The Gere Building design is thought to be Syracuse architect Charles Colton’s finest work.  Erected in 1894, the façade has three unique sections: the street level features a number of Roman details, while the second floor forms a transition between the massive first story and the lighter upper portion.  Vertical lines are emphasized in the three upper floors and are topped by a wide projecting cornice of delicately ornamented terra-cotta panels.  The use of fine materials includes granite, light brick and terra-cotta. 

The Gere Building’s façade has three different levels.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was designed for Congressman James J. Belden, who named it for his father-in-law, Robert Gere. 

Inside, the building retains much of its original detail, including iron stairwells, marble floors and wainscoting.  Each floor has two fireplaces and several remain complete with ornate marble and paneling. 

The building contains one of the few remaining open screen elevators in the country.

James Belden, Congressmen

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James J. Belden, a former Syracuse mayor, served five terms in Congress during the 1880s and 1890s. 

A political cartoon about James Belden

He was a power in Republican Party politics but in the 1890s, control of local Republicans split into two factions, one led by Belden, the other by former State Senator Francis Hendricks. 

Francis Hendricks

Belden even started a newspaper, the Syracuse Post, to act as the mouthpiece for his faction. In 1895 Democrat James Kennedy McGuire became the mayor of what was the historically Republican city of Syracuse. 

James McGuire

It was reported that Belden was more pleased to see a Democrat elected rather than a candidate controlled by his Republican rival, Hendricks.

Belden returned to Congress for another term in 1897 but kept active with his banking interests in this building.  He also made money in railroad construction.  When he died in 1904, his estate was worth $5 million or nearly $130 million today.  It is no wonder that the building’s exterior and interior still reflects the opulence of bygone years.  Even the building’s original elaborate vaults remain beneath the sidewalk, once holding the railroad bonds and bank notes that provided Mr. Belden with his millions.