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