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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The Temple of Music

The Temple of Music was designed to function as both concert hall and ceremonial stage. The members of the music committee had originally requested that a larger building be constructed to house concerts of instrumental and choral music. Financial constraints altered the plan, reducing the size of the hall and adapting it for multifunctional use. Upon completion, it stood 150 x 150 feet with a dome rising 180 feet above the floor of the Temple. Its seating capacity was 2,200.

Architectural rendering of the Temple of Music
By Esenwein & Johnson

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Architectural drawing of the Temple of Music. Source: "The Music Hall of the Pan-American Exposition." Engineering Record, vol. 43, no. 6, (Feb. 9, 1901) pp.132-134.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Color Rendering of the Temple of Music, by the architects Esenwein & Johnson. Source: Kerry S. Grant. The Rainbow City: Celebrating Light, Color, and Architecture at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901. Image from the collection of the Buffalo and Erie Country Historical Society.

The Temple was built by architect August C. Esenwein at a cost of $85,000 ($1,695,778.33 in 2001 dollars). Esenwein utilized an Italian Renaissance style in keeping with the overall architectural plan of the Free Renaissance style adopted by the Exposition Board of Architects led by John M. Carrère. The building bore elaborate decorative elements and four large sculptures by Isidore Konti over each of the four entrances. The color of the building, inside and out, was designed by Charles Yardley Turner to fit into his color scheme for the entire Exposition. Turner's colors for the Temple included red for the foundation with accents of blue, pale green, and terra cotta.


The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: The Temple of Music, with scaffolding. Notice the ornamental staff being applied to the hardwood building frame. Photographer: C. D. Arnold? Source: Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition by Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, c1998.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Close-up of one of the walls of the Temple of Music showing the ornate detail of the bas-relief sculpture. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition by Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, c1998, p. 34.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: The Temple of Music, with sign reading "Music Building", under construction, December 5, 1900. Notice the men working on the dome of the building. Photographer: C. D. Arnold? Source: Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition by Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, c1998, p. 21.



Images of the Completed Temple of Music

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music from the West, showing formal gardens. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Rand-McNally Hand-Book to the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Co., 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music, with Machinery and Transportation Building on the right and the Mines Building beyond the Temple on the left. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Pan-American Exposition Scrapbook [n.p., 1901?]. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: The Fountain of Abundance in front of the Temple of Music. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrtated, by C. D. Arnold. Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. p. 54. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Looking South from the Electric Tower, this photograph was taken at a height of over 300 feet. It shows the buildings around the Court of Fountains, including the Temple of Music on the right and the Ethnology Building facing it on the left. The Esplanade, with both its bandstands, is also visible. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrated, by C. D. Arnold. Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. p. 26. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Dedication Day at the Pan-American Exposition. Dignitaries line up to enter the Temple of Music for the ceremonial dedication of the Exposition on May 20, 1901. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge both spoke as part of the ceremonies. Part of the Fountain of Abundance is visible in the lower right and the Horticulture Building is visible to the left of the Temple of Music. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrated, by C. D. Arnold, Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. P. 29. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music as seen through the colonnade. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Pan-American Souvenir by Charles Cutter. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Charles Cutter, 1901 Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: The Temple of Music as viewed from near the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, across the Cascade and the Fountain of Abundance. The Mines Building is visible to the left of the Temple and the towers of the Buffalo Insane Asylum can be seen on the left horizon. Photographer: Arthur Hewitt. Source: Everybody's Magazine, v. 5, no. 26, Oct. 1901, Pan-American Exposition Number, p. 432. Published by John Wanamaker. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Looking towards the Triumphal Bridge, across the Court of Fountains, with the Temple of Music on the right. Both the East and West Esplanade Bandstands are visible on either side of the Triumphal Bridge. Photographer: Arthur Hewitt. Source: Everybody's Magazine, v. 5, no. 26, Oct. 1901, Pan-American Exposition Number, p. 425. Published by John Wanamaker. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music from across the Esplanade fountains. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Rand-McNally Hand-Book to the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Co., 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music from south of the Ethnology Building. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Latest and Best Views of the Pan-American Exposition. Buffalo, N.Y.: Robert Allan Reid, 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music from the Esplanade Court, with Ethnology and U.S. Government Buildings to the right. The West Esplanade bandstand is visible between the two buildings. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Pan-American Souvenir by Charles Cutter. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Charles Cutter, 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Temple of Music with West Esplanade bandstand in foreground. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Pan-American Souvenir by Charles Cutter. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Charles Cutter, 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.


With it's vibrant exterior color scheme, the artistic effects of illuminating of Temple of Music impressed even the most ardent critics of the period. It is unfortunate that surviving photographs, while impressive in their own right, do not truly reflect the role of color in this awe-inspiring exhibit of ornamental lighting.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Night scene from the Ethnology Building towards the Temple of Music. The Fountain of Abundance was illuminated by lights placed inside the circumference of the base, with additional lights placed along the pedestal supporting the group of dancing children. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrated, by C. D. Arnold. Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. p. 32. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Night scene of the Temple of Music looking across the Cascade with its illuminated fountains. The West Esplanade Bandstand is visible to the left of the Temple. Photographer: Arthur Hewitt. Source: Everybody's Magazine, v. 5, no. 26, Oct. 1901, Pan-American Exposition Number, p. 399. Published by John Wanamaker. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



Sculpture at the Temple of Music

In keeping with the ornate style of the Temple of Music, four large groups of statuary were placed above the arches of each of the four entrances. These sculptures by Isidore Konti depicted sacred, lyric, dance, and heroic music.

Sculpture at the Temple of Music - Gay Music "Music of the Dance". Sculptor: Isidore Konti. Source: Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. [Buffalo, N.Y.: Pan-American Exposition Co.], 1901. p.2. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

Sculpture at the Temple of Music - Heroic Music. Sculptor: Isidore Konti. Source: Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. [Buffalo, N.Y.: Pan-American Exposition Co.], 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



Sculpture at the Temple of Music - Sacred Music. Sculptor: Isidore Konti. Source: Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. [Buffalo, N.Y.: Pan-American Exposition Co.], 1901. p.29. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

Sculpture at the Temple of Music - Lyric Music. Sculptor: Isidore Konti. Source: Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. [Buffalo, N.Y.: Pan-American Exposition Co.], 1901. p.29. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.



The Assassination of President William McKinley

Unfortunately, the Temple of Music has become inextricably linked with the assassination of President William McKinley. The President was attending a reception in his honor at the Temple on September 6th when Leon Czolgosz stepped from the crowd and shot McKinley with a 32-caliber handgun. McKinley died eight days later, September 14th. Although the Temple of Music continued to serve its original functions, it had become a site of morbid curiosity for many visitors to the Exposition.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Rendering of the interior of the Temple of Music, showing the position of the organ, by the architects Esenwein & Johnson. Source: Kerry S. Grant. The Rainbow City: Celebrating Light, Color, and Architecture at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901. Image from the collection of the Buffalo and Erie Country Historical Society.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: The interior of the Temple of Music showing the stage with music stands in place, the Emmons Howard organ to the right, and in the foreground, the platform where President William McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz September 6, 1901. The floor is marked at the spot where the President was standing. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition by Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, c1998, p. 123.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Rendering of the interior of the Temple of Music, main entrance. Artist: unidentified. Source: McHenry, Katherine V. "Color Scheme at the Pan-American." Brush and Pencil, v. 3, no. 8 (June 1901), p. 152.



The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: A candid photograph of the interior of the Temple of Music, showing the organ pipes on the left. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Music Library. University at Buffalo, the State University of New York

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Architectural drawing of the Temple of Music. Source: "The Music Hall of the Pan-American Exposition." Engineering Record, vol. 43, no. 6, (Feb. 9, 1901) pp.132-134.


Images of the interior of the Temple of Music, including (above center) the spot where the President McKinley was shot.
The postcards below are two of many printed that linked
"the martyred President" with the image of the Temple of Music.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition View: Color Postcard of the Temple of Music. Published by F. F. Rick & Cie., [1901?]. Source: Music Library. University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.

The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. View: Color Postcard of the Temple of Music, with inset of President William McKinley. Published by Retrograph Co., [1901?]. Source: Music Library. University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.