Frank Lloyd Wright wedding chapel expected to be approved for Buffalo Grand

May 21, 2019

Developer Harry Stinson's plan for a re-creation of a Frank Lloyd Wright wedding chapel took another step forward Monday, even if he had to go into the water first.

The site of Stinson's Buffalo Grand Hotel at 120 Church Street is within a waterfront zone, which means the city Planning Board had to approve construction in a coastal area. But Stinson expects to approve the main plan in two weeks.

The developer said the towering needle on top of the planned building means it will be seen from the Niagara Section of the Thruway, an attraction to customers.

Architect Patrick Mahoney said the planned chapel and landscaping is not much of an addition to the hotel in size.

"It's about a 1 1/2 percent increase in size, so it's for a non-denominational wedding chapel," Mahoney said. "This chapel is based on a design that was done in 1957 by Frank Lloyd Wright."

The chapel in various versions was intended for a hotel in Berkeley, CA but never built. This design includes landscaping, which requires a zoning variance to allow a fountain to be installed below the current parking lot level.

The chapel will also include rooms and a hallway from a Wright-designed and now greatly altered home in Minneapolis, purchased from the company that did major demolition. The rooms will be for bridal prep.

"With that, we're proposing, at the same time, opposite this wedding chapel, on the opposite side of this hallway that goes down the front of the hotel, a small area where wedding parties can prepare for their wedding in these two bedrooms and hallway."

The Canadian developer said by the end of this year, he wants to wedding chapel open and the common space and all 500 rooms rehabbed to his image for his Buffalo Grand.

"It also sort of reinforces the idea of the hotel as a destination for events," said Stinson. "The other thing is that it's such an architectural landmark. It's a selfie place and that's something very important to buildings now. Pictures. People don't read anything anymore. They look at pictures. They take a selfie and this would be a perfect one for it."