Kleinhans Music Hall dedicates new archive room, WBFO

Click here to listen to the report.

As Kleinhans Music Hall prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary, visitors to the Buffalo landmark will now get to enjoy a glance at some relics telling the story of the hall, and of Buffalo through the years.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday morning on the upper level of the music hall, where the archive room is located. Items on display include a guest book from opening night, photos of the storefront of Kleinhans Clothing Store – owned by the same couple which dreamed of opening the concert hall – and telegram exchanges that included one of the building’s designers, Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

The room was made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, which has had a long relationship with the hall. After Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans passed away in 1934, the Foundation took on their documented goal of building the hall, which has been home to graduation ceremonies, speeches (including one by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and, of course, concerts.

Not just by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which was rehearsing downstairs during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but by artists of various musical genres.

“This stage has seen and heard from the greats in classical music, in rhythm and blues, in pop and in rock,” said Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo president and CEO Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker. “And with so much history to preserve, the Community Foundation has recently made a $75,000 grant to Kleinhans for the restoration project to showcase the story of Buffalo.”

The Foundation also recently provided a $250,000 Program Related Investment, or a little-to-no-interest loan, that helped the hall in its installation of new seats.

Many of the artifacts to be displayed were kept locked away for years.

“There already has been a bit of damage, because they weren’t necessarily correctly preserved,” said Lauren Becker, the Kleinhans employee who took on the task of preparing the archive room. “The most valuable items have been kept over at the BPO office, so they’re in pretty good shape.”

The archive room is available to concert goers or visitors who arrange an appointment. Plans call for a future space in which guests can spend time perusing through more relics.

“Going forward, right now we have the exhibit to highlight some of the things,” Becker said. “The next step is creating a good quality archive to protect these things so they don’t degrade.”