You don't expect high schools to be housed in former mansions and Mason hangouts -- but that's exactly the history of one of Canisius High School's most iconic buildings. 

Canisius started as a dual college-high school in 1870 and served just 50 students. But by 1912, the school expanded to 379 boys, and its Washington Street campus wasn't big enough. The college kids moved out to Main and Jefferson Streets, and the high schoolers got the space on Washington to themselves.

Canisius High School Website

By the 1940s, around 500 students were enrolled, and the Washington Street building fell into disrepair. So in 1944, the Jesuits -- the Catholic order that founded the school -- bought the former George F. Rand mansion. The mansion, located at 1180 Delaware Ave., was the intended home of George F. Rand, the president and chairman of the board of directors of Marine Midland (now HSBC). (Fun fact: Our dumpy little studio is housed in the Rand Building!)

Construction of the building started in 1918, but Rand died in a plane crash before the mansion was finished. His wife, too, died before construction completed. Rand's son, George, Jr., finished the home in 1921 and lived there with his brother and two sisters for three years before selling it to the Masons in 1925. They even added a swimming pool and the building's iconic blue doors.

(@kevdaley, Instagram)

Today, Canisius has over 800 students who get to brag to their friends that they go to school in a mansion and former home of the Freemasons. How cool is that?

Is there a Buffalo location you'd like to see highlighted in Buffalo: Then & Now? Or do you have old photos you're willing to let us use? Email angela.stefano@townsquaremedia.com with details!