Looking Backward: University of Buffalo Law School, 1949

by / May. 3, 2017 12am EST

Wielding a trowel, Chancellor Samuel P. Capen placed mortar for the cornerstone-laying of the University of Buffalo Law School at 77 West Eagle Street on February 18, 1949. This was the first building constructed for the purpose of housing the law school, but was not the first downtown location. Prior to 1973 and dating back to its founding in 1887, the Buffalo Law School had never been located on the university’s main campus. Its first downtown home was a single room of the Buffalo Central Library in 1888. When it became part of the University of Buffalo in 1891, it moved to an upper floor of the Stafford Building at 158 Pearl Street, then to the ninth floor of the Ellicott Square Building in 1896, and to the third and fourth floors of the Third National Bank at 275 Main Street in 1913. In 1917, the Law School purchased 77 West Eagle Street, which would be its address for more than 50 years. The 1949 building, pictured here at its completion, is now owned by Erie County and used for auxiliary court functions. The law school moved to the seven-story John Lord O’Brian Hall at the Amherst Campus in 1973. Stating the obvious, a Buffalo Courier Express noted in a July 5, 1973, article that the move meant “law students may find it harder to clerk in the offices of downtown law firms and judge’s offices, [and] will no longer have nearby physical access to the courts.”