duffy Silk in Midst of Developer Discussions for Possible Rehabilitation

The heavy winds on Christmas Eve claimed their victim at the Duffy Silk Mill building at 1270 Broadway. As the storm picked up a heavy gust battered the interior wall on the east wing launching bricks into the adjacent alleyway and collapsing a significant portion of the wall. Demolition crews were on site Christmas Day to claim their reward and got to work tearing down much of the eastern portion.


This collapse could not have come at a worst time for the building as the owner was in talks with various developers who had expressed significant interest in the sprawling 100,000 square foot factory. Adjacent to the Belt Line, which has been a hot topic for redevelopment, the building had endless potential to be converted to apartments in similar fashion to so many other buildings like it.

How the building appeared prior to demolition began
It was built primarily in two periods between 1905 and 1912 with the demolished eastern wing built in 1905 followed by the western portion in 1912. The building was expanded multiple times towards the rear of the site from 1913 to 1950. It was designed by prominent architects Esenwein & Johnson and was potentially eligible for historic tax credits to help offset heavy rehab costs. 


Duffy Silk built a total of three factories in Buffalo, one of which was also designed by Esenwein & Johnson and still extant at 207 Guildford Street. The company produced a variety of silk goods and later moved into producing nylon products as silk became difficult and costly to acquire.


The owner inherited the building from her father upon his passing, who operated a variety of endeavors for decades. The owner explained, “Among other things, he ran a sewing shop for making the canvas and coat pads for M. Wile and other men's clothing manufacturing. This was a business started by his father years before and I believe he bought the building partly to have a place for that business venture. But the building was so big that he had to fill it up with other things. He also manufactured corduroy jackets and I think for a while, women's low cost dresses." 

Historic Interior (1905-26)
The same view as above, nearly 100 years apart
"One brave venture was to start one of the first discount stores selling a variety of goods, especially pharmaceuticals, which he got into trouble for discounting prices. Another was selling groceries, clothing, fabrics, and other items that he bought at auctions from insurance companies that were selling off distressed merchandise after fires or other acts of nature. He bought and sold all kinds of things in that way, including a stock of records that I believe was the way Record Theater got started. The same was true of FWS furniture.  What he bought at auction dictated the beginning of various business, he was a successful entrepreneur who wasn't afraid to take chances.”


According to the owner, the city did not notify her of the demolition and just began tearing it down likely because it was classified as an emergency demolition. Her attorney is handling all communications and attempting to sort everything out. In the mean time, the owner believes the city only plans to demolish the affected portion of the complex. It’s unclear if that includes the remaining other half of the east wing, which in total compromises much of the square footage. The remaining west wing and central connector are in relatively good shape and still could be reused should the entire complex not be demolished. The building has been available for several years with an asking price of only $57,000, which had dropped to $32,000.

This still could be the view from a rooftop patio
For additional photos of the interior and the building before and after demolition, check out my Ipernity album here.
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  1. Replies
    1. Its NOT a shame. This property was demo by neglect, when dad own it, the mom, and now the daughter. There is NOBODY, that wants to 'redevelop', this pile of bricks. Its a money pit, and there are PCB's in the transformers in the furnace room. It needs the demo its getting. As a property owner adjacent to it, for a decade its a danger to the community. Please source your invented stories, especially when your inventing things about the East side. NOBODY would want a building which has no architectural uniqueness, or special reuse prospects. The value of the land is for Park and Ride, when and if the Light Rail goes to the Airport. 2.2 million to demo, they spent 100,000$ since Xmas. You blog could not be more UNINFORMED........................... James Kistner C.P., MUP

    2. Architecture studio reimagines Buffalo silk mill as a haven for refugees.