Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator - Table of Contents

Description - Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator
133 Goodyear Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Status: National Register of Historic Places

Click on photo for larger size
Photo source: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record

The Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator is located on open land between Goodyear Avenue on the west and Koons Avenue on the east, south of Sycamore Street and north of Broadway on Buffalo's East Side. Unlike most of Buffalo's many grain elevators, the Wollenberg was built far from the city's busy waterfront at an in-town location where it was designed to receive and dispense gain by rail and by truck. The elevator stands in a residential neighborhood. To the south of the site are many late-nineteenth-and-early-twentieth-century workers' houses; to the north is a twentieth-century public school. The elevator stands nearby a railroad line that crosses the northern edge of the property and from which a short siding curves its way to the northern flank of the structure. Truck access was from Koons Avenue, with a drive entering at the southeast corner of the property.

With a capacity of 25,000 bushels, the Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator was small compared to the mammoth concrete elevators that were going up at the same time on the Buffalo waterfront. Built in 1912 in part from wood salvaged from the Kellogg A Elevator, which formerly stood in the Buffalo harbor, the Wollenberg has

Storage bins
The storage bins were built using the crib-form method of construction with interlocking spiked 2' x 6' planks. This traditional method of wooden grain elevator construction provides structural rigidity by allowing all eighteen bins to act as a single mass. The elevator bins vary in size. The four main bins measure 10' x 9'2". The other fourteen bins are of varying smaller sizes. The four main bins rise forty feet from the basement to the bin floor; the shorter smaller bins reach only from the bagging floor to the bin floor.

Undoubtedly, the bulk of the grain received by the Wollenberg came by rail.

Kellogg A and B Elevators
Click on photo for larger size

2003 Condition
Despite years of neglect, the Wollenberg Elevator is in good condition. Much of the original processing and grain transporting equipment remains in place, including the hopper and scale at the bin floor level and the various belt-driven machines in the basement. The original wooden stairway continues to run from the bagging floor to the bin floor and even ladders reaching into the upper levels of the workhouse remaining place. The system of scoops, with separate lines serving the four main bins and the smaller auxiliary bins, also remains intact. The system is enclosed by wood, which, like that of the bins, appears to have been new in 1912.

Wood from Kellogg A Elevator
Throughout the structure of the elevator and the mill considerable evidence exists of re-used timber from the waterfront Kellogg A Elevator. Markings on members which have no relation to their position in the Wollenberg are indicators of previous use in Kellogg A. Lettering, numbering, and entire words representing, for example, rail siding designations are found on timbers used as beams and posts. Additionally, notches and holes which have no purpose in the Wollenberg are phantom representations of structural elements from Kellogg A. (The Wollenberg bins appear to have been built of new wood.) Finally, the overuse of wood, such as the formation of beams and window framing by laminating layers of previously used wood, are indications of the abundance of inexpensive, second-hand material.

Since being abandoned in 1987, the Wollenberg Elevator has been unmaintained. For a long time, it has been open to the elements, trespassers, and vagrants. Fortunately, however, little damage has been done to the interior, despite the fact that a significant portion of the roof is gone. All of the wood inside the elevator remains in remarkably good condition. The interlocking crib bins especially are in excellent condition and remain structurally sound.

-- Source of text: 2003 National Register of Historic Places Nomination

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