This year marks the 115th anniversary of the majestic building located at 69 Delaware Street in Tonawanda. Before telling you a little bit about the story of the Tonawanda Castle, I thought it would be interesting to put it in context with the broader architectural history of Buffalo. It is plenty worthwhile to stroll around the local streets and marvel at the architectural achievements that we’re lucky enough to have here, but it is even more fulfilling if you know a little bit of their history. The city of Buffalo skyrocketed into affluence after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. Not surprisingly, the construction of the canal is depicted on what is perhaps downtown’s best known architectural work, the massive Art Deco style City Hall.
Constructed in 1931, City Hall has been fortunate with regard to architectural preservation throughout the years. Buffalo’s industry fell into decline as new developments, such as the opening of St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, shifted commercial shipping and industry to other locations. Many beautiful buildings constructed in the hundred-plus years following the opening of the canal fell into disrepair; many others were torn down. Those that we continue to enjoy today have been saved largely due to the fact that threats to demolish them roused Buffalonians to action. The Guaranty Building (now the Prudential Building), designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan was threatened with demolition in the 1970s, but saved by a small group of concerned citizens. Buffalo State Hospital, also known by the name H.H. Richardson Complex to honor its architect, was designed in 1870 and its towers have reigned over the landscape of the Buff State neighborhood ever since, but when the psychiatric center closed in the 1970s and parts of the complex were subsequently demolished, its fate was uncertain. A passionate lawsuit brought by a local preservation society won funds from New York State that allowed for its safeguarding and repair. And Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1905 Darwin Martin house was left neglected and in disrepair for decades after the Martin family moved out in 1937, but fortunately has been painstakingly restored so that we can enjoy it today.
The Tonawanda 25th Separate Company Armory was constructed by architect Isaac Perry in 1897. The architectural style of the building is known as Richardsonian Romanesque, which takes its name from the popularity of the distinctive Romanesque style developed in the design of Buffalo State Hospital. Another feature that links the Tonawanda Armory to other architectural marvels of Buffalo is the fact that it is less than half a mile from the Erie Canal. And like all of the buildings mentioned above, it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Like most of these buildings, it also fell into disuse and its future was uncertain when it was put up for private auction in 2004. Soon afterwards, it was purchased by the current owner, Mostafa Tanbakuchi, and renamed the Tonawanda Castle. Since then this unique facility has undergone over a million dollars in restorations as well as renovations (such as air conditioning!). In addition to the luxurious rooms available for events, this building has some fascinating vestiges of its history such as a jail, a shooting range, and a swimming pool. The staff members at the Tonawanda Castle are experts in using the historical ambiance of this venue to create personalized events. From bridal party suites in a 100 foot turret that was used as an observation post during the two World Wars to beautiful photo ops framed by handcrafted chandeliers and ornate wooden staircases, events at the Tonawanda Castle are sure to be unique and unforgettable.
The Tonawanda Castle currently operates as a full service banquet facility providing a beautiful setting for wedding receptions, conferences, corporate meetings, black-tie galas, fundraisers and more.