The Blochers, Federal Reserve, New Era Cap:
SW Corner Delaware & Huron

(Nims) Blocher mansion, c. 1890. Image source: Chuck LaChiusa, Buffalo as an Architectural Museum

The corner of Delaware and Huron, currently the site of the headquarters of New Era Cap, was vacant until 1869. According to Edward T. Dunn in Buffalo's Delaware Avenue, the land was used by traveling circuses. In 1869, Ozias Nims, a forwarding merchant on the Central Wharf, constructed a mansion on the corner. John Blocher, who made his fortune producing boots during the Civil war, purchased the mansion in 1878.

The Masonic Consistory, occupying both the Unitarian Church and Blocher mansion. Image source: TBHM

Two years later, the Unitarians constructed the Unitarian Church of Our Father adjacent to the mansion, dedicating it in October 1880. Their construction cost was $50,000. Then in 1904 the congreation decided that their site was "too far downtown" and they constructed a new church at Elmwood and West Ferry on land donated by John J. Albright.

The church was purchased by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Free Masons for their Consistory; they paid $35,000. Also in 1904, John Blocher's wife, Elizabeth, died; John Blocher died in 1911. The Masons then acquired his mansion, constructing a connecting walkway between the two properties.

The Masons utilized their Consistory until they decided to leave what had become an overwhelmingly commercial area. And their membership of over 5,550 suggested that a better and more suitable space was needed. Their Consistory was valued at $218,624 in 1915. So, in 1921, they purchased 1180 Delaware, a mansion barely two years old that was constructed by George Franklin Rand, but who died before it was completed. His children, George Franklin Rand, Jr., Evelyn and Gretchen lived there only a short time.*

1925 Flag Day Ceremonies - one of the last held at the old Consistory. Image source: Buffalo Times

The Federal Reserve Building, c 2005. Image source: Ciminelli Development

By 1926, the Masons completed their move from the Delaware and Huron property and, in February 1926, both the mansion and church were demolished. The property became a parking lot with a filling station located near the corner. By 1945, the Marine Trust Company, owners of the property, sold it to Huron Associates, and rumors were that a new library might be constructed there. The Ford Hotels Company, which already had a Buffalo hotel, purchased the land. They never developed it and, in 1953, their successor, Sheraton Hotels, sold the lot to the U.S. Government for a new Federal Reserve building, to be the third location for that agency in Buffalo.

The Federal Reserve building, 100,000 square feet, cost $4 million dollars to build and opened on May 14, 1958.

Use the slider to move back and forth from the Consistory-era image c. 1900 to the present New Era Cap image.

Forty-six years later, after federal services consolidation, the building was put up for sale for $3.9 million dollars. Ciminelli Development Corporation purchased it in February 2005 for $3.2 million. In April 2006, New Era Cap purchased it from Ciminelli Development for $4.8 million dollars. The company extensively redesigned the interior and updated the facade of the building, opening its world headquarters at the end of November, 2006.

*George Rand, Jr. was president of the Marine Trust Company among other interests, and a 33rd degree Mason. He sold the mansion to the Masons for 1 million dollars with a $500,000 gift which would be used to construct a Consistory attached to the mansion. The Masons suffered traumatic membership losses during the Depression and were forced to surrender their Consistory for back taxes in 1942. The Jesuits purchased 1180 Delaware in 1944 for a school, Canisius High School, which it remains.

Copyright © 2019 Susan J. Eck. All Rights Reserved.