According to our Trustees records, the architect was Calvin Fay (1819-1890) of the Buffalo firm Fay and Barger. Lewis Barger was a carpenter. They maintained a shop and office in Buffalo. There are no records that we have found of any other building in Western New York designed by Fay, let alone still extant. However, it is clear that he was strongly influenced, if not mentored, by another Buffalo architect, Calvin Otis (1814-1883).

Otis had a national reputation and designed a number of churches in a Gothic Revival style. One of the most striking in its external similarity to First Presbyterian, Niagara Falls, is Grace Episcopal Church in Galena, Illinois, completed in 1849. It was built of limestone quarried on site and is the oldest Episcopal church in continuous use in the Diocese of Chicago. Another church that Otis designed in 1849 in Gothic Revival style, still extant, is Mariners’ Church in Detroit, in the National Register. This church has a coarse gray limestone structure with sandstone trim, and is the oldest stone church in Michigan. Like our church, it is gabled in front with corner towers. Calvin Otis in 1851 designed St. John’s Episcopal Church in Savannah, Georgia, another Gothic Revival style building still extant. He took Calvin Fay with him for that project; Fay was the architect who assisted in the design and supervised the construction. Unlike Otis, however, Fay stayed in Georgia.

The 1851-1852 Buffalo City Directory is the last one in which Fay is listed. He began to build a reputation in the South, with Italianate designs his forte. He submitted the winning design for the Lemuel P. Grant mansion in Atlanta, built in 1854-1856 in Italianate style. This is still extant, having survived General Sherman’s scorched earth policy because a Masonic apron was supposedly found there (Sherman was a Mason). (Famed golfer Bobby Jones was born there in 1902. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, loaned money so the mansion could become a museum.) In 1856, Fay partnered with Charles Sholl to design the state mental hospital (Powell Building) in Milledgeville, Georgia, in Greek Revival style.

During the Civil War, Fay actually served as an officer in the Confederate Army. After the war, he settled in Atlanta and held the office of building inspector while continuing his practice. In 1881, Calvin Fay took a young partner, Alfred S. Eichberg (1859-1921), and they designed a number of buildings in the South.

The Telfair Hospital for Women in Savannah, of Italianate style, was one of their notable buildings. In 1887, they designed the Central of Georgia Railway Building, now known as Eichberg Hall, which houses the Architecture Dept. of the Savannah College of Art and Design. This building had a large array of arched windows, described as “Early German Gothic”. In the late 1880’s, with Fay’s health declining, Eichberg was on his own.

Researched and written by John Goddard.
THE ARCHITECT AND BUILDER
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