The Wheeler and GLF feed mill complex was an intricate part of our industrial heritage and a key link in future waterfront planning which is now going on. It would be a great complex for highlightng Buffalo’s grain handling and milling histories with incredible views of the waterfront from above. People in power to make decisions in Buffalo need to be aware that all the elevators in the city are individually different in many ways, and form a unique museum as a whole, of world wide significance, even as they stand today.
Careful planning and patience with these structures will create a tourist attraction unlike any other in the world when linked together showing the evolution throughout their history. These buildings are in reality some of the largest machines in the world, which transferred the grain from America's 'BreadBasket' to the rest of the world. More tourism dollars and prestige would come to the city for generations, and far surpass anything that OSC could offer in jobs or tax dollars. Although we thank them for being in the city, they could be elsewhere in the city and offer the same potential, if not more, for jobs and tax dollars as on Ganson Street.
Respect for ones heritage is the first step towards the re-growth of this area. History is Buffalo's future. Properly respected and done with care we can combine history with a living environment that is uniquely Buffalo, and a destination attraction for tourists. Jerry Malloy
The Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc.
Agway "A" left - Wheeler center
Agway "C" right
The Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc.
Looking at the elevator, the main problem was the corrugated iron on the marine tower which could either be removed or easily repaired. As far as the elevator is concerned, an independent engineer should have been allowed to be brought in to ascertain it’s structural integrity, and not be left up to a demolition company, of all things, to make that assessment. Concrete holds up a lot better than most people think over the years.
Observing the demolition in 2011, it was obvious that the elevator in many phases of destruction, with much of it's structural guts removed, was in no danger of collapse even in that state. It was solid right to the end. So where did the lie begin? More importantly, when will they end? I was happy to see the building still there for the Preservation Conference, where people from around the world were able to see first hand Buffalo's true nature when it comes to historic preservation.
The reasons given for demolition was safety with an eye on expansion of the business. That is all well and good and usually a refreshing concept in the Buffalo area, and normally I would applaud such efforts. But prior to purchasing the original parcel of land I feel safe to say that they were well aware of the elevators existence, and future expansion was not suitable or easily done on this parcel. Buffalo abounds with open land suitable for the type business they have. It was not necessary or advisable to purchase the land next to the elevators (or on the water for that matter) then complain about the neighbors and lack of room.
A better plan for them, would have been to look for a location elsewhere in the city which is suitable for expansion and future needs. Purchasing that original site likens to someone building a house near an airport then complain about the airplane noise to the town and airport owners for the next ten years. It was a poor business decision, in my opinion, to locate there on Ganson Street.
The Wheeler Elevator was one of the most significant of Buffalo’s waterfront elevators. It’s design was unique among the elevators here in Buffalo. It was an early concrete elevator but took the design characteristics of the old wooden structures from the previous century. There were no conveyor systems on top as in the modern concrete elevators. All the grain coming in from the marine tower was spouted directly into the bins. The bins themselves were all open on top, something you will never see in a conventional concrete elevator. These features were exclusive to the Wheeler and an important transition example in the evolution of grain elevator construction from wood to concrete, one which needed to be preserved. For it was quite possibly the only one left in the world in this style.
The Wheeler Elevator:
A Landmark Destruction
Why Not Here? From The Buffalo History Gazette:
Just a few driving hours away from Buffalo in Akron Ohio lies one of the best examples of grain elevator re-use when the option of grain storage is no longer viable. They had one grain elevator in Akron near downtown and after it closed there was a grand transformation to the site. Demolition? A Buffalo tradition. Of course not, they put it to good use and made a first class hotel out of it. Currently, The Quaker Square Inn at The University of Akron.
I have stayed there three times and slept in a silo! This hotel is very impressive, steeped in tradition of the Quaker Oats Company who had a mill to go along with the elevator. One doesn't come away thinking this as an interesting hotel inside a grain elevator, the reaction is more like, "this is a magnificent hotel!" And this is by no means the only example of this type of re-use. Since this was built there have been many similar reconstructions into living space in grain elevator and related mill buildings around this country and around the world. What does all this have to do with Buffalo? Plenty. (continued in the Buffalo History Gazette)