News from 1902 (May)
May 2 - Some of the members of the Electric Tower committee received a shock last night. It didn't come over the wires, either. Uncle Sam delivered it, but it was sent by Mr. Bronson C. Rumsey. It was a letter to Ald. Joseph Butler, chairman of the committee, telling him politely and firmly that the tower cannot remain on the Pan-American grounds, either by lease or purchase of the site. The letter read as follows:
"Dear Sir: As chairman of the committee appointed by the Mayor to consider the question of purchasing the tower and removing it to the Front or retaining it where it now is, we take the liberty of addressing you, although unsolicited. When asked by different citizens in regard to retaining the tower where it now is, we have invariably stated that we were opposed to it.
"We have never been asked our views by anyone acting officially, and it may be presumptuous on our part to say anything about the matter before being asked, but knowing the interest you are taking in the matter and the earnestness with which you are striving to secure the purchase of the tower by a public subscription, and in order to save you unncessary labor in the way of plans for its retention where now located, we wish to say that we are not willing either to sell or lease any land for that purpose. We are now, as we always have been, opposed to its retention there."
Chairman Butler had a sad look when he entered Part III of the Supreme Court, where the meeting was held. When the letter was read everybody knew what ailed him. Mr. Butlere wanted the tower to remain where it is; in fact, he originated that idea. Just before the letter was read Mr. Butler had suggested that somebody say something. It appears he wanted to put off the reading of the letter as long as possible. Robert Wallace, the architect, was made secretary by Mr. Butler. When nobody spoke, and the silence was becoming oppressive, Mr. Wallace said, timidly, "Hadn't I better read that letter, Butler?"
Mr. Butler raised his eyes to the ceiling as if he were measuring the tower with them and replied, quickly,
"I guess you had."
The reading took place amid profound stillness. William A. Bean, who had previously been asked to make a report on the visit to the tower last Monday when the plan considered was to leave the tower in its present location, said:
"I don't think it necessary now to make any report on the committee's visit and inspection. That letter seems to knock our project out pretty effectively.
"I don't see any possibility of letting the tower stand out there. It seems to me you're wasting your time thinking about it."
William A. Bean had hardly ceased speaking when Felix Doherty said with noticeable vim:
"I make a motion right here that it is the sense of this committee that we buy the tower and erect it at the Front."
The motion was put and carried.
"How much is it going to cost?" inquired Mr. Gavin.
"Two hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars," said Mr. Butler.
"Is that the first cost?" asked Mr. Gavin.
"It lights the Tower at the front," replied Mr. Butler.
Mr. Wallace consented to make a picture of the tower as it will appear at the Front, so as to give the people an idea as to how it will look.
It was decided to begin at once an active effort to raise by subscription the money necessary for tearing down the tower and re-erecting it at the Front. Subscription blanks will be placed wherever it is possible and each has been altered, showing that the money subscribed is for putting the tower at the Front on park land. Another meeting of the committee will be held at 8 o'clock Saturday night at the City Hall. Members of the committee present last night were Ald. Joseph Butler, Robert Wallce, Fred Fenster, Michael J. Byrnes, Joseph E. Gavin, Michael Shea, William A. Bean, Felix R. Doherty.
May 2 - [Editorial] The Messrs. Rumsey, owners of the land on which the Electric Tower stands, have decided, has might be expected, that a popular rendevous is not in harmony with their long-considered scheme of a retired and elegant residence section north of the park. They notified the Mayor's Tower committee last night that they would neither sell nor lease the ground on any terms. The tower must go, therefore. The committee decided that it should go to the Front and will push a subscription to place it there.
The cost of buying and placing the tower at the Front is now estimated at $228,000. It is a large sum, and it might be found advisable to adopt the alternative suggestion of one of the speakers at last night's meeting - Mr. William A. Bean, chairman of the sub-committee, who said: "The only thing left now is to buy the tower and move it to the Front or else buy new steel and build a new tower there."
It is believed by some who have considered the matter from a practical point of view that a tower of suitable proportions could be erected at the Front for very much less than $228,000. The items of expense in the table prepared by Architect Wallace are all suited to the present tower and made necessary by its present form. For example, the pergolas or wings are to cost, for reconstruction, $50,000; there is $6000 for cement flooring, and there are other items which might be cut out. But if this plan shoudl be adopted it would be necessary to begin anew and to cast aside all sentiment growing out of the memories and associations of the Pan-American. The progress of the subscription will show how widespread that sentiment is. If it is wide enough and deep enough to produce $228,000 in popular subscriptions called for, that will settle the matter for good and all. It is a genuine popular contribution that is wanted now, not a fund gathered by pressure on individuals or drawn from the public treasury by any device. It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever that is to be founded, not a necessity, and a free will offering must meet the cost.
May 3 - [Letter to the Editor] Would the Electric Tower prove a thing of beauty and joy forever? Without that mighty rush of water, without those "arms" extended in welcome, would the Electric Tower at the Pan-American Exposition have entranced us all as it did? I feel sure that just a column of light, "only this and nothing more," would prove disappointing to all, and sooner or later would be considered a sad reminder of former glow.
This is a utilitarian age. Anything to be thoroughly enjoyed must be useful as well as ornamental. What could come under this head better than improved parks and a Zoological Garden? A good Zoo is an educator. Our children need it. When one thinks of how Mr. Goodyear's offer has been slighted, it causes the cheeks to flush with shame.
I am convinced that every parent in the city would prefer a good Zoo, and it goes without saying the children would. The People? Go out to our little Zoo some bright Sunday (or week day) and be convinced that the People would greatly prefer a Zoo to an Electric Tower.
May 3 - Senator Allison, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, has set his foot down hard on the proposition to grant an appropriation of $500,000 or $1,000,000 with which to pay the creditors of the Pan-American Exposition.
Senator Depew and Representatives Alexander and Sherman held a conference with Chairman Allison yesterday, during which they pleaded for the appropriation. But Chairman Allison was obdurate. He pointed out that St. Louis and Charleston were waiting, hats in hand, at the crack of the door, ready to spring an appeal for relief if Buffalo was successful. He stated that Congress would not open the door for such appropriations.
As the House refused to entertain the proposition recently, the hope of aid for the Pan-American is practically dead.
May 5 - "I stand here as a living interrogation point."
So spake Michael J. Healy at the City Hall last night. After the smiles were passed around, the Electric Tower Committee appointed by Mayor Knight settled down to a discussion of the question as to whether the individual members of the committee could be held responsible for debts contracted by other members of the committee during their absence.
M.J. Byrnes sent a shiver of fright over the committee, when he said:
"Once upon a time I was a member of a committee similar to this one, and certain debts were contracted which cost me about $3,000. Now I don't want history to repeat itself, that's all. I therefore, move that we adopt a resolution that no money to exceed $25 can be paid or contracts made, without each member of the committee being first notified that such an action is to be considered."
Waterman M. Citerley spoke out quickly, saying:
"If the action of this committee is to binding, and no safeguards are thrown around us, I will resign."
Immediately thereafter, a long discussion began. Mr. Citerley wanted to know if there wasn't some way by which the Common Council could define the powers of the committee. He got out his notification paper, which he received from Mayor Knight, wherein it was stated that, as a member of the committee, he was expected to further the project of purchasing the tower and re-erecting it at the Front.
And that little word "further" proved bothersome. No member of the committee seemed quite able to define its meaning as the Mayor used it. Finally Fred Fenster spoke, saying:
"What's the use of talking about money affairs until we get some money to spend? We came here tonight to devise a method to get the money, and that's what we should get at. When we have got the money, it will be plenty of time to talk about contracting debts. But until then let's rest easy, and get down to business."
"Those are my sentiments," exclaimed J.O. Munroe.
Mr. Healy, after declaring that he represented an interrogation point, said that it was the duty of the committee to ascertain its exact powers and mission.
Chairman Butler announced that the Mayor had named the committee in response to public sentiment for the preservation of the tower. It was first the duty of the committee to secure the money necessary for the completion of the project after which, he said, the spending of the money could be decided upon.
"I recognize that the Electric Tower should be preserved," said Mr. Healy. "It is Buffalo's trade mark, but I think we should be protected."
Mr. Byrne insisted upon the adoption of his motion, which was done, unanimously.
May 9 - When Mayor Knight's Tower Committee meets tonight some of the members will report slight progress in obtaining subscriptions. So far as learned, however, none of the amounts subscribed is large. Ald. Joseph Butler, chairman of the committee, and Fred Fenster, have obtained a number of small subscriptions, which they will make known tonight.
At the meeting the committee decided to ask for bids for tearing down the tower and re-erecting it at the Front. None had been received late yesterday afternoon.
"We can't get bids on a thing of that kind unless there are specifications from which to make estimates," said Robert A. Wallace, the architect. "It is impossible for any many to say what he can do the work for until he has specifications from which to figure. We have not been able to find the specifications since we began the movement to preserve the tower. They have disappeared. If they are in Buffalo, they have not been found."
May 10 - And it shall come to pass that the great and beautiful Tower will fall, and that the men who expected $25,000 will not get it.
There will be no electric tower at the Front. The movement to purchase the steel shaft fell with a dismal thud in Part III of the Supreme Court at City Hall last night. Nobody looked sick, not even Ald. Joseph Butler. He half expected it. About noon yesterday he was seen walking with his head down and his hands clasped behind his back. This awoke him from reverie, or whatever else he had:
"How's the Tower?"
He gave the questioner just one startled look - the same look that the huntsman has seen in the face of a deer when it was taken suddenly by surprise.
"Guess it's all right," replied the Alderman. "I guess so - so - yes, it's so. We'll know tonight. It's got to be settled tonight. There's been too much monkey business. I've arranged for the coupon tickets - yes, that's what I have done - we'll know tonight, and then - then - then it'll all be over."
Ald. Butler was right. It was all over in a short time. Only the ghost remains, and that isn't worth $25,000. The members of Mayor Knight's committee, by unaminous vote, decided that $228,000 for the purchase and re-erection of the tower at the Front could not be raised. R.H. Stafford announced that he had canvassed Ellicott Square from cellar to garret and hadn't got a cent. Among bankers and men of wealth he had been able to raise less than $1000, when he expected $20,000.
"I have made up my mind," said he, "that the people don't want the tower. Everywhere I heard complaints from men who lost money on the Pan-American."
Waterman J. Citerley said he had visited 150 men and got $167. He had been abused worse than a book agent and called names.
"I was able to get a dollar in the Erie County Banck building," he said.
Robert A. Wallace introduced this motion, which was adopted:
"Inasmuch as public sentiment and the press do not support the present tower movement, it is hereby resolved that it is the sense of this committee that Mayor Knight should relieve us any further responsibility in this matter."
That ended it, and the comittee went home.
May 13 - [Letter to the Editor} The plan for preserving the Pan-American tower by popular subscription having failed, here is another suggestion. Form a stock company and have it erected without the wings as an office building on some conspicuous down-town site. The restaurant could be run as it was during the Exposition, and the rest of the structure divided into offices, while a fast running elevator could carry visitors for a small fee to the outlook at the top. There might be profit in such an investment.
J.B., Buffalo, May 12
May 17 - Supt. Harris of the Chicago House Wrecking Company came down jauntily in an elevator at the Iroquois this morning, using a toothpick in his accustomed dexterous manner. Three seconds after he landed in the hotel lobby his face was a red as piece of raw beef, and he said things. It was all because he was asked a simple, little question, which was put like this:
"Is the tower still out there?"
The flush of anger that reddened his face lasted while he made a circuit, which took in the cigar stand, the register desk and the news stand. When he had finished the circuit, he smile. It was then considered safte to put another question, as follows"
"Is the Goddes of Light still on top of the tower?"
"You mean the lady?" he inquired, and the quirk of his lips indicated a certain amount of contempt for the gilded image.
"Yes, she's still there, but she won't be long. You can tell the people of Buffalo that we've begun tearing down the tower. We've been at it two days, and it won't be there much longer."
Then the tall, slim man who wanted the city to give his company $25,000 for the tower, went out into the sunlight and jumped aboard a street car wearing a frown and a button-hold bouquet.
May 19 - The Humphrey Popcorn Company of Cleveland has bought the Goddess of Light upon the Electric Tower at the Pan-American Exposition, but now it finds it cannot get her. The situation resembles that of the "Three Old Maids in a Plum Tree," in the song for whom there was offered "half a crown to fetch 'em down." The Goddess of Light must be got down by tomorrow or the day after, for then will be begun the razing of the Electric Tower.
A member of the Humphrey Popcorn concern was in the city on Friday trying to devise a scheme to get possession of the Goddess. He found the problem so filled with difficulties that he is anxious now to find someone who will take her down for him. The Goddess was hoisted to the top of the Tower in sections. One foot upon which she stands poised is attached to a steel shaft four inches in diameter which extends nine feet into the dome of the lantern of the tower. When she was placed in position, gin-poles were thrust from various heights and hoisted the sections to the various landings on the tower in succession until the top was reached. There a staging was built above the dome and lashed firmly to it by means of cables. Then the members of the Goddess were assembled from the feet up. The purchaser, however, wishes to get her down intact.
"I have served notice on the buyer that we are going to begin tearing down the tower by Money or Tuesday," said Mr. Harris of the Chicago House Wrecking Company yesterday. "Unless he takes the Goddess down soon she is liable to fall down."
The razing of Alt Nurnberg is now fairly under way. The stork upon the chimney pot still stands dejectedly upon one foot, but the various structures are unroofed. Thus passes all but the memory of that famous hostelry where Herr Luchow dispensed rare viands, and Herr Peuppus dispensed melody still more rare.
May 23 - "The Chicago House Wrecking Company, which is demolishing the Pan-American Exposition, was expected to clean up that portion of Delaware Park which was included in the Exposition grounds," said Secretary George H Selkirk of the Park Commission today, "but I guess it is likely the work will fall on the Park Commission. The work will be completed as soon as possible."
"Has anything been done in the way of putting the grounds around the Albright Art Gallery in shape" he was asked.
"Yes, the grading has been begun, and the building of terraces, and the work of ornamenting and embellishing the grounds around the building wil be done up in due time. It is, I believe, the intention of the commission to place the beautiful building which Mr. Albright has given to the city, in a frame in keeping with its magnificence."
May 26 - [Letter to the Editor] I saw in the Sunday NEWS that the parties who had bought the goddess on the tower did not know how to get her down and did not know where to find a man to take it down.
If the parties interested will call on us they will be told how to get it down with but little trouble. It can be transferred from the tower to a flat car, whole, and without doing one dollar's damage to the goddess.
May 29 - People who are fond of good music and appreciate the value of good musical instruments will be pleased to learn that, after a delay that has been entirely too long, the splendid Howard organ presented to the city by James N. Adam is about to be set up in Convention Hall.
The contract for making the necessary alterations in Convention Hall in order to install the organ has been let to Hylkena and Hausmann for a little less than $4000. But the money for the work will not be available until the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1. Ald. Adam is a great stickler for a strict observance of the letter of the charter and therefore he would not consent to any arrangement by which the money could temporarily be borrowed from some other fund, which might have been done without damage to anyone.
But he wished the work to go on, and so Mr. Adam entered into a private arrangement with the contractors by which they should begin work at once, Ald. Adam guaranteeing them against any possible loss through the city.
The contractors are getting their materials ready and actual work will begin at once. At the same time the erection of the organ will go forward in conjunction with the alterations of the stage and it is expected that the whole work will be done by the first week of September. Mr. Turner, representing the Howard company, is here to give his personal supervision to the setting up of the instrument.
May 30 - The State Commission appointed by Gov. Odell for the purpose of erecting in Buffalo a monument to the memory of President William McKinley is now ready to proceed with the important work before it. The commissioners met yesterday afternnoon in the private office of Edward H. Butler, chairman of the commission, and organized.
Those present at the meeting, aside from Chairman Butler, were Wilson S. Bissell, George E. Matthews, and John G. Milburn of Buffalo and Col. E.A. Curtis of Fredonia. Thus all of the commissioners were present.
The bill making the appropriation and creating the Monument Commission provides for an executive officer and a secretary. Inasmuch as the duties of the Commission will not be heavy at first, and in view of the fact that no provision is made in the bil for the salaries of the officers names, it was deemed best that the offices be filled, for the present at least, from within the Commission.
Mr. Milburn moved that Mr. Butler be chosen to act as executive officer. This motion was seconded by Mr. Bissell and was carried without a dissenting vote. On the motion of Mr. Bissell, seconded by Col. Curtis, Mr. Matthews was chosen to act as secretary. The next business was to lay before the commission certain letters and data which had been obtained. Chairman Butler read to the commission a list of prominent American monuments with their cost at the time of building and the cost if built today. He also read a number of communications from individuals and organizations containing suggestions relative to the monument.
Mr. Milburn moved that Secretary Matthews be instructed to communicate with the authorities in monument construction in order to obtain, if possible, the best advice available without expense to the monument fund. The motion was seconded by Mr. Curtis and was carried. After the adjournment of the meeting, Mr. Butler made the following statement:
"It is, of course, the desire of every member of the commission to make the monument as noble a one as the funds at our command will permit.
"One hundred thousand dollars does not go very far toward producing the kind of structure we would like to see on Niagara Square. The Garfield monument at Cleveland cost, when constructed, about $125,000 and would cost $200,000 if built now. Lincoln's tomb at Springfield could not be duplicated at present for $300,000, and the Bunker Hill Monument, which cost $135,000 when it was constructed, would cost $250,000 to build now.
"We have made no attempt to decide on the form, material or character of the McKinley memorial, nor will we do so until we have been able to learn approximately what can be done, in various directions, with the sum in hand. We will make all haste possible in getting toward a definite plan, but it is cheaper to use the experience of others than to buy one's own. We went over carefully several suggestions sent in to us before the meeting of the commission, and we stand ready to give every reasonable plan a hearing. But we will want a considerable amount of information still before our ideas will even begin to crystallize into anything approaching a decision.
"When we finally build the McKinley memorial every member of the commission wishes to see it at once a credit to Buffalo, an honor to the Empire State and a monument worthy of the man in memory of whose great life and martyr's death the structure is erected."