Pierce-Arrow Society Annual Meet
The one hundredth anniversary of the first Pierce motorcar was celebrated with style at the 44th Annual Meet of the Pierce-Arrow Society, July 10-15, 2001. Pierce-Arrows from across the U.S. and Canada came back home to Buffalo to celebrate the occasion. Over 750 Pierce-Arrow Society members from around the United States, Canada, England, and Spain and 175 Pierce-Arrows gathered for the largest gathering of Pierce-Arrows and Pierce-Arrow Society members ever. The Saturday car show offered something for everyone, with vehicles ranging from several Pierce Motorettes through a 1938 Convertible Coupe. A Pierce-Arrow truck and a 19-passenger bus as well as Pierce bicycles were also on display. Two of the crowd favorites were the Pierce-Arrow used by President Wilson while in the White House, and the Pierce Silver Arrow show car exhibited at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.
Tuesday evening found PAS members gathering at the Welcome Party to renew old friendships and meet new Pierce-Arrow friends. Green ribbons identified PAS members attending their first Annual Meet.
Wednesday morning found a flurry of activity in the hotel parking garage as the Pierce-Arrows were off on the first of three days of touring. The tour started with a brief tour of the Buffalo waterfront, then went along some of the stately old homes of Buffalo. Many of these homes can be seen in the background of factory photos taken by Pierce-Arrow when the cars were new. After passing the mausoleum of George N. Pierce, the Pierce-Arrows were off toward Niagara Falls. The famous site was only a short drive from the hotel. After stopping at the Falls, the Pierce-Arrows were on their way toward Lewiston for a catered lunch at the Art Park. After lunch, the scenic tour continued along the river before returning to Buffalo.
The Thursday tour took the Pierce-Arrows to the nearby town of East
Aurora. A large arts & crafts movement existed here when our
Pierce-Arrows were new. Lunch was served in the Arts & Crafts
style Roycroft Inn. Trolleys provided transportation for the PAS
members to visit the local attractions, which included the toy museum at
the corporate headquarters of the Fisher-Price company, stained-glass
windows by Tiffany in a local church, a home designed by Frank Lloyd
Wright, and other attractions. Leaving East Aurora, the group
visited a bicycle museum that house hundreds of antique bicycles and
memorabilia, including several Pierce cycles. Thursday
evening, a party was hosted by the Buffalo Transportation Museum.
Local restaurants served a variety of food in tents set up in the
parking lot. The museum contains an outstanding collection of
Pierce-Arrow memorabilia and several Pierce-Arrows, including one on
loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
On Friday, the Pierce-Arrow Society celebrated our historical connection to Buffalo. Our tour took us to the Pierce-Arrow factory where PAS members were given a tour of the administration building on Elmwood Avenue. Several PAS members spent some time touring the huge manufacturing complex, most of which is still standing and in use by various businesses. A few Pierce-Arrow owners took the opportunity to drive their Pierce-Arrow through the brick alleyways of factory complex and take a picture in front of the "Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company" sign on the front of the building.
After leaving the factory complex via Great Arrow Avenue, the group toured to Pierce-Arrow's Buffalo showroom. The art-deco building appears to be almost unchanged since Pierce-Arrow was there. Three 1934 Pierce-Arrows were on display in the showroom, providing a step back in time for the members attending. The building, which has been used as a Cadillac dealership for years, will soon be converted into a bank.
At noon on Friday, the Pierce-Arrows paraded up Main Street to the delight of thousands of Buffalo residents that lined the street. Normally closed to traffic, the Pierce-Arrows were the first cars to drive along main street for quite a while. The street cars that normally run along Main Street were stopped while the Pierce-Arrows paraded to the cheers of the onlookers.
Leaving the city, the Pierce-Arrows toured to the Bill Gacioch estate in nearby Orchard Park. The estate, built at the turn of the century, overlooks Lake Erie and provided a beautiful setting for the Pierce-Arrows.
PAS members were up early on Saturday preparing their cars for display and the Annual Car Show and Judging, held on nearby Niagara Square. The square was completely filled with Pierce-Arrows as almost 175 cars filled the square and the surrounding street. The square was closed to all traffic for the day, but tens of thousands of Buffalo residents found there way to the square to view the Pierce-Arrows. Many of these local residents had stories of friends and family members that had worked at Pierce-Arrow. There was a true sense of appreciation from the local residents for the opportunity to see Pierce-Arrows again.
All too quickly, the 44th Annual Meet came to a close at the Saturday night Awards Banquet. Some of the recognized guests at the Banquet included Albert Gonas, the model for the archer hood ornament. Mr. Gonas delighted the audience with his story of how he came to model for the archer. Other guests included descendants of several of the officers of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, including descendants of the Pierce, Fergusson, Clifton, and May families. The brief business meeting of the Pierce-Arrow Society concluded with the presentation of the awards listed below.
The Pierce-Arrow Society owes great appreciation to the meet committee for making such an outstanding event happen. Jim & Mary Ann Sandoro, along with their co-chairmen Fred & Corinne Tycher and Tony & Claire Zappone, put together the largest Pierce-Arrow Society Annual Meet ever. The event was a truly memorable event that was enjoyed by all that attended.
If you missed this extraordinary event, the Pierce-Arrow Society
encourages you not to miss future meets. The Pierce-Arrow Society
and the 2002 Annual Meet committee extend an invitation to all members
to attend our meet next year in Kalamazoo, Michigan.