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Home > Leadership > Mayor > News Room > Mayor Brown Announces Start of Architectural Restoration of the McKinley Mo

Mayor Brown Announces Start of Architectural Restoration of the McKinley Mounument in Niagara Square

The nearly $647,000 project includes replacement of missing damaged marble with marble from the Vermont quarry where stone for the 110-year-old landmark was originally mined; the obelisk, and fountain at its base, will also be cleaned

June 12 – Mayor Byron W. Brown today announced the iconic McKinley Monument, located in the center of downtown Buffalo’s Niagara Square, is undergoing a nearly $647,000 architectural restoration. The restoration is being paid for with capital bond funds recommended by the Mayor, approved by the Buffalo Common Council and assigned to the Buffalo Arts Commission.

“The McKinley Monument is one of Buffalo’s best known landmarks, and is a critical piece of Buffalo’s history, commemorating the assassination of President William McKinley at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. As custodian of this iconic structure, the City of Buffalo will restore its majesty,” Mayor Brown said.

“Since 2006, my Administration has allocated more than $1.4 million on monument restoration and portrait conservation.  That work included $212,000 at Gates Circle, plus more than a dozen of other monuments in every part of the City to preserve our City’s history, and honor those whose contributions enrich our lives,” Mayor Brown added.

The project includes the 96-foot tall marble obelisk replacement of missing and damaged white marble, mortar replacement, and removal of all foreign matter. The fountain at its base will also be carefully cleaned and relined, and the marble turtle and dolphin fountain spouts, as well as the four lions surrounding the fountain, will be cleaned.

Two bollards, the stone poles which ring the perimeter of the fountain, will be replaced with exact replicas. One is badly cracked and the other is deteriorating. The restoration work will also include refurbishing of granite components.

“The City of Buffalo takes seriously its charge to care for this memorial to one of our four assassinated presidents. The Arts Commission has been looking forward to the start of this wonderful project,” said Catherine Gillespie, Chairperson, of the Buffalo Arts Commission.

The City’s Department of Public Works worked with the Arts Commission, along with Flynn Battaglia Architects of Buffalo, to determine the scope of the project and select a firm to undertake the restoration.  Buffalo’s Morris Masonry Restoration, which has a strong resume of stone restoration locally and nationally, will perform the work.

“It’s always exciting when we are involved in a project that preserves a key piece of Buffalo’s history.  Our department’s architect, Brian Swartz, began the planning for this project in 2015 and has overseen all the details of historic research, design, evaluation, and approvals while collaborating with the Buffalo Arts Commission.  This project is a true restoration”, said City of Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.

“Flynn Battaglia Architects has been honored to guide the restoration of the iconic McKinley Monument in collaboration with the staff at the City of Buffalo.  Given the historic importance of the Monument in our City’s history, our efforts focused on cleaning and preserving as much of the original 1907 design and materials as possible and, where necessary, to reconstruct with materials from the original stone quarries in Vermont. With the support from the City of Buffalo, the monument will continue as a focal point in the community as the original designers intended,” said Peter Flynn, Principal, Flynn Battaglia Architects.

“We are truly, excited to be part of this project and to be stewards of the ongoing commitment, the city has made, to preserving our rich historic fabric. We look forward to a successful project which, when completed, will enhance yet another piece of the rich architectural history for which this city has become known,” said Jeff Morris, President, Morris Masonry Restoration.
Under the current timetable, the restoration work should be completed by early September, in time to mark the 110th anniversary of the dedication of the McKinley Monument, on September 6, 1907, and the 116th anniversary of President McKinley’s shooting by Leon Czolgosz while attending an event at the Pan-American Exposition’s Temple of Music.

While the monument work continues in Niagara Square, our popular “Food Truck Thursdays” will be temporarily relocated to W. Genesee Street, located between the Statler City and the Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building. Street closures will be in place during the weekly food truck events.

Since 2006, the Brown Administration has spent nearly $418,000 to restore and maintain such pieces as: The Martin Luther King Jr. bust and plaque in MLK Park, the WWI Memorial Plaque on Northland Avenue, the Municipal Baseball Association WWI Memorial in Cazenovia Park, the Seneca Indian Memorial in Seneca Indian Park, the General Daniel Davidson Bidwell statue in Colonial Circle, the Giuseppe Verdi statue in Symphony Circle, the War of 1812 Memorial in Delaware Park, and the Katyn Forest plaque and exterior friezes at City Hall.

There is currently nearly $58,000 in restoration work underway in 2017, including the Lincoln statue on the portico of the Buffalo History Museum and the Sandor Petofi bust in Riverside Park.

About the McKinley Monument:
The McKinley Monument is a 96-foot (29 m) tall obelisk in Niagara Square, Buffalo, New York. Its location in front of Buffalo City Hall defines the center of the city and many of Buffalo's major roads converge on it.
The monument was commissioned by the State of New York and dedicated September 6, 1907 to the memory of William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, who was fatally shot while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901.
Architect Daniel H. Burnham, called in to consult on the project, had suggested an obelisk, with fountains at the base and decided where it should be placed. In the end, the monument consists of a Vermont and Italian marble obelisk with surrounding Italian marble lions, each 12 feet (3.7 m) long and weighing 12 tons. It was designed by architects Carrère and Hastings, who had led the design of the Exposition, with animal sculptures by Alexander Phimister Proctor that include sleeping lions, symbols of strength, and turtles, emblematic of eternal life.
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote a poem on the monument, Slants at Buffalo, New York, beginning: "A forefinger of stone, dreamed by a sculptor, points to the sky. / It says: This way! this way!"