Dorchester Road has been one of my favorites from the first time I noticed it. And I’ve been wanting to write about it since I first started blogging, actually. Last weekend, I went on a tour with Preservation Buffalo Niagara that highlighted some of E.B. Green’s work in Buffalo. All I could think during the entire tour was that it was time to write about Dorchester. So here we are.
I first became aware of this street about a dozen years ago. I’d seen it before from Bidwell Parkway, but had never had a reason to walk down it. One day I was in no particular hurry, and so I ventured in off Bidwell. Let me tell you what a sweet spot this street is. It’s one of my favorites in the entire city. It’s got everything! For a lack of a better way of saying it, Dorchester has a feeling of exclusivity while at the same time being extremely neighborly. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true.
I mean, the homes are spectacular and stunning, and yet everyone you meet is willing to chat about whatever comes up. And, it’s right next door to the intersection of Elmwood and Bidwell, which is one of Buffalo’s most walkable neighborhoods. Dorchester is quiet serenity, in walking distance to everything you need.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are six, yes six, E.B. Green homes on this street! If you’re a regular reader, you know about my admiration for E.B.! My history nerd personality knows no bounds, and I don’t care! Ha!
Let’s Talk About EB Green for a Sec
Edward Brodhead Green was born in 1855 in Utica, NY. He studied architecture at Cornell University and was the eighth person to receive a degree from that school in the study of architecture. Before that time, architecture was viewed as more of a trade than a profession, and architects were trained by other working architects in the field.
In 1881, he and William Sydney Wicks made their offices in Buffalo. It was the perfect place for an architect to live at the time. Buffalo was growing like mad, people had money, and they were building. Buffalo kept the pair busy until Wicks retired in 1917.
Green continued on working with his sons, who were both architects, and with other architects, until his death in 1950. In his career, he designed over 370 buildings, and two-thirds of them were in Buffalo! That’s a lot of buildings!
Green moved in high social circles in Buffalo. His closest friend became John J. Albright, largely through all the work Green did for Albright on various buildings and homes. There’s a story that was told by Albright’s grandson, that when the Albright mansion on West Ferry burned to the ground, Albright came across E.B. on the grounds during the fire. He greeted Green by saying something like, “Well, Green, have you brought plans for the new house?”
Green was, and still is, Buffalo’s most prolific architect. Partially because he lived to be 95 years old. But partially because of his passion for design, and his willingness to create the designs his clients wanted.
There are six E.B. Green designs on Dorchester.
So Let’s See Dorchester
I’m beginning at the northwest corner of Richmond and I’ll move west. This is the home I was in front of when I took out my camera to start snapping photos. I actually thought it was on Richmond (as the number 734 shows), but the city and the county both have it listed at 75 Dorchester. Who knew? And also, talk about porch envy! This home is fantastic, and a great start to my hike!
Coming around the corner and heading west towards Baynes, these are the homes I saw. This first one is lovely. Interesting how the front entry is enclosed in glass, right on the porch. I wonder if it’s original? The wrought iron railings make me wonder if they are original, or if the wooden balustrade is? It’s all very well done, and the porch is very inviting.
These yellow shutters appear to be original, and are real, working shutters. Nice!
This one, below, is the same color of the house I grew up in, and it gives me a good feeling. I especially like the brackets under the eaves on both the house and the dormers. With the morning sun shining in the sunroom, I picture myself sipping tea and reading in the mornings here. Love it.
This home below is the quintessential city home. The shingling on the peak, the palladian window, and the dentil molding. And the porch, with its brick columns, and this one also has windows on the weather side. Nice! Love the little lending library too!
The mix of styles on this house, below, works really well. Note the tie rod and anchor securing the chimney. There are several on the block, and this one is lovely. When I see shades on either end of porches like this, I know the people who live here actually use the porch. With the shades, they can relax here during more than just sunny, warm weather. Or maybe they’re trying for privacy from their neighbors, who knows? Haha!
Spectacular – each in its own way.
The First E.B. Green Home
As I approached the first E.B. Green home of the day, I immediately notice the tile roof, the brick lintels above the windows and the brick quoins at the corners of the house. Also, the obviously original wrought iron balustrade. Beautiful. This house was built in 1914 for Edmund Thomas.
Then I see two people working on the gardens out front. Lucky me! It’s here that I meet the owner, Megan (pronounced Meegan) and her friend Skip. Skip kept busy with the garden, but Megan was more than willing to chat.
She bought this home just over two years ago, after moving from Soldier’s Place, where she raised her four children.
Megan has done a lot of work to the home in those two short years and she showed me some of it. Let’s go out back.
Megan did extensive work in the sun room overlooking the patio. The windows are original. She added the patio on to the back of the house. Absolutely stunning! The craftsmanship here is beyond comparison. I looked pretty closely (like my father taught me!), and I couldn’t find one thing out of place. Everything is correctly scaled, all angles meet perfectly, it’s trimmed with copper, and it matches the style of the house. It even has a tile roof to match the house. In short, it’s perfect.
Megan is not done yet! She has plans to convert the two car garage into an entertainment space. It’s all original, brick, and has tons of potential! Megan is also looking for someone to work on the stucco on the house… Anyone?
I take a last look at this beauty before reluctantly moving on. Thank you Megan!
These next several are so pretty!
And this, below,…wow! The sun hit it just right as I was walking by. Beautiful!
These next door neighbors are very similar, but executed somewhat differently. Both are great homes!
Moving Right Along
As I move east towards Richmond and then Claremont, I notice this peaceful feeling has come over me. This street is an oasis. I hear only the sounds of summer. The crickets and birds singing. Gonna have to watch for one of these gems to go up for sale. Would love to live here.
After crossing Richmond, I came upon this stunner. And it’s where I met Faye, her two children and her Mother. Faye has been here six years and loves it. I’m happy to see a young family living on this street. For some reason, I’m always happy to see families filling these beautiful homes. I think it’s what they were built for. And Faye, love your gardens and yard. Just beautiful.
This is where I met Bonnie. She and her family are just moving in. They’ve moved here from a home they still own over on (I think) Ardmore. She tells me they love the area and wanted to stick close, but they needed more room. Great choice in this home, below, Bonnie. As she pointed out to me, the porch adds something extra to the Colonial look of the home. I agree. Love all the detailing here too.
This house was once home to Mr. & Mrs. Judson Rumsey. Big name in Buffalo. Their daughter, Dallas Eugenia Rumsey, was a graduate of Buffalo Seminary and Radcliffe College. She worked as the curator of the Keats Collection in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Nice!
Dallas married Richard Finn, a graduate of Nichols School and (you guessed it) Harvard University. He served as an officer in the Navy during World War II, and eventually was named to a post as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer (diplomat) to Japan. That must have been an interesting job in 1947!
Bonnie’s kids, and some others from across the street, have made an obstacle course on the road. I love this! (Although Bonnie didn’t look old enough to have kids who could do anything but scribble!)
A Few Others
This next house, below, used to be the home of Leo W. Stall, a long-time Buffalo pharmacist, who had his shop at the corner of Grant Street at Bird Ave. He was written up in the Buffalo Evening News in May of 1956 for celebrating 55 years as a pharmacist, and 44 years in the same location. He spoke to the News about the changes that had taken place since he became a pharmacist, the biggest of which was antibiotics. But right behind that was the use of many other medicines instead of the traditional herbs and tinctures that were popular when he received his pharmacy degree from the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy in 1901. Stall stated that the new medicines were “a hundred times more effective”.
The things he must have witnessed in his time as a pharmacist in Buffalo at that time! And he lived in this beautiful home on Dorchester Road.
I received an email from Leo Stall’s granddaughter, Suzanne, who sent me this photo, below, of the Stall family. It is from roughly 1929. It seems the family were very hospitable! Suzanne still has the lamps and and the painting behind the family! Thank you for sharing this with us, Suzanne!
Let’s Finish Up with the Other E.B. Green Homes
I was so thrilled to see these homes (I knew they were here, but never really sought them out until recently). Here they are, in no particular order.
This is the Fred Dullard House, built in 1910. I admit, I’d love to see this one, below, with some of the plant life removed. Or trimmed way back. I see what I think are Tudor influences, some quoining, some brackets, but it’s tough to say. I cannot even see the entry. Wish we could see it better. Maybe someday.
C.E. Mickler House
This one, below, is lovely, and also has some Tudor influences. It was built in 1909 for C.E. Mickler.
I love the way the entryway is set back. It’s gorgeous. This home is meticulously maintained, but in my opinion, a little boring. Not what I expected from the great E.B. Green! But we have to remember, that was part of his genius. He did what the customer asked of him. Sometimes he was allowed to run free with his designs, sometimes not so much.
H.S. Griffin House
This next one was built in 1907 for H.S. Griffin and if you are a fan of ivy, then this one’s for you. I, however, am not a big fan. Let me see your house! That’s how I feel. I’ve heard people say that the ivy ruins your foundation, some say it doesn’t. I’ve done a little reading on the subject and the consensus is that it depends on the quality of the home and what kind of condition it’s in. In other words, the definitive answer is maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Haha. Sorry. The jury is still out on that subject.
No one could argue that in this case, it would be easier to see the home without the ivy. I think it’s a lovely house and if you’d like to see more of it, check out this listing.
H.C. Gerber House
The next one, below, is my favorite E.B. Green home on the street. It was built for H.C. Gerber in 1908.
It reminds me a little bit of one of Green’s homes on Summit Ave, but I like this one better. In fact, there’s nothing that I don’t like about this home. I love the colors chosen, and the use of each one. The Roman bricks, and the Flemish bonding used are fantastic. I love that the shutters are real, and that the cut-outs are diamonds, not the usual hearts. The wide dormer is great, and the dark entryway is drawing me in. I’d love to see the inside of this one!
William H. Scott House
This home is spectacular. It was built in 1903. for William Scott. And it’s larger than it appears in the first photo. You see, it’s a sort of flat iron shape, like the Dun Building (oh, also a Green design!). This highly decorative Tudor makes me think of an English garden. The setting is perfect just going into the curve as the street makes its way over to Bidwell. Green had a way of setting buildings just so, on the lots they were to rest, and this is no exception.
I especially love the overhang at the front door, and the decorative detailing above the windows. The windows on the front appear to be original. Love this home!
Below is a photo of the William H. Scott house taken in 1915, when Frederick W. Allan lived in the home. This photo was brought to my attention by reader Bill Blake. Isn’t it fantastic!? Thanks so much Bill!
When I walk over to Dorchester from Bidwell Parkway, I feel like I’m walking into a park. This street has a feeling. A good one. From one end of the street to the other. The center medians filled with plantings and flowers help. But the median is not huge. And I think that keeps the feel cozy and intimate. The neighbors aren’t so far apart that they don’t see each other regularly. I like that.
Here’s an odd observation I made while walking Dorchester. All of the street numbers were new and modern looking. Okay, not all of them. But I would say a good 60% of them are new. Especially between Richmond and Baynes. Just a weird thing I noticed, but I’ll tell you, it made me think that the people on this street are on top of things. If they care enough to replace their old, worn out house numbers, the insides of these homes must be fantastic. It’s all in the details. Just sayin.
I was so happy to finally write about all of these E.B. Green homes on Dorchester. Without men like E.B. Green, Buffalo would not be dripping with incredible architecture like we are. There are others, but Green was one of the best, and certainly the most prolific.
Take a walk on Dorchester Road soon. You’ll forget your troubles for a short while. Everything will melt away and you’ll get that ‘serenity now’ feeling.
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A couple of months ago, I was thinking about a few of my favorite posts, and I decided to start a flashback series. The first one that came to mind is the one I wrote about the Goodyear Mansion. “The Life and Times of 888 Delaware Ave” is perhaps my favorite out of the 107 posts I’ve written to date. There are a couple more that rank right up there, but I’ll be writing about them soon. Stay tuned.
I’m fascinated with this house and with the Charles & Ella Goodyear family, with a particular focus on their 888 Delaware Ave years. I seem to keep coming back to them, and this house. (See my post about Bryant Street.)
Now, you might say it’s because my Mother went to school here when it was Bishop McMahon High School. Maybe so. Or my love of history and homes. That’s possible too. Or the way I admire and respect the work of Green & Wicks, the architects who designed the home. That’s certainly true.
It’s the People
While all of that is part of it, it’s mostly the people who left comments on that first post about the house, and the emails I received from readers, graduates of Bishop McMahon and Oracle Charter School, and others. They numbered in the hundreds and believe it or not, I even heard from a few Goodyear family members! I loved every minute of it. I also got to meet some of the writers of the emails. They were so wonderful! I got to hear all about their own ‘life and times at 888 Delaware’! Which you know I love, because while I like beautiful homes and buildings, what I do is always about the people who live, love, laugh and cry in these buildings.
The story of 888 Delaware Ave has been spectacular thus far. And it’s not over yet.
Progress at the Mansion
A few weeks ago, I headed over to 888 to meet up with Mark Tufillaro, President and COO for Priam Development. There is a lot more going on here than there was last summer!
As I mentioned in the first post, Priam Enterprises had a plan to develop this property into market rate apartments and a boutique hotel. The plan was to convert the additions and the carriage house out back into the apartments, and the actual mansion itself would become the boutique hotel.
When Covid hit, the plan changed to include corporate apartments in the mansion instead of the boutique hotel, along with the market rate apartments. We all know how the pandemic affected the hospitality industry. So Mark and Priam pivoted, and got to work. I continue to be impressed with the care Mark and his team at Priam show as they restore this historical home. As Mark walked me through the grounds, he peppered our conversation with things like, “This was Ella’s room, and Charles’ would have been here.” “We believe this to be where the servants would have slept.” “We’re not positive, but we think this is where the King and Queen of Belgium stayed while in town.” etc.
We also had a conversation where we debated the use of some of the third floor rooms (Priam doesn’t have copies of the original plans for the third floor.) I sensed a real interest on Mark’s part in this discussion. I like that about this project. This guy and this company have integrity, and they care about this home.
Let’s Take a Look
I’m going to start by showing you a few of the things that have been uncovered since I wrote the first post. This first photo is out on the original portico, on the north side. It most likely had a light inside the arch, and I’m hoping it will again. The portico will be opened up and used the way it was meant to be used. Note the original tile floor.
The second photo is how the portico originally looked, at the front of the home. Can’t wait to see it when it’s completed!
Here are a couple of shots of the entryway and the rooms immediately to the right and left of the main entry on the driveway. The ‘Coat Room’ is immediately off to the right when you come in, and the ‘Receiving Room’ is off to the left, just up the stairs. I picture a butler or a footman answering the door, taking visitor’s coats and hats, walking them to the room on the left, and returning to the coat room to hang the wraps.
And the current view from the top of the stairs.
Below is a current photo of the elevator (that I neglected to include in the first post). That’s right, this home had an elevator, in 1903! Very forward thinking. I was in a well known Buffalo bar/restaurant recently, and there was no elevator for the third floor banquet room. What?! The Goodyears took care of this issue in 1903! Note the woodwork, and what great shape it’s in.
As I entered “The Hall” there were workmen about concentrating on the portico room. I was drawn to Karl Bitter’s frieze called “Life” above the fireplace. Look at the molding surrounding it. Spectacular! So grateful that almost all of the woodwork in this house is intact. The photo that follows the ‘today’ photo is from when the Goodyears lived here. The frieze is at the left.
More photos of the woodwork in the hall. Note the work being done to the ceilings. And, another stained glass window!
Speaking of stained glass, there is more stained glass in the library.
Check out these next four images. The first two are the library fireplace as the family enjoyed it. Wow! The third is from last summer, and the fourth shows the shelving after being restored to the original look, minus the leaded glass.
Current condition of the library, above. Note the cement block just outside the one window. Behind it is a loading dock that was added at some point. The loading dock will not be removed, but will be transformed into a patio. Sounds like a good plan.
The Dining Room
These are photos of the dining room. Then and now.
The Billiard Room
I’m not sure why, but I love this room. I mean, I most likely wouldn’t have been allowed into it back in the day! This would have been the gentlemen’s domain. I’d have been in the library after dinner with all the other women. Or more than likely, given my Polish/Irish roots, I’d have been in the kitchen! Haha.
But I do love this room. It’s the windows. I’m told there will be billiards played in this room again. Yessss! And women will be allowed!
As an avid fan of anything having to do with ‘upstairs/downstairs’ themes, I was very interested to see the kitchens. Of course, there are no photos of the kitchens from back in the day. Wish there were. But here’s what’s going on there now. The photo below with the dark walls is the room where the actual cooking was done. This room would have had a store room, a kitchen pantry and closets, in addition to the ovens, stove and other storage.
The other photos show the butler’s pantry, where all the china, silver, utensils, serving trays etc. would have been kept, and the servant’s dining hall. There was originally a wall dividing the dining hall and the butler’s pantry.
Let’s Go Upstairs
First, let’s take a look at the stairwell itself. In the first photo, the stairs were covered by carpeting, which is not original. The second photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward to seeing how the stairs turn out once Priam is finished with the restoration!
When you turn 180 degrees from the railing above, the photo below is what you’d have seen in the Goodyear days. Not bad for a hallway!
Let’s take a look at Ella’s room first. It was at the other end of the hall above, and on the left. Through the door to the left of the bed is Ella’s dressing room, pictured in the second photo. Her private bath would have been through the door that is visible between the mirror and fireplace in the dressing room photo.
Ella’s dressing room is one of my favorite rooms in the house, it’s so personal. Look at all the framed photos throughout, including above the fireplace and surrounding her vanity mirror. Wish I could have seen this room when it was like this. Just once, and preferably not because I had just turned down her bed and laid out her bed clothes.
Below is Ella’s room and dressing room today. The stairs were added when the home was being used as a school, in order to bring the building up to safety codes. What a shame. I mean, I’m really glad the kids were kept safe!! Haha!
This is Charles’ bedroom, below. Then and now. Through the door (closest to the bed) would have been Charles’ private bath and dressing room beyond. Through the door next to the fireplace is Ella’s room.
This room needed extensive work on the floor and ceiling. Water damage?
Guest Rooms and More…
In these rooms, everything has been stripped back preparing for the real finishing work to bring them closer to their original splendor. A lot of the work thus far has been behind the walls. Time consuming and quite necessary, but it’s not the beautiful stuff to look at. That’s coming.
This room, below, was the women’s sewing room. As you can see, it’s being prepared for finishing work. Check out that molding above the doorway!
This room is believed to be where most of the servants slept. It would have been set up dormitory style.
Charles’ office is not as large as you would think. All wood paneling, very manly. Inside, he also had a half bath, all marble. In fact, all the bathrooms in the house, one for each of eleven bedrooms, plus more, were marble. Each of the eleven bedrooms were all equipped with marble fireplaces as well.
The Part of the Property that is Not the Mansion
The market rate apartments are in the process of being converted. They stand directly where Ella’s garden was out back. From what I hear, they’re going to be beautiful!
It is so interesting to me to watch this project unfold. Again, I have to say that I am impressed with the integrity of this project and I am looking forward to seeing the finished apartments!
Like I mentioned earlier, up to now most of the work is being done ‘behind the walls’. So things aren’t starting to look pretty yet. But the pretty stuff is coming. And it’ll happen somewhat quickly when it does. The care with which this work is being done is amazing. Almost every room in the mansion itself is being restored to its former glory. Not all, of course, but seriously, a lot of it is. As much as we could hope for in an almost 120 year old home.
The project is on track to be completed within the first quarter of 2022. That means that soon, there will be a whole host of new people who will experience this home in their own way. Living, loving, laughing and crying their way through their own lives, and leaving their own personal marks on this home. And that’s really what it’s all about.
I missed Garden Walk Buffalo this year. Again. It seems that every year on that weekend, something comes up. This year was no different, so I decided to write this post celebrating Buffalo gardens. I mean, I’m out and about all the time anyway. I have always been blown away by the gardens that Buffalonians create. Of course, I have to include the homes in my photos too, because you know I love my Buffalo homes!
Let’s Get Started
I guess the reason I’m doing this post is to show you that even if you missed the garden walk, you can still see some great stuff across the city. And boy did I see a lot of great gardens.
Now, keep in mind that I didn’t head straight for the Garden Walk addresses. All I did was walk around the city for a few hours. You won’t believe how many gorgeous gardens I saw! You can do the same!
This post is turning into a true pictorial. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Take a look.
One of the Best in the City
I have to showcase this home at the triangle of Bidwell, Potomac and Argyle Park. This is simply amazing.
Look, I know that not all of these gardens are the gardens of the Buffalo Garden Walk, or any of the Buffalo area’s many garden walks. This is merely a representation of what you can see everyday walking around Buffalo. Not kidding. These weren’t even half of the photos I took in roughly four hours of hiking around the city. It was very difficult to decide which to include! I will mention that the Elmwood Village was just chock full of amazing gardens this year!
Special kudos to the owners of the home at the entrance to Argyle Park. Your home is absolutely stunning! The perfect amount of flowers to greens. The perfect amount of whimsy too. Your sign says to grow something spectacular. You certainly did that.
Also love the way you welcome people to sit, relax and enjoy your little slice of paradise! Thank you for that.
Listen, nothing transforms a neighborhood like great gardens. It adds to the quality of life in a neighborhood as much as beautiful homes, public art and architecturally beautiful buildings. Green spaces and flowers add a tranquility that we all need in this fast paced world. And there is no end to the creativity a garden inspires in people!
Think I’ll go out a couple more times to see some of the other garden walk areas I missed! Like Amherst, the East Side, Snyder-Cleve Hill, Hamburg, Ken-Ton, Lancaster, and North Buffalo just to name a few.
Take a walk or a drive. Do it soon. Before all of the gardens become overgrown and give way to fall. We live in a beautiful city. Go see it!
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I’ve seen the Hewitt House (now Inn Buffalo Off Elmwood) many times over the years. It’s on Lafayette Ave between Delaware and Elmwood. Prime area. One of the most desirable streets in the city, in one of the best neighborhoods of the city. Low crime, friendly neighbors, beautiful homes. What’s not to love? I mean, the American Planning Association named the Elmwood Village one of the ten best neighborhoods in the country!
And why wouldn’t they? The Elmwood Village has Frederick Law Olmsted’s Parkway System, examples of both Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson, and the Albright Knox Art Gallery. And let’s not forget the infamous (in Buffalo anyway) Elmwood Strip, where you can get just about anything you could possibly need or want from one of the 300 or so locally owned shops and eateries.
And the homes. Oh, the homes! About 76 of them on Lafayette, between Delaware and Elmwood! Holy smokes!
But for today, I’m going to concentrate on what I think was a hidden treasure in Buffalo, even back when it was built, in 1898. The Herbert H. Hewitt House at Number 619. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that when I see a beautiful home, I always want to see what lies within. Today I’m doing just that. Upon entering, I was overwhelmed in the first two minutes! Seriously. What lies within this house completely blew me away!
First Things First– History
Let’s talk about who had the home built. Herbert Hills Hewitt was born in Detroit in 1855. Like a lot of children did back then, he went to work at a very young age, in his case, for Michigan Central Station. He most likely started out working the most menial of jobs, but moved up the ladder a bit here, because by 1886 he had moved to Chicago and was the General Manager of the Pullman Company. Throughout his career, Hewitt was granted six patents, most of which had to do with railroads & railroad cars. This all means that he must have been a very talented man. To be able to invent useful mechanical devices, and be able to manage a major company is no small feat.
Hewitt married Sarah Dutro in 1892, and in 1893 the couple moved to Buffalo. Hewitt began work on the construction of, and later the management of, the Union Car Company, which was organized by several prominent businessmen, including John J. Albright.
Like most successful men of the day, Hewitt didn’t stop there. By 1904, he had founded and was the president of the Hewitt Rubber Company, which manufactured tires and other rubber supplies. He branched out into brass, founding the Buffalo Brass Company, and eventually became part of Magnus Metals Ltd., which Hewitt and his brother Charles managed. He was also instrumental in the founding and managing of several other companies as well.
And, he had a lot to say about the building of this house.
And What A Home!
The architects of 619 Lafayette were Lansing and Beierl, who were very well known local architects. Both worked for Green & Wicks before striking out on their own. Can’t think of better teachers for an architect starting out in Buffalo in the latter half of the 1800s, than E.B. Green and William Wicks.
The home is an eclectic mix of styles, including stick ornamentation, arts & crafts style siding, a Richardsonian Romanesque porch (amazing porch!) and Queen Anne style stained glass (oh, the stained glass!).
Not only is the home incredibly beautiful, but for it’s time this home was probably the most innovative home in the city, if not the whole country. Dual lighting fixtures were installed in all the rooms, utilizing brand new, at the time, electricity with a gas backup just in case the electricity should fail. If you think about it, the electricity probably did fail quite often back then. Some of the fixtures still exist in the home. Love that.
It also had a central heating system installed, with at least nine separate thermostats! This was unheard of at the time. Pneumatic heat control thermostat technology was only patented a few years before this home was built. I have not come across any other house in Buffalo that was equipped with this many thermostats. They are identical, and beautiful to boot.
Of particular interest to me was a room at the driveway side of the home, where delivery persons could enter and leave deliveries, without having to enter the locked home. Inside this little room was a small, custom Jewett refrigerator built into the wall. You see, my husband Tim worked for the Jewett Refrigerator Company when they were still in Buffalo. So whenever we see an old Jewett refrigerator, he likes to check it out to see how it was made. The room is now a first floor powder room.
Let’s Skip Ahead a Bit
In 1943 the home was converted into a boarding house by Flora Baird, wife of industrialist Frank Burkett Baird. He was best known as being one of the driving forces behind the conception, the planning and the building of the Peace Bridge. Frank died in 1939, so it appears that by 1943 his widow was looking for some additional income. With eleven bedrooms, this home is perfect for that. And it appears that at some point even those bedrooms were divided up into even more.
In 2012, Joseph and Ellen Lettieri purchased the home through public auction. They opened Inn Buffalo Off Elmwood in 2015.
But before they could do that, they faced a restoration that would intimidate the most experienced renovators! But also, what a labor of love! That’s how it comes across. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Ellen when I visited, but Joe is absolutely in love with this place. And like the Elmwood Village itself, what’s not to love?
The mahogany, the cherry, the oak. Hand painted stencil work, gold leaf (lot’s of it!), silk damask and 100 year old tapestries. Cove ceilings, marble fireplaces, stained glass! It’s all here. And it is stunning.
Let me show you.
When I arrived there were a few guests on the porch enjoying a morning coffee and some breakfast. What a fantastic place to sit and fully wake up in the morning. You all know how I love a good porch. This one is probably the best I have ever seen! Can you see yourself here? Morning coffee or tea? Afternoon cocktails? Evening drinks? Yes, please.
I walked into the foyer, and almost immediately I was overwhelmed by the home. I didn’t know where to look first. There was so much gorgeousness all around me. I first shot off a quick text to Joe to alert him I was there. But then I was immediately drawn into the study. This room has been painstakingly restored to its original splendor. I don’t use the word splendor very often, but this is splendor. Take a look. It’s amazing! This is where the men would have gone after dinner to smoke cigars and discuss business. I could be comfortable here after dinner too. Just sayin.
The Front Parlor
On the other side of the foyer at the front of the house is the parlor. That’s silk damask on the walls. Just gorgeous. I can see Sarah and Herbert relaxing here in the evenings after dinner. Beautiful.
And the dining room…wow!
The music room – this is where the 100 year old tapestries are tacked to the walls. This is a first for me. So I looked it up and found that when the plaster is applied to the walls and is still wet, the tapestry is applied to the wet plaster and tacked in at the edges. This is how the silk damask would have been applied as well. You can see the tacks in the photo. Effective process, because this stuff is over 100 years old, and look at it! Might have faded a bit, but it’s still beautiful!
Joe restored the ceilings himself in this room, and he admits to mixed results. The whole thing was painted white over the beautiful stenciling. There oughta be a law.
Oh, and the Foyer
The sheer width of the foyer is so grand. Check out the mantle and the surrounding woodwork, and this is a great shot of those cove ceilings I mentioned earlier. I should mention that the Lettieris have found gold leaf under the white paint in both the foyer and the front parlor. This home is a preservation in progress. May take a lifetime to uncover all the hidden treasures here!
The Stained Glass
The stained glass in this house (starting to sound like a broken record) is among the best in Buffalo. Take a look for yourself.
And Last, But Certainly Not Least
The Rathskeller. And here I go again, this is one of the most unique rooms I’ve seen. I mean it! I’ve never seen anything like it. The tile work depicts small town life and is spectacular! And in such good shape considering that it’s over 100 years old! What a cool room!
Wait, maybe this is where the men retired to after dinner to smoke cigars and talk business…
Well! I don’t even know where to begin. Joe Lettieri has the perfect personality to run an inn. How many innkeepers do you know who receive gifts from their guests? There was a family leaving the inn on the morning I visited. Below, from left to right, are Josef, Amy, Daniel and Joe Lettieri (owner). The bottle in Joe’s hand was a gift to thank him for being such a great host.
Josef, by the way, is the artist of the new mural at 201 Ellicott Street. He and his family stayed at the inn while he was working on the mural. Glad to see you’ve enjoyed your stay here in Buffalo. It was great meeting you, and your mural will bring joy to downtown Buffalo for years to come. For that, we thank you, Josef.
Back to the House
This home was a real surprise to me. I’ve seen it many times passing by, but I never dreamed there would be so much inside the home that would fascinate me. The story here is how intact the place is, after all these years! And to be honest, the work that Joe and Ellen were willing to do to bring it back is nothing short of incredible. They’ve got a ways to go if they’re going to complete the entire house, but honestly, it’s stunning the way it is.
As Joe reminded me, he’s just a janitor. And the work that’s left to do would be best done by professional preservationists. I personally love the place just the way it is. I mean, I’m dying to see what’s under all that white paint, but there’s a lot to be said for enjoying the here and now. And that’s just what Joe and Ellen are doing. As a Buffalonian, I appreciate all that they’ve done for the city. When people come to stay with them, they make us look good.
This is a fascinating home, on a beautiful street, in a wonderful neighborhood! Got friends and family coming to visit? Take a look at Inn Buffalo Off Elmwood. You won’t believe what lies within!
*Special thanks to Rick Falkowski for hooking me up with Joe Lettieri. Appreciate it and looking forward to your new book!
Get the Book!
They make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!
On a bike ride several weeks ago, a friend mentioned to me that the area around Orton Place was used as a place for traveling circuses! It’s such a densely populated area that I couldn’t believe it.
Of course, you know I went home that day and immediately looked it up to find out more. And he was right! This area of what is now Allentown was used when the circus came to town! As a matter of fact, shortly before the area was sectioned off and developed, PT Barnum brought Jumbo the elephant here from London. This was in the mid-1880s. Wow! Who would’ve guessed?
I decided to take a closer look and I decided to include St. Johns Place too because, well, there’s something about this street that I really like. Giant old city homes, many of which are the Queen Anne or the Shingle Style, each one with a story to tell.
Let’s Start There
At this first one, on the south side of St. Johns Place is this amazing Shingle Style home. I really wish I’d run into the owners here because I’ve admired the colors of this home for a long time, and I wanted the chance to tell them. It’s so Allentown, isn’t it? Most people pick two, maybe three colors when they paint their homes. These people chose four colors, and each one is spot on. And the paint job itself is unique. Just look at that chimney too. Love the whole house.
Next are a set of twins. And these are fantastic. I’ve never actually seen twins that are this ornate. They’re essentially the same, but with different paint jobs, windows, and finishes. But the same. Look at the upper balcony on the driveway side of the one home (they both have it, but it can only be seen in the one photo). Spectacular. And the pebbled dash on the triangular parts of the peaks. That’s also the same on both homes.
Next, I come to this. You see why I love this street so much? The triple windows in the peak, and the details around them are fantastic, and very unique. The second floor window is also one that makes this Victorian Era home a standout on the block.
In 1900, this home was listed by Gurney & Overturf for sale for $7,200. The ad stated that the property was worth $13,000, and that it was a bargain at that price. In 1900, the median family income in the United States was roughly $450 a year. So you had to be doing pretty well to live on this block. And it shows.
And this, below. Look at the bay window near the peak. Very unusual. I’ve only seen this a handful of times, and these are original. The home itself could use a little attention, but with a clean-up and the right paint, it could be beautiful!
Moving Right Along
This home, below, was built in 1887 for Howard and Jennie D. Bryant. Howard was a writer for the Buffalo Evening News. By 1900, it appears that Howard had passed away, but Jennie still lived in the home with William McNiven, Jennie’s daughter with Howard, Jeannette, and William’s daughter, Agnes.
The home was the victim of arson in or around 2002, but has since been brought back to, and possibly even better than, it’s original state. It is now a two family home, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This home is stunning.
These three are all similar Queen Anne style homes. On this street especially, I’m noticing how the use of color makes a big difference to a home.
And with that, I’m at the corner of Orton at this Stick Style home. This home reminds me of the Humphrey House in North Tonawanda, but it might be just the colors. But, what a Victorian beauty this home is! The corner lot is perfect for this home too. Really shows it off nicely!
I can’t help but think about what a bit of paint could do here. This home could be magnificent.
As I round the corner, I immediately see this home. I’ve always wondered about it. It’s so different from all the others. Alas, no one was around at this home either. There’s a twin to the lion on the other side of the driveway. Love them.
It’s here (on the corner of Hudson) that I ran into Beth. She was doing some yard work for a neighbor. We chatted for a few minutes, and she directed me to a home a few houses away on Hudson to see the amazing gardens. It’s next door to her own home, and her own lovely gardens. Beth’s is the green one, below. I love it that she was modest about her own gorgeous gardens. Might have to head over to Hudson sometime soon…Beth, thanks for the heads up, and for being willing to chat about the neighborhood!
Back to Orton Place
This is where we start to get into some real beauties (as if we haven’t already!). Love the pop of orange on this front door!
This one, below, was owned by one of the developers of Orton Place, Tellico Johnson, who was related to some of Buffalo’s earliest residents. It’s an absolutely lovely home. I could see myself having tea on the upper balcony in the mornings…
Again, note how paint and paint colors really affect the way you see a home.
Mike & Calvin
It’s at this next home that I met Mike and Calvin. That’s Mike on the porch. Calvin was camera shy. Not to be confused with regular shy, because he definitely wasn’t that. I took up entirely too much of their time, but I thoroughly enjoyed their company.
Mike owns the home, and Calvin is an old friend who was visiting. Mike told me of how he first moved into the Allentown area over in Day’s Park. He ‘s been in this home on Orton Place about 20 years or so and has witnessed first hand the changes the neighborhood has gone through. All of Allentown really. It could be pretty rough here back in the 70s and 80s. He’s happy here though, and that’s good to see.
Very friendly guys. Mike, your home is wonderful. Thank you both for taking the time to talk to me. It was very Buffalo of you!
Moving Right Along
Next door to Mike is this amazing home. It was built in 1885 for Dr. Thomas H. Callahan. In 1890 it was featured in “Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition”. One of only four homes in Buffalo to receive that distinction.
Below is a photo of how the home appeared in 1890. Stunning. Note the finial at the top of the bell shaped roof of the turret. Also, the trim at the front of the porch which forms an oval, and at the sides, arches. Love that.
And here is the home today. Once again, paint makes all the difference. It completely changes the look of the house! Back in the 1890s, perhaps this was a more staid neighborhood. The bold color choices here fit right in with the Allentown of today. Note the original balustrade on the second floor porch. Unusual and lovely. We’ve lost the oval and the arches. Wouldn’t it be great to see those brought back?
And this one, below. This home was built in 1887 for Sydney Lake, who was the leader of the Plymouth Methodist Church (now The Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter Ave). A few things to note here. The curved gable window and the sunburst trim surrounding it and the other window in the rear gable. Also there is colored glass in the windows on the second and third floors. Love the art in the garden, and also the stained glass ‘additions’ to the second floor windows. Wish the owners would have been around when I went by, would love to know more about those. It’s a beautiful home!
These next few are among the best kept on the street. All have their own beautiful details to marvel at.
Let’s Hop Over to Pennsylvania Street for a Second
At this point I’m going to veer off the title streets again and include a couple of things I want to tell you about. The first, is this building, below. I’ve had actual daydreams about this place. Right across from Kleinhans Music Hall. Perfect location for a funky little jazz club that serves delicious homemade pub food, and has all the best music. Before and after concerts at Kleinhans, of course. And that upper patio for outdoor seating! Or how about a good old fashioned honky-tonk piano bar? (Mike and Calvin, there’s a good use of that word! Haha! ) Or a breakfast and lunch place for the neighborhood?
Dear owners, could you please sell it to me for zero dollars, so that I may make one of these daydreams come true? Seriously though, I love old buildings like this one. I wonder what it was to begin with, who spent time here, and what were they like? It’s Bellini’s Bistro right now and their menu looks fantastic. Think I’m going out to dinner soon…
And this house is kitty corner from the bistro. So beautiful! Oh, and note the arches in the porch…lovely.
Back to St. Johns Place
Now let’s head back to St. Johns Place to check out the north side of the street.
I’d love to see this one, below, get just a little attention. It’s got such great bones! The five ribbon (?) windows in the peak, the arched window on the second floor, and the details between the other two windows on the second floor, and the shingles! This home is amazing!
There’s some work being done here, and I can tell, it’s going to be fabulous when it’s finished. Looking forward to seeing those upper windows at completion! Love the little patio on the second floor too. Looks like an original window to the right of that. I think that because of the way the window opens out from the bottom. And the new paint job is showing off the dentil molding. Wow!
Next is this beauty. My favorite parts? Those upper windows, the simplicity of the porch. And the entryway. It’s very welcoming. Complete with rocker to come in and sit a spell.
All I can say about this one, below, is wow! Just perfect in every way! The paint colors are spot on, and the execution is flawless. Doesn’t get much better than this!
Grassroots Garden WNY
This is where we come to a sweet little community garden. Love this! And right next door I met Jenny, who is one of the volunteers at this garden. What a little oasis this is! And fruitful too! Without even trying, I saw beets, greens, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, and a bunch of other things! Sweet!
Below is Jenny in front of her own home. She was picking red currants from the bush in front of her house. Apparently, this is the largest yield she’s ever gotten from this bush. She eats them with her oatmeal in the morning, and also will make jam this summer too! Nice!
Jenny and I chatted about the neighborhood. She loves it here, I think she said she’s been here eighteen years (?). You don’t stay that long unless you like it! Love your house, Jenny. Especially the paint colors and that upper window; so many panes! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Appreciate it.
Buffalo Harmony House
And now we reach the last home on the street. And what an interesting home it is! It was designed by H.H. Little, who I first discussed on the blog over on Norwood Ave. It was built for Dr. and Mrs. Hubbard A. Foster and they moved in sometime in 1887. They lived there with their daughter Florence. Eventually Florence married and had a son, they lived in the home as well.
After the Fosters moved out, the Boocock family moved in. William Boocock was a clergyman with First Presbyterian Church. By 1930, the house was owned by Sarah Doxey, and was a two family home.
What is it Now?
It became a boarding house shortly after that, went through several owners, and was left empty for several years. Holly Holdaway bought the home, and along with Daniel Culross, lovingly restored it into the Buffalo Harmony House Historic Bed & Breakfast.
I first met Holly in 2018 when they were just opening up the B & B. She gave me a tour of the home, and it is fantastic! I took tons of photos, which I, of course, lost. (This was before my blogging days so it was before I was forced to be a little more organized about my photos.) Anyway, I spoke to Holly again the other day when she confirmed the B & B has made it through the pandemic and as a matter of fact, they will be expanding this fall. They’ll be opening a lounge with a full bar in the basement level of the home. Look for signage to come!
The stained glass transom window just inside the home inspired the theme of the B&B, and the names of the guest rooms. The Bluejay Billet, Cardinal Canton, Hummingbird Haven, Sparrow Suite, and Robin Room. Sweet. And I believe the floors have been redone since I was there, and they look fantastic.
Listen, I don’t often do this, but Holly and Dan have put their hearts and souls into this place. So have other owners of B & Bs in the area. If you’ve got friends or family coming to town, why not suggest they stay at one of our locally owned B & Bs? This one’s fantastic!
Wow! All of this from a bike ride and a friend telling me about this area being used for traveling circuses before the homes were built! These two streets are seemingly sleepy little streets. But there’s a lot of history here, and there’s a lot going on now. Symphony Circle and Kleinhans Music Hall is just around the bend, and in the other direction, but just as close is the hustle and bustle of Allen Street! There, you’ll find bars, restaurants, shops and galleries galore.
And just like every neighborhood I visit, there are amazing homes. And people. It’s always about the people in the end. I met several on these two streets. Jenny, Beth, Calvin, Mike and Holly (again). It was really nice meeting you all, and I hope to see each of you again soon.
Historic Allentown has always been, and always will be, one of Buffalo’s most popular areas. To live, to eat, to see a play, to visit a gallery, to party. And Orton Place and St. Johns Place are among the best streets in the neighborhood. Take a walk. Go see them. You’ll love what you see.
Get the Book!
They make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!