The Goodyear Mansion – One Year Later

The Goodyear Mansion – One Year Later

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.

Ella and her son, A. Conger attend the wedding of Ella’s granddaughter, Ester Watson, and David Brooks Crane. Photo Credit: Buffalo Courier Express: Jan 16, 1938.

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.

The Pandemic

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.

Photo Credit: unknown (Wikipedia)

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!

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

More details being uncovered. This is in what used to be the loggia.

The Entry

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.

We really could have used a coat room like this when we were raising our three kids!

And the current view from the top of the stairs.

One of the workers taking a much needed break. They tell me Mark’s a real taskmaster – just kidding!

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.

The Hall

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.

Two things: One, note the heavy brocade curtain between the hall and the entry to the home. The receiving room would be just outside the curtain on the right and the coat room would be down the stairs to the left. Two, a pipe organ in the living room! This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

More photos of the woodwork in the hall. Note the work being done to the ceilings. And, another stained glass window!

The Library

Speaking of stained glass, there is more stained glass in the library.

This is in the library at the southern end of the house. Note that amazing wrought iron. Just above the library shelving at the right of the door is some old wallpaper. It’s not original, and will not be incorporated into the new design of the room.

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.

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

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 door on the right leads to Ella’s beloved terrace, which overlooked her garden. The one on the left looks into the hall. There is one more door roughly where this photo was taken from, that leads into the oval breakfast room. Isn’t this amazing?! Note the fireplace and mirror above, and then see below. This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

And now.

These doors lead to Ella’s terrace and garden, which would have been off to the right. Look at that stained glass!

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!

The Kitchen

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!

Photo used courtesy of Laura VR – via Bishop McMahon’s Facebook page.

The original chandelier hangs on a 40 foot chain ready to be put into service again. In this photo, note the work being done on the ceilings on the second floor.

Detail of the wrought iron.

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!

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

The Bedrooms

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!

Servant’s Quarters

This room is believed to be where most of the servants slept. It would have been set up dormitory style.

Charles’ Office/Study

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!

Ella in her garden. Photo credit: Bogalusa Story by C.W. Goodyear (Charles’ grandson)

My Impressions

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!

The view from some of the market rate apartments. I’m told this outdoor area will be transformed into an attractive patio. Nice!

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.

This photo gives you an idea of the actual size of the dining room. The previous dining room photo made the room appear cozy. Note the fireplace with the mirror above. Photo credit: Bogalusa Story by C.W. Goodyear (Charles’ grandson)

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.

The Goodyear Mansion, indeed, lives on.

Click here to read the original post about the mansion: “The Life and Times of 888 Delaware Ave”

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The books make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!).  Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!

Celebrating Buffalo Gardens

Celebrating Buffalo Gardens

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.

Sometimes it’s the window boxes.

Sometimes it’s the lions and their planters.

So pretty!

Fantastic!

Love this house, and the gardens – ooh la la!

Cute!

Again with the window boxes! Beautiful!

Because it’s gorgeous, and I like Sycamore trees!

Sweet!

Chapin bliss!

Wow!

This is fabulous on Bidwell. It’s things like this that make neighborhoods so great!

So much beauty everywhere here.

One of Tim’s favs!

Just lovely!

Pretty in pink!

Love this.

Bet the bees love this place!

When I saw this out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a cat! Cute!

What could be better?!

I could never put something like this together!

I want to go back for apples when they’re ready! Pie anyone?

This one is all about the pots!

Love the bike!

So pretty!

A symphony of plants!

There are so many of these hydrangea trees (hydrangea paniculata) in the city right now! Must be the “in” thing!

Makes me want to go up and sit on the porch!

This perfection!

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.

Love these painted garden posts!

Sweeeeeet!

Imagine taking a walk here every day.

Secret garden out back…the sphere is a water feature that sounds like a tiny babbling brook.

My Impressions

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!

Get the Book! There are tons of bonus photos in the book – click the link to see!

The books make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!).  Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!

The creativity at Garden Walk Buffalo is beyond compare. Check out photos of the Garden Walk Buffalo gardens by scrolling through their facebook page. Enjoy!

Hewitt House – Inn Buffalo

Hewitt House – Inn Buffalo

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.

This photo of Herbert and Sarah Hewitt appeared in the Buffalo Courier Express May 7, 1922, at the occasion of their 30th wedding anniversary. It is the only likeness I have seen of either of them. It was generally known around town that Hewitt disliked having his picture taken.

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.

What Else?

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.

Note the original dual fixture mechanics above the refrigerator.

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.

The Porch

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.

Photo credit: Inn Buffalo Off Elmwood website. Used courtesy of Joe Lettieri

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!

Photo credit: Inn Buffalo Off Elmwood. Used courtesy of Joe Lettieri

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…

My Impressions

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.

Isn’t this incredible? Joe believes the hood is original. Whoever thought a stove could be gorgeous?!

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!

Josef’s mural at 201 Ellicott – fantastic!

City Living – Orton Place + St. Johns Place

City Living – Orton Place + St. Johns Place

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.

Twins

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.

And These

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.

Orton Place

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…

These Three

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.

Photo Credit: “Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition” – January 1890

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.

The trim around the windows is noteworthy!

Note the private porch on the right. And the underground parking on the left. Love this one!

Love, love, love the colors! And that garage!

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.

Love the details on the peak!

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.

The paint makes a huge difference for this home. Love the under the porch detail.

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!

My Impressions

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!

City Living – Summit Ave.

City Living – Summit Ave.

A few months ago, my sister-in-law, Brenda, mentioned that her Mother (Sandy) grew up on Summit Ave in Parkside. Now, I’ve known Sandy ever since I’ve known Brenda, which is going on 37 years now. (Wow!) Sadly, we lost Sandy (we all called her Grandma Sandy) back in 2017. And somehow, I never knew she grew up just up the street from one of Buffalo’s most famous homes.

A few weeks ago now, I found myself on a bike ride through the Parkside Neighborhood. As I turned off of Amherst and on to Summit Ave, I was awestruck once again by the homes on this gorgeous street. I decided it was time to write about Grandma Sandy’s street.

Wait till you see what I learned here. You’ll be amazed.

A Quick History of the Parkside Neighborhood

The history of the Parkside Neighborhood is long and very interesting, dating back to the early 1800s. Buffalo’s first postmaster was Erastus Granger. He built his house on Main Street near West Delevan. Granger’s property extended north almost to West Oakwood Place off of Parkside, and west to just about where Elmwood Ave is today.

Dr. Daniel Chapin owned north of Granger’s land just about all the way to UB on Main Street, and also west to Elmwood. Many homeowners in this neighborhood will find one or both of these names on their deeds.

In 1876, Frederick Law Olmsted designed the existing neighborhood as a buffer between Delaware Park and the rest of the city. The homes were added slowly through roughly 1910. As you would expect from Olmsted, the streets resemble a ‘park outside the park’, if you will. Gently curving streets that don’t lead too far therefore discouraging too much traffic. Beautiful homes in a beautiful setting.

I should mention that the Parkside Community Association was created in 1963 to combat blockbusting and redlining that was taking place all over the country at the time. I’m happy to say that the community pulled together and was pretty successful in this endeavor. Today, the area is a diverse and stable neighborhood anyone would be proud to call home.

Let’s Take a Look

So, today I’m going to cover the stretch of Summit between Amherst Street and West Oakwood Place, with a couple of other homes of interest thrown in for good measure. I’ll take a closer look at two local architects. They’re not as famous as Frank Lloyd Wright, who I’ll talk about too, but they’re what I call ‘Buffalo famous’. And if you read my blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve heard me refer to them many times over. Of course, I’m talking about Green & Wicks. Edward Brodhead (E.B.) Green and William Sydney Wicks.

But, let’s start with all the other homes. I should mention that I won’t be able to put every single home in this post. There are so many on this street. But it is a spectacular street. What a place to live!

Look at this fabulousness, below. Love the wood on the ceiling of the porch, the pilasters that match the columns, and that entryway! It’s been maintained perfectly. This house has got it going on!

These two, below, are right next door to each other, and are essentially the same house with subtle differences. Pretty.

Check out the bold red trim on this home, below. The paint job is perfect. And you know what else is perfect? The symmetry. You know how I love a home to be symmetrical. This one is. The dormers are interesting too, kind of low slung and wide. Beautiful home.

These beauties.

Grandma Sandy’s Home

This is the home Grandma Sandy grew up in, at least for part of her childhood. It’s a double, and Sandy’s mother owned it. There are a couple of stories associated with this house.

The flowers here are gorgeous!

The first is that there was a fire here in 1947, in Grandma Sandy’s flat. Only her mother was home in their apartment, and two people in the other. No one was hurt, and the family’s two cocker spaniels survived. But unfortunately, the family canary did not survive. Aww.

The second is that two of the occupants of the home in 1945, PFC James Clare, 21, and his brother-in-law Sgt. Raymond Hens, 27, were both injured in World War II, during the same period. Clare in Germany and Hens in Belgium. James Clare lived in this home with his mother. Hens, who was related to the family who owned Hens & Kelly, (more about that later) lived here with his wife and two sons. It is unclear whether they all lived in one flat (I could picture that happening in a wartime situation), or if they had separate flats. It appears that both men came home safely from Europe.

And More

If you’re familiar with the area, you know I’m getting close to the Darwin Martin House on the corner of Summit and Jewett. I often wonder what it would be like to live across the street from that property. Here are some of the homes across the street. All of them remarkable in their own right. I think it’d be pretty wonderful to live in any one of these homes!

Moving Right Along

Crossing over Jewett, and these homes are just as nice as all the others! Aren’t they wonderful?!

It’s here that I met the most amazing, friendly couple, Jane and Frank. We got to talking and they told me they’ve lived in their home for 56 years! Tim and I have been in our home 28 years and I thought that was long! Anyway, Jane and Frank are big proponents of the Parkside neighborhood and seem to know everyone who lives on Summit now, as well as everyone who used to live here too!

What a great conversation we had! They filled me in on the neighborhood (which is apparently full of professors from Buffalo’s various colleges) and they told me about their children and grandchildren as well.

Frank mentioned that he wishes he had gotten the front steps finished before I came by to take photos. I think Frank said this was the third time in 56 years he was re-doing them! As with all homes, theirs is always in need of care. I love that at 83, he’s redoing the steps again, himself.

Jane and Frank live in the upstairs flat of this house, which they bought as a starter home. Friends and family thought they were a little crazy to live upstairs and rent out the lower level. Most people do the opposite. Jane said she liked the upstairs and so that’s where they lived. Frank thinks it’s one of the reasons they’re both so spry – going up and down the stairs. That and great jazz music. I agree.

Obviously, they never bought another house. When you love the neighborhood and your neighbors as much as these two do, why would you go anywhere else?

Take a look at this house. Jane and Frank tell me this is where the Hens family lived, owners of half of the Hens & Kelly stores. What a great upper porch! Actually, the main porch is spectacular!

Green & Wicks

It’s here that I’d like to talk about the men behind the architectural firm of Green & Wicks. You’ve heard me refer to them as the most prolific architects in the city back in the day. And it’s true. Both of them are represented on Summit Ave and Jewett Parkway. But it’s really E.B. Green that was so prolific. Let me explain.

So Green & Wicks entered a partnership together in 1881, in Auburn, NY. They both graduated from the Cornell School of Architecture. Cornell was one of the first schools to offer degrees in architecture. Previous to that time, it was considered more of a trade, with architects going through an apprenticeship.

But with degrees in their talented hands they came to Buffalo at a time of fantastic growth and change. Money was being made and those who were making it were not afraid to spend it. And they spent a lot of it on building. Homes, buildings, churches, etc.

Green & Wicks were kept very busy from 1881 until William Wicks retired in 1917. For 36 years they created many Buffalo icons, including the Market Arcade, Buffalo Savings Bank (Goldome), the Fidelity Trust Building (Swan Tower), and the Albright Art Gallery (Albright Knox). They also designed practically every other mansion on Delaware Avenue’s Millionaire’s Row. The Goodyear Mansion, the Foreman Cabana House and the Clement Mansion (American Red Cross). Just to name a few. And there are many, many more. These are all buildings and homes that are at least familiar to many Buffalonians.

After Wicks Retired

After William Wicks retired in 1917 (he passed away in 1919) E.B. Green worked with his son. After his son’s death Green worked with several other architects until his own death in 1950. The firm itself continued on under the name James, Meadows & Howard until 1971 when it was finally dissolved. It is generally accepted that some of Green’s greatest work was done while he was working with William Wicks.

E.B. Green was so popular in Buffalo that there’s a story that goes like this. When John J. Albright’s home on West Ferry Street burned to the ground, Albright encountered Green on the property, watching the fire. He immediately said to him, “Well, Green, have you brought the plans for the new home?”

E.B. Green worked up until his death, creating over 370 buildings in all, two-thirds of which are in Buffalo. Of those, roughly 160 remain, several of which I have written posts about (see the above links).

Green & Wicks on Summit Ave

Let’s get to some of their work on Summit.

There are five homes on Summit Ave that Green & Wicks designed, and one on Jewett. The one on Jewett Ave was the home of William Wicks.

Let’s start with the five on Summit. This first one is a Tudor influenced home, that I think used to be a brighter red, but I like this color better. It’s more like a brick red, and more in keeping with the style of the home.

And this, below. I love this one, and would live in it, right here on Summit. Thank you for this Green & Wicks. It’s perfect for me. I love everything about it. Not too big, not too small. Love the eaves, the porch. All of it.

This home actually reminds me that William Sydney Wicks published a book in 1899 about how to build and furnish cabins and cottages. It was quite popular and went through five printings. Wonder if this one is from the book. This house would be so great on a lake in the Adirondacks, wouldn’t it?

This Colonial Revival, below, is so pretty, set back a bit from the other homes on the street. It’s beauty is in its simplicity.

And then there’s this one. Again, I get that cottage-y feel. I can picture this in the woods, near a pond. It’s got a screened in porch for those warm summer nights. The huge eaves and brackets! And look at the railings, how they splay out over the wide staircase. How unusual! This house is fantastic!

And this. Again, here’s that cottage feel. Although the gingerbreading makes me thing of Austria or Bavaria. Love it.

The Home of William Sydney Wicks

Finally, let’s take a look at William Wicks’ home on Jewett Parkway, at the corner of Summit. I absolutely love this home. It features red Medina Sandstone on the lower half and the upper half is the exact same brick as used in the Darwin Martin House, which is directly across the street. It’s Roman brick, which are longer and narrower than most bricks you see everywhere else. The upper half also features half timbering which is purely decorative in this use. The roof and dormers are both slate.

This home is just lovely. And the landscaping fits in well.

Like I’ve said before in other blogs, I’m always interested to see what an architect would build for himself. Now, this home was built in 1890. The Darwin Martin house across the street was completed in 1905. I’ve often wondered what Wicks thought of the home going in across the street. Did he love it, and speak to Frank Lloyd Wright during the design and construction phases? Or did he not appreciate the new prairie design? Oh, to time travel and be able to see for myself!

Speaking of the Darwin Martin House

It seems to me that just about everyone reading this pretty much already knows about the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Darwin Martin House, and so I won’t go into any detail about it. If you’d like more in depth info, check out this link.

Here are a few of my own photos of this fabulous Buffalo treasure. Please note that some of these were taken in early spring 2020, and some were taken just a few days ago. I believe the historic gardens are now complete, and they are stunning.

My Impressions

I started out writing about this street for my sister-in-law Brenda, and the whole connection with her Mother, Sandy. And her childhood home is beautiful! I’ll also add, it’s one of the largest on the street!

But I ended up learning a lot about the area. I spent a good amount of time on the Parkside Association website learning about the history of the area. Check it out if you’re interested. There’s a lot of good information there.

I knew about the William Wicks house on Jewett, and I really have wondered what he thought of the Darwin Martin House. But I didn’t know there were other Green & Wicks houses on Summit. You learn something new every day. And I was glad to finally have a good reason to write a bit more about them and their incredible impact on Buffalo’s architectural scene.

As I’ve said many times before, I am not, nor do I pretend to be, well versed in the academics of architecture. But I know what I like, and I have a good feel for what people like E.B. Green and William Sydney Wicks have done for this town. It’s part of what makes Buffalo great!

To be a good, friendly neighbor is a big part of what makes Buffalo great too. Jane and Frank have an innate understanding of that. I knew it immediately when Jane started chatting with me from their upper porch. She didn’t have to talk to me. But years of experience have taught her that knowing your neighbors is key to what kind of experience a neighborhood will give you.

They talked to me about how they stayed here on Summit because they loved their home and their neighbors. I bet there are many people who stayed on Summit because of the two of you. Jane and Frank, you are absolutely lovely people. Thank you for spending time with me. I loved every second of it.

RIP Grandma Sandy. Loved ya to pieces.

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!

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