Original Richmond Hotel
Click on illustration for larger size
Richmond Hotel burned down on March 18, 1887, one of the most horrific fires in Buffalo
history. It killed 15 employees and guests and severely burned two dozen others.
There were heroic rescues of trapped women and children. Nearby taverns and hotels
threw open their doors to become makeshift hospitals, Nevertheless, guests plunged
from windows, and a survivor testified that the screams of the victims "were
something I hope to never hear again. "
In the subsequent investigation,
much blame fell up on Victorian high technology. The new telegraph and telephone
companies had erected a dense network of overhead wires and cables that impeded rescuers'
access to upper floors of the burning building. The City ordered these wires put
in underground conduits, and the Richmond was rebuilt, renaming itself the Iroquois
Hotel in 1890.
- Illustration and text source: Victorian
Buffalo by Cynthia Van Ness
from its granite substructure to roof of fireproof tiles, is unsurpassed for solidity
and strength of construction.
The site of the building is most central and the structure covers an area of 20,000
square feet, having a frontage of 200 feet on Eagle Street and 100 feet on Main and
Washington Streets, respectively.
It consists of eight floors and a basement, the roof rising to a height of 112 feet
above the level of the street. The elevation is in the style of the French renaissance,
and the monotony of a long facade is relieved by a central and two smaller projections
over each of the side entrances. The two lower stories have been treated in quarry-faced
Medina brown stone and the superstructure is surmounted by a cornice of terra cotta
in handsome designs.
The main entrance is by way of a handsomely designed portico, the roof is which arranged
as a balcony, with lofty standard electro-gasoliers mounted upon brownstone pedestals
at the corners of the balcony.
All the latest devices known to the building art have been used to make this building
absolutely The cast-iron girders and columns and other iron work are thoroughly encased
in fireproof materials, hollow, porous clay tile being used for this purpose, as
well as for the walls, partitions, and floor arches.
The lobby, which has a flooring of encaustic tiles, the walls wainscoted in quartered
oak , and the recessed ceiling divided in courses by huge structural beams, is elaborately
decorated in oil colors. Massive brown columns, encircling which are polished bands
of brass holding brackets for gas and electric lights, lend support to the ceiling.
The office, facing the entrance, is elegantly furnished and appointed, the desk and
other fixtures being constructed of finely grained, quartered white oak in most tasteful
The reading and writing rooms, barber shop, elevator, the Main Street corridor, used
as the ladies' entrance, the artistically decorated and furnished ladies' waiting
room and the main stairway adjoin the office, as is also the hallway leading leading
to the lavatories and closets. The news stand, carriage desk, ticket, telephone and
telegraph offices are conveniently located
- Source: "Buffalo Illustrated: Commerce, Trade
and Industries of Buffalo." Buffalo: The Courier Printing Company, 1890.
Final curtain: Iroquois Hotel
[E. M.] Statler realized that his planned elegant hotel could not succeed with Buffalo's
elite so long as that class preferred to frequent the venerable Iroquois Hotel at
Main & Eagle Street. He attempted to hire away the Iroquois' popular hotel manager,
Elmore Green, but the latter remained loyal to his hotel. So, for the first and last
time, Statler eliminated the competition by buying the Iroquois hotel for $1,825,412
($20,714,225 in 2006 dollars) and closing it the day the new 
Statler opened. He had no difficulty hiring Mr.Green to
manage his new hotel.
The elite followed and the Statler Hotel would become the
place in Buffalo to be seen, to meet, to make deals, to have lunch in the Terrace
Room overlooking Niagara Square for the next fifty years.
- Susan Eck, Ellsworth
Statler in Buffalo: Part 5 - Statler's Most Elegant Hotel
The Iroquois Hotel was famous in 1908 as the site
of the Buffalo Convention that established the standards for 88-note piano rolls.
The convention, attended by representatives of the roll-making industry and by player
piano manufacturers, was held December 10, 1908, in Buffalo at the Iroquois Hotel.
It was there that, after a day-long debate, the 9-holes-to-the-inch hole spacing
won out over 8-holes-to-the-inch by a twelve to six vote, which was later made unanimous.
Page 31 of the December 12, 1908, Music Trade Review issue (v. 47, no. 24) contains
a full-page report on the debate.
- Matthew Caulfield