In 1934, when it was determined a music hall was to be built, and it was assumed the much experienced and local architect, Edward B. Green would get the job. In 1935, Green submitted a neoclassical design combining the styles of Symphony Hall in Boston and Severance Hall in Cleveland. Green planned to have the hall attached to the Museum of Science. It was later decided the hall would be constructed at the site of Truman Avery's mansion (to be demolished) on the circle at Richmond and Porter Avenues (known as Symphony Circle).
George F. Rand, the chairman of the Buffalo Foundation (the Kleinhans' executors), liked the works of local architects and brothers, F.J. and William Kidd. (The Kidd brothers designed Buffalo's Rand Building, built in 1929 and located at Lafayette Square). In May 1938, the brothers were hired as architects for the music hall. However, their designs were criticized by Esther Link who had been shown the Kidd drawings by Buffalo Foundation lawyer, Edward P. Letchworth. Link, without any formal architectural education, was a high school music teacher who travelled Europe and had a strong background with architects and artists. She was an admirer of architect Eliel Saarinen particularly for his design of the central railroad terminal in Helsinki. In July 1938, upon Letchworth's request, Link drafted a letter detailing her passion for Saarinen's work and the future of Kleinhans music hall. The Buffalo Foundation agreed to offer Saarinen the position of consultant. Saarinen declined. Letchworth did not want to undermine Rand and the Kidd brothers. In September 1938, Letchworth met with Saarinen and his son Eero, and the Kidd Firm. They all agreed that Saarinen would be "designing architect" while Kidd would oversee the project. Saarinen quickly submitted his design one month later.
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
Four months after the city was rocked by the Buffalo riot, on November 10, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King visited Buffalo and in a speech titled "The Future of Integration" before about 2,500 persons and sponsored by the Graduate Student Association at the University of Buffalo proclaimed: "We are moving toward the day when we will judge a man by his character and ability instead of by the color of his skin."
KLEINHANS MUSIC HALL: A FATE LINKED TO PHILHARMONIC ARCHITECTURALLY, IT'S PART OF BUFFALO'S VERY BEST, BUT WITH NO ORCHESTRA INSIDE, IT HAS LITTLE MEANING
Aug 26, 1995; THE NAME -- Kleinhans Music Hall -- says it all. The architecturally and acoustically magnificent facility was designed for music...