Buffalo in the ’50s: The suburban splendor of Hens & Kelly

By Steve Cichon

Today, the thought driving to the corner of Main and Transit might conjure up thoughts of sprawl for as far as the eye can see married with seemingly endless traffic. Sixty years ago that same view — as seen in the Transitown Plaza parking lot here — was more like the summit of suburban living and all the newness that Buffalo had to offer.

Buffalo News archives

This late ’50s H&K photo (above) is from the same time period as this ad (below) announcing Hens & Kelly’s 67thanniversary (and subsequent sale.)

Matthias Hens and Patrick Kelly opened Hens & Kelly in downtown Buffalo in 1892. The store remained in local hands until the late 1960s, when it was bought by Sperry & Hutchinson, the S&H Green Stamps people.

The original downtown location is now known as “The Mohawk Building.” The Transitown Plaza location is now home to TJ Maxx. When the Abbott Road location opened in 1951, Lackawanna’s LB Smith Plaza was the largest shopping plaza in Western New York. Today, it is anchored by Save-A-Lot. The Bailey Avenue location was next to the Kensington Expressway.

In the 1970s, the chain was purchased by Twin Fair. All Hens & Kelly location closed their doors when Twin Fair disappeared in 1982.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.