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
- a concrete foundation supporting eighteen rectangular wooden storage bins,
- a mill with four bins, and
- a mill store.
- The workhouse is located above the bin floor.
- The elevator portion measures 32' x 42'8" and rises seventy-five feet from the basement floor to the top of the cupola.
- Corrugated iron sheeting surrounds the bins to protect them from the elements.
- The mill and mill store adjacent to the elevator on the southern side are built of balloon frame construction and are also covered with corrugated iron.
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.
- Grain arriving at the railroad siding was unloaded from cars by means of a power shovel that pushed the material into the distribution system at the basement level.
- The grain then traveled via a bucket elevator to the workhouse above the bin floor level, some forty feet above the ground.
- There it was weighed and cleaned before a single moveable spout directed it into an appropriate storage bin.
- The four main bins (numbers 1-4) possessed a separate conveyor system that could take grain from the bottom of these bins back to the spout at the bin floor level.
- There it could be mixed and afterward placed in smaller bins.
- These smaller bins opened at the bottom onto the bagging floor where the grain was dropped into sacks in preparation for shipment by truck.
- Grain from bin #4 could be diverted to the mill for processing. (Although most of the grain left the site in bags via trucks, the presence of a spout above the rail siding would suggest that some grain must also have been loaded from the elevator directly into railroad cars. Smaller amounts of grain would also have been dispensed from the mill store on the south side of the mill.)
- The workhouse above the bin floor contained a set of Fairbanks scales and a cleaner and oat clipper. This equipment served the basic needs for grain processing.
- Workers moved within the structure by means of a wooden stairway built parallel with the bins.
Kellogg A and B Elevators
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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