Dorchester Road Revisited

Dorchester Road Revisited

Back in September of this year, I wrote a post about Dorchester Road. In response, I received so many emails from past and current residents of the street regaling me with their sweet memories of growing up here. I decided to take another look at Dorchester Road, and share some of those stories with you today.

Let’s Start with the Original Post

Suzanne, the grandaughter of Leo Stall, a longtime Buffalo pharmacist, sent me this 1929 photo below, which I added to the original post. It’s of Leo and his family. I’m sharing it again because I just think it’s so telling of who the family was. Welcoming, always. That seems to have been, and continues to be the prevailing attitude on the street.

Here is a photo of the Stall family home. For more about them, see the original post.

One of the E.B. Greens

I also heard from Bill Blake, who sent me this photo of the William H. Scott house taken in 1915, when Frederick W. Allan lived in the home. I added this to the original post as well. I love this shot of the home for some reason. Maybe it’s because there is less foliage and no fence. It appears more open and welcoming, perhaps because we can see the home better. Either way, it’s a gorgeous home, and happens to be one of the six E.B. Green homes on the street.

Hubbell, Mark H., “Home of Frederick W. Allan, 20 Dorchester Road.,” Digital Collections – University at Buffalo Libraries, accessed September 7, 2021, https://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/items/show/80308

Here is the home today. Still stunning.

Next

I also mentioned in the original post that I’d love to live on Dorchester. I would. So a real estate agent contacted me and told me she had a home to show me. I told her I wasn’t really going to move, but that I’d love to see the home anyway. She was super nice about it, and I went over the next day to see 65 Dorchester. Here are a few photos from the day. The home recently sold to a very lucky buyer, in my opinion.

An Invitation

Very recently, I received an email from a current resident of Dorchester. What a nice woman! This is a quote from a portion of her email:

“…in one of your books about Dorchester Rd, you mentioned a desire to live on our street.  I’m writing to tell you that there will be 3-4 homes for sale on the street.  1 currently & others coming on the market soon.  I so enjoy your books! I hope to see you as our neighbor!”

You see why I love receiving your emails? What a fantastic street! So welcoming! For all of you Dorchester residents, although I would love to be your neighbor, my husband doesn’t want to leave our current home, and I really like him – soooooo… It’s not in the cards for us to move to Dorchester. For now. Wink, wink.

Who wouldn’t want to live here?

The Losi Family

Enter the Losi family. Michael was the first family member to comment on the post, in early September. He mentioned that I had brought back bittersweet memories for him. He said he could picture his Mother sitting on the porch at 142 Dorchester, and it made him miss her. That told me, not only that he had lost his Mom, but that he had some beautiful memories on Dorchester that included her. Sweet.

Once again, the Losi Family home.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I received another email from Joseph Losi, Michael’s brother. Guess what? Joseph has just bought back the family home at 142 Dorchester, and from what I can tell, the entire family is very excited about it! And why not?

A Bit of History at 142

The Phipps Family

The home at 142 Dorchester was built in 1908, and as early as 1914 Charles R. Phipps lived in the home with his wife, the former Anna Beals and their daughter, Carolyn. Charles came to Buffalo in 1901, like so many people did, and was a superintendent of rolling mills at Lackawanna (later Bethlehem) Steel Company. He retired in 1941. Charles was a photography enthusiast and was a founding member of the Buffalo Camera Club. He was also a member of the Buffalo Masonic Consistory, which was located in the former George Rand mansion and is now part of Canisius High School.

Charles’ wife, Anna, was active in social circles in Buffalo. She was a member of the Twentieth Century Club, which, by the way, was the first women’s club founded by women and run by women, in the country. She entertained frequently in their home at 142, usually hosting lunches, teas and bridge games. Now, this being Dorchester Road, these social events probably were not attended by Buffalo’s most elite but they were listed in the social columns of the newspapers of the day. This means that Charles did very well and was respected, but that Anna was also very well liked. She was also an amateur poet, and a member of the League of American Pen Women. Sweet.

Charles and Anna’s daughter, Carolyn, married Dr. Carl F. Howe, a dentist. The two lived in Ithaca, NY and summered in a cottage in Sheldrake, NY. Dr. Howe passed away at only 42 years old, and there is some evidence that Carolyn came back to 142 to live for at least a short time.

Anna passed away in 1934. Charles followed in 1947 after a lengthy illness.

The Vara Family

Sometime after the death of Charles Phipps, Anthony Vara purchased the home. Anthony was an Inspector for the Sterling Engine Company. Having been wounded twice in France during World War II, Vara was an organizer and a four term commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars John Maxwell Post 452. He was very active in the Republican Party here in Western New York, and was named Mr. Republican in 1979. The photo below appeared in the Buffalo Courier Express on July 18, 1979. Vara is second from the right. Also pictured are Sheriff Kenneth Braun and Erie County Executive Ed Rutkowski.

Vara was married to Jennie (Panzica) and had four sons, Alfred, Anthony Jr., Robert and Richard. The family stayed at 142 Dorchester until 1957, when they moved to Hamburg, NY.

Back to the Losi Family

Joseph and Josephine Losi purchased 142 Dorchester in 1958. They stayed twenty years and raised their large Sicilian family here. By large, I mean they had six children, Joanne, Barbara, Anthony (Tony), Patricia, Joseph and Michael. I was able to spend some time speaking with Patricia, Michael and Joseph recently, and they shared some of their experiences growing up on Dorchester. So many of the stories they told me could have been stories of my own childhood, and while I listened, it struck me that so many of you reading this today will probably be able to relate them to your childhood as well.

The Losi Family, circa 1957-ish.

Let’s take a look.

All three shared their enormous love for their mother, Josephine. Like so many moms, she was the glue that kept the family together and she also kept the home together, working tirelessly to do so. One of the siblings, not mentioning any names, went so far as to call her a goddess.

Pat told me how she remembers her mother bringing the laundry up from the basement and going out to the backyard to hang it. Now there’s a memory our children probably won’t have of us!

Both Patricia and Michael spoke about Josephine’s lilacs and peonies in the yard, and how she loved them. Both must have been popular then, because my Mother too, kept both of these in our yard growing up, and to this day the smell of lilacs reminds me of Mom.

All three spoke of big, extended family dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Probably other holidays as well. All three spoke of the extra leaves being put into their large dining room table for these meals. Precious memories.

Barbara’s graduation gathering. Clockwise from left: Josephine (LaFornara) Losi, Gramma Jenny LaFornara, one of the six Joanne Losi Falzone, Julian Sapienza (the family called him Uncle Julie), and Angelina (LaFornara) Brozza.

The table is still in the family, and there is talk of it being returned to 142 someday. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Same day as previous photo. The four women, from left to right are: Angelina (LaFornara) Brozza, one of the six Barbara Losi Gangi, Rosie (Losi) Sapienza, and Josephine (LaFornara) Losi. Circa 1963.

Specific Memories

All three siblings mentioned that on the third floor of the home there was an apartment, probably originally the maid’s quarters. There was, however, no separate entrance to these rooms. That did not stop the family from filling them throughout their years there. An aunt lived there, as did different cousins throughout the years. Some of Tony’s friends lived there as well. And so did Joanne as a new bride. Apparently, her husband was drafted and had to leave soon (this was during Viet Nam), so the couple got married and moved in to the third floor apartment at 142. I would imagine this type of thing was pretty common in homes such as this. Especially during war time.

These are a few photos of the apartment on the third floor from the recent real estate listing. Impressive. And perfect for extended family members and friends.

Typical antics of the 60s and 70s

Joseph spoke about talking on the rotary phone back in the day, with the cord pulled around the corner to the basement stairs for privacy. Did any kids not do that in the days before cell phones? Because I know my whole family did. He also remembers riding bikes through the neighborhood, over to Claytons Toy Store on Elmwood, to the Art Gallery, and Delaware Park. Love it.

Michael and Patricia both talked about playing ‘cowboys and indians’ (it wasn’t wrong back then) using the back staircase as their home base. Mike told of Pat’s uncanny ability to make the sound of horses galloping…when Pat mentioned that she had this way of making the sound, she very lovingly said that Michael just loved it, and that’s why she always did it. Hearing the three talk about each other, I’m really feeling the love. This is a close family.

Left to right, cousin Tony LaFornara, Joseph & Michael in the yard at 142 on Joseph’s first communion day.

Pat fondly remembers one of her older sisters leaving the back staircase during one of these games and saying to her “Cover me!”, Pat, not knowing any better, threw a blanket over her head, thinking that’s what she meant. Haha! Cute!

She also got me laughing pretty hard while telling me the story of a bat being loose in the house. Their grandmother told them to cover their heads with paper bags, so the bat wouldn’t get caught in their hair. The boys caught the bat, apparently killed it and took it outside and burned it, while doing a ceremonial dance around the garbage can where it burned. Haha! I’m still laughing out loud at this one.

Joseph mentioned that while washing his father’s car one day, it somehow slipped into reverse and rolled into the DiGulio’s fence next door. I cannot imagine what ‘somehow’ meant in this case, but I’m pretty sure somebody was grounded in the Losi home that day. And probably for several days afterward.

Left to right, cousin Tony LaFornara, Joseph & Patricia in the living room at 142, on Pat’s first communion day.

Michael told me that their brother Tony, who sadly passed in 2007, used to play basketball in the back yard with Tony Masiello and Rocco Dino, who were high school friends of his. Michael would sneak into the back yard, climb up a telephone pole to get on the garage roof, hide behind the backboard and jump up at the last second and swat the older boys’ shots away from the basket.

You can’t make this stuff up…it’s the type of things kids really did before computer games. And if you are of a certain age, you know it’s true.

Pat spoke of stealing away to the back porch to sit and read a book, just for the opportunity to be alone. Sounds like something I’d do. She said she was quieter than her brothers, and didn’t spend as much time rough housing in the neighborhood. I can see that.

Joseph told me his father would whistle out the front door in order to call the kids in for lunch, dinner, if the street lights were about to come on, or whenever. My mother did the same thing.

The Neighborhood

Both Michael and Joseph spoke a lot about the neighborhood and local families. Here are some of the surnames mentioned: Bartolone, Sciolino (Susie), DiPasquale (Charlie), Carnivale, Lorenzo (this family lived in the E.B. Green home at 137, across the street), Taravella (I believe Joseph mentioned one of the Taravellas is his real estate agent), DiGuilio, Abate, Rooney, Leak, Fama (Nancy, Joseph’s first crush) and Vigilante. Almost all Italian (Sicilian) names. Joseph mentions that they didn’t really think of it back then, but, yes, it was a predominately Italian neighborhood.

Neighborhood kids returning from a party at Melody Fair. Family names represented are Leak, Sciolino, DiPasquale, Augello (sp?), Fama (Nancy, blonde, and the famous crush). The taller boy on the left is Eddie Leak, who grew up to own Papa Jakes on Elmwood Ave.

Both boys also noted that the neighborhood was filled with doctors, attorneys, the owner of a dry cleaning business, restaurateurs, the owner of Melody Fair etc. Joseph mentioned that his father was an engineer by trade, and that he worked for Hewitt Robbins, and was laid off in 1967. A story all too familiar in Buffalo during the 50s and 60s.

The neighborhood boys would go over to Bidwell Parkway to play football. Michael has a memory of Dorchester playing against Potomac in a championship game over on Bidwell one year. I mean, we’re talking pick up games here, not an organized league with uniforms or anything. This is a memory that was pretty clear for Michael. Must have been a big deal.

Photos of the Home

Joseph has not yet taken posession of the home, but here are some of the photos from the listing.

My Impressions

I’d like to mention something that is pretty typical here in Buffalo, I met another Losi family member, Arlena, quite by accident. A few weeks ago, I was at the Buffalo History Museum selling my books at a Holiday Makers Market. A woman pointed to the Dorchester book, and began to tell me the story of how her cousin just bought back the family home on that street. I asked her if his name was Joseph, and she said yes. I then told her that I had a zoom meeting scheduled with him the following week! She told me the whole family was excited for them. Awesome.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that some of the families’ memories were bittersweet. Both Losi parents are gone now. Josephine, their beloved mother, passed away suddenly, not long after the family moved to Kenmore in 1977. Michael, the youngest of the six, was not yet 20 at the time, so all of the children lost their mother at a young age.

Joseph (the father) and brother Tony are both gone as well.

After a day at Crystal Beach are from left: Josephine (LaFornara) Losi (mother), Rosie (Losi) Sapienza, Angie (LaFornara) Brozza, Angie (Losi) DiGaetano, Joseph Losi (father).

Joseph (the son) spoke about how things changed after their father lost his job in 1967. He feels the pressures of raising six kids affected his father in a big way. Today on the phone, Joseph quoted Michael saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Even though Dad had his issues, he did give us 142 Dorchester.” A fine gift it is. And wise words, Michael.

In addition, there were tragedies on the street as well. One neighborhood boy, Stevie, was hit by a car and died. One of the children in the Rooney family was killed in the World Trade Center bombing. Another neighborhood child was killed (as an adult) in a mob hit. Wow.

So, as magical as the good memories are for the Losi siblings, there are bittersweet memories as well. We’ve all got something we’re dealing with. The loss of a family member, the loss of a job, a lost love. Whatever it is, it’s important that we keep in mind that everyone’s got something.

For the Losis, they are both lucky and blessed that they have been able to reclaim their childhood home. That one of them was in the position to buy it when it went on the market. That everything fell into place. I think it’s great! And even though Joseph lives on the west coast now, and the family is not yet sure when one or more family members will be able to move into 142, I am happy for each and every one of them. They seem so excited. Like a child’s laughter, the Losi family’s excitement is contagious.

This holiday season, take some time to be nostalgic. Remember the good times with loved ones through the years. Share some memories and perhaps some old photos from days gone by with family members and friends.

I wish each and every one of you peace this holiday season and in the coming year.

*Note: The Losi family will be renting the home at 142 Dorchester, available February 1, 2021. If you’re interested, contact Louis Taravella, MJ Peterson Real Estate, Lou@Olear.com, 716-867-0138.

Romeo & Juliet’s Cafeé & Bakery on Hertel

Romeo & Juliet’s Cafeé & Bakery on Hertel

Disclaimer: We’ve received no compensation from Romeo & Juliet’s for writing this post. We simply want to highlight locally owned small businesses for their hard work supporting our neighborhoods.

We’ve been going to Romeo & Juliet’s on Hertel for a long time. They’ve been open since 1998, but it had to be at least 2008 before we found it.

Tim & I are pretty social, and we love to be on the go most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, we love to relax too. But often, when we go for a run, a walk, or a bike ride, we enjoy something social afterwards. On Tuesdays after work, we used to go to Delaware Park for a run / walk. After that, we’d head over to Hertel for a bite to eat. One night someone suggested Romeo & Juliet’s, so we went.

Well, we’ve gone back again and again and again. It’s their food, yes. But it’s the friendly, casual atmosphere too. They have a sit down, full service dining room, but they also have a casual dining room, where you order at the counter and they bring it to you when it’s ready. That’s where we’ve eaten most of the time. Mainly because after a run and/or brisk walk, nobody in the real dining room wants to sit next to us! Haha! Seriously though, we’ve eaten in both rooms, and both are equally comfortable in my mind.

Something I Should Tell You

I guess I should have told you this when I wrote our first post about Buffalo food. I feel like I’ve been hiding something from you, so it’s time for me to fess up.

My diet is 90% plant based. I know, I know. I live in Buffalo, and I don’t eat chicken wings? Or beef on weck? Or pepperoni (cups) pizza? And, I’m writing about Buffalo food? Before you get excited, remember I said 90%. Basically, I eat healthy at home. Really healthy. And I do it for my health. Not everyone is blessed with excellent health. I find that this way of eating helps me to stay med free, soooo, I stick with it.

Look, I am from Buffalo. So I do eat meat and (blue) cheese occasionally, and sometimes it’s chicken wings, or pizza. I will, however, confess to never really being a beef on weck girl. I could walk away from that seven days a week. Sorry, Buffalo, you know I love you.

I’m ony telling you this so that in these food posts, you’ll understand some of my choices at the restaurants I’ll be writing about. And fear not meat lovers, you are the reason Tim will be along with me on every one of these forays into Buffalo food. He loves a good roast beef sandwich, wings and pizza. He also loves sausages, (sopressata, summer, Polish, Italian, salami, hot dogs) bacon, subs, clubs, meatloaf, steaks, seafood and more…

Enough said.

The Story of Romeo & Juliet’s

Here’s the story of Romeo & Juliet’s as I understand it. Romeo is Vito Semeraro, a baker, from Brendisi, Italy. He moved to Milan to learn the bakery business. And learn it, he did. Juliet is Susan (Incardona) Semeraro, who worked in marketing and communications, from Kenmore. The two met while Vito was visiting family here in Buffalo.

They fell in love, and married.

They went to Italy for a three week honeymoon and together they travelled all over eating at cafes and bakeries looking for ideas for their own place. Then, they came home and made it happen.

Vito wouldn’t let me take his photo, he suggested I take a picture of this photo, originally taken by Bob Bukaty of Business First. Then he said, “Look at my beautiful wife.” Susan is beautiful, but I can’t take my eyes off that panettone.

In 1998, they opened Romeo & Juliet’s in its first location on Hertel, and eventually moved to a larger space, where they are now at 1292 Hertel. Their vision of all homemade foods, from the bread, to the pizza dough, to the marinated veggies on their pizzas and in their sandwiches, to their salad dressings, to the fresh (and delicious!) baked goods, proved to be a recipe for success.

So much so, that they opened their second location on Sheridan Drive near Evans, and another one on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda, with a couple of partners, Josh Guzzetta, and Mauricio Conti, who started as a waiter, and now manages both Sheridan Drive locations. A brief stint in Hamburg didn’t work out so well, it was just too far away.

Let’s Get Into The Food

The food here is outstanding, or I wouldn’t be writing this. Their pizza has won best pizza in Buffalo, I think more than once. For that matter, their salads could win awards. Always fresh, always delicious, and always perfectly dressed. And their panini sandwiches and specials? You get the idea. It’s all good.

All the baking still happens at the Hertel Ave location, and is shipped daily to the Williamsville and Tonawanda locations. I kind of like that. Because it means that no matter where you go, you’re sure to get the same breads and sweets at all three places, including the pizza dough. This is also a big reason the Hamburg location didn’t work out. It’s just too far to deliver to daily.

Let’s talk about the breads and doughs. Vito tells me he proofs the dough for a minimum of three days. He says it’s easier to digest when you do it that way. I like that Vito knows this. He also mentions that he bakes all the bread, with the help of Paulo Tagliaferri, who also keeps the books, and runs the dining room, and anything else that needs doing. Anyway, the breads are amazing! And incidentally, Romeo & Juliet’s were the first in Buffalo to serve foccacia bread – now everyone has it.

Now, this is my opinion, but bread gets such a bad rap now-a-days. Homemade, hand crafted, artisan bread, with good quality flour is the way it was before it became bad. The stuff you buy in the grocery store in bags is definitely not good for you. Even in the grocery store bakeries – ever look at the ingredients list? But Romeo & Juliet’s breads? They are definitely good for you, body and soul. These are authentic breads. As my cousin Steve said recently, there is nothing better than fresh baked bread, warm, with butter. Or tapenade.

The Menu

Let’s talk about the tapenade first. Like bread & butter at most restaurants, Romeo & Juliet’s gives you olive tapenade with crostini. Fabulous. And I’m not even a big fan of olives. But this tapenade is truly delicious. I look forward to it.

Everytime we eat here, we study the menu and have trouble deciding. That’s not to say we don’t have our favorites. I love the Mediterannea Insalate or the Insalati di Juliet. Oh my goodness, both are fantastic!

Most recently, the Mediterranea won out.

And the pizza! Wow! My favorite is Pizza Bianca with garlic, fresh tomatoes, scallions, mozzarella and romano cheeses. So good! Tim loves the Quattro Formaggi and the Pizza San Vito…I can’t argue with those choices either!

Their paninis are creative, flavorful and delicious! I can’t even choose! But if you force me, I’d have to go with the Romeo & Guilieta – spinach, eggplant, tomato and provolone. Or the Alberti – turkey with tomato and provolone. Or…never mind. I’ll say it again. You get the idea. It’s all good! For a look at their menu, see their website.

Now you know how large the salads are! And the pizza here is the Margherita. Incredible!

We’ve literally eaten here at least fifty times. We always leave happy, and almost always with some sweets to go. For me, it’s the cuccidatis. Tim usually goes for carrot cake or cannolis.

Seriously, how can you go wrong? You can’t.

Vito tells me Romeo & Juliet’s has pretty much had the same pastry chefs since the beginning. As a matter of fact, a lot of the staff has been around a long time. Servers sometimes come and go, but there is a core staff here who are like family. Vito does everything here from the baking, cooking, serving, and yes, scrubbing toilets. He says he works alongside the staff, because he considers himself staff too. That’s good for everyone.

My Impressions

I continue to be impressed with restaurateurs here in Buffalo. They really know what work is. Vito arrives at work each day by 4:30am to begin the baking. He heads home around 2pm for a couple of hours, and is back for the dinner hour. And he stays until they close, at 8pm on Tuesday through Thursday, and 9pm on Friday and Saturday. Don’t forget that after closing, it’s another hour before the staff leaves. That is a long day. Every day.

Tim’s cannolis and my cuccidatis, what’s left of them after I gave most of them to my Dad on the way home. Gotta stick to my healthy eating! I also split the pistachio cookie with Dad. It’s always a good time for a cup of tea and some of Romeo & Juliet’s cookies, or if you’re Tim, their cannolis!

And speaking of staff. It sounds like Vito has the best. During Covid, the kitchen staff stood right next to him and worked by his side through it all. The servers had to be laid off when they had to close the dining room, and all but one came back when they could reopen. This is not common. An awful lot of restaurants are struggling to find workers. I believe Vito knows what he has in his staff, and appreciates them.

Vito and Susan’s 21 year old son, Filippo, is interested in taking over the restaurant. Vito advised him, “If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t do it. Because it will become your life.” He looked at me, and said, “Baking is my life.”

It shows in your food.

I know I speak for all of Buffalo when I say that I sincerely hope Filippo absolutely loves it. That remains to be seen.

That said, Vito and Susan have plans to retire to Florida. When that’ll happen is anybody’s guess. Could be next month, next year or in 5 years. But they are going about making their plans. As a matter of fact, Susan was in Florida when I sat down to talk to Vito. Wish I could have met her. Vito tells me she is the idea person, the creative one and the brains behind all of it.

Vito? He’s the baker.

Visit the Semeraro Family, and their excellent staff, at Romeo & Juliet’s Bakery and Cafe at 1292 Hertel Ave, Buffalo.

**Use the ‘contact’ button at the top of this page to email me your suggestions on your favorite Mom & Pops, or locally owned places in and around Buffalo!

City Living – Trinity Place

City Living – Trinity Place

So. Trinity Place. I’ve admired this street for a long time now. The first time I walked it was several years ago, with a friend, after breakfast at Betty’s. We found ourselves wandering around the neighborhood checking out all the beautiful old homes. It must have been spring, because I remember all the tulips on the street in front of this particular fence, below. It looked stunning. I cannot believe I was able to find this old photo from that day. I must be getting better at organizing them.

Isn’t this great?!

And the person who takes care of the fence is right on with the fall look, 2021. Love it.

Happy fall, everyone!

The homes here are old. Some as early as 1832. That’s the year Buffalo incorporated as a city! Love it! We’re going to look at all of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. Trinity Place has all of those, and more. Because there are some real treasures here too. Tucked away on this narrow little street that lots of Buffalonians have probably never noticed.

Knowing it was coming up on the list, I turned on it unexpectedly one evening on a bike ride with Tim. He was blown away! He had never seen it before. It’s a cool little street, up and coming, with a few problem areas, but nothing we can’t handle, Buffalo.

Come hike with me.

Those Problem Areas

Let’s get those problem areas I mentioned out of the way first. They are the first two homes on the south side of the street at South Elmwood. They’ve both been neglected for a long time. Ever since I can remember, actually. One is getting visibly worse. No info seems to be available about either one, though. Not that I can find anyway. Anyone?

The one with the for sale sign on it has a South Elmwood address. It’s got a storefront on the Trinity Place side, with what appears to be an apartment above that is probably empty. The rest of this long building appears to be apartments as well. I think some of them are being used, judging only by the cars parked behind it in a kind of large parking lot, that most likely used to be the yard or yards for a house or two that has been demolished. Can’t be sure about that, of course.

Next door to that is the home with the gaping hole in the corner of it, shown above. This is much worse than it used to be, and is so sad to see. The fence you see in the photo is the decorated fence (above) and behind it is the parking lot I just mentioned. There are always cars parked up against both of these homes as they seem to share that same parking lot out back.

It’s sad to see this happening. Especially because of their location at the corner of South Elmwood. The rehab of these buildings could go a long way in helping to bring back this section of Elmwood, which has a couple of bright spots, but could use a few more. Time will tell.

The Rest of the Street

Now, let’s take a look at the real Trinity Place. It’s a gorgeous little street with beautiful old homes. Let’s see them.

First up, these two apartment buildings are getting a face lift. One of the craftsmen told me they’ve both just been completely repointed where needed. Repointing is the removal of a couple of inches of mortar in between bricks and replacing it with new. It’s a big job! He also mentioned that the trim is getting a refresher as well, and the first and second floor doors are next (one door is complete). These two are looking pretty good and getting better!

Love the wrought iron on both of these.

This next one is lovely. Note the leaded glass on the first floor, and those windows in the peak! Nice!

This one, below, is in such great shape that I thought for sure it was owner occupied. But I’m told it isn’t. The owners are good people who care. Love that. Love the color choices here, and check out that light post. Old fashioned and fantastic!

This home, below, is so neat and pretty. I love the windows in the gable with the starburst above!

Did I mention there were treasures on this street? This one has been listed in the NYS and National Registers of Historic Places. Cool! There is a lot going on inside this gem. I could hear it from the street! This is definitely one to watch!

Love the original windows. This home has a schoolhouse look to it, doesn’t it?

These

This one reminds me of the homes on Whitney Place several blocks away. It’s an Italianate style home with an Eastlake style porch. At some point, someone thought these two went well together, and they were right. This house is a fantastic city home.

I’m always so happy to see original windows on an old home. This is another Italianate design, (there are quite a few on this street). I’d love to know what type of shingles those are. I don’t think I’ve really noticed these before. The moldings and brackets at the peak and surrounding the porch make this one something special.

The Kinskie / Kinskey Home

It’s at this point that I’m going to tie two of the homes on this street together. This one, below, and another across the street and down closer to South Elmwood. I found a Buffalo Courier Express article from 1928 that discussed the ages of the homes, the street itself, and the city as a whole. It’s always interesting to read old articles like this. To me anyway. They give insight to what life was like in a completely different time. And if you’re like me, they incite daydreams.

I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what the article was about. It’s 1928, and there’s a man by the name of George Kinskey living on Trinity Place in the home above, whose grandfather also lived on Trinity, beginning in 1834, in this home below. His name was Basser Kinskie. (The spelling of their surname has changed slightly over the years.)

Basser Kinskie and his wife came over from Austria in 1834 and purchased this (then) two year old home pictured below. The home doesn’t look all that different today than it did in 1928. The pedimented windows have been replaced. But on the whole, it appears very similar. The plot is still the original 25 feet wide by 200 feet deep it was in 1832, when the home was built.

Photo credit: Buffalo Courier Express, June 17, 1928

Changes on Trinity Place

But the article went on to say that a lot had changed on the street since 1834, when the Kinskies moved in. First off, the address of the house was 34 German Street. My best guess is that the street name was changed sometime around World War I. The road wasn’t paved in the 1830s, nor were there street lights, obviously. George Kinskey had tax receipts from 1837 for the original home at 34 German / 51 Trinity Place. The city tax paid was $.75, and the county tax was $1.40. (!) In 1928, when the article was written, the city taxes were $107.24 and the county tax was $21.97. Why the county tax was so much less that year, I couldn’t say. But I can tell you with certainty that the tax bill has gone up since then! Haha!

The city changed as well. The northern edge of the city grew from North Street over to Kenmore Ave. And the population went from 15,000 in 1834 to more than 500,000 in 1928.

The article stated that although George Kinskey’s children wanted their father to move to a more modern area of the city, George wanted to stay through at least 1934, so that members of the family would have lived on the street 100 years. Sweet.

Let’s Continue

Below is a community garden. I’m told that a lot of neighbors pitch in to grow everything, and anyone can partake of the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. I love this. Community gardens are such a good thing for a neighborhood! They bring people together.

Peace.
Have I mentioned the light poles?
This one is so sweet, I love the lines. And the yard is fantastic too!

This one, below, is coming around on the opposite side of the street. It has great bones, but could use a little love. I especially like the patios!

This one is very original – great colors!

The home behind a home. I see you!

This one, below, is a quintessential Allentown home. There is at least one very, very creative person living here. And if the gardens look this good in October, I bet they were amazing in the summer!

Is This Hollywood?

And what have we here, below? This home is so unexpected on this street! Why does it make me think of Mary Pickford? You know, the old Hollywood actress. This house is like a smaller version of an old Hollywood home. I can’t believe this is in Allentown! Love it!

Also, note that the Hollywood home is on a pie shaped piece of land. It falls right at the curve in the street. This is one of those neighborhoods where Buffalo streets converged with Black Rock streets, creating these interesting little twists and turns in our street patterns. Also creating some funky shaped pieces of property, like this pie shaped one, on the inside of the curve. And the one across the street where the community garden is, where there is extra room. It’s part of the evolution of Buffalo. And I happen to think it’s cool.

Love the colors here!

This next one is beautiful, from what I can see of it. The trees are awesome, and they must keep the porch nice and cool in the heat of summer.

Next – Meet Rhonda

It’s at this next house, below, that I met Rhonda. She lives here with her husband, Dave and two kids, and spoke openly with me about the street, her neighbors and the neighborhood as a whole. Considering that I caught her as she was going down the street to help a friend with a reno project, she was remarkably patient and didn’t rush off. She even allowed me to walk down the street with her while we chatted.

Rhonda moved here 15 years ago with Dave, and their then four month old son. Theirs is a double lot and it’s Rhonda who clued me in to just how deep these properties are. The single lots are narrow, in most cases 25 feet. But they are long and go way back! Rhonda and at least one other neighbor keep chickens in their yard. As a matter of fact, the bucket that holds reno supplies that she’s carrying down to her friend’s house, is topped with a bowl containing three fresh eggs for that neighbor. So unexpected in the city – and yet really cool!

While we chat, she tells me how they’ve watched the street change in the past 15 years. When they first moved in, Rhonda said the neighborhood was “sketchy at times”. I can see that, especially 15 years ago. But they wanted to stay in Allentown so they bought here, and have watched as the street has slowly improved. And I think they may have contributed to that in a much bigger way than Rhonda would have admitted. She spoke about her involvement in the neighborhood very humbly. I like that.

When the home next door, below, sat empty, they went to municipal housing court to complain, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. In the end, Dave and a friend of his fixed the home up and eventually it sold. Rhonda tells me they are beginning to see people who work in the medical field moving in on the street. And why not? It’s a great street! She says the street has changed to a lot more owner occupied homes, and she’s grateful for that.. She pointed out several that are rentals, but they are among the nicest on the street. She’s grateful to have such good landlords on the street as well. It seems that everything is falling into place on Trinity Place.

Rhonda, I love what you’ve done with your property, and the one next door. And I can tell that you are a force on this street, for the good. You, and your neighbors are Buffalo.

Moving Down Trinity Place

This place looks so sweet. I could be happy here.

These patios look well used. You know I love that. And what a different little dormer! The paint job is very happy, and I like the two separate entrances. This is a very inviting home.

This one could use a little love, but the details are still there. This is one to watch.

Kudos to the upper windows! The storefront needs a bit of love, but this former tavern has a lot of charm. Let’s keep an eye on this one too. It could be great!

My Impressions

The article I read about the Kinskey family homes was very thought provoking for me. It got me thinking about the changes our city has gone through over the years. This is really a great time to be living in Buffalo, when we’re pulling ourselves up out of the rust, so to speak, to put ourselves back on the map as a beautiful, innovative place to be.

I always get excited when I find a Buffalo house, or a street, or a building I’ve never seen before. Like I said earlier, I found Trinity Place seven or eight years ago now, but I guess Tim had never seen it. When we were on that bike ride I mentioned, I got excited watching him see it for the first time. It’s like I said when I wrote Castles of Buffalo, once in a while, it’s good to see something through someone else’s eyes. Especially when they’re seeing something really cool for the first time.

I still get this feeling on the regular in Buffalo. It’s one of my favorite things. That excitement of finding something cool, learning something new about a place you think you know. That’s why I continue to explore and talk to people. I always learn something. I met a man on an urban hike over on Summit Ave, who recently wrote to me in an email, “…participating in true dialog is one of life’s most outstanding gifts.” How right you are, Frank.

When we stop exploring, stop learning and stop conversing, that’s when we begin to die. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of livin’ to do!

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City Living – Columbus Parkway

City Living – Columbus Parkway

Back in July, we went to a birthday party at Front Park. On the way there we passed by Columbus Parkway. On the way home, we decided to check it out. Wow! I’d heard good things and remembered reading a few articles about this street, but it’s always so much betterto see it in person!

A Little Bit of History, of Course

Prospect Park is bordered by Porter Avenue at the south, Connecticut Street on the north, and Prospect and Columbus Parkway on the east and west respectively. Hiram Pratt, Buffalo businessman and two time mayor of Buffalo, donated the land in 1836 to the City of Buffalo to be used as a park. At the time the property afforded unrestricted views of Lake Erie and the Niagara River. It was a perfect spot for a park.

Sometime before Olmsted designed our park system, homes were built along the perimeter of the park, blocking the beautiful views. This prompted Olmsted to design Front Park. Between 1855 and 1866, Niagara Street was extended north through the very center of Prospect Park. Albeit a smaller scale, this is just like the 198 cutting through Delaware Park! Why do we do these things?

Prospect Park. Just now beginning to see the colors of fall in Buffalo.

In 1952, the western portion of the park was renamed Columbus Park. At that time, a statue of Christopher Columbus was placed on the grounds. The eastern half of the park continued to be known as Prospect Park. In July of 2020, it became known about the controversy and general negativity surrounding Christopher Columbus. The statue was removed. In November of the same year, the Buffalo Common Council voted to change the name of the west side of the park back to Prospect Park. Once again, Buffalo has one, cohesive Prospect Park, save for Niagara Street running through it, of course…

I’m told, and have verified, that there will be a new statue to be erected soon, to replace the Columbus statue. It will be of an Italian immigrant family arriving here for the first time. Very appropriate, because this area was once predominantly an Italian neighborhood. Can’t wait to see it.

Let’s Take a Look at Columbus Parkway

I’ll begin by saying that I didn’t take photos of every home on the street, like I usually do. I covered the three blocks between Porter Ave and Rhode Island Street. There are simply too many homes along this stretch to be able to include them all.

This first one was built for Abner Cutler, who owned A. Cutler and Son, cabinetmakers, manufacturers and dealers of furniture. The business was located at 164-176 Pearl Street, which would have been in the block where the Rath building is now located. They also had a factory in Black Rock. Abner Cutler was issued a patent for the design of the roll top desk in 1882. In fact, he was issued seven patents, all pertaining to the mechanics of the roll top. Cool. And a beautiful home to boot.

This home has had some fairly recent renovations. The working shutters have been removed, original windows were replaced, and sidelights and a transom were added to the front entryway. The sidelights and transom were an aesthetic change. But I was sorry to see the windows replaced (they were fantastic). I suppose I understand the cost involved in maintaining them though, and you’ll get no judgements from me. Just observations.

Next

Across the street from the Cutler home is this beauty, below, currently receiving some love. And it looks to me like they are doing it right! I appreciate this. That upper porch is interesting with it’s ‘step up’ (maybe two) or down depending on how you look at it. Either way this place looks like cocktails on the patios to me. Let’s keep an eye on this one. I think it’s going to be fabulous!

I love the arched portico over the entryway with the fan design underneath on this one, below. And the ribbon windows in the dormer. This place has got little touches like the stone walkway, and the tiled stoop. Very nice! And, they’re Bills fans, so yeah, I like this one.

The brickwork is just great at this next home, below. And check out the wrought iron, unusual and beautiful. I’m so glad they’ve kept it!

Mama Mia! This one, below, is beautiful! But before I get carried away, a quick check with the city shows there are eight apartments here. Okay. Coming back down to earth. But it also says both the upper and lower patios are 10 feet wide by 36 feet long. Now, those are patios! This one is a real stunner.

This next home below, is where I met Alexander and his dog, Otis. Alexander, I apologize, but I cannot remember your beautiful Mother’s name. She was using a leaf blower and both Alexander and Otis were having a grand old time chasing the leaves around! Super cute family moment. All three were really enjoying themselves. Mom told me that she loves living on the street. The neighbors are great, and that most of the homes have original woodwork etc. That’s so great to hear!

And More Columbus Parkway

Here are a few more amazing homes.

Love, love, love this one!

Check out the second floor windows!

These gardens are fantastic!

This two family is very inviting!

This one below is really nice with the rounded porch. There are several of those on this street. Also, the rounded bay windows. There are a lot of those on this street too. Love it!

Wow!

This Queen Anne style home was built for DeWitt Baker in 1883. Oh that gable! Most of the windows appear to be original. And I want to call that finish on the gable pebbling, but on closer inspection, I think it might actually be ‘roughcast’, which is a mixture of small stones, broken glass and cement. That second floor window is beautiful, and the sunburst detail above it is stunning.

There are eight of these townhomes, built in 1989.

Love this one.

Wait till you see this

This next home, below, is spectacular! It’s designed by August Esenwein, of the Buffalo famous Esenwein & Johnson Architectural Firm. (The Calumet Building, the Electric Tower and many, many more.) Just look at those amazing tall (tall!) windows on the driveway side. The scale of this home is incredible! This is one I’d love to go in. Just to see those windows! And what is probably fantastic woodwork and many more details! This one is special!

And what do you think of this beauty, below? I absolutely love it! This street continues to blow me away at every turn. This particular home is so unexpected. Let’s just say, you’re not going to see another like this one today, that’s for sure.

This one, below, is a lovely Second Empire design. I’m pretty sure all the windows (on the front anyway) are original, or at least have been replaced properly. They still have the rounded look and curved top. It looks so nice! The bay window on the first floor is beautiful complete with dentil molding. And I think the sidelights and transom are stained glass. Nice!

And these

Look at the original Palladian window up top, and the curved glass bay on the second floor!

Just lovely!

And Now This

This home was built in 1880 for Edgar B. Jewett. He was the president of the Jewett Refrigerator Company. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog you may remember that my husband, Tim, worked for Jewett Refrigerator Company early on in his career. Cool. Jewett served two terms as Mayor of Buffalo, became the Vice-President of the Cary Safe Company, and served as the President of the Columbia National Bank here in Buffalo. Busy guy. He lived here with his wife, Elizabeth and their four children before building a home at 210 Summer Street in 1900.

This three story home is incredible! It towers over the corner of Columbus Parkway and Columbus Parkway West. Like many on this street, the owner of this home is a fantastic steward of this true Buffalo treasure.

This Next One

Dr. John D. Naples and his wife, Anne, built this home in 1939. Including the extra wide lot which is 80 feet wide! That’s practically unheard of in the city! And of course, you know I love the wide porch on the driveway side of the house. Awesome place to sit and visit.

This One

This home is absolutely massive! The city has it listed as a three-family residence. And I can see where all three could be very large apartments. The house seems to go on forever. I’m told that a woman named Carole lives here, and that she knows everything there is to know about the street. But alas, she was not home the day I was there. Although I’ll tell you I’m not altogether sure I knocked at the right doors. I do wish I could have met her. Carole, your home is beautiful.

After a little digging, I found that Carole and her late husband Carl raised their children in this home. It was designed by an architect out of Rochester named James G. Cutler. Cutler is better known as the person who designed and patented the office building mail chute. Cool.

Moving Along

Love this next home. Take a look at the sunroom at the front of this house. It’s got leaded glass and I think some of the windows in this home may be original. Not all, but some definitely are. Nice.

This next home, below, is where I met Terry. He’s the one who told me Carole is the person to talk to about the history of the street.

Terry had heard at some point that a senator or a congressman lived in his home. He was right. His name was Anthony F. Tauriello, born in 1899. He was an attorney who served on the Buffalo Common Council from 1938-41, and again in 1948. He was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1949-51, when he came home to serve again on the Buffalo Common Council from 1954-57. He finished off his career as an appointee to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority from 1961-73. Not too shabby. Here he is, below.

Anthony F. Tauriello
Photo credit: “Pictorial Directory of the 81st Congress” 1949

Terry, I especially love your entryway at the front of your home. Thank you for taking the time to chat. Appreciate it.

A Few More

There are a few more houses I’d like to share on my way back to Vermont Street before I head home again.

This one is technically on Columbus Parkway West but it’s so gorgeous I can’t leave it out.
Sweet!

Boo! This one’s ready for the great pumpkin!

Love the colors here!

This home, below, is where I met Dave and Chantal. What a beautiful Colonial Revival home they’ve got here. Dave tells me they’ve been here a little less than a year and are in the middle of a kitchen reno. Chantal mentions that she’d like to do some research on the home and the area once the renovation projects are completed. Well, guys, I found that your home was built for Henry Hagen in 1907, but I’m afraid that’s all I was able to find before publishing. I’m sure you’ll be able to see that on your deed, and maybe you’ll find more clues as to the history of the home.

About the house. My favorite thing is that gorgeous rounded porch. Also, the palladian windows at the peaks. There are at least three that can be seen from the street. One at the front, and one at both the north and south sides. And those rounded bay windows on the second floor are beautiful.

And Last But Certainly Not Least

This incredible (and huge) home, below, was built in 1886 for George Sandrock, who was born in Buffalo in 1838. I believe Sandrock was in insurance (Sandrock & Baily, located at 24 Swan Street). He was one of 11 children born to George Sr. & Magdalena Daigler who both came to Buffalo from Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. The home must have been stunning back then, with the red Medina sandstone lintels, details at the peaks and decorative terracotta here and there mixed in with the brick.

It needs a bit of attention, but looks doable. It’s impressive when you walk by. It’s the way it’s set on the property that is so perfect! The home is on a wide lot (92′ – in the city!) with a large side yard. Plenty of room to spread out. This is the kind of home that makes me want to explore the interior. Well, back in the day when it was a single family home that is. It would be cool to see the original plans. Now that would be something.

The wrought iron fencing out front just may be original. It would take some elbow grease, but it wouldn’t be too expensive to do. I’ll admit though, I wouldn’t want to be the one to do it! Very labor intensive!

All in all, it’s a beautiful Buffalo home.

My Impressions

Columbus Parkway is an almost unbelievable street, and makes me consider the whole of Buffalo. This street is unique in that the homes were built over a period of 100 years or so. Some were built in the 1860s and every decade after, up until the 1960s, and the townhouses were built in 1989. That’s kind of unheard of in Buffalo. There are a few that I can think of offhand, like Edge Park, where some homes were built in one era, and at the other end of the street some were built decades later. Or every once in a while you come across one really old home in the middle of all the others. But this street seems to have had continual building. Very unusual! And may account for the occasional very wide lots.

Two buddies playing around on a summer day. Sweet.

Historic & Present

The homes built here represented people like George Sandrock, who co-owned a small insurance agency, or the doctors and politicians. These were not the lumber barons or the captains of industry from Millionaire’s Row over on Delaware Ave. This street is representative of successful people like a lot of us, who work hard for a living but also enjoy some degree of ‘success’. I love this about Buffalo.

Prospect Park

I have to say that it’s really good to see a young couple like Dave and Chantal moving into this historic neighborhood, taking an interest in restoring their home, and showing the desire to become part of the fabric of the neighborhood. That’s what makes a neighborhood great.

This one seems to be historic, but very present, if that makes sense. Let me try to explain. Everybody I spoke to on the street seems to be very aware of the history here, almost excited about it. But they also seem to realize that while being historic is cool, it’s also important to be present and involved in the here and now. That’s what’s so great about Columbus Parkway.

Next time you’re in the area, make it a point to go see this incredible street.

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City Living – Elmwood Ave

City Living – Elmwood Ave

Elmwood Ave. Where should I begin? I guess at the beginning. But certainly not at the very beginning of Buffalo. Elmwood Ave did not exist then. It wasn’t part of Joseph Ellicott’s design of our city streets. Nor was it planned the way other, larger streets were. Think Main Street or Delaware Ave. Those streets were carefully planned out. Elmwood Ave? Not so much.

Looking north on S. Elmwood Ave (from Johnson Park)

Originally, it ran from North Street to just beyond Amherst Street. And at the time, it was more like a series of smaller streets connected up together. There was talk for years about making it one coherent street but it didn’t happen until the city was readying itself for the Pan Am Exposition in 1901. Even then, it didn’t extend into the downtown core (Niagara Square) or north to the growing suburb of Kenmore. It only ran from Allen Street to just beyond Amherst. It was, however, at this time named Elmwood Ave.

The view south on S. Elmwood Ave, looking toward city hall (from Johnson Park)

It would not be fully extended into downtown until 1912.

Let’s Take a Look

I’ve decided to cover the section of Elmwood Ave between Bryant and Summer Streets. I realize this stretch is not what you probably thought you were going to see today. But I have my reasons for making this my first post about Elmwood Ave. Okay, so I only have one reason.

One of my most faithful readers, Jo Anne, lived along this stretch back in the 1970s, and I’m writing this for her. We’ve become email friends over the past year or so (remember pen pals?). Jo Anne now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but visits on occasion (like a lot of readers of the blog), and enjoys these ‘hikes’ around the area.

This one’s for you Jo Anne. Surprise!

Let’s Go

I’m going to begin at Summer Street on the east side of Elmwood. This is the first home I see. What a start to this hike! This Colonial Revival was built around 1888, and is made of Onondaga Limestone. Love the look of this house. Note the pedimented dormers, look at the curve of the center one, I believe that’s called a swan’s neck pediment. Sexy. Just look at the wide wooden trim, accented by the wreaths and ribbons. It’s just lovely. The front door and sidelights appear to be floating above the portico. It’s how they’re set into the limestone. Love it.

In the 1890s, William C. Warren lived in this home with his wife Clara (Davock). Warren was born and raised in Buffalo, attended Yale University and was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Commercial, a newspaper well known in the area for its progressiveness tempered with sound conservatism. William Warren was very well respected in both Republican and progressive circles, but he never ran for public office. Interesting. If only we could find someone with that kind of balance today – and if we could get him/her to run for public office. That would be great! Just sayin.

This Home, in 1915

In 1915, Judge Charles B. Wheeler was living in the home, and this is what it looked like then, below. It appears there used to be a widow’s walk at the roof, a balustrade on the roof of the portico, and the wreaths and ribbon on the trim are painted a darker color, probably black. Wish the old girl still had some or all of this. I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the front door is recessed just a bit, and I think the modern door is flush with the building. Which may account for the ‘floating’ look. I like it both ways.

Photo credit: Beautiful Homes of Buffalo, 1915 edition

The building is now home to a wealth management company. Interesting history here though.

Next

I always wonder how critical I should be when looking at homes. I realize sometimes owners are up against it to keep up these old treasures. The work is so expensive, and can be difficult to keep up with, so I hesitate to be negative. This one, below, has seen better days, but is obviously a diamond in the rough. Would love to see it brought back, even just a bit.

The roof appears sound to my eye. Some paint and then maybe some work on the windows would go a long way here. Look at that bullseye window at the peak. Could be beautiful, but it also looks like not just anyone could fix that. Same with some of the shingles. It’d have to be a skilled craftsman. And those don’t come cheap, with good reason.

This one could come back better than ever. And so I’m going to call it ‘one to watch’.

Take a Look at This One

Next, is this absolute beauty.

The colors are perfect and are perfectly executed. The ionic columns on the porch match the ones on the second and third floor windows, and are amazing, as is the broken pedimented dormer with its half moon window, which on closer inspection has spider webbed leaded glass. Cool!

These Next Few

The word that keeps coming to mind is amazing. Simply amazing.

This first one has been maintained so well. Love the ribbon windows in the peak with the shell trim above – so pretty!

Would love to sip cocktails on that upper patio!

I love everything about this next one, below. The use of Roman brick is spectacular. And the Medina sandstone foundation is very practical, but its use as keystones is fabulous! It ties it all together. Also note the original wrought iron at the front of the home. I see the shape of that railing foundation all over Buffalo, but there are usually no longer railings attached. Most people add newer railings to the actual stairs. Love that these are original!

This home was once a lighting store called Schneider’s Lighting Studio, and was advertised as Buffalo’s largest display of lamps and shades. Neat! Later, in the 1940s, it was broken into several small apartments. It now serves as law offices.

And More

This one needs some attention. But it has great bones!

The home below was built for Elbert B. Mann, who was the manager of Flint & Kent, a large dry goods store, located on Main Street.

Below is the home as it appeared in 1915. The original windows really add something, don’t they? Love the splayed lintels above the windows! Also, note the chimneys have been removed (above), as has the balustrade on the portico. Would love to see the windows on the dormers returned to something close to the original windows.

Hubbell, Mark H., “Home of Elbert B. Mann, 339 Elmwood Avenue.,” Digital Collections – University at Buffalo Libraries, accessed September 29, 2021, https://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/items/show/80299.

These Next Two

The next two homes are law offices. And the first one is an E.B. Green design! For that reason, I’m going to show it to you as he designed it in 1899, first. And is it ever lovely! It’s everything I would expect from E.B. Green and more! Love this home!

It was built for Philip G. Schaefer, a Buffalo brewer. And as we’ve learned in the past here on the blog, in general, brewers do okay for themselves here in Buffalo! Wink, wink…

It’s Friday, I’m in love! Photo Credit: The Buffalo History Museum

And here it is today – every bit as beautiful! Love the dormers and balustrade at the top of the home. Note the sidelights to the windows on the first floor – nice touch EB!

The transition between the two.

And the second home included in the same address. Love the color continuity between the two.

These

One of several apartment buildings on this stretch.

This home, below, once belonged to Dr. A. L. Benedict and his wife. In 1943, he spoke to the Buffalo Courier Express about his family coming to Buffalo via the Erie Canal from Schenectady over 100 years before. His grandfather, the Rev. Stephen van Rensalaer arrived with his wife and nine children on a packet boat, to make their home on Carroll Street, which ran between Washington and Ellicott Streets. Benedict told of stories he had heard throughout the years about the family walking to The Terrace and Main Street to get water (it was the closest pump).

Van Rensalaer came to work as pastor of the First Universalist Church, then at Washington and Swan Streets. Cool story. It seems like Dr. Benedict did alright for himself with this home on Elmwood Ave. It’s a beautiful Tudor. Love the entryway and the porch! Very inviting!

This next one, below, is interesting too. A woman named Alice G.R. Owen lived here when she passed away in 1951, at the age of 80. She was born in France in 1871 to English parents. At 16, she moved to Toronto, and shortly after that Alice came to Buffalo to stay. She studied at Buffalo General Hospital, and completed her studies in 1896. She then worked as a surgical nurse for Dr. Roswell Park! Cool!

During World War I she worked as an Army nurse at Veterans Hospital in the Bronx. After the war, Alice went back to school to become a medical technologist. She came out of retirement to work as a nurse and laboratory technician in the field during World War II. I think I would have liked Alice. And she lived for much of that time in this apartment building (above), on Elmwood Ave. Cool.

Now These

Anybody would love to live here!

A new driveway for this stunner!

Opposing political views under the same roof! Yikes!

Note the Palladian window at the side above the entryway. And I love the balustrade on the porch!

These next two photos will be Musical Suites (the name is a nod to the Community Music School which used to be housed in the second photo). The project is being undertaken by Schneider Development. Read more about it here.

The new build.

Existing 1910 building.

Benjaman’s Art Gallery – the home itself is a stunner!

Always loved this building at the corner of Bryant!

Crossing the Street

Here is the first home I come to on the west side of the street near Bryant. This is one I’d love to get into and check out. I’d especially love to see the yard – it’s a double lot! This home is beautiful! In my mind’s eye, there should be a covered patio coming off the north side of the house, and plenty of greenery and colorful flowers in the yard. And take a look at the side entryway with porch above! Wow!

Jo Anne’s Former Home

Now we come to it. The home that Jo Anne lived in during the 1970s.

The structure itself appears to be in really great shape. It’s got good bones, as they say. It wouldn’t take too much effort to get the landscaping cleaned up a bit to bring this house back to its original glory. Love it that the upper porch is still usable, so many aren’t anymore.

Like with almost every home, there is interesting history here too. In the 1950’s, this house was home to the Queen City Chess Club. I found an article in the Buffalo Courier Express from 1970 about a 12 year old boy (described as almost 13) who plays chess against 25 people simultaneously! He won 16 of the games, lost 2, and tied in 7. Young Peter Winston did this while holding a bottle of soda in one hand and making his moves with the other. And the other players were mostly adults who were champions themselves! Wow! Anybody thinking of The Queen’s Gambit right now? Many championships were won and lost in this house! These two brothers, below, were featured in an article in the Buffalo Evening News on October 10, 1955.

During the 1960s and 70s (including when Jo Anne lived here) the building was home to at least two bridge clubs. As in the card game. One was the Buffalo Whist Club and one was a chapter of the Frontier Bridge Club. I found many articles in several local papers about bridge, winners and their scores, where the games were held and who beat whom… It was a big thing, and Buffalo is still host to bridge tournaments. Jo Anne remembers the games going on into the night when she lived at 410.

A Pan American Exposition Connection

In addition to all of this, the Honorable William Buchanan who was the Director General of the Pan American Exposition lived in this home during and after the exposition.

William Buchanan
Photo Credit: Unknown

He was charged with the construction, the operation and the dismantling of the exposition. I saw several ads in newspapers offering various expo buildings for sale. Interested parties were to come to this home to sign the necessary paperwork. These were run in local papers all through 1902. I guess I never really thought about who took care of all of that after the expo closed at the end of October. But someone had to, and that someone lived in Jo Anne’s house!

Another Apartment Building

This building had some construction work going on in the courtyard between the two sides, but normally when I walk by, it looks like a lovely place to live.

And These

Love that ribbon and wreath trim on that rounded bay window!

This is a beautiful Victorian era home. Even the attorney’s sign (shingle) hearkens back to an earlier time. Love it!

And one more apartment building.

This house is just so nice to look at. It’s very welcoming – I want to spend time on that porch!

Beautiful!

It’s around here that I met Ron and his dogs. I should say his Mother’s dogs. Sadly, she passed away about five months ago. Ron just moved into this apartment, (home pictured below) a month ago, because his last place didn’t allow pets. He says his apartment is beautiful, and he’s enjoying being back in the Elmwood Village. We’ll have to take your word for it on the inside. We can’t see much of the outside, but the second floor makes me want to see more!

You’re a good son, Ron.

And one last house.

A lovely Tudor duplex for all you ivy lovers out there!

And there’s just one more building I’d like to show you. It’s the Buffalo Tennis and Squash Club. I’ve been past this building a million times and I have to say, I’ve never really noticed it. It’s beautiful. I love how original it is. I mean, those windows and for that matter, the shutters all look original. Love that.

My Impressions

This was a very different hike for me. It’s an area I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in. For me, it’s a pass through spot. You know, the areas that you pass through to get to a specific place. I’ve noticed the big old homes here, but never really looked at them. For this, I have Jo Anne to thank, by letting me know she used to live at 410. After that, my interest was piqued!

Knowing the history of Elmwood Ave really makes me think. It’s one of Buffalo’s busiest, best urban thoroughfares, and yet it wasn’t planned that way. It sort of evolved as the city evolved. And our city is still evolving. The conversation of just exactly how to do that is still a hot topic! And that’s a good thing.

Go See It

For me, when I see these old, grand homes that are now apartments, or offices, I end up daydreaming about the families who once lived in them, as single family homes. They make me want to time travel back to the days when Buffalo was experiencing the so-called ‘gilded age’. These homes make me want to see the stories first hand. But, until someone perfects time travel, I’ll have to be content with the written word, and sometimes a photograph or two.

Like I always say, every home, every building, every neighborhood’s got a story to tell. The buildings are nothing without knowing the stories of the people who built them, lived, loved, laughed and cried in them. That’s what I’m after. Go see your city, Buffalo. Get the stories.

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City Living – Mariner Street

City Living – Mariner Street

The other day, I spent about three hours doing what I love best. Just walking around the city. You’d be surprised at how much ground you can cover in three hours. But this day, I spent almost the whole time concentrated in one area. Allentown – one of my first loves. And I walked slowly. I didn’t want to miss anything. Today I’m writing about Mariner Street, the stretch between North and Allen Streets.  But first, let’s talk briefly about Allentown itself.

Lewis Allen

There’s so much history here in Allentown. I find myself thinking about Lewis Allen. (Josh Allen came later!) A lot of Buffalonians know Allentown is named for Lewis Allen. Some even know that he was Grover Cleveland’s uncle. But you may not know that Allen’s wife was the one who was related to Grover Cleveland. Isn’t it funny that we never hear about Margaret Allen in that context? I think it’s important enough to mention.

It is true though, that when Cleveland was passing through Buffalo on his way to Cleveland, Lewis Allen persuaded him of the merits of staying in Buffalo. Buffalo was, after all, a thriving, growing, important city at the time. Cleveland, of course, stayed, studied law, went into politics, and well, the rest is history.

What you also may not know, is that Lewis Allen came to Buffalo (with Margaret) in 1827, at a time where Buffalo was just beginning to experience the immense growth to come. Opportunity was everywhere.

A couple of years later, he purchased 29 acres of land that is now almost all of Allentown. You see, one of his endeavors was as a cattle rancher. It is said that his cattle trod a path from Main Street over to what is now Days Park. And that path has become our modern day Allen Street, a beacon in the city for shopping, dining and nightlife.

One more thing you also may not know is that Lewis Allen never actually lived in Allentown. He lived over on Niagara Street in a home previously occupied by Peter Porter. The home (estate, really) was between West Ferry and Breckinridge (see below) with a view of the river. Grover Cleveland lived here with his Aunt and Uncle for a short time when he first came to Buffalo.

Photo credit: The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo, Frank H. Severance, 1912

Let’s Check Out Mariner Street

I was so taken with Mariner Street! The colors of the homes! Not to mention the ages of them. There are quite a few from the mid 1800s. The gardens! And later, when I did a little digging, the people who lived in them! Let’s see this street.

As I rounded the corner from North Street on to Mariner, I notice this Georgian Revival apartment building designed and built by E.B. Green in 1914. It is certainly something to look at. And it’s luxurious inside with features like marble entry halls and intricate plasterwork ceilings, not to mention servant’s quarters!

Love the Medina sandstone walkway and the wrought iron in the entryway!

It’s fitting that when the movie Marshall was filmed in the E.B. Green designed (former) federal courthouse downtown, Thurgood Marshall’s apartment was filmed here, in one of these apartments designed by Green as well. This was, by the way, Green’s only foray into real estate speculation.

There’s another gorgeous apartment building, right next door, on a smaller scale, but no less beautiful! Love, love, love the entryway here! Great brickwork!

Music Lessons Anyone?

This next house is one I think most would love to call home. In 1894, a gentleman by the name of Mr. E. H. Ferguson was teaching guitar, banjo and mandolin out of this home, which he called the Buffalo School of Music. I’d love to see this street in 1894!

When, oh when, will time travel be a thing?

Take a look at these next homes.

Love the decorative trim at the peak!

The paint job at the entryway makes this home pop!

Love this entryway with its curves and wrought iron!

Real, working shutters on original windows! And the trim around the entryway, wow! Love this place!

Dr. Ruby Butler

This next home was the home of Dr. Ruby Butler. She graduated from the American School of Osteopathy in Missouri in 1914. Dr. Butler practiced for a short time in Jefferson, Ohio before opening a practice in this home, below. She stayed here until around 1950 when she moved to Springville to live with her sister, where she practiced on a limited basis until her retirement. Very progressive woman! And a lovely home!

These!

Love the colors here!

It’s tough to see the tops of these houses for the trees! But just look at the entryway on the blue home, below. So charming!

The decorative trim is spectacular!

Love these gardens!

This is the best shot I could get of this charmer! Very private! Wouldn’t you love to sit on the upper patio in the evening with a glass of wine? I know I would!

A Sad Story

This was once the home of Staff Sgt. John W. Haney, below.

The home is lovely, with very original windows at the front of the house. The brick enclosed garden adds a certain charm as well.

Sadly, in 1944, Haney was killed during maneuvers in a medium bomber during an electrical storm over Hartselle, Alabama. He was 33 and left a wife, Alice, both his parents, one sister and four brothers. Haney entered the service in 1942, studied as a mechanic at a bomber school in Baltimore and was stationed in Hunter Field, Georgia. What a sad, sad story. One heard all too often during wartime.

Photo Credit:
Buffalo Evening News, April 11, 1944

Next Door

Right next door to Sgt. Haney’s home, I have three stories to tell you. One was from World War I, and one from World War II. One of the owners of this home, Cornelius A. Wild passed away in 1948 at the age of 75. He worked on the great lakes as a marine engineer until World War I, when he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. After the war Wild worked as chief engineer at Sheas Great Lakes, Lafayette Theater, as well as Majestic Theater. He was also chief engineer on site when our great City Hall was being built. Cool!

Just three years earlier, Wild’s son, Cornelius D. Wild, returned home in 1945 from a German prison camp. He was injured a year earlier and spent time in a military hospital in France, before being taken to the camp. The young Wild graduated from Canisius College and worked at General Motors before enlisting in 1942. The photo below is from the Buffalo Evening News, May 25, 1945

Pvt. Cornelius D. Wild

Okay, so I have one more story about this house. This warrants another photo to clear our minds of war, before moving on to bookmaking.

That’s Right, I Said Bookmaking

Quintessential Allentown colors!

So, in 1970, a woman living in this house, above, was arrested for bookmaking. Gladys Oates was reportedly a tavern keeper, and ran a bookmaking ring out of this home, taking in $3,000 a week. But that was not all, she had others working with her. A total of 14 people were arrested and the total take was $8 million. That’s a lot of bread! Ha! There are times when I cannot believe the audacity of some people!

Oh, Buffalo.

Update: Sept. 22, 2021

I received an email from the nephew of Gladys Oates who sent me the following photos. The first is a calling card that belonged to Jimmie(y) Oates, who was married to Gladys. Jimmie was an entertainer and was known as “the Pennsylvannia Nightengale”. He and Gladys met while performing with the same traveling troup. They married in St. Louis in 1927.

After coming to Buffalo, the couple lived on Mariner Street, which we already discussed. What we didn’t know is that they owned “The Jimmie Oates Grill” which was at the corner of Allen and Mariner Streets (now The Old Pink!). Jimmy passed away in 1970, presumably before the arrests for bookmaking, but clearly, he was involved.

Photo used courtesy of Tim Montgomery

I looked into the phrase ‘Walk Slow’ and my take is that in this particular use, it meant proceed with care. Interesting. Did Jimmie know the ‘heat was on’? Either way, he passed way before the arrests, including that of his wife, Gladys.

Incidentally, I found an article stating that all the charges in the case were dismissed in 1973. Apparently officials used wire tapping to compile their evidence. The defense claimed they used the wire tapping too broadly, listening in on private conversations, not just ‘business transactions’. Seems a pretty flimsy defense, but it worked. Below is a photo of ‘Jimmy’ and Gladys in happier times. Wonder if the photo was taken in the yard on Mariner?

Photo used courtesy of Tim Montgomery

Like I always say, every house holds stories. Most of which we’ll never know. But once in a while, we get a glimpse.

Let’s Move On, Shall We?

Let’s travel back to 1948 (the 40s were very busy on this street!). This is the story of a mother/daughter duo who came over from England to settle in Buffalo. Violet Russell, a partner in the Anglo-American Carbonising Corporation came to live in this home, below, with her daughter, Joan Russell.

Isn’t the house fantastic?!

Joan

Joan was a mechanical engineer. In 1948! She sought to come to Buffalo during a time when you could wait months for tickets for a transatlantic crossing. No worries, she and her mother both signed on to work as crew members on a cargo ship! Joan reportedly blew everyone away in the engine room, and was given the honorary title “Sixth Engineer” by the Captain.

Photo Credit: Buffalo Evening News, Feb. 24, 1948

After settling on Mariner Street, Joan then took her place as a mechanical engineer at Cherry, Cushing and Preble, a consulting engineering firm located on Delaware Avenue. She worked on heating systems. Cool.

Just a note: my husband works as a mechanical design engineer, and there are still not too many women working as engineers. So for 1948, this was amazing!

Both Violet and Joan loved Buffalo. When questioned though, Joan confessed to having an issue with our weather. She stated that our “nice, cold winters are fine, but that our summers are too hot!”*

That’s kind of hilarious!

Two very interesting women, wouldn’t you say?

Moving Right Along

And crossing the street, these.

This yellow magnificence below. There is so much that I like about this one. The window trim. The side entry appears amazing, but I’d have had to go up the driveway to really see it properly! The front doors appear to be original! Is that even possible?! I mean, this house is listed with the county as being built in 1865! If they were added later, boy are they done well! Love this place!

This one’s even older, above, at 1854! Could it be more perfect?

These next three are triplets!

And twins!

I keep wanting to say perfection!

Beautiful! I want to go on the second floor porch at the rear of the house! The windows appear to be original, no small feat with this house!

Wait Till You Hear This!

So we’ve discussed World War I and World War II. Mariner Street also had a gentleman who took part in the Civil War, believe it or not. Actually, judging by the ages of the homes, I shouldn’t be surprised. There were probably several Civil War vets who lived here.

Fast forward to May, 1939. Buffalo was preparing for their annual Memorial Day Parade. The Grand Marshal of the parade was an 89 year old veteran of the Civil War named Edward Hurley.

Buffalo Evening News, May 26, 1939

He lived on Mariner in this house, below. Nice!

Who Was He?

In an interview with the Buffalo Evening News Hurley admitted that he was just 14 years old when he marched with General William Tecumseh Sherman through the south! Fourteen! And he said he was not the youngest. Talk about “boys in blue”! Hurley served for six months, and was on guard duty when Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Walbridge of Buffalo (same family that the Walbridge Building on Court Street is named for) rode in to tell General Sherman of the north’s victory signaling the end of the war.

He went on to say that those six months were both horrifying and exciting. I cannot imagine. At fourteen!

Hurley was apparently well known in Buffalo as a contractor. He worked on the state hospital in Gowanda, the Jamestown Post Office, and our own Erie County Hall (completed in 1876).

Pretty amazing man.

Let’s Keep Moving

Lovely!

Katherine Cornell on Mariner Street

This last home on the block, below, was the Queen Anne style childhood home of Katherine Cornell.

Now the Cornell name is very well known around Buffalo. Katherine’s grandfather was S. Douglas Cornell, of the Cornell Lead Works, located where the Delaware Midway Homes now stand on Delaware Avenue. In 1894, S. Douglas built a beautiful French Renaissance Revival mansion, designed by Edward Kent. Cornell had Kent build a theater on the fourth floor of the home. He had retired from the Lead Works in 1888, and wanted to pursue one of his passions, namely directing and producing plays.

S. Douglas Cornell House, Delaware Ave.
Photo Credit: Art Institute Chicago – Ryerson & Burnham Archives

The mansion became a popular place for Buffalo society and artisans alike to see plays among friends. Katherine Cornell spent a lot of time at this home, watching the whole process from casting, to rehearsals to full on production. It was here that Katherine caught the acting bug.

Katherine Cornell
Photo Credit: Howard Beach

She began acting and had her first break when she played Jo in the London production of Little Women. In 1921, she had her first big hit in the United States in Bill of Divorcement. She went on to become one of the country’s most sought after theatre actors. Cool!

And she grew up on Mariner Street.

My Impressions

It feels so good to get back into Allentown for one of these posts. The homes are old and mostly well kept. The colors are definitely the widest variety in the city. And the overall feeling here is one of serenity and peace. Maybe that comes with the overall Allentown attitude of freedom and acceptance.

That said, I didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone who lived on Mariner while I was there. That’s always a disappointment, but there was so much history to be found here! The music teacher from the late 1800s. The veterans – from three wars! A book maker and a famous actress (not to mention that she was a Cornell!). And I ran into my old friend E.B. Green. This was an interesting street indeed!

Art is everywhere in Allentown. Very cool.

And the homes are old! Many of them from the mid 1800s. As I walked along, I was struck by what good shape most of them are in. I could easily live on this street. Specifically, in the bright yellow home, or the blue one next door with all the window boxes. Love them both! Actually, I could name several more that would do nicely. Haha!

Next chance you get, take a walk around Allentown. Pay attention to details and take a moment to notice the feel of the area. It’ll bring your stress levels down. And we could all use a bit less stress now, couldn’t we?

*Special thanks to Tim Montgomery for providing family insight and photos of Jimmie & Gladys Oates.

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