Torn-Down Tuesday: Elmwood Avenue’s Kittinger Factory, 1999

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Kittinger Furniture was a Buffalo institution — and a family institution — for a century. From 1866 to 1966, the Kittinger family ran the business which created handcrafted, world-renowned pieces which wound up famously in places like the White House.

Buffalo News archives

Even after the family sold the company in 1966, the Elmwood Avenue factory continued to turn out handmade furnishings. The towering sign erected high above the immense 193,000 square foot factory was a North Buffalo landmark just north of Elmwood and Hertel for generations.

The company changed hands several times through the ’80s and ’90s, and in 1995, the factory closed as Kittinger filed for bankruptcy. Former Kittinger employee Ray Bialkowski eventually bought the name and continued the tradition of artisans creating fine tables, chairs, desks and other furnishings — but doing so on a smaller scale, he didn’t need so much space.

A Kittinger artisan at work, mid 1970s. (Buffalo News archives)

After buying the North Buffalo building in 1998 for $600,000, Benderson Development razed the factory in 2000. In the years since, a bank and a gym were built in its place.

 

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.