Midnight Romp Around the Hotel Lenox

Midnight Romp Around the Hotel Lenox

Text and photos by George Cassidy Payne

In a city known for its share of historical hotels — most destroyed by now — the Lenox stands out as a surviving relic of a more glamorous age. Dating back to 1896, it is the longest continuously run hotel in the city.

According to the hotel’s handsome website: “The operation began as a luxury-suite hotel for men and women of wealth, social refinement and prominence. They expected comfort and aristocratic accommodations while visiting the Pan American Exposition.”  Indeed, aristocrats and celebrities alike found what they were looking for at the Lenox. Among its most famous guests include a young F. Scott Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington in his prime, Harry Belafonte, and Henry Fonda.

Today, the hotel caters to less notables such as myself and my little family of three. Nevertheless, the building and everything associated with it (the Lenox Grill has 550 bottled varieties of beer) still oozes with charm, elegance, and mystique.

Situated on 140 North Street in the Allentown neighborhood, the Hotel Lenox was originally built as an apartment building. It was converted into a hotel in 1900. It offered an electric carriage service exclusively for its guests
Mansions surrounded the hotel back then and still do today. Across the street from the hotel stood the Metcalfe House (destroyed in 1980), which was designed by the prestigious architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White.


Our view from room 828. The elevator is slow, a bit jumpy, and drenched in the scent of yesteryear. Trust me, the ride up is worth it, as you can tell from this spectacular view of Buffalo’s skyline
When in Buffalo…after my wife and son tucked in for the night, I decided to take my camera and go for a little romp around the neighborhood.
Just around the corner stands the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. After McKinley was shot and killed in Buffalo, Roosevelt became one of only three president’s to be sworn in outside Washington, D.C.
Teddy looms large. Just as he did in life, this statue of Teddy Roosevelt captures the muscular, confident, always optimistic vitality of the 26th President of the United States. Over the years, Buffalo would continue to hold a special place in his heart.
“Teddy’s Roosevelt’s kin, FDR said, “When I come to Buffalo, I think that this city and your sister city of Detroit probably can be held up as examples of just what this country is striving for…in relations between all the nations of the world.”


Even if you don’t eat chicken wings, a stop at the Anchor Bar (home of the iconic food) is a must see cultural destination for any visitor to Buffalo. Less than a football throw away from the Lenox, the Anchor Bar has been serving up bar grub and solid jazz for decades.


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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