Family Left Legacy in Syracuse
Joseph Silsbee designed this building one year after his Syracuse Savings Bank
was completed on Clinton Square. It, too, is in High Victorian Gothic style,
here with a detailed polychrome facade.
The authors of
Architecture Worth Saving say of the building, "...the White Memorial
Building was built not only as a place of business but an ornament to the city."
(Click thumbnail image for
Source: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey (from Onondaga Historical Association), HABS,NY,34-SYRA,20-1
Download 1876 high-resolution image (17 meg.)
Architecture Worth Saving continues:
"The steep 'French' slate roof surmounted by iron railings, the pointed arches
over the third story windows, the decorative bands of black and sand-colored
brick contrasting with the dark red brick background, were described admiringly
in the papers of the time. The Washington Street (Vanderbilt Square) entrance is
one of the most elaborate examples of its kind. The store front, facing both
Washington and Salina Streets, is still in original condition; segmented arches
over leaded glass surmounting the show windows, black painted wood panels
"This fine building was designed with such care and skill that it has been able
to remain in use since its completion without its commercial exterior being
renovated, unlike almost all of its neighbors including many much more recently
built. Occupying one of the most prominent corners in the shopping distrcit, it
lends that area a certain old fashioned dignity generally lacking in all but our
The 1876 inscription above the front door reads: "As a memorial of Horace and Hamilton White,
replacing one in which they were engaged in business for many years,
is erected by their children."
Five stores were planned for the first floor, two fronting on Salina Street and
three on Washington Street.
The second flood was devoted to the Syracuse National Bank, founded by the
Whites. The banking rooms were on the Washington Street side, the president's
office was on the corner, the other private offices took up the remainder of the
second floor. The bank vaults were at the rear of the bank and over the
The third and fourth floors were office space. The fifth floor, under the
mansard roof, was probably used as a Masonic Hall.
There was an hydraulic elevator, installed by C. Kassen of Buffalo.
Compared to the 1880 photo, the 1962 photo captures a much dingier White Memorial building.
polychrome patterns are obscured by years of railroad soot -- for decades coal burning trains passed
right in front of the building. The University
Building now towers over it on the east. Four new windows have been cut into the
mansard roof at the front of the building.
Howe Jewelers was a long-term tenant of the White building, occupying the first
floor from 1895 until the 1970's (click 'Other Pictures' below to see the
In the 1960's Chappell's Department Store occupied half of the first floor;
installing a "modern" facade over the northeast corner.
The Chappell's store continued to the rear, emerging again in the building next door, just south on Salina, where
they also installed a modern facade and painted over the brick
The 2001 photo shows the results of an extensive 1984 restoration. The original contrasting
patterns of the facade are once again visible, the awnings are back and the
first floor Chappell's facade has been removed to reveal the original design.
Other Pictures of the White