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.