H. A. Meldrum Company Building (The Antonio)
The Meldrum name remains etched into the brick on the top floors of what is now The Antonio luxury apartment building.
Backstory and Context
Opened in 1909, H. A. Meldrum Company Building is a historic eight-story department store building, built as an addition to the Meldrum department store located a few blocks away. However, the 1909 structure is the only survivor of the successful H. A. Meldrum Company, which operated from 1897 to 1922.
By 1880, roughly 55 years after the opening of the Erie Canal that connected New York City to the Great Lakes through Buffalo, the population of Buffalo had expanded from 1,500 in the early nineteenth century to 155,000. The population exceeded 350,000 by the turn of the century as the city's street-car suburbs developed in association with a residential building boom throughout the metro area. In 1896, Buffalo and its suburbs reaped the benefits of hydroelectric power generated at Niagra Falls. One year later, the H. A. Meldrum Company established its business serving both city residents and those who commuted to the city from the suburbs.
The concept of the department store emerged in New York City during the 1860s, but its popularity grew substantially around the turn of the century in association with the rise in consumer culture and ease for which items were mass-produced and shipped during the Second Industrial Revolution. Department stores evolved into businesses that not only made goods readily available but turned shopping into a recreational activity.
Herbert Alexander Meldrum (1870-1960) was the son of Alexander Meldrum, a prominent Buffalo businessperson and founder of Adam, Meldrum & Anderson (AM&A), Buffalo's largest and most well-known department store for more than 125 years. Herbert Meldrum worked for his father until 1897, when he decided to open his own store. By 1898, Herbert introduced the first automobile delivery service -- using an electric car -- in Buffalo. In 1906, he brought attention to his store when he sponsored the city's first power-propelled airship flight, which landed on the H.A. Meldrum and Company Building roof. His company grew so successful that Meldrum decided to add to his company's original five-story store located on Main Street.
During the 1910s, he also served for seven years as a member of the Buffalo State Hospital board of managers, Chamber of Commerce president for three terms (starting in 1913), the first American Savings Bank president (established 1907), and then its chairman of the board. Typical of wealthy entrepreneurs and elites during the Gilded Age, he also belonged to numerous social clubs.
The company remained in the historic building address until financial issues forced Meldrum to go into receivership in 1922. As a result, the Meldrum company sold the store and all of its assets to the E.W. Edwards & Sons Company, an established merchant based in Rochester and Syracuse. Edwards & Sons remained in the building until 1952. Thus, from 1909 to 1952, the structure functioned as a popular shopping center. But, from 1952 to the early twenty-first century, the building enjoyed a much less exciting history. Finally, in 2013, an expansive renovation project breathed new life into the historic building, converting int into a luxury apartment complex (The Antonio) on the top seven floors with the bottom floor used as commercial space.
"Latest National Register Landmark: The Meldrum-Edwards Building." Buffalo Rising (blog). buffalorising.com. July 3, 2013. https://www.buffalorising.com/2013/07/latest-national-register-landmark-the-meldrum-edwards-building/.
"The Antonio." https://www.ellicottdevelopment.com/portfolio/the-antonio/
Traynor, Kerry and Daniel McEneny. "Nomination Form: H. A. Meldrum Company Building." nps.gov. May 29, 2013. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000330.pdf