The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was central to Buffalo, NY’s most significant era of growth and prosperity, and is a lasting symbol of American turn-of-the-century innovation and ingenuity. The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum is proud to share with you our unique collection, which honors and preserves the company's long and prestigious history.
DISCOVER THE LEGACY
Buffalo-made cars and cycles are considered among the finest ever crafted. The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum celebrates the region’s transportation history with displays of antique vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame, toys, signs, and historic automobilia unlike any other in the world. The collection focuses significantly on the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company and the E.R. Thomas Motor Company—considered by car collecting experts to be among the top 10 best vehicles ever produced.
The Museum was established in 1997 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) by founders Jim and Mary Ann Sandoro. Housed in downtown Buffalo in a building that was once a Mack Truck showroom, our collection represents a passion spanning more than 45 years. We’ve devoted ourselves to preserving and showcasing this exhilarating legacy. We invite you to come along for the ride.Plan Your Visit
AN ORNAMENT TO THE PAVEMENT
By the 1920s, Frank Lloyd Wright had designed a number of prominent homes and buildings in Western New York. Wright strongly believed that the automobile would replace the train as the daily form of transportation. He therefore sought a commission from local Larkin Company executives Darwin Martin and William R. Heath to develop a new gas station that would revolutionize the way we filled our tanks.
Wright's "Ornament to the Pavement," as he called it, had a number of unique features. There was a second story observation room with a fireplace, restrooms, a copper roof, two 37 foot poles (Wright called "totems"), overhead gravity-fed gas distribution system, and attendant quarters with a second fireplace.
Originally designed for the corner of Michigan Ave. and Cherry St. in downtown Buffalo, Wright's drawings would be left in the archives until 2002, when Pierce Arrow Museum founder Jim Sandoro and architect Patrick Mahoney Museum traveled to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ to locate anything related to the Buffalo Filling Station. They found Wright's renderings and notes, and rights to build from drawings were secured.
The Car of Presidents
Pierce-Arrows were the official vehicle for presidents from Howard Taft to FDR—and the automobile of choice for John D. Rockefeller, Orville Wright, Babe Ruth and J. Edgar Hoover—the remains of whose bullet proof Pierce-Arrow is on display at the Museum.
The Wright Room
The station is situated inside a 30,000 square foot atrium addition that features a high ceiling to accommodate the totems and a suspended neon Tydol sign. The Filling Station was honored with a Copper in Architecture Award in 2014.
Wright's design for the station called for overhead gas pumps that eliminated the need for pump islands. Gas bells were designed to hang from the cantilevered canopy of the station, and gas was gravity fed.