The Birge Mansion was built in 1897 for George Birge, the founder of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company. The Georgian style mansion was modeled on the lines of a villa Birge had seen on the Riviera and was designed by the Boston architectural firm of Little and Browne. Birge lived in the house until his death in 1918. The building’s first nonresidential use was as the Sisters of Divine Child Convent from 1938 through 1957, followed by a nearly 20 year stint as an Elks Club. It fell into serious disrepair in the mid 1970s, becoming a flop house and a party site for drunks and junkies and the scene of several small fires. Most recently it has been acquired by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and is undergoing renovations. When complete it will house the BPO’s offices and BPO Women’s Committee.
George Birge is most famous for co-creating the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company. National popularity of the company grew after a win in a cross-country race in 1908. Birge is also known for operating the wallpaper company M.H. Birge & Sons with this father and brother. The company was known for using a 12 color process of wallpaper production. Lastly, Birge was also a director and executive committee member of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition