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Archive for August, 2022

sprenger

Sprenger Avenue shown in red.

Sprenger Avenue runs between Doat Street and Genesee Street in the Schiller Park neighborhood of the East Side.  The Schiller Park neighborhood developed around picnic groves developed by German immigrants at Braun’s Grove (later Genesee Park) and Schiller Park.  Braun’s Grove (Genesee Park) is now the location of the George K Arthur Community Center.  Across Genesee Street, Schiller Park is 36 acres in size and officially became a park in 1912.  The park is named for German poet, historian and philosopher Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. During the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration built the Schiller Parks Pools and Locker House.  The Locker house still stands.  While the pools have been filled in, Schiller Park is home to one of Buffalo’s splash pads. Schiller Park is also home to the Schiller Park Senior Center.  Sprenger Avenue divides Schiller Park into two parts.    

Sprenger Avenue is named for Magdalena Sprenger Warner.  Mrs. Warner went by Laney/Lena and was the wife of Leopold Warner. When the street was coming through land that Leopold owned, they decided that since there were other Warner families in town, it would be more special to name it after Laney’s maiden name, Sprenger.

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Leopold Warner. Source: Buffalo Evening News.

Laney was born in Vienna, Austria in May 1822, daughter of Abraham and Lena Sprenger.  Leopold Warner was born in Bzenec in 1818.  Bzenec was part of the Austrian Empire at the time but is now part of the Czech Republic.  Laney and Leopold married on April 10,1842.  After the revolution of 1848, the Warners left Austria and settled in Utica, NY.  Their trip to America from Vienna took three months. They soon learned that Buffalo had greater promise than Utica and moved here in 1854.

Once in Buffalo, Laney helped her husband get his start in clothing.  She made men’s and boys caps which Leopold sold door to door in a reed basket.  Years later, at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1892, the basket was displayed, full of flowers instead of caps!

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Rendering of the Warner Bros Building on the Terrace. Source: Buffalo Morning Express.

In 1855, Leopold established Warner Brothers & Co. men’s clothing with his brothers Joseph and John.  They were one of the first clothing manufacturers in Buffalo.  They were first located at 41-43 Main, then expanded to Exchange Street and then to Pearl Street at the Terrace.  This area was a hub of clothing firms – in addition to Warner Brothers & Co, there were the firms of Henry J. Brock & Co, M. Wile & Co and Rothschilds Brothers. The business was successful and became the second largest wholesale clothing house in the city of Buffalo.  They sold products across the Northeast and also into some of the Southern states.  The firm had more than 1,200 employees.  

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Sketch of Fire at Warner Brothers Building on the Terrace. Source: Buffalo Courier.

The Warner Brothers building at Pearl and Terrace had a fire and in 1878 and another in 1891.  Both fires caused significant damage to the building and inventory.  Two fireman died in the blaze in 1891.  Warner Bros & Co started a relief fund for the benefit of the families of the fireman.  Warner Bros & Co was so large, it also operated at 72 – 76 Pearl Street, now better known as Pearl Street Grill and Brewery.   Leopold retired from the firm in 1878.  The business continued to be run by the Warner family and was renamed Kempner & Warner in 1895. 

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Warner Brothers & Co Clothing at 72 Pearl Street.  Now Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. Source: 1888 City Directory

The Warners lived on Scott Street through the 1850s and 60s.  Scott Street was a desirable residential area at the time due to its proximity to the lake.  The Warners had five sons and eight daughters.  Their daughter, Liddie, remembered running out of the house to see President Lincoln’s funeral procession pass down Perry Street.  She called it the saddest day of her childhood and recalled neighbors crying in the streets.  The Warner family later moved to 413 Michigan Street, now the location of the parking lot for the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital.  They lived on Michigan Street when the street was paved for the first time. Unfortunately, five of the children died in childhood.  Another son, Louis, died of typhoid fever a few weeks before he was to be married.  Louis Warner’s fiancée, Josephine Jellinek, died a few weeks later, on August 31, 1889, reportedly of a broken heart.  She was buried in the Warner family plot next to Louis on September 3rd, 1889, the day which they were to be married.  So heartbreaking!  

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Louis and Josephine’s graves in Forest Lawn.

In July 1885, the Warners moved to 132 Morgan (now South Elmwood).  The house was at the southwest corner of Huron and was originally built for Charles H Williams.  Mr. Williams was a banker and you may be familiar with Mr. Williams later house, still located at 690 Delaware Avenue (near Delaware and North). 

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Temple Beth Zion at 599 Delaware Avenue. Source: “Buffalo and Its Points of Interest – Illustrated”, NY Commercial Publishing Co, 1896.

The Warners were charter members of Temple Beth Zion.  Temple Beth Zion began as the Orthodox congregation of Beth Zion in 1850.  In 1864, the congregation embraced Reform Judaism and a new constitution was initiated, keeping the name.  The congregation worshiped in several former church spaces until they decided to construct a new temple.  The new Temple Beth Zion was designed by Edward Kent in the Byzantine style and opened located at 599 Delaware Avenue in 1890.  Delaware Avenue at this time was considered Millionaire’s Row.  The choice of a property along Delaware Avenue and the use of society architect Kent was a way for the members of Temple Beth Zion to take their place in Buffalo society.  Most of the members had been Central European immigrants the generation before.  During the dedication of the new Temple, Leopold lit the perpetual lamp, known as ner tamid in Hebrew, a fixture in nearly all Jewish places of worship.  The lamp was dedicated by the Warners in remembrance of their son, Louis, who had passed away shortly before the temple dedication.  It is reported that the lamp is still hanging in the Temple.  Leopold was a charter member and Vice President of Temple Beth Zion for 25 years.  

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Current Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware

After 70 years in their temple, Temple Beth Zion suffered a devastating fire in 1961 that gutted their building.  There was debate about whether to move from the city into the suburbs.  Many other other religious communities were doing so at the time, as Western New York suburbanized.  In 1963, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to remain a city-based congregation and remain in the city.  The new Temple Beth Zion at 805 Delaware was completed in 1967, designed by Max Abramovitz.  The modern, brutalist architecture of the Temple creates an open and light-filled sanctuary.  The ten sides of the building represent the ten commandments.  There is a large amount of symbolism throughout the building and it is considered to be a midcentury architectural treasure of Buffalo.  Temple Beth Zion remains one of the oldest and largest Reform congregations in the country, and the largest Jewish Congregation in Western New York.

After retiring from Warner Brothers & Co, Leopold was involved with real estate throughout the city.  Mr. Warner was one of the largest land holders in the city of Buffalo.On July 29, 1885, the Evening Telegraph reported in a Town Talk column that “Leopold Warner is gradually buying up the whole town.”  

Laney Warner spoke English, but enjoyed reading German authors.  The family were active in many organizations in early Buffalo, such as the Young Men’s Association, the predecessor of Buffalo Public Library.  They attended many plays at the Academy Theatre, which was located on Main Street between Seneca and Swan Streets.  

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Warner Grave in Forest Lawn.

The Warners were considered to be generous and charitable.  Mr. Warner refused to foreclose on a mortgage on a house he owned on Sprenger Avenue because the owner had a family and Leopold refused to leave them homeless.  Leopold was president of the Jewish Benevolent Association and founded the Jewish Orphanage in Rochester in 1878.  The Orphanage served children of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.  In 1892, he left an endowment of $5,025 (approximately $159,650 in today’s dollars) to the orphanage to provide $150 ($4,765 today) to each girl in the orphanage to serve as a marriage dowry for the orphan girls. 

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Laney Warner’s Grave in Forest Lawn.

Mr. Warner died in March 1900.  He is buried in the family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Laney Warner died on May 13, 1910 and is buried next to her husband.  

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Don’t forget there are still tours coming this season!  The next tour will be Discover Lower Main on Sunday August 14th at 1pm, meeting outside of Tim Hortons at Main & Scott Street (near Canalside).  Feel free to just show up!  For more info and additional dates, click here.  Hope to see some of you soon!

 

Sources:

“Sprenger Avenue Given Name to Honor Wife of Area Owner”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  June 9, 1940, p.8W.

“Death of Leopold Warner”.  Buffalo Evening News.  March 21, 1900, p16.

“The Late Leopold Warner”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  March 25, 1900, p6.

“Synagogues/Temple Beth Zio”.  Jewish Buffalo History Center.  https://jewishbuffalohistory.org/synagogues/temple-beth-zion/

“Thrice Married, Thrice Blessed – Golden Wedding at Concert Hall”.  Buffalo Courier.  April 11, 1892, p5.

“Another Good Block.  The Fine Business Structure Which Warner Bros & Co Are Erecting”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  October 14, 1888, p12.  

 

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