Lafayette High School (Buffalo, New York)

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Lafayette High School
Lafayette High School2.JPG
Lafayette High School, Buffalo NY, April 2011
Lafayette High School (Buffalo, New York) is located in New York
Lafayette High School (Buffalo, New York)
Location 370 Lafayette Ave., Buffalo, New York
Coordinates 42°55′15″N 78°53′5″W / 42.92083°N 78.88472°W / 42.92083; -78.88472Coordinates: 42°55′15″N 78°53′5″W / 42.92083°N 78.88472°W / 42.92083; -78.88472
Built 1901
Architect Esenwein & Johnson
Architectural style Beaux Arts
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP December 3, 1980
Lafayette High School
Lafayette High School Buffalo NY Dec 09.JPG
Loyalty, Honor, Service
370 Lafayette Avenue
West Side
Buffalo, New York, Erie, 14213
United States United States
School type Public, Coeducational High School
Status Priority School
School board Buffalo Board of Education
School district Buffalo Public Schools
School number 204
Principal Denise E. Clarke
Grades 7-12
Enrollment 618
Color(s) Purple and White          
Slogan Where the World Comes to Learn
Team name Violets
Newspaper The Triangle
Yearbook The Oracle

Lafayette High School is the oldest public school in Buffalo that remains in its original building; a stone, brick and terra-cotta structure in the French Renaissance Revival style, by architects August Esenwein and James A. Johnson. Although classes began off-site during construction of the school, the building was completed, and graduated its first class, in 1903. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1] It is located in Buffalo's Upper West Side at 370 Lafayette Avenue.

Lafayette operates as a 7-12 school for international and neighborhood students. The current principal is Mrs. Denise Clarke, and the current assistant principals are Mr. Craig Brodnicki, and Ms. Yulonda Middleton.


Lafayette High School currently serves as home to many Buffalo high school students learning English as a second language.


Lafayette High School was the third high school built in Buffalo, New York. It has fallen into recent struggles with academics and has been placed on New York State's Watch List of Persistently Underperforming Schools. After the 2010-2011 school year, the school closed and re-opened as a multicultural school with a new principal. The school also began housing seventh and eighth graders from nearby International School 45.

Former principals[edit]

Previous assignment and reason for departure denoted in parentheses

  • Arthur Detmers–1903-1906 (unknown, named Instructor of The Hill School)
  • Calvert King Mellen–1906-1934 (Math teacher - Buffalo Central High School, retired)
  • Frank Gott–1934-1955 (Vice Principal - Lafayette High School, retired)
  • Abraham Axelrod–1955-1958 (Assistant Principal - Kensington High School, died)
  • Robert C. McGowan–1958-1968 (Assistant Principal - East High School, retired)
  • Gerald S. Hare–1968-1972 (Assistant Principal - East High School, transferred to Buffalo Public Schools District Offices)
  • Frederick D. Ganter–1972-1997 (Assistant Principal - East High School, retired[2])
  • Sharon A. Lanza–1997-2004 (Assistant Principal - Lafayette High School, retired)
  • Jacquelyn M. Baldwin–2004-2008 (Assistant Principal - City Honors School,[3] transferred to Office Of School Performance[4])
  • Phyllis F. Morrell–2008-2011 (Principal on Assignment - McKinley Vocational High School,[4] named Principal of Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence[5])
  • Naomi R. Cerre–2011-2015 (Assistant Principal - McKinley High School, named Assistant Principal of Frederick Law Olmsted School)

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Gordon Bunshaft (class of 1928), noted twentieth-century architect.
  • Robert J. Donovan (class of 1932), Washington Bureau Chief, New York Herald Tribune and Los Angeles Times. President, White House Correspondents' Association. Author of 12 books including PT-109. Only journalist to ever address a Joint Session of Congress.
  • Gary Mallaber (class of 1964), Multiple platinum selling drummer and producer involved with acts such as The Steve Miller Band, Van Morrison and Eddie Money.
  • Fran Striker (class of 1922), author, creator of the radio serial The Lone Ranger.
  • Bruce Shanks (class of 1927), Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist.
  • Winifred C. Stanley (class of 1927), attorney and first member of congress to introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination in pay on account of sex
  • Frank Kelly Freas (class of 1938), famed science-fiction cover artist.
  • The Modernaires (Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway, late 1930s), the popular harmony group renowned for its performances on record and motion pictures with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
  • Tedd Lewin (class of 1953), artist, author and illustrator of children's books.
  • Angelo Coniglio (class of 1954), first Civil Engineering graduate of the University at Buffalo, engineer, professor of engineering, genealogist, author of historical fiction, archivist of the American Football League.
  • Edward Lawson (class of 1964), Edward won a landmark Supreme Court victory over racism and arbitrary stop and seizure practices by California police by defending himself before the Supreme Court of the US. [Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981) October 15, 1981 et seq.]. Few Lafayette graduates have ever shown such personal triumph over injustice.
  • Charles Reidpath Olympic gold medalist

Shanks (1927) and Lewin (1953), and all the art students in between were influenced by the Miss Elizabeth Weiffenbach, who taught art at the school for over forty years. These included Jack Smart (class of 1922), an artist who also played The Fat Man on 1940s radio; and Irving Jeremiah Goodman (class of 1939), a contemporary artist specializing in room still lifes. Turner rowed for the U.S. in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, was executive editor of The Buffalo Courier-Express, and is a member of the exclusive Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C.

The public school is supported by the private Lafayette High School Alumni Association. In 1999, the association restored the building's landmark lantern or "cupola", which had deteriorated and been demolished for safety reasons in the 1970s. In May 2003, the association sponsored and ran a 100th Anniversary Celebration, attended by over 1,700 alumni and their guests, raising $30,000 for the school. The funds will establish the Ramsi P. Tick media room in memory of entrepreneur Tick, an LHS alumnus and philanthropist. The association also awards several annual grants and scholarships for worthy causes and students, and on Sunday, August 4, 2013 is holding a free All-Class Reunion to celebrate the school's one hundred and tenth year.

As their logos, the school and the Association use the LHS Triangle (Lafayette High School; Loyalty, Honor, Service), and the Lafayette Angel.



  1. ^ a b Staff (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Heaney, J. (1997, June 23). Retirements, transfers may mean new principals for 10 city - schools. The Buffalo News, p. B4.
  3. ^ Buffalo Public Schools (2004, June 9). Meeting of the Board of Education: Principal Transfers.
  4. ^ a b Buffalo Public Schools (2008, August 13). Meeting of the Board of Education: Administrative Appointments.
  5. ^ Buffalo Public Schools (2011, September 14). Meeting of the Board of Education: Administrative Appointments.