A couple of weeks ago, as I drove on the 198 near Forest Lawn, I lamented to myself (again) about the loss of the once beautiful Humboldt Parkway. Yes, I do have occasion to use the controversial, but also well used highway that split our Delaware Park (and indeed a thriving neighborhood) through the middle. As do, I suspect, a lot of Buffalonians who wish the highway were still a beautiful ‘bridle path’ that ambled through the park and over to MLK Park.
But that’s not what I am writing about today. Suffice it to say that if the Scajaqada were torn out tomorrow, and returned to its former glory, I would rejoice right along with all the principled people who refuse to use it today. But for now, I occassionally need to, and do, use it. Just like I will when it’s returned to a tree lined two lane city street. (Hope!)
But on this day, it was the homes on Agassiz Circle that I was thinking about. Specifically the ones near Medaille College. Who lives along there now? And how does their view differ from the way it was back in the day? Curious, as usual, I decided to take a closer look.
As I left the house to head over to Agassiz Circle, I mentioned to my husband that I didn’t think I’d be able to continue my urban hikes posts through the winter because people are generally indoors at this time of the year. And let’s face it, the people I meet along the way are what makes these posts interesting.
Happily, I was wrong. On this hike, I met and spoke with four residents of this neighborhood who were friendly and willing to chat. Take a look.
The Homes on Burbank Terrace and Burbank Drive
I started this urban hike at the corner of Meadowview Place and Burbank Terrace.
As I entered the street, this is the first home I saw. Just my style. Love everything about this house. I always marvel at how some homeowners get the color just right. The color of this house is perfect. Not fussy with the trim – just all one color and it looks like a classic craftsman style home. I especially love that the windows appear to be original. Love it.
As I start to move on, the homeowner comes out on the front porch to talk to me. Her name is Brittney (I apologize if that’s not the correct spelling) and she’s very friendly. I explain why I’m taking pictures on her street. We talk about her home, about the neighborhood, and about the cemetery. She tells me there have only been two owners of this home. And I believe she is correct. Well, two families that is. The first owner was A.J. Brady Jr, who worked for Brady Bros., which was run by his father and uncle, and was a lumber business located in North Tonawanda. His daughter Mary Louise was the previous owner to Brittney and her family. So two families.
Brittney invites me to the backyard to see their view of Forest Lawn and to take photos. The backyards are very small along this stretch. Here, it’s about having the wide open space of the cemetery on your border. Brittney says that her kids know Sarah Jones very well. At my look of confusion, she explains that Sara’s is the closest grave to their backyard. She speaks about Sarah almost affectionately. I find this to be very sweet, but also very realistic. It teaches children that death is a part of life. We’re all going there; am I right? Why shouldn’t we talk to our kids about it?
Brittney also tells me that this home, below, was built on a bet. Apparently, the people who built it had it designed to fit into this tiny piece of property, because people bet it couldn’t be done. I think they did it very well. No yard here at all, just the wide expanse of cemetery out back.
I love this neighborhood already. Thanks Brittney!
As I walked away from Brittney’s home I took one more photo of it, and another of this one, below, when I met up with Patrick, who was walking his dogs. I handed him my card, and explained what I was doing. He seemed okay with it, but his dogs were definitely not interested in talking to me, so we continued off in opposite directions.
Patrick later emailed me and we’ve had a few back and forths, discussing the neighborhood and Buffalo in general. He loves living in the neighborhood. And why wouldn’t you?
After walking to the end of Burbank Terrace, I turned around to head over to Burbank Drive. It was then that I met up with Jeff, and his super sweet dog, Trixie. She’s 15, but certainly doesn’t act her age! She’s a beautiful girl, isn’t she?
Jeff and I talked about how much he loves living on this street, he’s been here for 23 years. Everyone I meet mentions that everybody knows everybody in the neighborhood. I like that.
As I head on to Burbank Drive, I see a lovely Cape Cod. I have never seen this particular use of wrought iron on a porch, but I like it so much, I wonder why it’s not done more. I think this is one of the best Cape Cod style homes I’ve ever seen. It’s larger than it appears in my photo. It’s the kind of home that is grand, without being massive. Does that make sense? If there is such a thing, it’s a grand Cape. This is one that makes me think that I wish it were summer. I’ll have to come back.
There are a few more houses along here, but the owners expressed an interest in privacy, and always wishing to be respectful, I will not share photos of those homes. The homeowners were friendly, mind you. Just private, and I can understand that.
I decided to take a break at this point and head over to Medaille before starting up again on Agassiz Circle.
The photo above is the main building of Medaille College, which is the former building that housed Mount St. Joseph’s High School.
As I walked towards Agassiz, the first home I saw was this one, below. This home is gorgeous. I love the little balcony above the front door. And the bay windows are really pretty.
It doesn’t, however, have it’s own address. It is (obviously) the office of admissions for the college though, so it probably shares the address of the college. It’s beautiful.
The Driscoll Home
Then I came to this house.
It was once owned by the Driscoll family. Daniel A. Driscoll was a member of Congress for four terms, beginning in 1908. He went on to serve as postmaster in Buffalo from 1934-1947. To that date, only one had served a longer term, Erastus Granger, who was our first postmaster.
Upon his retirement from government work, Daniel returned to active, full-time management of the family business, the Driscoll Funeral Home at 1337 Main Street, founded by his father in 1861. He was also the president of the Phoenix Brewery Corporation since its organization in 1934.
Driscoll was reportedly quite a character, was known for his quick wit, had a soft spot for Ireland, (his parents both arrived here from Ireland as small children) and was apparently not fond of the mortuary business. He never married, and passed away in the home (above) in 1955, after an illness of several months. He was 80.
Moving Along the Circle
The next few homes are stunners as well. This first one is lovely with that sunroom above the carport! Would love to sit out there on a sunny afternoon.
Here, below, I love the tile roof, and those low slung arched windows that match the arches on the porch.
This home, below, just sold in December of 2020, and interior photos can be seen here. My photo doesn’t do it justice. There is a storage Pod in the driveway presently which I tried to avoid in the photo. It appears to be a well lived in, lovely (large) home.
A Sad Story for Such a Beautiful Home
This home, below, is a quintessential city home, is it not? It’s got a sad story connected with it though. In 1933 the Albert Abendroth, Sr. family lived in the home. Their son, Albert, Jr. (19) attended Canisius College, and because he did well with his studies, his parents gave him a new car.
Shortly thereafter, on May 31, 1933, Al (as he was known) took the car, and along with his friend William (Bill) Shepard Jr. (18) headed over to Long Beach, Ontario, Canada, to a Canisius College class picnic.
At the picnic, the two headed out into Lake Erie in a canoe and were never seen again. The canoe was found during the search for the boys. It is presumed the two drowned. It is unclear whether their bodies were ever found.
In a cruel twist of fate, amid massive search efforts the day after the accident, there were reports that the boys were found alive, and were being brought into Detroit by a freighter. The families, and indeed the whole of Buffalo and Long Beach, Ontario, rejoiced!
But when the freighter arrived, the stunned crew knew nothing of the disappearance of the boys. The freighter did not even have radio equipment on board. (?) It would be June 23, before the obituary for Albert Jr. would show up in the Buffalo Evening News.
The home is beautiful and has been very well maintained. There is even a little free library out front, which you know I love. Note the wrought iron and glass crescent moon hanging above the library. Sweet.
And this amazing, gorgeous home!
This street was aptly named. When these homes were built their view was of a beautiful wood that overlooked the meadow side of Delaware Park. In fact, the view was Delaware Park. Let me tell you what I mean.
Before Humboldt Parkway was torn out and the 198 was put in, the Parkway ambled off to the northwest through Agassiz Circle and straight into what is now the Parkside entrance to Delaware Park. The parking lot at that entrance was much the same as it is today. The Parkway then veered off to the left and continued to amble through the park, over Delaware Avenue and along Hoyt Lake.
So, you see, Meadowview Place used to border Delaware Park. Now it is cut off from it. Essentially, all the space between Meadowview Place and Meadow Drive (what we all now call Ring Road) was a thinly wooded area, and meadow. Below is a view from Meadowview over into that parking area I just mentioned. Picture it, without any roads in between.
Must have been lovely.
The homes are fantastic. Even with the 198. They’re mostly set back aways from the street, so there’s plenty of room.
Here’s the view from these homes, below. Not too bad in the middle of a Friday afternoon; I only see a couple of cars.
Then I came upon this home, below. It reminded me of one of the Sears homes that I found over on Tillinghast. But the dates don’t match up. This one was built in 1900, and Sears didn’t start selling kit homes until 1908. Boy, it really does look like one!
I keep thinking on this hike, I’ll have to come back to see this neighborhood in the summer when everything is in full bloom!
This one is lovely as well.
Perhaps the Most Interesting Home in the Whole Neighborhood
This home, below, probably has the most interesting story in the neighborhood. It looks like such a nice family home. And I’m sure it is. But it was not always the case, depending on your opinion, of course. I happen to revel in the history of this house. The audacity is awesome! Read on.
Back on January 4, 1933, there were two arrests made here for the illegal possession and manufacturing of, you guessed it, liquor and intoxicants. Remember this was the prohibition era. Harry H. Hall, owner of the home, and Joe Saco, renter of the ‘barn’ were both charged. Federal agents staked out the house for three weeks prior to the arrests and observed the business comings and goings during what was probably the busiest season for sales, the holidays.
Wonder if they waited until after the holidays to raid the place in order to let people have a good holiday (the customers, I mean), or would the charges be ‘greater’ with proof of so many sales? We’ll never know. But the scope of production was incredible. The government estimated that 500 gallons of 150 proof alcohol was being produced here daily. Daily! Moonshine anyone? Wow! That is a lot of booze!
How did they come to know about it, you ask? They smelled the mash while driving by one day. How could you not, with that much in production?
The ‘barn’ was built into the side of a hill. The upper floor held an apartment and lockers for the wealthy Buffalonians who rented riding horses from Mr. Hall. The horses were kept in the basement level where the still was kept and were brought up to the riders. The renters of the horses would have no idea that there was a large still in the lower level, unless they recognized the smell of the cooking mash.
It was apparently quite the operation. There were seven vats that held 2,000 gallons each and one 5,000 gallon vat. Wow! The contents of the building, including 12,800 gallons of mash, and 2,000 gallons of syrup, and other distilling equipment were seized and taken to a government warehouse. Wow!
I believe the photo below is the “barn”. The road dead ends at this building. From the 198 a stone wall is visible on the side of a hill, constituting one wall of the lower part of the structure.
It is unclear if either of the two men arrested were found guilty or served any time. Mr. Hall maintained that he merely rented the “barn” to Mr. Saco. But he was the one renting the riding horses. How could he have not known?
Pretty interesting story, eh? Well, read on for another one.
Rock Stars on Agassiz?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this because it’s pretty cool.
In one of my conversations with Patrick, he mentioned that Gregg Allman and Cher stayed on Agassiz Circle back in the mid 70’s. Allman was going through rehab here at BryLin at the time and the couple, along with Chaz (Chastity, at the time) and the couple’s son Elijah Blue, stayed for several months. I knew they were here back then, but I didn’t know they lived on Agassiz Circle while they were here.
On a personal note, the doctor who treated Allman was the brother-in-law of a friend of mine (I am aware that this statement is so Buffalo!). My friend loaned the couple a crib for Elijah Blue, who was a baby at the time. Can you imagine? Loaning a crib to a mega star like Cher?!
You can read a very interesting story about Allman and Cher’s time here in this Buffalo News Article. It confirms they were living on Agassiz, but I still don’t know which house. Anybody?
Also, while reading about it, I found another article about Gregg Allman playing a concert for Canisius High School while the couple was in town. It’s a great story, and is from the Buffalo News as well.
So happy I looked into this area! I’ve been wondering about it for quite a while now, and I ended up meeting some pretty nice people on this urban hike. I saw a lot of beautiful homes, and learned some more about our city.
I love the history here. From the story of a family who lost a beloved son, to an interesting postmaster, to bootleggers!
I’ll admit the story of the Abendroth family hit close to home for me, having lost a family member in a similar way, complete with a 5 day search. I know the devastation a death like this causes a family. So my heart really went out to the Abendroth family while reading about it.
But, I have to also admit that I did not expect bootleggers in this neighborhood. As I said before though, the audacity of that crime was amazing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seemed like a big operation. 500 gallons a day! Literally taking place just steps from the Buffalo Parks Labor Department, which I believe to have been there at the time. And even if it wasn’t there yet, anybody could have wandered up to it from Delaware Park, because remember, there was no 198 at the time! Oh Buffalo.
When I take these urban hikes, I always choose a neighborhood because of the homes. But on every hike, it always ends up being about the people. I met some really nice ones on this hike. And found some great stories about Buffalo as well.
Like I always say, take a walk Buffalo! You’ll see more of our city on foot than in a car any day! And you just may make a friend or two!
**Get the book! They make great gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!
After writing and publishing a post about an urban hike I did in the Medical Corridor, I received an email from a reader regarding a home that used to be at 923 Washington Street, now an empty lot (photo above). What a story it turned out to be!
I had originally reported in the post, that word on the street told me that there was a home on Washington Street at the corner of Carlton. And that the city had tried to take ownership for development. There were two sisters who were in their 90’s living there. They fought the city in court to keep their home. But eventually the sisters and the city came to an agreement to move the house. The person who told me the story didn’t know where the house had supposedly been moved to.
The address at 923 is now a vacant lot. I lamented that the two elderly ladies went through an awful lot of grief to make way for a vacant lot.
After publishing, I received an email from a reader revealing the real story. I did a little research on my own, and decided to write a whole new post about the Beck family home, because I think it’s important that we learn from our mistakes. And I believe that what happened in this case was a mistake. This is what I’ve learned.
The Original Home
The home in question was not moved off of the property on Washington Street, but had been moved to that location. But, let’s go back and start at the beginning.
The home was built sometime around the Civil War, by the grandfather of sisters, Anna and Veronica Beck. It was built on Ralph Street, or Ralph Alley as it was known at the time. Ralph Alley used to run parallel to and one block west of Michigan Avenue near Goodell.
Who Lived There?
Most of the people living on Ralph Alley throughout the late 1800s and into the 1900s were either German immigrants or descendants of German immigrants. Most of the men worked in some way, shape or form in Buffalo’s brewing industry.
The occupation of Anna and Veronica’s grandfather is unknown. As is the occupation of their father, Frank Beck. I believe Anna lived in her grandfather’s home and took care of it on a full time basis. Veronica, however, according to census records, worked as a bookkeeper for Marine Bank. All of the family members, including Frank’s wife Lillian (mother of Anna & Veronica) lived in the home at 42 Ralph Alley. They were members of St. Louis Church on the corner of Main and Edward Streets.
Funny to think of that now. But back then, extended family members lived together much more often. Anna and Veronica lived with their parents, and probably their grandparents until the elders passed away. Think about that for a minute. I love my kids and everything, but I’ll admit I’m glad they don’t live with us anymore. And I’m pretty sure they’re happy about it too. Just sayin.
So, What Happened?
In the 1970’s most of the neighborhood around the Beck home at 42 Ralph Alley was razed as part of the Oak Street Urban Renewal Project. The project included the building of the McCarley Gardens apartments. The neighborhood was very densely populated with homes. Over a hundred were torn down. Anna and Veronica took the city to court in order to save theirs.
It was a lengthy court battle, roughly two years, but the sisters won. Well, sort of. The city agreed to move the house from its original spot on Ralph Street, to the corner of Washington and Carlton, aka 923 Washington Street. Through tough negotiation, the sisters were deeded the land as well, and it was stipulated (by the sisters) that upon the death of the last family member, the home would be torn down and the city was to be given an option to buy back the land for $100. Both the sisters and officials for the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency signed the agreement.
The sisters were happy with the outcome. And by that I mean I’m sure they would have preferred that none of it had happened, but they didn’t lose their home. And they could still walk to their beloved St. Louis Catholic Church, which was apparently one of the sticking points in the negotiations. They had lived in the shadow of the great spire of St. Louis their whole lives and didn’t want to leave it. Now, they wouldn’t have to.
The sisters lived out their days in the home (Veronica passed away a number of years before Anna).
Anna Beck Dies
In 1998, Anna Beck, the last surviving family member passed away. Per the agreement entered into with the city, her will stipulated that the home be torn down and the city be given the option to purchase the property for $100.
Well, guess what? The city changed its mind. To be fair, the common council of 1998 were somewhat more preservation minded than those of the 1970s. The common council felt certain that the home was historic (although it held no such distinction) and so the city took the Estate of Anna Beck to court to block the demolition.
Attorney for Anna Beck, Mary Kennedy Martin, argued that Ms. Beck was adamant the house be demolished.
It seemed the City of Buffalo and the late Anna Beck had unfinished business.
What About the Home Itself?
The home itself was a veritable museum at this point. It was reported at the time that it appeared that no updates had taken place in the home after the 1930s. The contents included cooking utensils, an early Hoover vacuum cleaner, a refrigerator that was not much more than an ice box, a wringer washing machine, a treadle sewing machine (run on foot power!) and vintage 1930’s furniture. All still being used in the 1990s! Anna cooked on the same cast iron stove her mother used before her. The home was painted the same yellow color with green trim.
The Final Fate of 923 Washington
But, in a court of law, the will stood up to the challenge. Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina ruled for Ms. Beck, as her will was very clear and ironclad. In what he called a very difficult decision, he had to uphold the letter of the law (as he is charged) and ordered that the executor of Anna’s estate go through with the demolition. The ruling itself is a fascinating read. (Believe me, I know what that sounds like!) Read it here.
The executor, by the way, was the Rev. Louis Gonter, who was a parish priest for the Diocese of Buffalo. The bulk of Anna’s estate, amounting to roughly $150,000 was left to St. Louis Catholic Church, which meant so much to Anna and her family.
Throughout my research into this topic, I found myself wondering about Anna Beck. Wish I could have met her. She must have been the definition of a complete minimalist. I think I live pretty simply. But not like Anna Beck.
I have so many unanswered questions. Why would she have been so adamant about having the house razed? Was it out of spite because the city forced her and Veronica off Ralph Street and over to Washington Street? Or did she really feel that no one else should live in her family home? Also, the way she never changed or updated anything in the home. If she was really so attached to the stuff of her parents and grandparents, why demolish the house?
Also, what would cause a person to never update anything in their home at all? I get the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But…geez. A wringer washer? Who knows? It may have been living through the depression that was at the root of Anna and Veronica’s thrift. I don’t think it was money. Anna left a residual estate of $150,000 in 1998. She wasn’t loaded, but she wasn’t poor either.
I guess we’ll never know.
I have mixed feelings about this story. On one hand, I’m a preservationist at heart. To be able to see this home now, as Anna left it in 1998 would be amazing. The fact that we lost a home, much preserved back to the 1930s, is a real shame from a historical standpoint.
I’m sure that all of the items inside, or ones like them, would be able to be gathered to create the museum that was 923 Washington Street. But it wouldn’t be the same, would it? Just the fact that they were all under that roof, being used regularly until 1998 would make it a museum worth seeing.
That’s such a big part of what we history nerds love so much. It’s the stories behind the buildings we so admire. Wondering about the people and the places they inhabited. Where they lived, laughed, cried, and loved.
This simple home told the story of three generations of a Buffalo family. It lasted far longer than most of the mansions on Millionaire’s Row over on Delaware Ave. I’d love to be able to see Anna Beck’s home today, just as it was when she lived there.
On the other hand, I understand the law, and in this case, it was upheld to the letter. Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina’s ruling was fair, thorough and brilliant. He saw both sides of the argument, and no stone was left unturned in his decision. From the ruling: “Valid contracts cannot be so cavalierly breached.”* The City of Buffalo (Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency) and Anna Beck entered into a binding contract. Anna Beck executed her agreement with her last will and testament. The city of Buffalo was forced to uphold theirs.
And with that, we lost the home at 923 Washington Street, formerly 42 Ralph Alley. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.
Just One More Thing
There’s no real sense in spending a lot of time on it. What’s done is done. But at the beginning of the post, I said I thought that what happened here was a mistake. By that I mean that back in the late 70s, no one recognized this home for what it was. And in the twenty years following, still no one noticed. No move was made towards preserving the treasure that it was. To have a vernacular home from the 1860s, in the heart of the city, virtually unchanged since 1930…would be incredible.
The judge’s hands were tied in this case though.
We are better at this now than we used to be. We’re moving in the right direction. As a city, let’s not make this mistake again. Let’s move forward.
A few weeks back when I wrote about Lincoln Parkway, I started extending my walks to include Chapin Parkway. It’s not a route I would normally take, but I somehow knew I’d be writing this post eventually. I’m glad I made myself more familiar with it. The other day, I was out for a walk and was so blown away by the beauty of fall on the parkway, that I decided it was time. Is it just me, or does that happen to everyone? Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the beauty of something that I’ve seen a hundred times before. This time it was the gorgeous yellow leaves that brought it on.
So, here I am, writing the post.
As Usual, I’ll Begin with the History of Chapin Parkway
Buffalo’s Parks and Parkway System was put in during the late 1800’s, after some of Buffalo’s most wealthy citizens decided that Buffalo needed a ‘central park’ like New York City’s Central Park. So, naturally, Frederick Law Olmsted (the man who designed Central Park) was brought to Buffalo.
When Olmsted was taken on a tour of Buffalo’s streets he and his partner, Calvert Vaux, decided that what would suit this city best would be a park system instead of just one central park. City leaders agreed. They had the money to do it, and so began the largest landscape architectural project the country had seen to date. Our city was described by Olmsted as the best planned city in the world.
It’s easy to see why when you stroll down the center of one of our parkways.
Getting Back to Chapin Parkway
Chapin Parkway runs between Soldiers Circle and Gates Circle. It is, indeed, 200 feet wide and is stunning.
It was named for Edward Payson Chapin, born to Ephraim and Elizabeth Chapin in Waterloo, NY in 1831. He was a well known Buffalo attorney when the Civil War broke out. Chapin served at the rank of captain and was injured at Hanover Court House, Virginia on May 27, 1862. He convalesced here in Buffalo. In September of the same year he was made Colonel of Erie County’s 116th NY Volunteers. He was killed in action on May 27, exactly one year after he was first injured. He was posthumously made a Brigadier General on the day he died.
Chapin Parkway is as beautiful now as it was when it was first created. Of course, I haven’t had the pleasure of time traveling to the late 1800s yet. But the parkway is so beautiful now, I cannot imagine it could have been any better back in the day!
Most of the property on Chapin Parkway was originally owned by Civil War General John Graves, who built a home here in 1885. Bronson Rumsey purchased the property at some point, and demolished the Graves home in 1907. Rumsey built himself a relatively modest home (lost) on the property, and subdivided the rest of Chapin Parkway. He sold large lots at his leisure over a period of about twenty years. Which probably accounts for how many movers and shakers lived on Chapin. Rumsey, of course, would have been choosy about who he sold to.
I don’t know all of them, but you’ll definitely recognize some of the names I mention.
Let’s Start the Hike
I decided to begin at Gates Circle facing Soldiers Circle, on the right side of the parkway. It’s the opposite of what I usually do on my walks, but I like to shake things up a bit once in a while. Haha. Takin’ a walk on the wild side…
This first house I know a bit about. It was built in 1924 for Samuel Risman. And the only thing I know about him, is that he moved to Miami a year after building this home. He moved to take a job developing and managing a ten-story apartment building. His wife joined him a year later. Sadly, their story does not have a happy ending. Samuel passed away in 1927 after either falling or jumping to his death from that same apartment building.
The home itself is Colonial Revival in style, with Georgan influences. The slate roof extends to the sides of the dormers which is not uncommon. It’s got two sunrooms. The one on the front is original, the one on the north side was added at some point later on. There is also an upper patio on the Chapin Parkway side. And I love those quarter round windows on either side of the chimney.
It’s lovely. And ready for the holidays.
Next Up on the Parkway
Next up is this gem. It is a pretty good example of the Italian Renaissance style. It’s got rounded windows on the first floor, and rectangular windows above. And that recessed porch on the right, with the archways that are supported by columns. Fantastic! The brick pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals and the cornice is just lovely. It all comes together just right.
Very well done.
What really interests me about this home is the back yard. It splays out to the right behind the home next door (the first one in this post). It’s huge and private, despite the gas station on Delaware Ave just behind it. The gardens appear to be lovely too!
As a matter of fact, that same gas station backs up to all the homes on this block, but you would never know it. City living. Love it.
This is another Georgian Revival Style home. And is it ever beautiful!
I love everything about this house. The symmetry is perfect. Right down to those tall trees on either side of the front walk, and the chimneys on either side of the home. The side-by-side two-story pilasters on either side of the entryway with small, tasteful capitals. Perfection. The stone lintels and sills on the windows. Perfect for this house. The Flemish bonding on the brickwork with the same color mortar joints. Perfect. The classic stone surrounding the front door with a pediment above.
Finally, the icing on the cake. The wrought iron awning at the side entrance. It’s the perfect scale and design for this home. Did I say I love everything about this house? Because I do.
More Beautiful Homes
Another Colonial Revival
Next, I come upon this home. This is also a Georgian Colonial Revival style home. Note the first floor windows. You see how the top part of the window is smaller than the bottom section? These windows are referred to as 8/12 (there are eight sections on top, and twelve sections below). The windows on the second floor and dormers are 8/8s. The sidelights on either side of the door are 6/6. See? The reason I mention it is because this house is all windows! Must be a very bright home inside!
I love the stone sills and keystones on the windows and the slate roof that continues on the dormers. The Flemish brick is enhanced by the use of different colored bricks. The portico supported by Corinthian columns gives the design a slightly Georgian feel. Very well done.
Next, we come to my husband’s favorite. He loves this type of home. It’s a Queen Anne stick style home. It’s set on a triangular piece of property, with a small circular driveway inside and on the East Delevan side. There are so many little details on this home that I don’t know where to begin.
It was built in 1888 for John J. Crawford (of John J. Crawford Monument Company), who passed away in 1894. Mr. & Mrs. George Clinton (DeWitt Clinton’s grandson) moved in in the mid-1890s. Mrs. Lucia Shoellkopf Modet was living here in the late 1930s. So, it’s a star studded home. These were all names that built Buffalo.
How about the wrap around porch with the unusual columned posts? Fantastic. The upper patio above the side sunroom with the arched windows. Love that. The paint job is classic. Take a look at the photos below to note some of the details. That black pyramidal roof, (I can’t tell what it’s made of) the carved wood designs in the pediments and dormers are all just what most people look for in a Victorian era home. I even like the poured concrete fence posts.
A Craftsman on Chapin
If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know I’m a fan of the Craftsman style of architecture. So, naturally, I love this amazing home. I love the wide chimney, the tri-colored tile roof, the windows, 6/6s most of them, appear to be original. The trim color on the house matches the wrought iron fencing, which is spectacular with all those gold tips. Note the fencing that surrounds the side porch also has the same tips. I love it when a home has a very wide, covered porch. Makes the porch seem open, but somehow private. Extra points for the canvas awning. (I’ll have to go back and take photos next summer when the awning is back up.)
To get a good nap, the hammock is a little close to the sidewalk for me, but I love that they have it. What you can’t see is the pool in the back, side yard. This house is all I’ll ever need or want.
Except This One
Oh, but this one. I might need this one. It reminds me of one I love over on Tillinghast Place. Has the same lines, but with a more Spanish influence. I could be comfortable here.
Another Georgian Revival
Georgian Colonial Revival seems to be the style of choice here on Chapin. Must have been what was popular at the time. This one is beautifully symmetric (you know I love symmetry).
The windows are five across on the second floor, with the first floor two and twos directly below. Very typical of a Colonial style. The Georgian features are the columned front portico with ionic style capitals (at the top of the columns) at the main entry, and the stone sills and keystones. Flemish bonding brickwork was pretty popular on this street as well. This house is especially beautiful with a carpet of orange and gold leaves.
And Now, For Something Completely Different
This home (below) is different from any other on the street. This is an English Manor style home, designed by Essenwein & Johnson in 1912. Genevieve Schoellkopf Vom Berge moved into the home that same year. Genevieve was the granddaughter of Jacob Schoellkopf, one of the most successful German immigrants in Western New York. Having lost her first husband, Henry Vom Berge in 1911, she and their only son Henry Schoellkopf Vom Berge moved into this home together.
Genevieve remarried and had another child while living in this home, but sadly passed away in 1919 at the age of 35. The cause of her death is not known.
James and Harriet McNulty moved into the home in the 1920s. James was the president of Pratt & Lambert. The McNultys were very active in their community, both socially and philanthropically. When James passed away in 1926, Harriet, along with their three daughters, made several large donations in memory of him. After his death, Harriet took over for James on the board of directors of Pratt & Lambert, which lasted 23 years. Good for her – definitely not the norm in those days. Harriet stayed on in the house until her death in 1956.
Interesting history in this home!
And More Homes Along Chapin Parkway!
The home below was completed in 2016. The home that was there before was built in 1950, and reportedly held no historical significance. In addition, the home was set too low on the property, causing chronic water issues in the basement. Major foundation issues followed. Read more about it at this link.
While I’m not usually a fan of tear downs, I must say that I am happy with its replacement. It’s the right style and scale for the street, and pretty nice to look at too. I love the porch, which I think ended up being larger than originally planned. All in all, it fits in very well with the neighborhood. I like it.
Look at the driveway at the house below. It draws me in, and makes me want to walk up it!
Let’s Cross the Street
Directly across the street, at Soldiers Circle is this building. We talked about it when I wrote about Soldiers Circle a few weeks ago. It was originally built as a hotel for the Pan American Exposition in 1901. It has since been turned into townhouses and apartments. Nice building in a fantastic location!
Next, I came upon another Georgian Revival (below). This one differs from the others in that it is brick and stucco, with brick window sills and lintels. It appears the front portico was enclosed at some point. Makes me wonder what the front entry looked like originally.
The home is decked out for the holidays already! Looking forward to seeing this in the snow. But not too soon.
I bet you can guess the style of this next home (below). So many interpretations of the Georgian Revival style, but really, they’re pretty similar. This one is so grand I wanted to include several photos. When you look at the side view of this home, it seems to go on forever. I love that every window, large and small have stone sills and splayed lintels, with the exception of the dormer windows, and that window on the side with the rounded fan window above it, including brick and stonework? I’ve never seen anything like it. But it works.
This next home (below) was designed by architect Edward Kent, a well known Buffalo architect who, strangely enough, lost his life aboard the Titanic. When I was walking by taking photos on this particular day, I heard children playing and laughing inside this home. Love that!
And this one. You know I love the wrought iron awnings! And I’m also partial to all of these side sunrooms!
The Homes Along Here Are Fabulous!
This next home (below) is great. It reminds me of an old church rectory or something. But at the same time, it’s cool. I love those two dormers. But my favorite part? That second-floor bay window on the side. Fantastically done.
Help me out here. Look at this next home (below). Now, I’m certainly no expert, but I don’t really understand the balustrade just hanging out there on the roof. Why? I’ve never seen anything like this either.
I will say though, I love the side entryway and the original sandstone driveway! Although I wouldn’t want to clear snow from it. But truthfully, I wouldn’t want to clear snow from any driveway!
These next few are all dazzling in their own way.
And this magnificence! Now, this paint job is on point! All the right colors in all the right places! To me anyway. I even love that someone has pitched a tent on the front porch!
And This Beauty!
So many Georgian Revivals on this street! On this home (above), I love the use of the different colored bricks in the Flemish bonding and the windows in the dormers. I also like that they have two different types of columns on the entryway. And that they are repeated, as both columns and pilasters in the sunrooms on the side of the home (below). Double decker sunrooms I might add. What a classic entryway this is too. Love it.
At this point you could tell me about all the details here. We’ve seen so many of this style today.
My Impressions of Chapin Parkway
Well, today was the Georgian Revival show! I have to say that when I walk, I look at homes and notice little things. But it wasn’t until I sat down to write today that I realized how many Georgian Revival homes were on this street. That style must have been really, really hot between 1905 and 1920. Seriously.
There was the one English Manor house (the Shoellkopf home), and a couple of other styles, but this street is pretty full up with the Georgian Revival Style. I like the style, the symmetry and all. And it’s still popular, because there are people living here and showing love to their homes. Every one is cared for impeccably. They’re beautiful to behold.
With winter and snow just around the corner, I found myself wondering during this walk, what it would be like to live here in the winter. I’ll come back for walks to see it of course. But to sip my morning tea in one of the sunrooms. Looking out over the mall, covered with a fresh blanket of snow. Sun shining on it like a million little diamonds. Yes. That’d be real nice.
But for now, I’ll stick to my walks, and be grateful that we have such beautiful, historic streets to wander, wondering about the people these beautiful homes have known and sheltered.
Get out there if you can and get to know your city, Buffalo. You’ll love it!
**Get the book! They make great gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!
Several weeks back, I began working on a post about Soldiers Circle. While out at the circle one day taking photos, I noticed a house for sale on Lincoln Parkway. Now I never before thought of writing about Lincoln Parkway, and I didn’t even think about it that day either. But after I saw that house, the post began to form itself in my mind. It kept coming up in conversation. I saw photos of the young Lincoln statue on social media. And a couple of readers asked me questions about two of the homes on the parkway. So, here we are.
The photos above are of two statues of Lincoln. Young Lincoln is out in front of the Rose Garden overlooking the south end of Lincoln Parkway. Older Lincoln sits overlooking Mirror Lake behind the Buffalo History Museum. You could say older Lincoln overlooked Lincoln Parkway too, before the 198 was put in. But that’s another story for another day.
Now, the stretch of Lincoln Parkway between the art gallery and Bird Ave has been part of my regular walking route for quite sometime now. When you become very familiar with your surroundings, you tend not to notice them anymore. You know what I mean, when you’ve seen something so many times, that you forget to really look at them. I’ve learned quite a bit about these homes over the past, well, never mind how many years! Ha! Let’s say several. Okay?
But today, I headed out to take a look at Lincoln Parkway with fresh eyes.
A Bit of Pontificating
Seriously, this street is the stuff that dreams are made of. How many of us have walked along these streets and wondered what it was like to live in one of these homes ‘back in the day’? My guess is, a lot of us have.
Like most history nerds, I’d like to travel back in time to when the homes along this grand parkway were entertaining Buffalo’s movers and shakers. But I’d like to go back as one of the upper crust. Not the second generation Irish / Polish immigrant that I’d have been back then. What I mean is, if I’m going to time travel, I’d like to do it as one of the people who lived in one of these mansions. Not as a servant who worked in one. And I know that money didn’t necessarily make these people happy, but I’d like to check it out for a day or two. You know what I’m saying?
So, for those of you working on time travel, be smart about it, please. Let us choose where we go and who we’ll be. And I look forward to being one of your test subjects some day.
History Along the Parkway
Now, you know I cannot talk about the gorgeous homes along Lincoln Parkway without discussing some history. And I’ll tell you what I know about specific homes along this historic stretch as I move along the street. Since I’ve covered the Larkin homes on the east side of the parkway in another post, I won’t be discussing those here.
Lincoln Parkway was designed in the latter half of the 1800s when Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Buffalo’s Parks and Parkway System. The idea was that instead of just having one park in the city, Buffalo was to have a park system, with a series of parkways in between, connecting the parks. Olmsted and Vaux also utilized traffic circles to connect the parkways to each other. The system was designed to make you feel like you hadn’t left the park while travelling the parkways. Anybody who has walked the center median of any of these parkways has experienced the genius of this design. If you haven’t done that, give it a try. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did.
At the time most of these homes were built, Lincoln Parkway was considered one of the most sought after addresses in the city, second only to Delaware Avenue. Some of Lincoln Parkway’s early residents actually moved from Millionaire’s Row, to the Parkway. I would imagine it would have been more quiet and peaceful on the Parkway, so I can understand this move.
Let’s See Lincoln Parkway
I’ve decided to begin across the street from Delaware Park near the art gallery. This is the first home we come to. And what a home.
It’s an unusual example of the Arts & Crafts style. It was completed in 1908. The architects were Essenwein and Johnson, who were very popular and talented architects in Buffalo. And many, many of their designs still exist today, including the Electric Tower downtown. In my opinion, they were second only to Green & Wicks, who were the premier architectural firm in Buffalo back in the day.
I love the entryway here, with its gabled roof being supported by oversized brackets, and leaded glass windows and some stained glass too. If you look closely, you’ll see that some of the windows have an Art Nouveau design. Just beautiful. It’s all these little details that make a house stand out.
I would love to see the inside of what appears to be a conservatory on the right of the home (center photo above). Note the French doors with those gorgeous curved transoms and the wide sidelights. Spectacular. Wish the landscaping allowed us to see these a little better.
152 Lincoln Parkway
This next home was built in 1912 for David and Bertha Gunsberg. The Gunsberg family had interests in mines in Canada and owned several oil wells. The home is an exquisite eclectic design, and seems chateau-like in both its size and appearance. The tripartite window in the dormer is lovely. And on the second floor windows I see an architectural detail that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about in any of my posts. Above the windows are what is called splayed lintels. These are where the lintels above the windows spread (or splay) outward at each end, like these do. These are particularly nice.
This home was bought in 1964 by what is now SUNY Buffalo State College and is used as the home to the president of the college.
I love the side view of this home best. But I also love the cast iron awning above the driveway side entrance, supported by beautiful wrought iron brackets. Why don’t these get more attention? They’re veritable works of art. I’m going to celebrate them in this post!
Then there’s this one. I admit I don’t know much about it. I wonder if the portico was closed off later like the one at the Goodyear Mansion on Delaware Ave? Come to think of it, this one reminds me of that home. Less grand perhaps, but lovely all the same.
Moving Right Along
Next we come to the Spencer Kellogg Jr. home. I was bewitched by this house when I was young. I loved the front walk with the ornate stone walls and gate leading to what I used to think was church-like doors. Now that I’m looking afresh at the home, I don’t disagree with that assessment. There is something church-like about that front door. Must be the archway.
This home is classified as a Tudor Revival design, evidenced by the mimicking of a medieval estate home. The use of stone here is fantastic! And incidentally, the architects are Green & Wicks. Love this home.
The Kellogg family in Buffalo made their fortune in Linseed Oil. Who would’ve thought? The company goes back to the 1820s. Spencer Kellogg Jr worked in the family business (as a vice president), but later opened a book shop and printing house called Aries Press. Interesting. He did his duty to his family, but was also able to realize his dream in other pursuits as well. Cool.
I’m a little concerned that one of the four lions who guard this house appears to be missing. See the left side of the gate in the center photo above.
120 Lincoln Parkway
This is the Henry W. Wendt Home and it was built in 1923. It’s also a Tudor Revival style. This one reminds me of the George Rand home on Delaware Avenue (now Canisius High School). It’s stately and castle-like.
Henry W. Wendt and his brother William, started Buffalo Forge in 1878, to build blacksmith forges. They eventually expanded to several other products including air conditioning, which was invented by one of their employees, Willis Carrier. Apparently, William had a good head for figures and marketing and Henry looked after the manufacturing and human resources end of things. They made a good team, because Buffalo Forge was a very successful business, and still maintains a presence in the area as Buffalo Machine Inc., located in Lockport. Cool.
This home was built in 1923 and designed by Franklin J. and William A. Kidd, and guess what? The George Rand home on Delaware Ave? Same architects, and completed in the same year! I wasn’t far off the mark. Love when that happens!
The home at 100 Lincoln Parkway was dubbed as the Century House due to its address at number 100. The home was designed by Essenwein & Johnson (another one on the block!) for Harlow and Ethel Curtiss. Harlow was an attorney, and later a real estate developer. This couple lived in a Delaware Midway Rowhouse, a mansion at 864 Delaware Avenue, and then this home on Lincoln Parkway. They also owned a summer house in East Aurora. Movers and shakers, these two.
The couple lived in this home until selling it in 1919. There were several owners over the next two years (!) until Frank Goodyear purchased it in 1921. He sold it to Albert and Sylvia Wende in 1923.
The Wende family changed the fate of this home for many years to come. They set about converting it into three separate luxury apartments, and lived in the first floor themselves. The idea was to house members of extended family and/or eventually tenants. They added the two story sunrooms to the front of the house and converted the stable into a garage.
The Wende’s two daughters lived in the home at various times. Albert lived in the home until his death in 1963 and Sylvia stayed until 1968. Since then, the apartments (over 3700 sq. ft. each) have been sold separately.
These. Check out that cast / wrought iron and glass awning. Wow!
This next one has been one of my personal favorites for as long as I can remember. It’s exquisite. This home was built in 1911 for Edward B. Holmes, president of E. & B. Holmes Machinery Company. Here’s an interesting little tidbit ladies, when Edward passed away in 1934, his wife Maud became the president of the company. She ran it until, having no children to pass it to, she sold it to two long-time employees in 1950. Cool.
This home is a great example of my kind of Arts & Crafts design, with it’s overhanging eaves, decorative finials on the cross gabled roofs, and the double (or paired) support brackets, on what I consider to be an incredible patio. You all know how I love a good patio. And those leaded glass transom windows on the first floor! Must be very bright inside.
Whoever owns this home now keeps it in excellent shape!
And this beauty next door. Note the awning. Gorgeous!
Essenwein & Johnson Make Yet Another Appearance
This home was built in 1910 and designed by, yep, you guessed it, Essenwein & Johnson. It was designed for Louis Kurtzman, president of the C. Kurtzman Piano Company. It’s considered a Spanish Colonial Revival style home. Note the terracotta hipped roofs, and the battered pillars (meaning that they are wider at the bottom) on both the porches and the corners of the home itself.
I find this home stunning.
The Bush Family
The same architect, Lansing & Beierl, built these next three homes for various members of the Bush family. This first one was for William and Katherine (Bush) Hotchkiss. William was a partner in the law firm of Hotchkiss & Bush.
The home is a craftsman style with half timbering. Note the use of ‘clinker bricks’, which are overfired bricks with textured surfaces. Before I noticed these bricks on this house, I had never seen them before. They’re very unique.
This next one was built for Myron (Katherine’s brother) and Carrie Bush in 1902. This is a Colonial Revival style home. Note the use of Flemish bonding in the bricks on this home. Flemish bonding is the process of arranging the bricks in each row so that the bricks alternate being laid the long way, and the short way in each row. On this home, it is not every other brick that is turned, rather there is an interesting pattern to it. Nice!
The home at #6, (below, the one that started this whole post) was designed and built for John W. Bush, Myron and Katherine’s father in 1903. It is the only Beaux Arts Classical home in this post. What a house! Really, all three homes built for this family are completely different designs, but were all executed beautifully by architects Lansing & Beierl.
There is so much to look at on this house. It’s ornate, but somehow, not overdone. There is white glazed terracotta ornamentation, well, all over this house. A red terracotta roof and Flemish bonding on the brick, and the wrought iron is fantastic.
Oh, and it’s for sale, in case you’re looking.
Note the side awning. This one is fantastic!
Let’s Cross the Street
As I cross the street at Soldiers Circle, I see that the first home on the opposite side of the street is very well hidden behind the landscaping. Wish we could see what appears to be a beautiful home a little better, but I understand that some people value their privacy.
This next one is amazing! It was designed by Essenwein & Johnson in 1905 for Walter B. Trible, a graduate of Cornell University and a manufacturer with Buffalo Lounge Company.
It’s a beautiful example of the Colonial Revival style, with broken pedimented dormers with dentil moldings and keystones above the windows. Note the ghost decorations in each of the dormer windows. Cute. That front entryway is so welcoming, and this home is very well maintained. I especially love the stone pathway leading up to the front patio. Perfectly executed!
The McKinney Home
This next one was built for Thomas J. McKinney and his wife. The architects were none other than Essenwein & Johnson. The McKinney fortune was made in the oil business. No expense was spared in the building of this home. It reportedly cost $800,000 to build, and the furnishings cost another $200,000. By way of comparison, the previous Colonial Revival (above) cost $18,000. Wow!
Craftsmen and rare building materials were brought in from several countries to hand carve ornate woodwork, the wrought iron fence and gate are some of the most intricate designs seen anywhere in Buffalo. It’s a shame that I couldn’t get a better photo of the house itself, but the leaves are still on the trees, and the yard is very, very private.
Note the wrought iron and copper awning. Beautiful!
Sadly, Thomas and his wife were killed in a car accident in Florida just four years after moving into this home. Their 11-year old son survived the accident. The home was sold a year later for a mere $110,000, but the purchaser never moved in! Unbelievable, but it sat empty until 1949 when the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo purchased it for $35,000! They, unfortunately, sold some of the statues and otherwise removed some of the other artwork citing it was too ‘pagan’.
Antique dealer Jeffery Thayer purchased it in 1985. In 2001 Clem and Karen Arrison purchased the property. They began a long and painstaking restoration project. They have received an award for “Restoration” from Preservation Buffalo Niagara in 2011 for their work. Their work is reportedly second only to the Martin House for preservation, and is the single largest privately funded residential restoration project ever completed in Buffalo. What an amazing couple!
Boy would I love to get inside this house!
Find Out more
A more complete history of the home, including early photos, can be found at this link. There are photos of the extensive (and almost unbelievable) gardens. It really is quite an interesting story!
Wow. Where to begin? Would I be aging myself by using a reference to the old TV show “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?” This street still blows me away every time I walk it. If I’m paying attention, that is. Between the Larkin family, the Kelloggs, the Goodyears, the Bushes and all the others, this was definitely the place to be at the turn of the twentieth century. And it doesn’t seem to me that people came here if they ‘couldn’t afford’ Delaware Ave. They came to Lincoln Parkway because that’s where they wanted to be.
Did anyone else feel like this post is the Essenwein and Johnson story? Their firm was very, very prolific here in Buffalo, with over 1,000 designs in all. Including the famed Temple of Music for the Pan American Exposition, where President McKinley was shot. They also designed the Electric Tower, the Calumet Building and others. Not to mention numerous homes, as evidenced here.
And how about those awnings? I don’t ever really read too much about them, but there are some spectacular awnings on this block, and in this city!
Nowadays, we just cannot imagine the way of life that some people enjoyed in Buffalo back in the day. I for one am grateful that we still have these mansions so that the rest of us can get a glimpse into that world occasionally. I wish the walls of these homes could speak, to tell us all that they have witnessed. Some of it we would love to hear from a historical, architectural, or even just a human perspective. Some of it, I am quite sure, we would not. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this life, it’s that all the money in the world cannot buy true happiness and fulfillment.
This is the stuff I think about when I walk these historic parkways. Who lived here? Who were they, really? Were they happy? Did they love, and were they loved? I wonder.
I guess that’s what keeps me going out on these urban hikes. My natural curiosity about all things human.
If you can, get out and get to know your city, Buffalo.
**Get the book! They make great gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase.
*All photos in this post are mine, unless otherwise noted.
I’ve been admiring Soldiers Circle, or Soldiers Place, since well, I guess since the first time I really noticed it. I used to work for the Government of Canada here in Buffalo, and the Consul General’s official residence was on Soldiers Circle. The Canadians purchased the mansion in 2009. There would be parties held there on occasion and I remember it being a beautiful home that was surrounded by other beautiful homes.
For some odd reason, I never really noticed this circle before that time. I mean, I had driven through it many times. But after the first party at #196, I started extending my walks in Delaware Park to include Lincoln Parkway and Soldiers Circle. We are so fortunate to have so much gorgeous architecture to look at on our daily walks. And to be fair, this circle is wide. Might be why I never noticed the homes until I went in one. What I mean is that the homes are a good distance from the circle itself, with lots of green space and trees in between. And when you’re driving or biking through, you really have to pay attention to traffic.
Let’s get to it.
A Bit of History at Soldiers Circle
When Frederick Law Olmsted designed our parkway system, he put Soldiers Circle at the center of the three main parkways, Lincoln, Bidwell and Chapin. These three parkways lead to all the others, which lead us to all the other parks. Sadly, not all the others have survived. But we’re not here to discuss that today.
Today, it’s all about the circle itself. Originally, Soldiers Circle was meant to be home to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument which ended up being placed downtown in Lafayette Square. History isn’t clear how or why that happened, but here we are. Instead the circle originally had three Navy Parrot Guns, which were Civil War cannons, and stacks of cannonballs.
Word on the street says that from the beginning, Buffalonians couldn’t resist stealing the cannonballs. I guess some sold them for scrap, some sold them to collectors, and some simply kept them. Still others would roll them up and down the parkways. Oh, Buffalo…
Either way, all of it was removed in 1937 by then Parks Commissioner Frank Coon, who said they were traffic hazards. Apparently, more than once, people ran their vehicles into the cannons. (Was this a precursor to people driving into buildings in Buffalo?) Seriously though, this is not the first time I’ve heard that early drivers had trouble maneuvering through traffic circles. Anyway, and ironically, the cannons and their accompanying cannonballs were sold for junk at that time.
The Homes on Soldiers Circle
I headed over to Soldiers Circle on an absolutely beautiful October day. The sun was shining, the sky could have been a bit more blue, but it was a crisp, pretty, autumn day nonetheless.
I entered the circle at Chapin Parkway heading towards Bidwell. The first thing I see is this building (above) that was originally a hotel, built for the Pan American Exposition in 1901. It’s since been turned into townhouses and apartments. I’ve seen photos of the interior of a couple of the townhouses and they’re beautiful!
I’m not sure what’s going on with the brick though. I doubt it was originally a mix of yellow and red, which shows at some point there was at least some neglect, but it appears to be well maintained now. I love that almost every window still has the original leaded glass transoms above. And there are so many windows!
On this particular day, I noticed a lot of things I’ve never noticed about this building before. Like what are those openings in the peaks? Are they patios? If they are, how lovely! And I love the transoms and sidelights at the main entryways! Gorgeous!
The Oldest Home on the Circle
The very next house I come to I meet the owner on his way out with his dog. He tells me his is the oldest home on the circle. It’s an 1885 Eastlake Victorian, and I daresay it’s one of the nicest examples of the style I’ve seen.
An Eastlake Victorian differs from other Victorians, from what I understand, by the ornamentation. Named for Charles Locke Eastlake, the Eastlake style home has more subdued ornamentation than other Victorians. Charles disdained flamboyant decoration, and it showed in his designs. The use of color is more subdued as well. In this case it makes for a gorgeous home. To my eye, the colors are spot on, and the ornamentation is a perfect compliment to the home. The windows are original and open out from the bottom, see photo. I find the whole house to be very charming. I’d love to see the inside.
But alas the owner and his super cute Labradoodle have already left for places unknown.
Am I in Allentown?
This whole section here has a real Allentown feel. It’s quite different from the other ‘sections’ of the circle. Now that I think about it, each section of this circle has its own distinct feel. You’ll see what I mean as I move along.
This one is Allentown. Lovely homes that have a real comfortable feel. Like that feeling I get in Allentown. Look at this house below. Doesn’t it just look comfortable? Like you want to be on that second floor porch reading away the afternoon. Or sipping wine with friends into the late hours on a summer evening. How about that? Sound good? You know it does.
Yes, this section is gorgeous and unpretentious.
Lipke House, Jody Douglass House, & Niscah House
Next I came to one of several homes in this area that Buffalo Seminary owns. Most of the homes are used to board students, but a couple are home to Head of School, Assistant Head of School and the like. Pictured below, are three in this stretch owned by Buff Sem. They are Lipke House, Jody Douglass House, and Niscah House.
For clarity, Buffalo Seminary is a non-denominational, day and boarding school for college bound girls. It has its roots in early Buffalo history (1851), and is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning for females in the country.
First up, Lipke House (1896). This one is home to the current Assistant Head of School. What a great example of the Colonial Revival Style. Just look at those four pedimented dormers complete with dentil moldings. Also, notice what is called pebbled dash inside the triangular section of the dormer. I don’t believe those would have originally been painted, but I can’t say for sure in this case. Most were simply mortar with medium size ‘pebbles’ placed at irregular intervals throughout. Interesting!
Next, are Jody Douglass House (1905) and Niscah House (1910), respectively. Both are for students boarding with Buff Sem. Indeed, as I came upon them, a handful of teenage girls came out of the houses, and headed over to the school. What an idyllic setting for this school. It helps that all of their buildings are incredibly well maintained.
The building below the two houses is Buff Sems’ West Chester Hall. It faces Soldiers Circle. Another beauty and it’s perfectly maintained.
As I Cross Bidwell Parkway
As I cross Bidwell, I get distracted by a house I see, and I’m not sure whether it’s on Bidwell or Soldiers Circle. So I walk up to it, and I find it’s not either. Check it out.
First of all, this is one of the best gates I’ve ever seen! It’s awesome! Second, note the address above the door. Lincoln Woods? It’s then that I remember seeing a small lane off Bidwell Parkway on a map several weeks ago. I make a left to see if I can find it.
I pass this…another home with a Lincoln Woods address.
Sure enough, there it is…
So, even though it appears private, it doesn’t say so. I make a right and I start walking up Lincoln Woods Lane. I don’t go far, out of respect, and because of the fact that there is no city street sign. In fact, there’s a concrete driveway out onto Bidwell. This is what I’m thinking as I take photos of one more Lincoln Woods Lane home.
It was at that point that I felt like I was intruding on people’s privacy, and I always try to respect that, so that’s as far as I went. When I came home, I looked at a map. There’s at least two more homes back in there. Maybe more. Secrets off Bidwell. Well, I guess it’s not really a secret. I mean, there’s a sign there announcing it! The things you notice when you’re walking!
Back to Soldiers Circle
As I head back into Soldiers Circle, these are the homes I see. All lovely. A bit newer than I expected, (1960-ish) but just lovely. The backyards of these homes are on Lincoln Woods Lane. Nice.
And Then, There’s This
Yep. Frank Lloyd Wright is represented on Soldiers Place with this stunner! This home was built for William Heath, who, like Darwin Martin, worked for the Larkin Company. Heath was an office manager, and eventually a vice-president, and was able to engage Frank Lloyd Wright to build this home on Soldiers Place at Bird Ave.
Here’s what I know about it. Like Darwin Martin’s house, it was built in 1905. It’s one of Wright’s Prairie School designs, shaped to fit on this narrow, long lot. Wright achieved privacy for the Heaths by building up the lot so that the first floor windows are above street level. Indeed, when you walk by, you cannot see inside the home. But still, it draws your attention to the art glass windows, the low slung, hipped roof with projecting eaves, that large, private porch, and just the sheer perfection that this home is.
There is an apartment above the 5+ car garage that has the sweetest second floor patio you can imagine. You know how I love a second floor patio. The home itself is still a private, single family residence, with the exception of that apartment above the garage. This home adds a lot to the appearance and ambience of the circle.
And it’s unique that a Frank Lloyd Wright home sits on a Frederick Law Olmsted designed traffic circle. We are fortunate to have such an amazing design among our Buffalo homes, on one of our historic parkways.
The Other Side of Bird Ave.
As I cross Bird Ave, this is what I see. I don’t even know where to begin! This house is just so – pretty. It’s in impeccable shape. While I’m snapping photos, the owner comes out with his morning coffee and a newspaper. We start to talk and I tell him how much I admire his home.
The symmetry of this Georgian style home is what does it for me. I’m an admirer of symmetry. When things don’t match up, I get uneasy. Not really, but when they do, it pleases me. The bay windows on the Bird Ave side of the house are perfect, and the Palladian windows both on the front and the sides of the house are spectacular. And that entryway! Classic!
If I have one criticism of this house it would be lack of access to the front porch from the outside. It’s one of my pet peeves. I understand why people do it. Especially on property such as this, where the home faces a circle. But it’s somehow, unneighborly. That being said, the owner was very friendly and willing to chat for a few minutes. And to be fair, he did not build the porch. So, please understand that I mean no disrespect to him. I still love the house regardless, save for that one thing.
Two More Homes on This Stretch
This slice of Soldiers Circle is set up a little bit differently. Instead of facing the circle on an angle, the homes all face what would be the continuation of Lincoln Parkway, and are stepped somewhat. In the photo below, to the left you can see the previous home set back somewhat from this home, placed further away from Lincoln Parkway. And the next one to come is closer still to the Parkway. The feeling here is one of privacy, and peace.
So, there are just three homes in this section.
This one welcomes you right up to the front door.
I love the use of Flemish brick bonding on this home. It’s a way of arranging the bricks in each row so that the bricks alternate which side of the brick itself faces the outside. With one being laid the long way, and the next is laid the short way. In the case of this house, a darker brick is used for the bricks with the short end facing out. I love the effect. In fact, all three homes on this section of the circle use this technique of Flemish bonding. It’s fabulous on this particular home.
I also love the entryway. It’s simple, but stately and elegant. The leaded glass sidelights are perfect for this house. And finally, the use of black paint really allows the architectural details to pop. Love it. Why isn’t that done more often?
And then there’s this one, below. I love how the front walk curves out to the common sidewalk. I admit I wanted to walk up it. Love the brick pavers. The landscaping is beautiful, if a little overgrown at this point in the year. Understandable.
And the house itself. To me it’s a unique design that has great arts and crafts details. The hipped roof with wide, un-enclosed eaves, the exposed roof rafters (these may be decorative). And the rounded porch with its exposed beams and square columns. Love the whole effect.
I picture this as a family home. Unassuming and well lived in. Just as a home should be.
Moving Right Along
As I cross Lincoln Parkway, I notice that this section of the circle is the only one with a separate road on the circle side of the homes. Convenient, if a little less private I guess. Google Maps calls it Soldiers Place. And all the addresses of the homes on the circle are listed at “Soldiers Place”. I should take a moment right now to say that Soldiers Circle is sometimes called Soldiers Place, Soldiers Way and Soldiers Walk. I have no explanation or reasoning for this, except that in Buffalo, we tend to call things whatever we want, and sometimes we end up with a little confusion. This is one of those times.
Getting back to the homes on the circle, check this out. This home is of the American Renaissance Style, and it’s one I’m not very familiar with. It appears to be a precursor to the Arts & Crafts movement. This particular home has that central dormer with a hipped roof, the terracotta, keystone lintels at the windows and the Doric columns on the offset porch. The wrought iron on the upper patio is fantastic! Right down to the landscaping, this home is perfect. To me anyway.
As I move to the next home, this is what I see (below). It’s official. I’m a fan of the Tudor style. I don’t know why I ever thought I wasn’t. Going out on a limb in this election year, and changing my mind. I like Tudors. Especially this Tudor Revival. It features half timbering over shingles, and a brick first level. Love the chimney.
It was built in 1906 for Albert de La Plante and his wife Margaret, who came to Buffalo from Canada in 1898. Albert worked for Twin Cities Lumber Company. Their son Walter, was Treasurer and Manager of the Peace Bridge later on. Cool! As far as I know they were the first Canadians to live on the circle. But not the last.
Did Someone Say Statler?
Then, suddenly and without warning I’m looking at a 1961 Cape Cod Ranch (below). Here’s another style I wouldn’t have known offhand. Apparently the pitched roof elevation and dormer windows are typical of the Cape Cod style, while the horizontal lines, and large windows lend themselves to the ranch style. Hence, a blending of the two. I never knew ‘Cape Cod Ranch’ was a thing.
This home was built on part of the property previously occupied by the estate of Ellsworth Statler. There is a low-slung wall on the far right of this photo that still exists from the Statler era, and the Medina Sandstone paving was reclaimed from elsewhere on the property. While I inwardly mourn the loss of the Statler house, I absolutely love the look of this home. I think it’s a nice compliment to the more modern homes on the opposite side of the circle.
The Last Section of the Circle
As I cross Bird Ave (again), I see this beauty. I love the symmetry here. The three dormers with broken pediments are lovely. I wish the windows were original, but I fear that they are not. Note the curved arches above the windows, and the keystones. I love when a second floor window copies the front entryway door with its sidelights, like this one does with a smaller version of the surround. I also love, love, love this porch. The curved roofline is just so nice to look at! It softens the rest of the straight lines of this house. Lovely.
And these two. I love the wrought iron on the front door and sidelights of the first house. And the one below that, is just beautifully built. It appears perfect in every way, with the exception of the complete lack of landscaping. It strikes me as odd in this neighborhood. I’d love it if the walls could talk in this house, because I wonder what’s going on inside.
The Government of Canada on Soldiers Circle
Like I mentioned earlier, the Canadians purchased this mansion on Soldiers Circle in 2009. I say the Canadians purchased the property because the Consul General at the time, Marta Moszczenska, always said that the home did not belong to her, but to the people of Canada and their locally engaged staff.
Here’s a funny story. A friend of mine was at the home for a holiday party. While at the party she spilled red wine on white carpeting in an upper hallway. She was mortified and didn’t mention it that night. But by the following Monday, she felt so bad about it, she went to Marta’s office to confess. True to her word, Marta told her not to worry, that it didn’t bother her in the least, and that she would take care of it. It was, after all, not her home. She was only the caretaker. By the end of the conversation, they had made arrangements for the wine spiller to house-sit the following week. That, in a nutshell, what it was like to work for the Government of Canada here in Buffalo.
Let’s Take a Look at the Interior
Elizabeth and Stephen Hays now own the home, and they were gracious enough to invite me inside and into the backyard. My memory was correct. It’s a beautiful home that’s got great flow from the front foyer all the way around the interior and back again. It’s spectacular!
I thought perhaps that over the years, I had built the home up in my mind to be something more than it really is. But no, it’s genuinely a great home. It’s got wide open rooms that are great for big gatherings, and small little nooks to hide away and read a book in peace.
Liz and Stephen have five children and I have to tell you that I like that a large, busy, fun-loving family now fills these rooms. It’s what big homes should be about. Where nobody cares (too much) if you leave a blanket and pillow on the floor. Or forget to pick up your socks. Basically, who cares if someone actually sees that people live here? That attitude seems alive and well here. And I love it. Here’s the family.
Oh the parties I could give in this backyard. Just sayin. Only thing that bothers me here is all the utility wires criss-crossing it. Sort of annoying in the yard of a mansion. I’m sure that could be remedied though.
I hardly know where to begin with my impressions this week. From the history of this circle including Frederick Law Olmsted, to Frank Lloyd Wright himself, to the Government of Canada, this circle has so much going on.
Between the three circles I’ve written about now, Soldiers Circle, Symphony Circle and Colonial Circle, this one by far feels the most affluent. Most of the homes are mansions. But there are also the humble Eastlake Victorian, the 1960s Capes and the smaller homes on Lincoln Woods Lane, which are probably larger than they appear.
This circle is also the only one surrounded by Parkways, and that makes it feel affluent as well. Right in the middle of Lincoln Parkway, Bidwell Parkway and Chapin Parkway. Three of the most sought after addresses in the city.
And Soldiers Circle takes up a lot of real estate. Seriously. From the circle itself, it’s difficult to see any of the homes lining it. I both like that, and don’t like that. Know what I mean? It does make it park like for the homeowners.
And to be fair the sidewalks do run pretty close to the homes. So, I guess Soldiers Circle, or whatever you prefer to call it, makes a great argument for urban hiking. If you want to see stuff, get out and walk. But isn’t that what I always say?
Take a walk over at Soldiers Circle. You’ll love what you see just like I did!
*Get the book! They make great keepsakes, or gifts for friends and family. Click this link to order, or click on the photo below.
**Special thanks to Elizabeth and Stephen Hays for sharing your home with us! Follow Liz on Instagram @lovelizhays
***All photos in this post are mine, unless otherwise noted.
On Monday as I sipped my morning tea planning out my week, I decided to get back into Parkside for a hike. And I thought of Woodward Ave and how enchanted I was with the street several years back when friends of ours from Indiannapolis visited. We had a wonderful visit, and while they were here, they stayed at the Parkside House Bed & Breakfast at number 462 Woodward. Before that, I didn’t even know it existed. But what a gorgeous place it turned out to be. I wanted to go see it again.
I called the owner, Chris Lavey, and he agreed to meet with me. So Woodward Ave it is this week.
Parkside B & B
We might as well start with Chris at the Parkside House Bed & Breakfast, because it’s where I started. What a pleasant, engaging person Chris is. I can picture him making friends with most of the people who stay at his house. And speaking of the house, it was built in 1898 as a duplex for two sisters. Which makes it perfect for a B & B. Chris lives on one side and operates the B & B on the other.
He has painstakingly restored this home over the course of a dozen years, pulling down drop ceilings, restoring woodwork. Blending old world Victorian charm with all the creature comforts we are used to today. Everything you’d want in a B & B. And he did it beautifully.
The front porch and second floor back patio alone are a good reason to stay at this place, they’re just lovely! I could easily see myself enjoying these outdoor spaces. Especially when traveling, those quiet moments in the morning, or at the end of the day. Just the kind of outdoor spaces you need, cool in the summer, comfy and cozy in the spring and fall.
When we spoke on the phone, Chris mentioned that Covid-19 has affected his business exponentially. But he is grateful to have had the visitors he did have this summer. Like everyone in the hospitality business in 2020, he is hopeful for the return of travel and tourism in 2021. I for one, would much rather stay at a small, intimate place like the Parkside House than a large, chain hotel.
What Else is on Woodward?
A lot. A real lot. Let’s check it out. The homes are amazing, but the people are friendly too. I walked up one side of the block between Crescent Avenue and Jewett Parkway, and back down the other, beginning and ending at the Parkside House. I passed what I would call many people. Some walking, some on bikes. Others sitting on their porches, some working on their homes. Everyone said hello. All of them.
Look, you know I walk all over the city. I say hello to everyone I meet. Everyone. Some say hello back, but some don’t. For whatever reason, some just don’t feel comfortable responding. That’s okay. I get it. But on Woodward, every single person I said hello to, responded. Every single one. I love that about a neighborhood.
So we’ve established that Woodward has friendly neighbors. But the homes! These houses are what attracts people to a street like Woodward. The friendly neighbors keep them here. The two together is what city living is all about!
The homes are a nice mix of architectural styles. Queen Anne, Victorian, Shingle, Romanesque Revival, Bungalow and Colonial Revival styles are all represented, with the occasional Tudor thrown in. The paint colors can be described as everything from traditional to eclectic. I never would have been able to dream up some of the color combinations, but almost all of them work. Take a look.
Check this Little Guy Out
Then I reached this house where I asked the woman on the second floor patio if I could take photos of the house, she said yes immediately. Note the tie rod and anchor holding the chimney secure to the roof. It’s a nice one. I like the windows here too.
It was then that I realized that her cat was watching me from the picture window. He then looked to her. Cutest photo bomb ever! We laughed and chatted for a few minutes before I moved on down the street.
After that, I was meeting people left and right. Like these two guys – very willing to mug for the camera. Thanks guys!
This would be a good time to mention that I saw several homes along Woodward getting some sort of work done. That’s also another good sign in a neighborhood. People are taking care of their homes. Love the tripartite windows on the third floor of this one, and that wide entryway on the second floor. It’s not often you see that. This home is lovely.
And these. Love the way these homes are being cared for.
Then I Met Mike
A bit further down the road, I met Mike. Unlike the Mike I met last week at Colonial Circle, Mike is his real name. His house is not technically on Woodward, it’s on Jewett. But the bulk of the land is on Woodward. Plus it’s spectacular, so I’m including it.
When I met him, Mike was doing what some men (my husband included) do best. He was puttering. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Literally, he told me he was playing around with some Ambrosia Maple wood he had left over from a building project (a table) he had recently completed. If that’s not puttering I don’t know what is!
But seriously, people who putter have the best looking houses. And Mike’s is right up there. Just take a look at this beautiful bungalow.
The Home has Received Some Notoriety
Mike tells me the house was featured in American Bungalow Magazine (at least I think he said American Bungalow). Specifically, the windows. And they are spectacular. He pointed out that the porch was enclosed in the 70’s for an attorney who made it his office. Mike didn’t seem to love that part of the house, but I think considering it was done in the 1970’s, it looks pretty good.
We go into the yard and around the home looking at all the little details. It’s fantastic! The wrought iron detail in the gate is repeated in the side yard on the entryway, in a frame at a window at the back of the house, and on the front trellises. Mike tells me he got it from his brother, who was getting rid of an old wrought iron fence. Great reuse.
The brick pavers were salvaged from Ft. Niagara. Love the wear on these. Another great reuse.
It’s all these things that bring a house to the next level. This home is fabulous, and the yard is a veritable oasis. Thanks for the tour Mike, and for being so friendly.
As I leave Mike’s driveway, he goes back to his puttering. I expect to see some Ambrosia maple accents on this house soon. It’ll be perfect!
Frank Lloyd Wright on Woodward
As I cross the street, in between the houses, I see the Darwin Martin Complex on Jewett Parkway. That, my friends, is for another post. But not today.
Today, I will only mention the Gardeners Cottage. It’s part of the Martin Complex, but fronts on Woodward. It was designed along with the Darwin Martin House, as the gardeners cottage and is of the same style as the house, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School design. With much less detail, and lesser materials, but a stunner nonetheless.
Here, I have a personal story to tell. In 1962, my parents were looking to buy their first home. The Gardener’s Cottage was for sale, and they looked at it. They didn’t buy it for two reasons. One, it was $3,000 over their price range (!) and two, my father thought the wide eaves made the interior too dark.
When my Dad told me this story, oh, I would say within the last five years or so, I couldn’t believe it! I could have grown up in a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home! But it was too dark, and for a lousy three grand?! Oh the missed opportunity! Just kidding (sort of).
To be fair, three grand was a lot more money back then, and I’ve heard that Darwin Martin’s wife, Isabelle, didn’t love living in the big house because it was so dark inside. You see, she was nearly blind, and light mattered. The Martins lived there over 20 years. Wonder if she was nearly blind before, or after twenty years of living in the dark house? Mom and Dad may just have dodged a bullet there…
Moving Right Along
Here are some more beauties on Woodward. All fabulous in their own way!
St. Mark’s R.C. Church and School
You can’t walk this section of Woodward without noticing St. Mark’s Church and school complex. Honestly, I was a bit taken aback by the size of the property. I never noticed how large it is.
Roughly 850 families are registered as parishioners, and 400 children attend the school. The parish was founded in 1908, with the first Pastor being Rev. John J. McMahon (later Bishop John J. McMahon). The church building you see here was built in 1914, and the school was opened in 1921. And apparently, according to Business First, St. Mark’s school is ranked the #1 private school in Buffalo. Nice!
Just a Few More
Here are some more homes to round out my hike today. Note the use of color, flowers and landscaping. All of these make a difference in how you see a home as you pass by. Not to mention the architectural details. Take a second to look at the roofs, the windows, the entryways, the brickwork and the whole esthetic. Each of these homes is fantastic in its own right.
I cannot believe how difficult it was to choose which photos to include and which to leave out. So many great homes on one street. And I didn’t even walk the whole length of the street. Buffalo is full of beautiful homes! We only need to get out and walk to notice them. This street, I’ll admit, was a bit overwhelming. There were so many to choose from.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the colors of some of these homes. The orange / yellow colors especially. When I first saw them, I didn’t want to like them, but I couldn’t help it! The colors blended so well with the trees and the landscaping, and with this particular neighborhood. My newest favorite house colors!
Next time you’re looking for a walk where you want to be wow’d by the homes, check out Woodward Avenue over in Parkside. The homes are amazing, and the neighbors are friendly. I’d live here. The homes draw me in, and the people would make me stay. Plus it’s close to the zoo, the History Museum, Delaware Park, the Art Gallery. The list of advantages goes on and on.
And, keep the Parkside House B & B in mind when you have friends and family come to town to stay. It’s immaculately maintained. Your friends and family will thank you.
Take a hike Buffalo. Get to know your neighborhood, and your neighbors!
*Get the book! They make great gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase.
**All the photos in this post are mine unless otherwise noted.