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Architecture Around Buffalo: Miami Street Freight House

By Lucas Watson, Features Contributor

Harkening back to the rich industrial past is a building which has seen the lot of it.

Nestled in the First Ward and constructed sometime between 1853 and 1855, it is believed to be the oldest standing railroad building in the City of Buffalo. A hidden reminder of the rich industrial past Buffalo has had since it was incorporated as a city 190 years ago.

The purpose of the building was simple, it was built to be a freight house for the dense

transfer point between rail and water on Ohio Street. It sits in the heart of the massive rail hub which Buffalo had become by the time of its construction. It resembles industrial buildings of the time: gently arched window frames, dentil-style molding made from brick around the building and brickwork resemblant of the time. The building may not have the most interesting details, nor is it the prettiest to look at. But it’s a reminder of the remarkable industrial past this city has possessed over the years. Even so, the Delaware, Lackawanna; Western Railroad Bridge crossed right through the roof of the freighthouse. A predecessor bridge was erected in 1882, when the Lackawanna Railroad first entered Buffalo. The presently seen bridge abutment is from the newer bridge which replaced the original double-tracked bridge in 1905. A bridge abutment was built right into the wall of the freighthouse and is still seen today. These that ran through the area served both the Miami Street Freighthouse and the Ohio Street Freighthouse. The Moore Street side was used by horse and wagon (later trucks) to load freight. Between 1883 and 1886 the freighthouse was used by the newly built Buffalo, Rochester; Pittsburgh Railway until they built their own freighthouse on Ganson Street. The building is in rather good condition for its age and its extensive use over the years. Sure, there may be some light damage, but it’s clearly being cared for and most importantly still in use. It has fared far better than the Erie Freight House that once stood on Ohio Street. The Erie Freight House used to be another significant example of freight depot architecture. It was in the process of becoming eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, it was demolished by the owner in 2015. The land has been reused for a large apartment complex, so there is redemption in that short unfortunate tale.

The land is still considered commercial and is owned by Franklin Terminals Inc., other records call the company Franklin Trucking Inc. So there is a definite possibility that the building is still being used as a freight house or terminal even today. There are sure signs that it is still being used which is a positive for this building’s future. It’s a bit of the city’s long lasting history that has still found use 167 years later. As the Old First Ward experiences a new revival, this small freight house will witness the area grow and prosper once again.

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