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The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court
Reference Number 13000305
State New York
County Erie
Town Buffalo
Street Address Parkside Avenue & Amherst Street
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 5/22/2013
Areas of Significance Landscape Architecture, Ethnic Heritage
Link to full file
The Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court is significant in the areas of landscape architecture and ethnic heritage as an important and extremely rare surviving design by early twentieth century African America landscape architect John Edmonston Brent (1889-1962). Brent, one of a small group of African Americans to work as both a landscape architect and an architect in the 1930s, completed the design for the entrance court in two stages between 1935 and 1938 as part of an overall expansion and redesign of the zoo. The Buffalo Zoo, the third oldest (1875) zoo in America, originated as part of Fredrick Law Olmsted's design for a municipal park system. In Olmstead's plan, the area that is now the zoo was a deer park in the northeast corner of Delaware Park. Spurred on by local donations of animals, the deer park developed rapidly into a zoo between 1875 and 1930, attracting great community interest and precipitating the founding of the Zoological Society of Buffalo in 1931. A basic conceptual outline for the zoo was developed in 1924 by Buffalo city architect Harold L. Beck; however, the details and construction of the plan were not implemented until WPA funds were secured in 1935 after Beck's retirement. The person most responsible for implementing and developing the plan was architect and landscape architect John Edmonston Brent, who, as an employee of the Buffalo Parks Department, worked on design, planning, and implementation of more than sixteen facilities and exhibits at the zoo from 1935 until his retirement in 1957. Brent played a major role in transforming the layout of the zoo from an outline into an elaborately detailed neoclassical garden influenced by the City Beautiful movement. Of Brent's sixteen documented projects, the majority have been demolished or substantially altered. The nominated property, intended to serve as a major entrance to the zoo at the northeast corner, represented Bren's substantial enlargement and elaboration of what had been a simple entrance road in this location. Brent dignified the corner with a fully developed neoclassical composition, including two entrance drives with cobblestone curbs leading to a formal traffic circle and two entrance gates. The composition was framed by a monumental stonefaced and wrought-iron fence; another section of fencing incorporated an open shelter along the edge of Parkside Avenue. The entrance court fencing was constructed of a variety of materials, including cast concrete, cast stone, limestone, sandstone and wrought iron. Although the composition was classical in form and composition, the materials were used to create a eclectic design embodying rusticated, arts and crafts and even Art Deco elements.


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