Esenwein and Johnson formed their partnership in 1897. The firm was immensely successful. It produced over 1,000 designs, ranging from mantels to multi-building complexes, including such local icons as the Elephant House (1912) at the Buffalo Zoo, the Colonel Ward Pumping Station (1912-1916) and the Buffalo Museum of Science (1925-1929).
Diversity of expression was the hallmark of American architecture at the dawn of the twentieth century. Buildings derived from ancient, Renaissance, and colonial precedent predominated (collectively known as the American Renaissance), but buildings inspired by medieval precedent (known as Gothic and Tudor Revival) styles were also popular. The Arts and Crafts Movement embraced both medieval precedent and original design, such as Art Nouveau. Buffalo’s Esenwein & Johnson, like most architectural firms of the period, was proficient in these multiple forms of expression, necessary to meet the tastes of a diverse clientele.
Although buildings designed in the Art Nouveau style constitute a very small portion of Esenwein & Johnson’s total output, these are notable as some of the few significant expressions of the style executed in America.
This exhibit is drawn from the extensive collections of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and curated by architectural historian Martin Wachadlo.