Return to Current Exhibit

Christopher Kelly, Director

About the Karpeles - Buffalo


The Karpeles Museum building was purchased on August 7, 1995 after many months of negotiations.

The enormous building needed over $2,000,000.00 in extensive rebuilding including a new modern high power electrical service, a new main heating boiler system, and much more - even creating moulds to replace lost ornate pillar capitols. The first task of removing truckloads of pigeon droppings took over two months. Even some of the huge and ornate copper roof gutters were duplicated and replaced.

Finally on December 18, 1996, the first provisional exhibit was installed while work proceeded. The work had continued for over 3 years until October 1998 when the first phase of the rebuilding was finished and a permanent occupancy permit was applied for. Many additional tasks remain (such as the repair of the leaded glass window 'paintings', some over 4" thick). Meanwhile, in addition to our exhibit in the main exhibit halls, the Buffalo Symphony, our next door neighbor, is currently holding auditions in the museums smaller auditoriums.

After forming in 1850 and congregating in smaller churches, the Plymouth Methodist Church commissioned C. K. Porter to build the current structure at 435 Porter Avenue. Started in 1908, it was completed in 1911. The congregation continued its presence until its dissolution in 1968 because of decreased membership. The church was then donated to another congregation, then it too collapsed.

Fortunately, through the lobbying of numerous community groups, talks of demolition ceased and in 1989 the building was designated a City of Buffalo Historic Landmark. However, even with it's status, it remained vacant until 1996.

ARCHITECTURE Designed to mimic a medieval church both inside and out, the structure creates a dominating and fascinating location for the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. The rough textured building contrasts with its vibrant red roof tiles and 25 foot picture windows. The cavernous interior is characterized by many bays, wings and a massive room divider. Furthermore, it's atypical asymmetric design compliments the triangular corner lot.