92 Franklin Street
Hours: VIP Access: 9:00 am/General Public: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Last Admittance: 4:30 pm
Filming NOT allowed
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Public restrooms: Yes
Offering: Self-guided tours
Visitor Experience: Visitors experiencing Old County Hall will have the opportunity to observe the primary home for the judicial and legislative branches of government in Erie County, including the Erie County Legislative Chambers, the New York State Supreme Court Ceremonial Courtroom, the Erie County Surrogate’s Court Courtroom. The Erie County Surrogate’s Court Courtroom was the location of the 1901 trial of Leon Czolgosz, President William McKinley’s assassin. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see where President McKinley laid in state in the first floor lobby.
Building Description: Old County Hall, located at 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York houses the Erie County Legislature, Erie County Clerk’s Office, the New York State Supreme Court and Erie County Surrogate’s Court.
Construction for this historic building began in 1871, six years after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The building was dedicated in 1876 and constructed at a cost of $1,450,000. The project was originally undertaken to consolidate the function of City and County government in one location. The site had been known as the Franklin Square Cemetery, a burial plot for soldiers of the War of 1812.
The building was designed in the late Victorian Romanesque architectural style as a double Roman cross.
One of the highlights of the building is the clock and bell tower, which rises to a height of 268 feet. At each corner of the of the tower there are four statues cut from 30 ton blocks of granite. Each statue is 16 feet tall and weighs 16 tons. Justice stands at the northeast corner. Agriculture stands at the southeast corner. Mechanical stands at the northwest corner, and Commerce stands at the southwest corner. The statues were designed by a renowned artist, Giovanni F. Sala, an Italian immigrant.
The clock, restored in 2015, was manufactured by E. Howard Co. of Boston, Massachusetts. The 9 foot 3 inch diameter dials were originally backlit with reflected gas light. The clock had numeral 15 feet high, a 4 foot 3 inch hand, a 3 foot hour hand, a 4,700 pound bell, a 190 pound trip hammer and a 14 foot 3 inch pendulum. A half-ton weight used to drive the mechanism had to be raised by two men every 8 days. Most of the original clock and bell mechanisms remain intact.
The building is listed as a National Historic Landmark.