This post has been a long time coming, as blog posts go. I first became aware of Woodley Road when I was a kid. My best friend growing up had cousins that lived on Burke Drive off of Eggert Road. We spent a bit of time there riding bikes etc. Even as a kid, when we’d ride up and down the area streets, I admired the homes in this neighborhood.
Several months ago now, I saw a home featured on a facebook page that I follow. One of the owners of the home, Rick, posted photos of the new home he shares with his husband Leroy, and their adorable dog, Gunnar. In the post, he highlighted some of the changes and some of the original charm the home holds.
With the speed that life travels, I had forgotten about this neighborhood and wanted to go back and check it out. I contacted Rick, and it’s been months in the making, but he and Leroy opened their home to me. As a matter of fact, they invited Tim and I to visit on a day when the neighborhood gets together for a weekly cocktail hour. It’s something they started during quarantine more than a year ago. More to come about that later.
Back in the 1920s, Cleveland Hill Properties began to develop this neighborhood (which they called, and widely became known as Cleveland Hill) and heavily advertised the homes for sale as “A Beautiful Park of Beautiful Homes”. They held extensive open houses where thousands walked through the newly built homes. Buffalo newspapers sponsored various homes. Decorators, furniture stores, florists and more, all contributed to staging the homes, making them look like the beautiful homes they advertised.
And they are beautiful. Modest maybe, when compared to the homes along some of Buffalo’s grand parkways, but these homes are very well appointed. The building materials were among the finest available. Many of the homes here still retain their original detail and charm. And like we talked about over at Windsor Ave, many of these homes were model homes as well. Making them the best quality possible.
The ads stated that the American dream is within reach of nearly everyone at Cleveland Hill. They urged Buffalonians to take the trip out Kensington ‘Boulevard’ to see the homes. They touted ‘price and terms to suit your pocketbook’ and that ‘every home is different’. I can’t speak to the price and terms, but every home is, indeed, different. And they are beautiful.
To be honest, I always thought this neighborhood was in Cheektowaga. But at closer examination of a map of the city, it’s in Buffalo. There’s an odd ‘bump out’ if you will, that includes the area bordered by Huntley Rd, Century and Treehaven. This week I’ve heard a few stories about why the neighborhood is included in the city of Buffalo, and not the first ring suburb of Cheektowaga.
The most common is this. Remember, this is hearsay. The story goes that judges were required to live in the city back in the day, and there was an influential judge who wanted to buy a home in the area, so the city arranged to acquire the land. More judges followed suit, and moved into the neighborhood. Seems unlikely to me. But there have been, by all accounts, several judges who have lived in this neighborhood. So, hey, you never know.
There is but one judge left today. We’ll talk about that later. For now, come hike with me.
We’re going to do this hike in reverse of how I actually walked it. We’re going to start at the corner of Burke and Woodley with this rather large beautiful home. It comes with a bit of a mystery that I haven’t been able to solve. I found old newspaper clippings listing the address of 9 Woodley Road in advertisements for Cleveland Hill, see below.
And there is a number 9 on the home, at the door that faces Woodley Road. But both the city of Buffalo, and Google maps lists this home as being on Burke Drive. Number 28 to be exact. I don’t usually use house numbers when I write, but this was intriguing. For now, it’ll remain a mystery.
But what a house!
Three Tudors in a Row
Next is this pretty thing. How very unusual! But it works, somehow. This is the first of three Tudors in a row, where rumor has it, different members of the Amigone family had built and lived in at one time. And one, Philip Amigone, owner of Chez Ami downtown, lived in number 16 across the street and then moved into one of these at one point. This is rumor, of course, and sometimes these stories get changed along the way somehow. I haven’t been able to confirm or debunk this story.
Number two of the three Amigone Tudors, below. (It’s Jeff and Kathy’s home now.) This is the former home of Paschal Rubino, longtime Buffalo funeral director, below. Someone suggested that it may have been the Rubino family that lived in the three Tudors. Anything’s possible I suppose.
Anyway, Paschal Rubino, in addition to being president of Rubino Funeral Home, served at least three terms on the Buffalo Board of Education. In October, 1962, he was honored with a testimonial dinner at the Statler Hotel by the Buffalo Teacher Federation for his steadfast support of Buffalo Schools, teachers and school children. This was very rare, as they almost never honor someone who is not a teaching professional. Cool.
And Number 3
And here’s number three Tudor, below. This one’s landscaping is taking over a bit, but look at the bones of the place. Another slate roof. This home is a classic. And I do love the tulips! Would love to see this place in the summer.
Check out the roof here though. These slate tiles seem to be in perfect shape. Note that the size of the tiles themselves are larger at the bottom and get smaller as the roofline goes up. It’s planned that way to give the effect that the roof is taller than it looks, giving the appearance of a larger home. It’s done on homes like this one, and homes that are three times the size of this. Interesting.
Wish I had a slate roof. When I see them, I know that if the builder used slate for the roof, the rest of the home is good quality as well.
Moving Right Along
At this home I met Marcia. She seemed a lovely woman, a bit shy, but I could see a friendly nature beneath the shy exterior. If I lived here, I believe Marcia and I could become friends. I hope she would agree.
Looks like I just missed Marcia’s daffodils. Too bad, they were probably beautiful.
Then there is this Colonial, below, with its brick foundation. I wonder if there is brick behind the siding? Seems unlikely that the brick would extend to the ground, if there weren’t brick above it. So I searched, and did find an advertisement for a brick Colonial home at this address back in 1935. No photo to corroborate it though. Anyone know?
I love the wrought iron above that massive bay window. I can just imagine the light brought in through that window. Fantastic!
Next, I came to this Spanish influenced home. What a home! The tile roof seems to be in great shape, and I love how the balcony doors and window mimic the main entry at the ground level. The pillars with the rounded archways that also mimic both doors are perfectly executed.
I can tell you this. It wouldn’t take very much for me to move into this home. It’s got it all.
Onetime owner of this home was Christian Laube, who was the vice-president of Laube Restaurants. It was one of the largest family-owned chain restaurants in Buffalo and was started by Christian’s father in 1907 as “My Lunch” on Niagara Street, where the family court building now stands. It eventually was renamed Laube’s Cafeterias and at its peak served 2,000 lunches per day from this one location!
Laube Cafeterias grew to include Laube’s Old Spain, which was next door to Shea’s, a cafeteria inside the YMCA building downtown, and a full service restaurant inside the Lord Amherst Hotel on Main Street in Snyder. They were by their own motto, “known for food”.
Read more about the fate of Laube’s Cafeterias here.
The Corner Lots
Now we come to the homes at the corner of Woodley and Eldon.
First up, is the largest home on the street, with the possible exception of the first house we talked about at the beginning of the post. This home is a spectacular Tudor. My photo definitely does not do it justice.
The address here has changed as well. It used to be considered on Woodley, but now has an address on Eldon Road. Curious when the home obviously faces Woodley.
There are some big Buffalo names associated with this home. In the 30s, there were Amigones living here. I came across numerous articles ranging from 1936 through 1940 regarding newspaper sponsored holiday lights contests. They were apparently a pretty big deal in Buffalo at that time. The Amigones at this address won the contest in the ‘homes worth $9,000+” category one year.
In 1949, Raymond Haimbaugh lived in the home. He was written up in the Buffalo Evening News that year for being named the Division Manager at the Wurlitzer Company in North Tonawanda. Cool.
And Last, But Not Least
Alfred Durrenberger and family lived in this home in the 1960s. He was the founder of one of Buffalo’s other family-owned chain restaurants, Your Host. Right next door to the Laude family. What a coincidence! And they call this street ‘Judge’s Row’? Wondering if we’ll see any Decks from the Deco Restaurant chain on this street? Stay tuned.
Crossing the street now, this is a completely different style from any other house on the street. Although it appears to be on Woodley, this too is technically on Eldon Road. It’s a nice large ranch home, and from the angle I took this photo, it appears to be all garage. But it really isn’t. It’s what I like to call a ‘rambling ranch’. You know, one of those ranch homes that just keeps going…
It’s a lovely home, and is probably the newest on the street, built in 1940.
The Redcoats are Coming…
This next one is perhaps the most original home I’ve ever written about. Even though it’s not original at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. This home, below, is a replica of Paul Revere’s home in Boston.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I first read that! What an odd thing to do, in Buffalo, NY of all places! Haha! But, being the total history nerd that I am, I love it!
This is the home of Les and Ginny. Les is the last of the judges in Judge’s Row. On the day we joined the Wednesday afternoon cocktail hour, the group ended up here at Les and Ginny’s Paul Revere home. We chatted for just a moment (Les knows the complete history of the home.) before he invited us in to take a look around.
The interior is chock full of Arkansas soft pine wood paneling and doors. It’s rich, yet somehow casual too. Not long ago, the couple received in the mail a magazine from 1931, with a story about their home! The magazine came with a letter explaining the story of the home and how the sender came to have the magazine. They felt that the owners of the home should have it, so they sent it, without even knowing who lived there. What a great story!
Below are two photos of the home that appeared in the Buffalo Courier Express in November, 1929. The top photo is of the basement room, and the bottom photo is the living room as it appeared as a model home. All the same woodwork still exists today. And it’s pristine.
Les and Ginny are good stewards, indeed. And I will say, good and gracious hosts. They invited us in on the spur of the moment, and told us everything we wanted to know. They were at once proud, and yet humble about their much loved home.
I love that.
Moving Right Along
Right next door to the Paul Revere house is this beauty. This is another Tudor inspired design. Note the use of ‘clinker bricks’, which are overfired bricks with a sometimes irregular shape and surface. We first saw these on the blog on Lincoln Parkway. In this case, the bricks are added in a random fashion, along with traditional bricks. I think they give the home a very unique look.
Next, is this home. The flowering trees at this time of year are stunning! After seeing this home, I want to put one in front of my house!
The Call of the Bagpipes
This next home belongs to Dan and Carol, who we met at the cocktail party. Well, actually Dan beckoned us to the cocktail party by playing his bagpipes, calling the party to begin. He does it every week, precisely at 5pm. How fun…
Dan and Carol’s home is stunning. It could be just your ordinary, run of the mill Colonial. But the color, the custom shutters, the window boxes, heck, the windows themselves. The impeccable care with which this home is cared for is awesome. I’ll say it again. It’s a stunning home.
This next one also appeared in an ad in the Buffalo Courier Express in June 1935. I have never seen so many advertisements for a neighborhood as I have for this Cleveland Hill neighborhood. I think it was probably because this area of the city was considered further away from everything. The ads beckon the reader to ‘take the drive out’ to see the model homes. It’s interesting to see.
This home has new shutters and a front door, but otherwise appears pretty much original. Love it.
And this. Love the windows here. Just lovely.
Another Amigone on Woodley…
This gorgeous home, below, is the former home of Philip Amigone, who was the owner of Chez Ami. In 1939, his car was broken into outside the nightclub, for a loss of $750 worth of goods. Among them were furs, a silver mesh bag, pearls and more. Wow! In 1939!
Philipp was also the winner of the $100 grand prize in the holiday lighting contest in 1940. I’m telling you, these were popular back then. There were lengthy articles describing quite a few of the displays, and lots of winners! People were into it!
The owners of this house are Al and Barb, who we met at the cocktail party. With the awning up already, and the lawn so well tended, summer appears to have already arrived at their home! I also got to meet their dog, Lucy, when I came back a few days later to get a few more photos. Super cute!
And Last, But Certainly Not Least…
Now, we come to Rick, Leroy and their fantastic home. Rick is the reason we came to Woodley. Let’s take a look at their house. All the photos in this first grouping were provided by Rick.
The windows are large and there are a lot of them, letting in tons of natural light into this home. I mean, who would mind washing dishes in front of this amazing window? I wouldn’t. At least, not the first couple of times anyway, haha… (This photo is mine.)
When this home was advertised, and it was heavily advertised, the ads boasted a rathskeller, which in this case, is a bar in the basement, and also that thousands came through this home when it was a model. Both of the photos below are from the Buffalo Courier Express, October, 1928.
Rick and Leroy have transformed the place in little more than a year into a veritable showhouse. And they’re not done yet. They have further plans for the basement, and the upstairs where there are three spacious bedrooms and a large cedar closet.
When I first saw Rick’s photos on facebook several months ago, I never could have imagined the things I’d learn researching Woodley Road and these homes. Who knew that people built replica houses? That was totally unexpected, but so much fun.
And once again, I was blown away by the people we met on this street. Beginning, of course with Rick and Leroy, who opened their home to Tim and I, and invited us to the cocktail party, where we met many other neighbors. If I met you and failed to mention you in the article, it’s not because you didn’t make an impression (you all did!) it’s merely because I’m not as young as I used to be and I can’t remember all of your names! Haha!
But Les and Ginny also opened their home to us, and Al sent me some of his own research on the street. Fantastic, and I am grateful.
These parties are inspiring. I’m told they happened spontaneously last year, during quarantine. A couple of people happened to meet outside, and enjoyed a socially distanced visit, drink in hand. Other people began to notice and join in. And they did it all through the winter too, complete with campfires! And a hot toddy or two, I would imagine!
All Are Welcome
But you don’t need to drink, and there is no inviting that takes place for these parties. None are pre-planned. Some people choose to bring snacks. Some don’t. The yard they end up at isn’t pre-planned either. But all are welcome.
So if you live on the block and you’ve noticed the very talented Dan the bagpiper beckoning people out of their houses and into the street to meet up with neighbors, why not go over and say hello? I can tell you firsthand, they are friendly and very welcoming. You’ll enjoy yourself, and you might, no you definitely will, make a friend or two.
This is what a neighborhood should be. I mean, this past year has been trying, to say the least. With something simple like a weekly, social distanced, get together to look forward to, it eases the stress somehow. And it also lets people know there are other people who would be there for them if they needed it. I love it.
And I love Woodley Road. It’s an inspiring street. We should all start a cocktail hour (mocktails if you prefer) on our blocks. When neighbors know each other, the neighborhood grows strong, stays safe, and your quality of life is that much greater!
To the neighbors at Woodley, it was great meeting all of you. Stay close!
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Loved! Loved! Loved! Reading about “your latest Buffalo street”.
So interesting. So many facts & details….names from the past & present.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge & all of your research into these pockets of Buffalo!!
So glad you enjoyed it Janice! Thank you for reading!
Thank you so much for these wonderful photos and information about the homes. I plan “rides” after reading your articles, to experience seeing these fabulous examples of interesting architecture in person. I grew up in Snyder, off Mt. Vernon, and this beautiful neighborhood was one we always visited, to see the Christmas light displays. I look forward to your next tour!
Awesome Linda! Love getting out and seeing new neighborhoods! Thanks for the kind words and for reading!
Great neighborhood, this article (blog) has inspired me to look further into the area.
Excellent! Thanks for reading!
Ellen, I grew up on Burke drive in the 70’s and 80’s, my grandparents lived in the beautiful home on Huntley where Eldon runs into their front door. Some 50 years later, I have a group of 6 women we call the Burkesters. It is made up of 3 sets of sisters who grew up at 178 Burke, 171 Burke and my sister and I from 131 Burke. Oh the stories we could tell. Thank you for writing this article, it sure brought back some wonderful memories. June Tedesco Spencer
Awesome story! I always love to hear when people who grew up together still get together regularly. *Loved* the “Burkesters”! I’m happy you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading!
Hi June my name is LaTanya, my husband and I now live in that beautiful house your grandparents once lived in at 89 Huntley Rd. I would love if you could give me some history and stories of my home.
Ellen, thank you so much for the photos and history of this beautiful neighborhood!
It’s a beautiful home! Thank you for the kind words and for reading!
Wonderful, again, Ellen. Your passion shines through.
Let’s remember that the American dream which was “accessible to all”—to which you speak—was for white Americans alone.
A Black family would not have been welcome in this neighborhood.
You are, of course, correct. I am happy to report though, that today Woodley Road is roughly 50/50 black & white. Living in harmony. Go figure.
Fantastic love going thru Buffalo with you . I left after the blizzard of 77 but I have wonderful memories of growing up on the west side . When I left I lived on West Delavan between Elmwood and Bidwell Pkwy I love that area it still is vibrant , I always take a walk thru the neighborhood when I come back
Walking is the best way to see a city! Glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for the kind words and for reading!
That is the idea behind Slow Roll; a new neighborhood each week. They went to Judges Row last year.
Ellen, it might be tough to top this one, every enjoyable and informative.
Thanks so much – love you guys!
Judges Row has an active Block Club of the same name. We have a listserv and facebookpage. This Block Club is bounded on the East by Croy Street, and the West by Eggert Road, on the North by Treehaven and the South by Kensington Avenue, in the city of Buffalo, New York.
Awesome! Thanks for sharing – and for reading!
I live on Burke Dr (since 1993), across from Woodley. Some “history” that I have gleaned over the years, beyond what you already mentioned. No. 9 (once owned by Fed Judge Hugh Scott) was built by the contractor that built the Saturn Club (notice the simular styles/materials). The first 2 Tudors were wedding gifts for his daughters. The “castle” at Eldon was owned by Jim Thorpe (golfer) before he joined the Senior tour (moved to Florida).
Less than a block away, on Burke, are two other stories. No. 1 Burke was the home of the mayor of Buffalo (Pankow?) during all the highway building of the 50s. He owned a car dealership on Bailey. The large Tudor near Huntley was once the home of the Company doctor of Kittenger; he had a small office for after hour consultations.
In the 90s, there were 6 or 7 judges as well as a few politicians (past & present). Keeping the law theme, there are a few police in the neighborhood too.
Awesome to get some more of the ‘inside scoop’. Thanks so much for sharing and for reading!
Not quite. I grew up on 13 Burke Drive. next door to Mayor Pankow (our streets were always plowed). But next door to me was Dick Mernan. He owned Mernan Chevrolet on Baily Ave. Next door to him has Judge Frederick Marshall. And so on.
What an interesting and informative article! Loved reading it! Left the area 45 years ago but still recognize a lot of the names. Will be sure to follow you on FB… Thanks!!!
So happy you enjoyed the post! Thanks for reading!
It’s interesting that the area was named Cleveland Hill. The nearby Cleveland Hill school district was officially in existence by the 1840s – long before Grover Cleveland was President. You can learn more about the history of the school here:
Interesting, Brian. Very interesting indeed. I wonder…great document btw – thanks for sharing it. I’ve got some research to do. If you find out before I do, let me know what you come up with. Thanks again!
Can’t wait to see the next installment! You’ve done an awesome job combining and commenting on the beautiful and unique houses as well as the owners you’ve been fortunate to meet. Carry on….we’ll pay even closer attention when we visit in August.
So glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you for the kind words, and for reading!
This is wonderful Ellen. I grew up in the neighborhood on the other side of Eggert. I loved the history you shared. Spent many days riding my bike up and down Woodley and surrounding streets. A little tid bit of information Mayor Pakow lived on the corner of Burke and Eggert. Would love to see who else lived on the other streets in the area. You have piqued my curiosity. Beautiful homes thanks,
So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the info about the mayor – never even heard of him until someone else told me that recently! It sure seems like it would be a great place to grow up. Thank you for the kind words, and for reading. See you in church!
The ranch on the corner of Woodley and Eldon was built by my father, Henry Gianadda in 1951. He and my mother married in 1945 after he came home from WWII, and he started a construction company with my uncle. My mother, Rensa, who turns 99 next month, still lives in the house. She can tell you the story of getting a $5000 mortgage from Erie County Savings Bank. Their monthly payment was $44.29. It was a street full of kids in the 50’s and 60’s, and I remember all of the neighbors. A great place to grow up.
Oh, how cool! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story! I wish my photos of your family home were better! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading!
Ellen, thank you for the walk on Woodley Place. Interesting that I lived in Cheektowaga in the Cleveland Hill School District. Was quite interested in the fact that there were homes listed with a real estate company, Cleveland Hill Properties! Many of the old homes around the CH North Elementary and CH High School in the CH School District have a Tudor theme to them. Wonder if this is carryover from the CH Properties sold in Buffalo/Cheektowaga.
I will order this book, but going to wait and see what your next street will be and will order two next time.
I was surprised about that too Jo Anne! It would seem likely these were what you called ‘carryover’…some of the homes along Mapleview right near CH are absolutely gorgeous! Thanks so much for your support! It means more to me than you know.
I lived at 35 Woodley Road, babysat at Durenburgers, across the street from Keller Chevrolet owners. 2 doors from Rubinos, 2 doors from Laubes, at the corner were people who owned Fantasy Island. Great street to grow up on.
Sure seems like it! Thanks for sharing, and for reading!
I grew up on Woodley. My grandfather, August Jankowski, bought the three lots next to Phil Amigone. He lived in the center lot #25. His daughter, my mother, and her family lived on the right #19 – Wallace and Evelyn Schmidt. His father-in-law, Peter Henkel lived on the left #29 I think. Peter’s daughter and her husband, Anna and John Hennig, also lived there. My grandfather passed and my grandmother remarried George Hofling. They lived there until she passed in the 50’s, and it was sold to the Rubino’s. My parents lived in their home until they passed in the early 1980’s. Not sure when the Hennig’s sold, but I think it was in the late 40’s.
Awesome! Thank you for filling in the blanks, and thank you for reading!
I received my book – it’s beautiful! A couple additional comments. My grandfather owned a Butcher Shop at the Broadway Market #19. My father owner it after he passed. After he passed my Grandmother, Maryann remarried George Hofling. He is the one who sold the home to Rubino’s. Phil and Ester Amigon lived in the home on the corner.
Oh nice, thank you for all the additional information. So happy you are enjoying the book! Appreciate the support more than you know. Thank you so much for sharing your Woodley story!