Ellsworth M Statler built his first hotel in 1907, “Hotel Statler” which later was changed to “Hotel Buffalo”. It was located at the corner of Washington and Swan Street, where the bison’s stadium currently stands. It was the first major hotel to have a private bath or shower and running water in every room. Statler calculated that, if he eliminated the large communal baths on each floor and efficiently designed a
plumbing structure to provide for a bath in each room (shower or bathtub, depending on the room rate), he would spend only 30%
more. And, if he filled the rooms at a higher rate than his competitors without private baths, he would make money. He was correct. The engineering was ground-breaking, instantly establishing Statler as the “father of the American Hotel Industry.”
In 1923 the new Hotel Statler was completed with the grand opening on May 19, 1923. The hotel was designed as English Renaissance Revival. It was to be 265 feet tall, 18 stories, employing 900 people and capable of serving 5,000 meals daily. Statler planned for the future domination of his hotel by building it with 1,100 rooms, more than all the other Buffalo hotels combined.
For most of last century, Buffalo’s Statler was the first name in hospitality between New York and Chicago. The crown jewel of Ellsworth Statler’s empire, the Statler building hosted Hollywood legends, world leaders and the events of Western New York’s finest families. Rooms were originally available at what seemed a very cheap price, leading many other hoteliers to predict the failure of the Buffalo hotel. The opening night price was as low as $1.50 for a guest room, leading to the slogan “A Room and a Bath for a Dollar and a Half”. Unfortunately, the hotel gradually converted to offices in 1948 due to the lack of people in the city to properly vacate the hotel. In 1954, the Hilton Hotel chain purchased the Statler Hotels
In 1984 the last of the hotel rooms were closed and the hotel was renamed the “Statler towers”. A renovation attempt into condos failed in 2000 and the building went into bankruptcy.
Mark D Croce acquired the building in 2011 renaming it “Statler City”. He renovated the lowers floors and the upper floors have plans to be refurbished and set to open in the future.
Owner Mark Croce mentioned, “It was on the brink of having to wear rain coats inside. There were inches of water in the ballrooms, the ceilings were shot, and sections of the floors were buckling. I don’t think that anyone quite understands the condition of the building at the time. Developers would walk in and walk away. We caught it in the nick of time. In another month or two, the mold would have taken hold. After that even I wouldn’t have taken it.”
Today, Statler’s historic backdrop meets modern class as Statler City brings back the grandeur of the building as Buffalo’s Premier Special Event Destination.