In his 2016 travelogue Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation’s Leaders, author Brady Carlson says that no city except Washington D.C has more connections to the Office of the President of the United States than Buffalo, New York!
Buffalo and Western New York have served as: the home of Presidents Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland; the birthplace of First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland; the site of the assassination of President William McKinley; the inaugural site of President Theodore Roosevelt; and, has been visited by 36 of the 44 U.S. President before, during and/or after their presidency dating back to William Henry Harrison’s visit in 1813. In addition our region has fascinating connections to presidential candidates (Belva Lockwood, Shirley Chisholm, Jack Kemp, William Miller), Supreme Court justices, (Robert L Jackson, John Roberts), a World Bank president (Barber Conable), and many other exceptional Western New Yorkers who have influenced the political history of the United States.
The Buffalo Presidential Center (BPC) is a 501c3 non-profit organization chartered by the State of New York Department of Education to encourage the study, exploration, interpretation and public awareness of Buffalo and Western New York’s historic and contemporary contributions to the U.S. Presidency and national affairs. Since 2010 we have presented over 120 public programs including speakers’ series, panel discussions, historical reenactments and exhibitions to audiences throughout the Western New York region. Until now, the BPC has operated without a permanent home space, relying instead on the collaboration and generosity of other local and regional organizations for a place to gather our audiences and display selections from our collection of more than 10,000 political artifacts.
2020 marks the beginning of the second decade of programming and a major turning point for the BPC. With the support of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County Legislature, and the Buffalo & Erie County Library, we have transformed previously unfinished storage space in the Central Branch of the library in downtown Buffalo into a place where Western New Yorkers and other visitors can attend programs, view permanent and rotating exhibits, conduct research and share stories about Buffalo presidential history.
With 1700 square feet of exhibit space as well as storage and work/meeting rooms, the BPC’s programming will more visible and accessible to school groups, Buffalo history enthusiasts and presidential history scholars than it has been in our first decade.
BPC is investing in the future of our region by creating this venue to tell the stories not only of Buffalo/WNY’s rich political history, but also the stories that will evolve as each new generation of national leaders emerges from our community.