Silo City - Table of Contents ........... Grain Elevators - Table of Contents

American Elevator
Russell-Miller Milling Company Elevator / Peavey Co. Elevator

87 Childs Street in the First Ward in Buffalo, NY
Part of Silo City

Marine towers  
Where barley and (later) wheat were unloaded from ships

Workhouse and Silos 
Where grain was conveyed from marine towers to workhouse to silos

Malt house
Where barley was processed into malt

Flour mill  
Where wheat was milled and shipped by train and truck

Office Building

Industrial Heritage Trail
American Elevator photo, map, history

Maps - Silo City
Construction:  Continuous pour slip form method
American Elevator pioneered this contruction method

See also:
HABS (online April 2013) The main source of information on this elevator.  If the link does not work, Google "american elevator buffalo HABS."

Grain Elevator Dictionary

3 drawings illustrating how grain elevators work

History - American Elevator

The elevator [American Elevator] was designed and built by the James Stewart Company for the American Malting Company.

American Elevator and Warehouse was begun as part of the late nineteenth-century merger movement. Its founding company. American Malting, was created in August 1897, to consolidate a large number of small malt houses under one combine. In direct violation of the Sherman Antitrust legislation, the monopoly flourished for over two decades.

The trust was established to sell prepared malt to brewers more cheaply than they could purchase barley alone.

The Elevator was the first in Buffalo built of reinforced concrete, and is thought to be the first in the nation raised by slip forms into which concrete was continuously poured. Previously, concrete had only been poured once a day before any new concrete was placed.

The elevator was equipped with a single fixed marine tower located at the northern end of the building. The tower is of structural steel in corrugated iron.

[In 1922] ... the addition of a second marine tower with associated quayside.  The new tower was movable and ran on tracks between the exiting fixed tower and the Perot Elevator.

The bin hoppers are at 45 degree angles. The main bin hoppers are of steel plate fabricated to a conical form.  They extend across the full width of the bin and are hung from the basement hopper beams.

- HABS (online March 2013)

American Elevator History

After Gelinmac, the next elevator on the left [on Childs Street] is the American Elevator, the first elevator to be built of reinforced concrete in the Buffalo area.

Built in 1906 for the American Malting Corporation, of which banking giant J. P. Morgan was a part of, to allow a stronghold on the ever-growing Buffalo waterfront. American Malting used the elevator for the production of beers for the Eastern market but fell victim to the Prohibition.

In 1921, the elevator was taken over by the Russell-Miller company who used the mill to produce its Occident-brand flour.

In the early 1950s, Russell-Miller was bought out by Peavy Corporation, the sixth largest grain dealer in the world.


My father, Charles (Charlie) McGillicuddy worked for Peavey/ConAgra at Childs St.  He was the sanitarian for the mill and continued working there after the mill was sold to ConAgra.  After ConAgra. closed the Peavey mill, he supervised the removal of all equipment for ConAgra and the shipment of the equipment to other ConAgra facilities.  He then worked for ConAgra at their adjacent mill on Childs St.

Dad and others at Peavey were snowed in during the Blizzard of 1977 for a week.  The mills hired a private snow plow contractor each winter to plow Childs St. out, since the city never did.  The plow and the Peavey workers ended up snowed in.  They spent the week in the Peavey offices across the street from the mill, playing cards and eating a lot of pancakes--since the Peavey mill also made pancake mix.  Eventually, they were able to get out via a car caravan with the plow leading the way.

Shortly after, Dad had to return to work since the area's bakeries were running out of flour to bake bread,  Kaufman bakery being one of them.

There were stairs throughout both facilities [Allied Elevator, Peavey Elevator], but the workers took the "man lift."  This was a large, wide strap with steps on it that the workers held on to that pulled them through the floors faster than using the stairs. 

Working in this industry was dangerous.  My dad was the safety officer at Peavey and a worker got his arm cut caught in a piece of machinery and it was cut off.  The workers rescued the man and the arm and took him to the old Emergency Hospital in South Buffalo. 

Another time, a boat delivering grain to Peavey was moored at the plant in the Buffalo River.  My Dad was called by the Buffalo Police one night because a woman who was visiting the boat's crew members had fallen off the board and drowned in the river.

- Maura McGillicuddy, 2015

Color photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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