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The royal roots of Bennett High

Architect used a British landmark as his inspiration in designing the Buffalo high school.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Believe it or not, there's a bit of jolly old England right here in the Queen City. In fact, the place the queen called home, was the inspiration for one of Buffalo's high schools.

Bennett alumni David Harrington, Dawn Harris and Neal Harris, have some fond memories of walking the halls of Bennett in the early 70s. 

Dawn recalled, "What I liked about it, it was more diverse, it was just all these different ideas when we went. It was in the seventies, so it was pretty vibrant."

David has a memory of one of those "vibrant" moments. 

"The very first day I was there that was a food fight in cafeteria and it was wild," he said.

Neal remembers that, although he wouldn't have had it any other way, initially, Bennett wasn't his first choice. 

"I remember I wanted to follow my best friends to St. Joe's and go to school with them, but my parents said, well you know you do that you're stretching us, we're not gonna be able to help you with college. So I ended it up with Bennett and I'm so glad it was," Neal said.

At the time, Bennett was regarded the city's top school, with such distinguished alumni as actor Sorrel Brook of Dukes of Hazzard fame, model Beverly Johnson, funk star Rick James, and king of the court, Bob Lanier. But what these Bennett grads didn't know, was that another form of royalty was the inspiration for the look of the school itself. 

Built in 1925, architect Ernest Crimi used the East Wing of Buckingham Palace, which was added just a dozen years before. Neal says, that wasn't anywhere near their consciousness. 

"You know, I don't think anyone in any of the classes even the art classes that I took brought up anything about the architecture here."


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