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Visiting the Town Hall, East Aurora, New York: castle-like building dating from 1899, formerly the Roycroft Chapel
Built partly from field stone by William Kelly
As one approaches this remarkable building in the herbaceous Main Street of East Aurora, New York, its castle-like features and solidity make one think that a piece of Medieval Europe is looming.
Some history and features
In fact it is the Town Hall of East Aurora, also known as the Roycroft Building, and contains the town's museum. Dating from 1899, the building was commissioned by Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)(1), whose Roycroft Arts and Crafts community attracted many furniture making artisans, potters and artists, inspired by the then recently deceased William Morris (1834-1896).
Previously the Town Hall building was a gathering place for the Roycroft Community and was known as the Chapel, in the sense of an association of workers in a particular trade.
The round tower, executed in field stone, is topped by crenelation, as is also the Gothic arch at the main entrance, also in field stone. Terra cotta roof tiling and facing was employed on the building. William Kelly accomplished the main building work.
Among the features of the interior of the building is noted woodwork in Flemish Oak.
Other buildings in East Aurora associated with the Roycroft Community include the Roycroft Inn, the Blacksmith Shop and the Print Shop.
The Roycroft complex as a whole, sometimes referred to as the Roycroft Campus, is designated a US National Historic Landmark. Some of the buildings have in recent years undergone a large program of refurbishment.
I have been a number of times to East Aurora; it is the sort of relaxed and quiet town to which the visitor interested in history will wish to return and is easily accessible from Buffalo and the I-90. While the castle-like features of the Town Hall date from the end of the 19th century, one almost gets the illusion that it is in fact much older, and from another time and place.
(1) Elbert Hubbard died tragically in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.
Also worth seeing
In East Aurora itself, the Millard and Abigail Fillmore House Museum is located in Shearer Avenue, residence of the (sometimes controversial) 13th President of the United States and First Lady; the house contains interesting period furniture and memorabilia; it is designated another of East Aurora's US National Historic Landmarks.
Buffalo (distance: 34.2 kilometres) has many noted buildings, which include the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site at 641 Delaware Avenue, and the imposing Art Deco City Hall.
How to get there: Continental Airlines flies from New York Newark to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where car rental is available. Buffalo, NY is linked with Albany, NY via the I-290 and I-90; from the I-90, RT400 links with East Aurora . From Canada, accessible via the Peace Bridge, the QEW links Fort Erie, ON with Hamilton and Toronto. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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