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Lanterns return to take their place in new medical school building

Brian Koyn grinds years of rust off the newly discovered lantern. Photo: Douglas Levere

By JULIE WESOLOWSKI

Reprinted from AtBuffalo.

Published April 24, 2017

A long-lost lantern will finally be reunited with its mate when the new downtown building for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences opens its doors later this year.

The two lanterns, which graced the vestibule of the UB Medical School on High Street from 1893 until 1953, will take their rightful place together in the lobby of the state-of-the-art medical school building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Farber Hall lantern. Photo: Douglas Levere

It’s still a mystery how only one of the lanterns made the move to Farber Hall when the medical school moved to the South Campus in 1953. But a tip from (now retired) UB employee Christina Ehret led to its discovery about a decade ago in a barn in Eden, N.Y. Unaware of its history, the property owners willingly returned it to UB.

That bit of happenstance brought the lost lantern back into the UB fold. And now, after years apart, the duo will assume its original role.

The 19th-century lanterns will be installed only a block away from the old UB Medical School on High Street. When they illuminated the medical school lobby of yore, they were gaslights. The newly restored pair will be upgraded with modern LED lights that will mimic the flicker of gas flames.

Years of exposure to the elements left the formerly missing lantern in rough shape. Using the intact Farber Hall lantern as a template for surface scanning, the restorers are replacing the missing and decaying pieces of steel with exact replicas created on a 3-D printer in the lab of Jack Tseng, assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences. The replacement pieces, created from plastic and painted to match the original metalwork, will be virtually indistinguishable from the original steel pieces once installed.

The happy ending for the formerly separated pair wouldn’t have been possible without Ehret, Tseng and other UB faculty and staff who came together to recover, restore and reunite the errant lantern with its mate.

Brian Koyn, senior laboratory equipment designer in UB’s health science fabrication department, is painstakingly restoring the lantern. Ray Dannenhoffer, associate dean for support services, pathology and anatomical sciences, assisted by (now retired) James Mecca Jr., also from UB’s health science fabrication department, helped find the lantern and bring it back to UB.