King Sewing Machine Company


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Historic photo, click for larger image
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Photo credit: Mark Peszko


308 Crowley Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14207


  • Buffalo Urban Development Corporation - BUDC
  • Previously: James Lunge

Physical Description

  • Massive two-block complex of one and two story brick industrial buildings with a 5 story tower

Current Condition

  • In poor condition, being selectively demolished by owner


  • 1906 - Mechanical engineer W. Grant King and Morris S. Tremain decided to start the W.G. King Company and build its sewing machine factory at Court Street near Wilkerson Street, adjacent to the Montgomery Box and Lumber Company.
  • 1908 - The company's named changed to the King Sewing Machine Company and production began.
  • 1909 - Sears, Roebuck, & Co. provided $150,000 capital for King to construct an 8-acre manufacturing complex on Rano Street on land leased from Walter H. Schoellkopf. It was well-located adjacent to the Lackawanna Belt Line. King was now a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck which contracted for the entire output of the King Sewing Machine Company, to be sold under the Sears brand.
  • 1912 - The factory expanded, using 500 tons of steel to construct 4 additional buildings.
  • 1924 - The White Sewing Machine company in Cleveland acquired the Domestic and King Sewing Machine companies to become the White Sewing Machine Corporation. It supplied Sears, Roebuck.
  • 1924 - The King complex on Rano Street became King Quality Products. It sold radios through Sears, Roebuck.
  • 1926 - Name change to King-Hinners Radio
  • 1927 - Name change to King-Buffalo
  • 1927-1930 - Name change to King Manufacturing Company
  • 1929 - Sears sold its interest in the company to the Colonial Radio Company, which moved from its locations in Rochester and Long Island City. This company was to become Sears, Roebuck's chief supplier of radios in the 1930s.
  • 1930 - Production was 40,000 units.
  • 1934 - Production was 150,600 units.
  • 1940 - Production was 631,000 radio receivers from 1,762 employees.
  • 1940 - Colonial acquired its first military contract.
  • 1942 - The company had dropped its production of civilian radio sets and devoted 100% of its production capacity to military products for World War II.
  • 1944 - The Sylvania Electric Products Company purchased the Rano Street Colonial Radio complex.
  • 1948 - The plant was re-organized and retooled for production of radios and the first television sets for Sears, Roebuck. The plant was named headquarters of Slyvania's Radio and Television Division.
  • 1953- Sylvania constructed a new 422,000 sq.ft. plant in Batavia, leaving the Rano Street complex vacant. [The Batavia plant was shuttered in 1981 after Sylvania sold rights to the name "Sylvania" and "Philco" to Philips Electronics. Production was shifted to Taiwan.]
  • 1959 - Sylvania merged with GTE and remained a large employer in Western New York for another 30 years
History courtesy WNY Heritage Press

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • March 2014 - 'North District Councilman Joe Golombek says the owner has been taking it down from the inside and recycling parts for re-use. News 4 spoke to the current owner of the building (in March 2014), who said he is close to hiring a demolition contractor and expects to have the building torn down by the end of the year. Lunge says it is going to be tricky because parts of the complex are going to remain standing.' WIVB
  • August 6, 2015 - Fire in complex results in partial demolition of the building.
  • June 2018 - For more than a decade, North District Council Member Joseph Golombek​ has fought to bring new development to 308 Crowley Avenue. The process has lasted through two mayors, several owners, housing court battles, and the long standing community desire to see the property developed.
    • Through a team effort with the Buffalo Fire Dept. (especially Dan Milovich), Rediscover Riverside, Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance, Mayor Byron W. Brown, so many wonderful community members, and especially Council Member Joseph Golombek, 308 Crowley is now slated to be purchased by the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation - BUDC.
    • This is a major success for the North District, and is exemplary of how the persistence and diligence of our community continues to pay off as Buffalo North District continues to grow!
  • May 2021: Per a Buffalo News article, BUDC plans to demolish everything except the clock tower.
  • July 2, 2021 - Two alarm fire engulfs the building complex.

Other Pertinent Facts


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Added 2015-01-07 • Last changed 2021-07-03