Operations Building (Revised)

My father Tony first purchased a 20-acre lot located in Gardenville, New York, including two buildings, a farmhouse, and a small horse barn in 1938 at the age of 27. He converted the farmhouse into the beginning of the first operations office for his Gardenville Airport.

Tony is painting the background white before positioning the stencils to paint “Gardenville Airport” in black.

Tony completely redesigns the interior to include a custom front counter, new bead board, and rear office space on the left side. A central dividing wall separates the two sides and eventually supports the staircase to the future second-floor addition.

The right side has a lounge area, a showcase for sectional charts, access to the rear restrooms, and a small café. It also features a large floor heater along the central dividing wall.

Access window to order food or beverages and a place to sit while you enjoy a snack.

A gentleman is warming himself by the floor heater while people schedule a flight lesson at the front counter.
In this 1944 photo, you can see the horse stable/garage on the right with “Gardenville Airport” painted on the Westside roofing. The Operations building is still a single story, and the Quonset hangar completed on the left with the paving just started. Also visible is the concrete pad and steel posts of his first hangar destroyed by a fire in February 1943, about 100 yards North of the office.

Tony salvaged the usable lumber from the dilapidated horse barn from the initial purchase and built a more extended building on the office’s east side, where he painted “Gardenville Airport” on the roof. This building was often referred to as the “Horse Stable” because his first wife Maxine kept her horse in the end stall even though he used it as a storage garage and workspace.

The new horse stable/garage during construction.
Look at the size of that snowdrift!

Tony later changed the name from Gardenville Airport to Buffalo Air-park and continued to upgrade the office building. Then came the second-floor expansion in the late 1940s.

Tony adds the second-floor addition to the Operations building sometime in the late 1940s. I’m still working on an exact date.
Tony opens up the café service window and lengthens the countertop needed to accommodate the growing list of patrons looking for a “bite to eat.”
The building receives a facelift, and the café expands into a small restaurant featuring a revised full menu. This picture is from the early 1950s.

The second story white rear exit door is visible to the “Observation Deck” over the first-floor restaurant addition. Tony would later construct his second-story office there and eliminated that outside deck.
A wind gust flipped this Cessna 172 while sitting on the tarmac. Also, notice Tony’s second-floor office addition that has replaced the outdoor “Observation Deck” on the Operations building.

Doug Payne informed me that this photo’s date is sometime between December 1968 and January 1969 because of the brand new 1968 Ford Bronco with a plow, second vehicle from the left, that Tony purchased that same year.
That Ford Bronco did an excellent job of plowing the tarmac! Tony used the larger plow truck, center left, to clear the runway.
Now, this photo shows how I remember the airpark when I was growing up. It sure brings back memories!

I still have that propeller that hung over that archway!
The young lady sitting behind the desk is Pat Plummer, as my brother Doug Payne recalls.

If you have any pictures of Buffalo Air-Park that you would like to share, please contact me, and I would be more than happy to add them to this website.

Operations Building

A cold winters day

I believe this photo was taken sometime in the 1940’s. The original building was only a single story and then Tony added the second story later on. Also added was a right rear addition for the snack bar and restrooms.

The front service counter

The front service area was to the left as you walked through the front door and accessible through a separate left side exterior door with access to the apron. Knowing Tony, most likely this photo would have been staged.

The lounging area

This is a photo of the lounge with the snack bar in the back. It would have been located on the right side as you walk through the front door. Tony is the man behind the counter on the right and he is helping a gentleman on the left. A woman is sitting in a chair reading while the two men talk.

The original snack bar
Newly renovated

This photo shows some exterior building renovations with new awnings and signs. The trim has been painted brown and landscaping was added under the front windows. I believe that the snack bar was also renovated at this time which included a longer counter with additional stools, an expanded menu, and a larger dining area. It was promoted as a small restaurant by a new exterior sign.

Snack bar during renovation

Check out the hand written menu! This photo shows that the wall has been opened up and the counter has been extended. The aircraft artwork was also hung and it looks as though the counter was in the middle of being painted brown. I love the mustard container sitting on the counter!

New restaurant featuring an expanded menu
Renovated lounge area into a larger seating area for the restaurant

These last 2 photos show that the snack bar was renovated into a small restaurant with an additional seating area. The wall was opened up and a longer counter was installed. New artwork was hung over the counter which replaced the single propeller that was there originally. The payphone and restrooms were located through the entrance way to the left of the window. Although the restaurant was eventually closed and replaced by vending machines I still remember sitting on these stools when I was young. Unfortunately the restaurant was removed before I had a chance to see it.