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Wildroot Building

  At Risk      High Risk      For Sale
WildrootBuffalo, TBN, Mike Puma ViewsOfBuffalo, BYP


1740 Bailey Avenue Buffalo, NY 14211
Google Bird's Eye View
Lovejoy Council District
SBL: 101.72-4-22
Erie County Property Info
County Tax Map (loads GIS page)
City of Buffalo Parcel Viewer

Across from: Empire State Bottling Warehouse
Near: National Grid 036
Across the tracks: American Brake Shoe & Foundry Co., NY Central West Shore Roundhouse, Pullman Co. Roundhouse, Wagner Palace / Pulman Car Complex, Pristachs Tavern


John Uban per City of Buffalo Property Information
NYS Corporation and Business Entity Database

Physical Description

100k sq.ft three story facility with brick facade.

81,384 sq.ft. reinforced concrete warehouse (1929)
17,655 sq.ft. steel post and beam office building with concrete floors (1946)

Current Condition

The building is empty. The first floor entrances have been secured via volunteer and EPA efforts. Some upper windows are covered, others remain open. The City did some facade brick removal in one corner of the original warehouse in 2011. There is still some railroad track on the property from a former train spur. Stairways are steel and in great shape. The roof is in fair condition, but water has entered from uncapped vent piping and ruined some wood flooring that sat atop the thick concrete floors. Parking lot is paved and fenced. Bailey entrance was partially modified with construction of a new Bailey bridge in the 1980s, which is higher than the original one. EPA performed interior and exterior clean-up of any industrial contaminants in October 2014.


  • Mid-1800s - Joseph Doll's family ran a general store and saloon out of their farmhouse at 535 Walden Avenue.
  • 1882 - Doll sold the southern portion of his farm to West Shore Railroad. He then subdivided the remaining farm for housing - Fay, May, and St. Joseph's streets (the name of his daughter, granddaughter, and patron saint).
  • 1909 - The Wildroot company began in the Iroquois Hotel by two barbers mixing dandruff shampoo for their customers.
  • 1911-1918 - The company went from just a home kitchen, to operating from the Caxton Building and the Sidway Building
  • 1919 - The company expands to a production facility at 1490 Jefferson Avenue
  • 1929 - J.W. Hines convinced his national bakery company, Grennan, to build the largest cake kitchen in the world on the east side of Buffalo. The warehouse on Fay street cost more than $1 million to construct and equip by 1930.
  • 1940s - The Wildroot Company grew to become the largest hair tonic manufacturer in the world.
  • 1946 - Wildroot took over the former bakery and connected two warehouses on Fay with a second story bridge. Wildroot also constructed a three story administration building that connected the original warehouse to Bailey Avenue.
  • 1957 - Wildroot expands third floor and adds another production line in light of overwhelming sales.
  • 1959 - Wildroot CEO Harry Lehman, an initial investor and president since 1914, retired and died in the same year. The Wildroot business was sold to Colgate-Palmolive.
  • 1961 - Colgate Palmolive closes the plant and moves production out of town, despite being highly profitable in Buffalo.
  • 1962-1982 - The building was used by Transparent Bag Company (1st floor) and Truly Magic Products (TMP, 2-3rd floors)
  • 1989 - SCI Development purchased the complex for redevelopment into office and warehouse space. They performed various interior and exterior work and arranged for the city to remove the 2nd floor bridge between the two warehouses on Fay.
  • 1995 - The Wildroot brand was sold to Stephan Co. of Florida, who continues to produce hair products under the Wildroot name.

Recent Actions Taken

  • 2012 - City of Buffalo website lists endangered industrial sites, including Wildroot
  • July 2012 - City Hall Permit and Inspections office confirms that no demolition contract is out for the structure
  • August 2012 - City Hall contacted for ownership contact info
  • Oct 2012 - Facebook page created to catalog history of the company/building and search for additional information
  • Jan 2013 - Large graffiti marks made on exterior walls of West Shore courtyard.
  • March 2013 - Local landmark application prepared
  • May 2013 - Building profiled in Buffalo Spree magazine
  • July 2013 - Replacement fence gate constructed from donated parts to prevent additional illegal dumping
  • August 2013 - Clean-up process begins on Fay Street sidewalk
  • September 2013 - Fundraiser for mothballing process profiled on Buffalo Rising
  • October 9, 2013 - Views of Buffalo announces board-up project
  • October 12, 2013 - Board-up/Clean-up event to help secure/weatherize the building.
  • October 2013 - Wildroot Building pulled from City Tax Auction list, preventing any interested buyers from seeing it as available or making a purchase.
  • November 19, 2013 - Councilman Rich Fontana confirms that the building is known to be structurally sound, although it does have some facade/appearance concerns for the City
  • December 29, 2013 - The Buffalo News profiles efforts to save the building
  • April 2014 - Buffalo Spree profiles this year's BYP Heart Bomb initiative with a photo of activists in front of Wildroot
  • July 2014 - Photos and historic research submitted to SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) to consider the building for National Register Eligibility
  • August 7, 2014 - A city inspector called the DEC, which called the EPA down to Wildroot. The EPA is performing a study of the site to identify any industrial contamination and evaluate a possible clean-up.
    • Other industrial sites, such as Houdaille, have recently been cleaned by the EPA and re-marketed by the city. Instead, the city intends to use this as their first step in demolition, 'unless a buyer can be found.' However, the City does not currently own the building, and has yet to specify any conditions to make the purchase.
  • September 2, 2014 - 'Final Notice. Notice to Remove Personal Property due to imminent demolition of said building' sign placed on building by Commissioner
  • October 13, 2014 - EPA clean-up scheduled to begin
  • January 2015 - New York State Historic Preservation Office (S.H.P.O.) determines that the building is eligible for inclusion on the historic register. A developer can apply for its listing, which would lead to a 40% historic tax credit on renovations.
  • August 1, 2015 - BYP-scheduled community clean up event scheduled. 10am-2pm, tools provided, all welcome.
  • October 2015 - NY SHPO has found the building to be eligible for inclusion in the federal and state Registers of Historic Places.
    From their letter: "We have received your "Request for Evaluation of State and National Registers Eligibility" for the Wildroot Building in Buffalo. Based on the documentation provided and our preliminary analysis, the building appears to be eligible for the State/National Registers of Historic Places in the areas of industry and commerce. The attached Resource Evaluation by Jennifer Walkowski provides a statement of significance for the building. It is my understanding that you have made your best effort to try to find the current owner of the property as the owner indicated on the tax records, John Urban, passed away in 2011. For now, we are sending a copy of our letter and Resource Evaluation to the Estate of John Urban."
    "This is an evaluation of eligibility only. Properties cannot be listed without the consent of the owner. Eligibility or listing on the Registers offers a measure of protection under federal and New York State historic preservation laws. It does not prohibit a property owner from making changes, selling, or even demolishing a property with private funds. The New York State Division for Historic Preservation provides consultation when public money or permitting is associated with a historic property. The purposes of the Register program are to document and recognize sites of cultural significance in communities; and to quality properties for potential grant programming and tax credit incentives for rehabilitation."
  • April 2016 - Wildroot has been selected to the Preservation League of NY's Seven to Save list. This exclusive list selects only 7 buildings statewide once every two years. Wildroot was the only industrial property picked, as well as the only building from Western New York. Its unique character and heritage is now receiving a state-wide audience.
  • October 2016 - Reportedly purchased at auction by an out of town owner who may just be squatting on the property.

Other Pertinent Facts

  • Eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the NYS Historic Preservation Office
  • In 1951, a part owner of Wildroot created the Wildroot Foundation with a portion of his company stock.
    • per WNY Foundation:
    • Through astute subsequent investment of these Foundation's assets, the renamed Western New York Foundation began 50 plus years of support for the entire WNY non-profit community. Over the last half century, the Foundation has made thousands of grants totaling about $11 million.
    • Grants have been given to a wide range of educational, cultural, social service and other compelling community institutions and initiatives. In addition, the WNY Foundation has, over the years and when circumstance appeared to dictate, attempted to be pro-active and convene fellow foundations in support of compelling community challenges and solutions.


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Added 2013-01-02 • Last changed 2017-03-28