The Hotel Statler Buffalo Opens
May 19, 1923

It was called "The Diadem of Delaware Avenue" when it opened. Buffalo Saturday Night, a local weekly magazine, posted Ellsworth M. Statler's photo on the cover of its May 19, 1923 issue, wiht the caption, "Buffalo's First Citizen." The 19-story hotel cost $8,000,000 to construct and furnish. A local newspaper said that Statler "has chosen to erect his monument while he lived" by building his most elaborate hotel in the city where he met his first success. (More information on Statler in Buffalo here.)

dresser tray logo
Statler insignia from a Statler Hotels dresser tray

From the Buffalo Times:

"Brilliant spectacles will mark the formal opening. The first of these will be held this evening when 50 men, including a number of representatives of the press, wil eat the first meal served in the new hotel...Tonight's dinner will be served upon a gold service made especially for the new hotel. Every utensil upon the table will be of gold. After tonight this service will be laid away until there are other occasions of outstanding importance."

Statler was an expert at using the free advertising of newspaper reporting by this time in his career and so he invited Buffalo's newspaper men to enjoy a dinner on gold utensils before the dinner during which he entertained politicians, including those from states where he had other hotels, and prominent businessmen. They did not use the gold service because there was only service for 50.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, 1923, the Statler hosted 1,000 diners at 7 p.m. and another 1,000 at 9 p.m. People had purchased tickets to attend the dinners and a third seating at 11 p.m. could have sold out if the hotel had been able to arrange it. After the second seating was finished, Vincent Lopez and his orchestra played for the guests.

An entire block of land was bought for the hotel in 1919 and was cleared of all buildings, including the Castle Inn, once the home of President Millard Fillmore. Construction was underway from 1921-1923.

Design of the Hotel Statler Buffalo was by George B. Post & Sons of New York City; they had worked with Statler, who was a hands-on client in every aspect of the design, for years. As the article in Buffalo Saturday Night, by "Tom" Longbotham described the exterior:

"The exterior is designed in the style of English Georgian, of which our Colonial and American Georgian styles are the direct descendents. Of all the styles of architectural decoration that grace our streets and avenues, it is, therefore, the most closely related to our history and development. None could be more suitable to clothe the modern hotel - for the English Georgian era expresses the apogee of domestic life and culture.

"The exterior for the height of its base and the upper floors or crown of the building is of terra cotta, having a texture and color similar to domestic limestone.The shaft or middle portion of the building is of red tapestry brick in various shades of reds and browns. The brick is laid up in English cross bond which gives to the large wall surfaces a pleasing and not too striking diaper pattern.

"The building rests upon a foundation of steel-shell, concrete-filled piles, driven into the ground an average of forty feet to bed rock. The superstructure is carried on a frame of steel columns, girders and beams, and the floors are of reinforced concrete slabs. In other words, the building is as strong and as near fireproof as modern engineering knowledge can make it."

The hotel had a total of 1,100 rooms, or 70 rooms per guest room floor. To serve these required 900 employees. The company's headquarters occupied an entire wing of the structure and upper floors were also set aside for office space such as the WGR radio station operating at the time of the opening.

To read more of the above story, click on the Hotel Statler logo on the floor diagrams. Photos in the links are taken from Statler Salesmanship, the company publication, which devoted its entire May-June, 1923 issue to the Hotel Statler, Buffalo.

ground floor grill room turkish bath

main floor lunch counter cafeteria cafe lobby palm room main lobby main dining terrace room ladies parlor ballroom ballroom entrance

mezzanine floor mezzanine library chinese room georgian room

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Ellsworth Statler built one more hotel, in Boston, before succumbing to pneumonia in 1928 at age 63.
For more information on his achievements and contributions to Buffalo, see the 5-part series from 2007 here.

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