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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City Living – Dorchester Road

City Living – Dorchester Road

Dorchester Road has been one of my favorites from the first time I noticed it. And I’ve been wanting to write about it since I first started blogging, actually. Last weekend, I went on a tour with Preservation Buffalo Niagara that highlighted some of E.B. Green’s work in Buffalo. All I could think during the entire tour was that it was time to write about Dorchester. So here we are.

A peek into Dorchester Road from Bidwell Parkway.

I first became aware of this street about a dozen years ago. I’d seen it before from Bidwell Parkway, but had never had a reason to walk down it. One day I was in no particular hurry, and so I ventured in off Bidwell. Let me tell you what a sweet spot this street is. It’s one of my favorites in the entire city. It’s got everything! For a lack of a better way of saying it, Dorchester has a feeling of exclusivity while at the same time being extremely neighborly. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true.

I mean, the homes are spectacular and stunning, and yet everyone you meet is willing to chat about whatever comes up. And, it’s right next door to the intersection of Elmwood and Bidwell, which is one of Buffalo’s most walkable neighborhoods. Dorchester is quiet serenity, in walking distance to everything you need.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are six, yes six, E.B. Green homes on this street! If you’re a regular reader, you know about my admiration for E.B.! My history nerd personality knows no bounds, and I don’t care! Ha!

Let’s Talk About EB Green for a Sec

Edward Brodhead Green was born in 1855 in Utica, NY. He studied architecture at Cornell University and was the eighth person to receive a degree from that school in the study of architecture. Before that time, architecture was viewed as more of a trade than a profession, and architects were trained by other working architects in the field.

In 1881, he and William Sydney Wicks made their offices in Buffalo. It was the perfect place for an architect to live at the time. Buffalo was growing like mad, people had money, and they were building. Buffalo kept the pair busy until Wicks retired in 1917.

Green continued on working with his sons, who were both architects, and with other architects, until his death in 1950. In his career, he designed over 370 buildings, and two-thirds of them were in Buffalo! That’s a lot of buildings!

E.B. Green

You know some of his designs. They include the Market ArcadeBuffalo Savings Bank (Goldome), the Fidelity Trust Building (Swan Tower), and the Albright Art Gallery (Albright Knox). He also designed practically every other mansion on Delaware Avenue’s Millionaire’s Row. The Goodyear Mansion, the Foreman Cabana House and the Clement Mansion (American Red Cross). Just to name a few. And there are many, many more. 

Green moved in high social circles in Buffalo. His closest friend became John J. Albright, largely through all the work Green did for Albright on various buildings and homes. There’s a story that was told by Albright’s grandson, that when the Albright mansion on West Ferry burned to the ground, Albright came across E.B. on the grounds during the fire. He greeted Green by saying something like, “Well, Green, have you brought plans for the new house?”

Green was, and still is, Buffalo’s most prolific architect. Partially because he lived to be 95 years old. But partially because of his passion for design, and his willingness to create the designs his clients wanted.

There are six E.B. Green designs on Dorchester.

So Let’s See Dorchester

I’m beginning at the northwest corner of Richmond and I’ll move west. This is the home I was in front of when I took out my camera to start snapping photos. I actually thought it was on Richmond (as the number 734 shows), but the city and the county both have it listed at 75 Dorchester. Who knew? And also, talk about porch envy! This home is fantastic, and a great start to my hike!

Coming around the corner and heading west towards Baynes, these are the homes I saw. This first one is lovely. Interesting how the front entry is enclosed in glass, right on the porch. I wonder if it’s original? The wrought iron railings make me wonder if they are original, or if the wooden balustrade is? It’s all very well done, and the porch is very inviting.

These yellow shutters appear to be original, and are real, working shutters. Nice!

This one, below, is the same color of the house I grew up in, and it gives me a good feeling. I especially like the brackets under the eaves on both the house and the dormers. With the morning sun shining in the sunroom, I picture myself sipping tea and reading in the mornings here. Love it.

This home below is the quintessential city home. The shingling on the peak, the palladian window, and the dentil molding. And the porch, with its brick columns, and this one also has windows on the weather side. Nice! Love the little lending library too!

The mix of styles on this house, below, works really well. Note the tie rod and anchor securing the chimney. There are several on the block, and this one is lovely. When I see shades on either end of porches like this, I know the people who live here actually use the porch. With the shades, they can relax here during more than just sunny, warm weather. Or maybe they’re trying for privacy from their neighbors, who knows? Haha!

And these

Spectacular – each in its own way.

Love this ocular window with its lintel and keystone. Nice touch!

Love the sunburst balustrades here. Seeing more and more of this type of thing, and I am loving it!

Love the sidelights in this entryway. Also, note the original windows in the dormers (someone added outer aluminum, but the inside, I’m pretty sure, are original).

Awnings done right! They are all the same color, but the morning sun has brightened up the upper awnings. The awning off the porch is unusual and must make it a nice, cool spot to sit in the summer heat!

The First E.B. Green Home

As I approached the first E.B. Green home of the day, I immediately notice the tile roof, the brick lintels above the windows and the brick quoins at the corners of the house. Also, the obviously original wrought iron balustrade. Beautiful. This house was built in 1914 for Edmund Thomas.

Then I see two people working on the gardens out front. Lucky me! It’s here that I meet the owner, Megan (pronounced Meegan) and her friend Skip. Skip kept busy with the garden, but Megan was more than willing to chat.

She bought this home just over two years ago, after moving from Soldier’s Place, where she raised her four children.

Megan has done a lot of work to the home in those two short years and she showed me some of it. Let’s go out back.

Note the detail on the columns & pilasters, the dentil molding & corbels. Fabulous!

Megan did extensive work in the sun room overlooking the patio. The windows are original. She added the patio on to the back of the house. Absolutely stunning! The craftsmanship here is beyond comparison. I looked pretty closely (like my father taught me!), and I couldn’t find one thing out of place. Everything is correctly scaled, all angles meet perfectly, it’s trimmed with copper, and it matches the style of the house. It even has a tile roof to match the house. In short, it’s perfect.

Lovely!

Megan is not done yet! She has plans to convert the two car garage into an entertainment space. It’s all original, brick, and has tons of potential! Megan is also looking for someone to work on the stucco on the house… Anyone?

Skip flashes a quick smile before returning to his work in the garden.

And what a garden it is!

I take a last look at this beauty before reluctantly moving on. Thank you Megan!

Then These

These next several are so pretty!

And this, below,…wow! The sun hit it just right as I was walking by. Beautiful!

Love everything about this one, right down to the sweet little gate at the top of the stairs!

These next door neighbors are very similar, but executed somewhat differently. Both are great homes!

And these.

Moving Right Along

As I move east towards Richmond and then Claremont, I notice this peaceful feeling has come over me. This street is an oasis. I hear only the sounds of summer. The crickets and birds singing. Gonna have to watch for one of these gems to go up for sale. Would love to live here.

After crossing Richmond, I came upon this stunner. And it’s where I met Faye, her two children and her Mother. Faye has been here six years and loves it. I’m happy to see a young family living on this street. For some reason, I’m always happy to see families filling these beautiful homes. I think it’s what they were built for. And Faye, love your gardens and yard. Just beautiful.

And these

The gardens!

This is where I met Bonnie. She and her family are just moving in. They’ve moved here from a home they still own over on (I think) Ardmore. She tells me they love the area and wanted to stick close, but they needed more room. Great choice in this home, below, Bonnie. As she pointed out to me, the porch adds something extra to the Colonial look of the home. I agree. Love all the detailing here too.

This house was once home to Mr. & Mrs. Judson Rumsey. Big name in Buffalo. Their daughter, Dallas Eugenia Rumsey, was a graduate of Buffalo Seminary and Radcliffe College. She worked as the curator of the Keats Collection in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Nice!

Dallas married Richard Finn, a graduate of Nichols School and (you guessed it) Harvard University. He served as an officer in the Navy during World War II, and eventually was named to a post as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer (diplomat) to Japan. That must have been an interesting job in 1947!

Bonnie’s kids, and some others from across the street, have made an obstacle course on the road. I love this! (Although Bonnie didn’t look old enough to have kids who could do anything but scribble!)

A Few Others

This next house, below, used to be the home of Leo W. Stall, a long-time Buffalo pharmacist, who had his shop at the corner of Grant Street at Bird Ave. He was written up in the Buffalo Evening News in May of 1956 for celebrating 55 years as a pharmacist, and 44 years in the same location. He spoke to the News about the changes that had taken place since he became a pharmacist, the biggest of which was antibiotics. But right behind that was the use of many other medicines instead of the traditional herbs and tinctures that were popular when he received his pharmacy degree from the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy in 1901. Stall stated that the new medicines were “a hundred times more effective”.

The things he must have witnessed in his time as a pharmacist in Buffalo at that time! And he lived in this beautiful home on Dorchester Road.

I received an email from Leo Stall’s granddaughter, Suzanne, who sent me this photo, below, of the Stall family. It is from roughly 1929. It seems the family were very hospitable! Suzanne still has the lamps and and the painting behind the family! Thank you for sharing this with us, Suzanne!

Love these!

Let’s Finish Up with the Other E.B. Green Homes

I was so thrilled to see these homes (I knew they were here, but never really sought them out until recently). Here they are, in no particular order.

This is the Fred Dullard House, built in 1910. I admit, I’d love to see this one, below, with some of the plant life removed. Or trimmed way back. I see what I think are Tudor influences, some quoining, some brackets, but it’s tough to say. I cannot even see the entry. Wish we could see it better. Maybe someday.

C.E. Mickler House

This one, below, is lovely, and also has some Tudor influences. It was built in 1909 for C.E. Mickler.

I love the way the entryway is set back. It’s gorgeous. This home is meticulously maintained, but in my opinion, a little boring. Not what I expected from the great E.B. Green! But we have to remember, that was part of his genius. He did what the customer asked of him. Sometimes he was allowed to run free with his designs, sometimes not so much.

H.S. Griffin House

This next one was built in 1907 for H.S. Griffin and if you are a fan of ivy, then this one’s for you. I, however, am not a big fan. Let me see your house! That’s how I feel. I’ve heard people say that the ivy ruins your foundation, some say it doesn’t. I’ve done a little reading on the subject and the consensus is that it depends on the quality of the home and what kind of condition it’s in. In other words, the definitive answer is maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Haha. Sorry. The jury is still out on that subject.

No one could argue that in this case, it would be easier to see the home without the ivy. I think it’s a lovely house and if you’d like to see more of it, check out this listing.

H.C. Gerber House

The next one, below, is my favorite E.B. Green home on the street. It was built for H.C. Gerber in 1908.

It reminds me a little bit of one of Green’s homes on Summit Ave, but I like this one better. In fact, there’s nothing that I don’t like about this home. I love the colors chosen, and the use of each one. The Roman bricks, and the Flemish bonding used are fantastic. I love that the shutters are real, and that the cut-outs are diamonds, not the usual hearts. The wide dormer is great, and the dark entryway is drawing me in. I’d love to see the inside of this one!

William H. Scott House

This home is spectacular. It was built in 1903. for William Scott. And it’s larger than it appears in the first photo. You see, it’s a sort of flat iron shape, like the Dun Building (oh, also a Green design!). This highly decorative Tudor makes me think of an English garden. The setting is perfect just going into the curve as the street makes its way over to Bidwell. Green had a way of setting buildings just so, on the lots they were to rest, and this is no exception.

I especially love the overhang at the front door, and the decorative detailing above the windows. The windows on the front appear to be original. Love this home!

Below is a photo of the William H. Scott house taken in 1915, when Frederick W. Allan lived in the home. This photo was brought to my attention by reader Bill Blake. Isn’t it fantastic!? Thanks so much Bill!

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

My Impressions

When I walk over to Dorchester from Bidwell Parkway, I feel like I’m walking into a park. This street has a feeling. A good one. From one end of the street to the other. The center medians filled with plantings and flowers help. But the median is not huge. And I think that keeps the feel cozy and intimate. The neighbors aren’t so far apart that they don’t see each other regularly. I like that.

Here’s an odd observation I made while walking Dorchester. All of the street numbers were new and modern looking. Okay, not all of them. But I would say a good 60% of them are new. Especially between Richmond and Baynes. Just a weird thing I noticed, but I’ll tell you, it made me think that the people on this street are on top of things. If they care enough to replace their old, worn out house numbers, the insides of these homes must be fantastic. It’s all in the details. Just sayin.

I was so happy to finally write about all of these E.B. Green homes on Dorchester. Without men like E.B. Green, Buffalo would not be dripping with incredible architecture like we are. There are others, but Green was one of the best, and certainly the most prolific.

Take a walk on Dorchester Road soon. You’ll forget your troubles for a short while. Everything will melt away and you’ll get that ‘serenity now’ feeling.

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The Goodyear Mansion – One Year Later

The Goodyear Mansion – One Year Later

A couple of months ago, I was thinking about a few of my favorite posts, and I decided to start a flashback series. The first one that came to mind is the one I wrote about the Goodyear Mansion. “The Life and Times of 888 Delaware Ave” is perhaps my favorite out of the 107 posts I’ve written to date. There are a couple more that rank right up there, but I’ll be writing about them soon. Stay tuned.

I’m fascinated with this house and with the Charles & Ella Goodyear family, with a particular focus on their 888 Delaware Ave years. I seem to keep coming back to them, and this house. (See my post about Bryant Street.)

Now, you might say it’s because my Mother went to school here when it was Bishop McMahon High School. Maybe so. Or my love of history and homes. That’s possible too. Or the way I admire and respect the work of Green & Wicks, the architects who designed the home. That’s certainly true.

Ella and her son, A. Conger attend the wedding of Ella’s granddaughter, Ester Watson, and David Brooks Crane. Photo Credit: Buffalo Courier Express: Jan 16, 1938.

It’s the People

While all of that is part of it, it’s mostly the people who left comments on that first post about the house, and the emails I received from readers, graduates of Bishop McMahon and Oracle Charter School, and others. They numbered in the hundreds and believe it or not, I even heard from a few Goodyear family members! I loved every minute of it. I also got to meet some of the writers of the emails. They were so wonderful! I got to hear all about their own ‘life and times at 888 Delaware’! Which you know I love, because while I like beautiful homes and buildings, what I do is always about the people who live, love, laugh and cry in these buildings.

The story of 888 Delaware Ave has been spectacular thus far. And it’s not over yet.

Progress at the Mansion

A few weeks ago, I headed over to 888 to meet up with Mark Tufillaro, President and COO for Priam Development. There is a lot more going on here than there was last summer!

As I mentioned in the first post, Priam Enterprises had a plan to develop this property into market rate apartments and a boutique hotel. The plan was to convert the additions and the carriage house out back into the apartments, and the actual mansion itself would become the boutique hotel.

The Pandemic

When Covid hit, the plan changed to include corporate apartments in the mansion instead of the boutique hotel, along with the market rate apartments. We all know how the pandemic affected the hospitality industry. So Mark and Priam pivoted, and got to work. I continue to be impressed with the care Mark and his team at Priam show as they restore this historical home. As Mark walked me through the grounds, he peppered our conversation with things like, “This was Ella’s room, and Charles’ would have been here.” “We believe this to be where the servants would have slept.” “We’re not positive, but we think this is where the King and Queen of Belgium stayed while in town.” etc.

Photo Credit: unknown (Wikipedia)

We also had a conversation where we debated the use of some of the third floor rooms (Priam doesn’t have copies of the original plans for the third floor.) I sensed a real interest on Mark’s part in this discussion. I like that about this project. This guy and this company have integrity, and they care about this home.

Let’s Take a Look

I’m going to start by showing you a few of the things that have been uncovered since I wrote the first post. This first photo is out on the original portico, on the north side. It most likely had a light inside the arch, and I’m hoping it will again. The portico will be opened up and used the way it was meant to be used. Note the original tile floor.

The second photo is how the portico originally looked, at the front of the home. Can’t wait to see it when it’s completed!

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

More details being uncovered. This is in what used to be the loggia.

The Entry

Here are a couple of shots of the entryway and the rooms immediately to the right and left of the main entry on the driveway. The ‘Coat Room’ is immediately off to the right when you come in, and the ‘Receiving Room’ is off to the left, just up the stairs. I picture a butler or a footman answering the door, taking visitor’s coats and hats, walking them to the room on the left, and returning to the coat room to hang the wraps.

We really could have used a coat room like this when we were raising our three kids!

And the current view from the top of the stairs.

One of the workers taking a much needed break. They tell me Mark’s a real taskmaster – just kidding!

Below is a current photo of the elevator (that I neglected to include in the first post). That’s right, this home had an elevator, in 1903! Very forward thinking. I was in a well known Buffalo bar/restaurant recently, and there was no elevator for the third floor banquet room. What?! The Goodyears took care of this issue in 1903! Note the woodwork, and what great shape it’s in.

The Hall

As I entered “The Hall” there were workmen about concentrating on the portico room. I was drawn to Karl Bitter’s frieze called “Life” above the fireplace. Look at the molding surrounding it. Spectacular! So grateful that almost all of the woodwork in this house is intact. The photo that follows the ‘today’ photo is from when the Goodyears lived here. The frieze is at the left.

Two things: One, note the heavy brocade curtain between the hall and the entry to the home. The receiving room would be just outside the curtain on the right and the coat room would be down the stairs to the left. Two, a pipe organ in the living room! This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

More photos of the woodwork in the hall. Note the work being done to the ceilings. And, another stained glass window!

The Library

Speaking of stained glass, there is more stained glass in the library.

This is in the library at the southern end of the house. Note that amazing wrought iron. Just above the library shelving at the right of the door is some old wallpaper. It’s not original, and will not be incorporated into the new design of the room.

Check out these next four images. The first two are the library fireplace as the family enjoyed it. Wow! The third is from last summer, and the fourth shows the shelving after being restored to the original look, minus the leaded glass.

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

Current condition of the library, above. Note the cement block just outside the one window. Behind it is a loading dock that was added at some point. The loading dock will not be removed, but will be transformed into a patio. Sounds like a good plan.

The Dining Room

These are photos of the dining room. Then and now.

The door on the right leads to Ella’s beloved terrace, which overlooked her garden. The one on the left looks into the hall. There is one more door roughly where this photo was taken from, that leads into the oval breakfast room. Isn’t this amazing?! Note the fireplace and mirror above, and then see below. This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

And now.

These doors lead to Ella’s terrace and garden, which would have been off to the right. Look at that stained glass!

The Billiard Room

I’m not sure why, but I love this room. I mean, I most likely wouldn’t have been allowed into it back in the day! This would have been the gentlemen’s domain. I’d have been in the library after dinner with all the other women. Or more than likely, given my Polish/Irish roots, I’d have been in the kitchen! Haha.

But I do love this room. It’s the windows. I’m told there will be billiards played in this room again. Yessss! And women will be allowed!

The Kitchen

As an avid fan of anything having to do with ‘upstairs/downstairs’ themes, I was very interested to see the kitchens. Of course, there are no photos of the kitchens from back in the day. Wish there were. But here’s what’s going on there now. The photo below with the dark walls is the room where the actual cooking was done. This room would have had a store room, a kitchen pantry and closets, in addition to the ovens, stove and other storage.

The other photos show the butler’s pantry, where all the china, silver, utensils, serving trays etc. would have been kept, and the servant’s dining hall. There was originally a wall dividing the dining hall and the butler’s pantry.

Let’s Go Upstairs

First, let’s take a look at the stairwell itself. In the first photo, the stairs were covered by carpeting, which is not original. The second photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward to seeing how the stairs turn out once Priam is finished with the restoration!

Photo used courtesy of Laura VR – via Bishop McMahon’s Facebook page.

The original chandelier hangs on a 40 foot chain ready to be put into service again. In this photo, note the work being done on the ceilings on the second floor.

Detail of the wrought iron.

When you turn 180 degrees from the railing above, the photo below is what you’d have seen in the Goodyear days. Not bad for a hallway!

This photo was obtained by Priam from the Diocese of Buffalo. Used courtesy of Priam.

The Bedrooms

Let’s take a look at Ella’s room first. It was at the other end of the hall above, and on the left. Through the door to the left of the bed is Ella’s dressing room, pictured in the second photo. Her private bath would have been through the door that is visible between the mirror and fireplace in the dressing room photo.

Ella’s dressing room is one of my favorite rooms in the house, it’s so personal. Look at all the framed photos throughout, including above the fireplace and surrounding her vanity mirror.  Wish I could have seen this room when it was like this.  Just once, and preferably not because I had just turned down her bed and laid out her bed clothes.

Below is Ella’s room and dressing room today. The stairs were added when the home was being used as a school, in order to bring the building up to safety codes.  What a shame. I mean, I’m really glad the kids were kept safe!! Haha!

This is Charles’ bedroom, below. Then and now. Through the door (closest to the bed) would have been Charles’ private bath and dressing room beyond. Through the door next to the fireplace is Ella’s room.

This room needed extensive work on the floor and ceiling. Water damage?

Guest Rooms and More…

In these rooms, everything has been stripped back preparing for the real finishing work to bring them closer to their original splendor. A lot of the work thus far has been behind the walls. Time consuming and quite necessary, but it’s not the beautiful stuff to look at. That’s coming.

This room, below, was the women’s sewing room. As you can see, it’s being prepared for finishing work. Check out that molding above the doorway!

Servant’s Quarters

This room is believed to be where most of the servants slept. It would have been set up dormitory style.

Charles’ Office/Study

Charles’ office is not as large as you would think. All wood paneling, very manly. Inside, he also had a half bath, all marble. In fact, all the bathrooms in the house, one for each of eleven bedrooms, plus more, were marble. Each of the eleven bedrooms were all equipped with marble fireplaces as well.

The Part of the Property that is Not the Mansion

The market rate apartments are in the process of being converted. They stand directly where Ella’s garden was out back. From what I hear, they’re going to be beautiful!

Ella in her garden. Photo credit: Bogalusa Story by C.W. Goodyear (Charles’ grandson)

My Impressions

It is so interesting to me to watch this project unfold. Again, I have to say that I am impressed with the integrity of this project and I am looking forward to seeing the finished apartments!

The view from some of the market rate apartments. I’m told this outdoor area will be transformed into an attractive patio. Nice!

Like I mentioned earlier, up to now most of the work is being done ‘behind the walls’. So things aren’t starting to look pretty yet. But the pretty stuff is coming. And it’ll happen somewhat quickly when it does. The care with which this work is being done is amazing. Almost every room in the mansion itself is being restored to its former glory. Not all, of course, but seriously, a lot of it is. As much as we could hope for in an almost 120 year old home.

This photo gives you an idea of the actual size of the dining room. The previous dining room photo made the room appear cozy. Note the fireplace with the mirror above. Photo credit: Bogalusa Story by C.W. Goodyear (Charles’ grandson)

The project is on track to be completed within the first quarter of 2022. That means that soon, there will be a whole host of new people who will experience this home in their own way. Living, loving, laughing and crying their way through their own lives, and leaving their own personal marks on this home. And that’s really what it’s all about.

The Goodyear Mansion, indeed, lives on.

Click here to read the original post about the mansion: “The Life and Times of 888 Delaware Ave”

Get the Book! Click the link to see a preview!

The books make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!).  Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!

City Living – Lafayette & Parkdale Avenues

City Living – Lafayette & Parkdale Avenues

I’ve been wanting to write about Lafayette High School ever since the first time I actually walked past it about a year and a half ago with a friend of mine. I, of course, had seen it before, but until you walk past a building, it’s easy to miss how incredible it can be. And the more I walk in the area, the more I notice all the spectacular homes and buildings along here too. Little did I know what I’d find once I really got into it.

When I first sat down to research the area, I remembered another friend of mine, Martha, grew up on Parkdale. I shot her a text to find out which house was hers at the time, and during a small flurry of texts, I thought that she might like to take a walk. She wanted to, our schedules happened to match up, and so we set out the next day.

Come Hike With Me

For this particular hike, Martha and I met up at the southwest corner of Grant Street, at Sweet_ness 7 Cafe. Martha tells me this was a bakery when she lived just around the block on Parkdale. More recently though, it was a beautiful little full service coffee shop, with amazing food, great service and original art. Yes, I said art. Both inside and out. But today I’ll just tell you a story of the mural on the exterior of the building.

A few years ago now, I sat down with Prish Moran, owner of the building, and talked about how Sweet_ness 7 came to be. She told me how she purchased the building and set about getting her vision for the cafe off the ground. The exterior first floor was covered with graffiti. And not the good kind. Lots of nastiness. When it proved to be much too difficult to remove, Prish painted that section of the building brown in an attempt to make it appear a bit better. Afterwards, people in the area began to ‘suggest’ she do something to brighten up the drab brown-ness of it all.

And Brighten it Up, She Did

One day Prish came across a page she had torn out of a magazine that was, basically, the mural that she ended up painting.

Wait until you hear this. Not long after painting it, Prish was sitting inside the unfinished cafe. She was going through bills, hoping she hadn’t made a huge mistake by buying the building, when someone knocked at the door. When she answered it, there was a man there with several women. He introduced himself, and told Prish he was taking the women, who were Burmese refugees, for a walk through the neighborhood. He was showing them around and when they came upon the building, the women became very excited. They began to cry tears of joy.

They explained that when they arrived in Buffalo they were uncertain about the future for their families and for themselves in a new country. Understandable. But when they saw the painting on the side of Prish’s building, they were reassured that they were exactly where they were meant to be. You see, the painting is of a Burmese Fertility Goddess.

Prish had no idea that’s what it was, she just liked it. But after meeting the women at her door that day, Prish knew that she too was exactly where she was meant to be at that time. Of course we all know the cafe turned out to be a huge success.

Sad, but True

Sweet_ness 7 is temporarily closed right now. In an email Prish tells me that both Sweet_ness 7 and the Tabernacle are currently available for rent. I’ll list Prish’s contact information at the end of this post. As for Prish, she has purchased an inn in the Adirondacks. She is, as usual, fearlessly following one of her many dreams.

We here in Buffalo are looking forward to the return of a cafe to this corner.

On With the Hike

Across Grant from Sweet_ness 7 is this little bit of sweetness, below. This home has been brought back to life in the last several years. Love it. My favorite part? The outdoor spaces. Both of the porches that face Lafayette, and the brilliant rooftop patio over the garage on Grant. That last one is perfect for this spot! Makes me want to sit up there with friends and family on a Saturday night in the summer, sipping cocktails. I’d also like to see what’s been done to the basement, I’m intrigued.

Everything here makes sense. From the commercial space in the garage to the solar panels on the roof of the house. It all just works.

Across the street is what used to be Annunciation Parish. Martha tells me that this was her church growing up. When I asked if she walked to church, she said, “We walked everywhere.” And the story began to unfold as we walked and looked at the homes along the way.

This is Our Lady of Hope Parish today, a merger of Annunciation, Our Lady of Loretto, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s a vibrant, multicultural, West Side, Roman Catholic Church. I’m going to have to check this one out some weekend.

Moving Right Along

Back on the other side of the street we see this. I love the dormer on this house!

And this. Check this place out! The style? Second Empire, with attitude. Okay, that’s not a real thing. But those awesome colors, and that monstrous red Medina sandstone porch. Wow. And you can’t see it in any of the photos I took, but there’s an entire house in the backyard! I’m not talking about an in-law cottage. I’m talking about a full house!

And there are others with homes in the backyard right along this stretch. At least five in this square block. It’s curious, but I think it’s cool in a way too. Wonder how that ever came to be? Full homes, in behind others. Interesting.

Sisters of St. Mary of Namur

These next few buildings are the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. I feel bad saying I’ve never heard of them. They taught at Annunciation School when it was open. And they are still here, busy as ever, ministering to the people of the West Side. Excellent.

As a matter of fact, in 2019, the sisters celebrated 200 years of ministry! From their website,

“In this century, as we have become a diverse, global community, the Sisters have been attuned to the changing times, extending themselves beyond the classroom. Parish ministry, refugee work, standing against human trafficking, teaching ESL, home visiting, counseling, spiritual direction and prayer groups are among the many works the Sisters have assumed as the Spirit has led.”

I have a lot of respect for sisters. They, unlike priests, give up all their worldly possessions, take a vow of poverty and agree to serve “as the Spirit has led”. It’s really amazing when you think about it.

The School

Annunciation School, that is. At one time it was K-12, serving the entire community. I knew there was a K-8 grammar school here, but didn’t realize it was a high school originally as well. Interesting. Martha went here for grammar school, along with many of the neighborhood children. The students used to (lovingly, I’m sure!) call the school “A Nun’s Creation”. I see what they did there! Haha. Love it!

The school is now closed, but the first floor of the building is a professional incubator office space, and the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center. There are 20 loft apartments of varying sizes above. It’s a great re-use, and if you look at the website, you can see that they’ve kept some of the old school fixtures, like chalkboards! Again, interesting!

The Discovery Trail

I should mention that throughout this hike, we came to stops on the Discovery Trail. It’s a one mile trail that starts at the West Buffalo Charter School at 113 Lafayette, and is marked on the sidewalks of Lafayette Ave between DeWitt and Baynes. The theme of this trail is ‘welcome all cultures’.

I love when a city/neighborhood has these kinds of things. It makes a child love getting out and taking an urban hike! It’s the type of thing they’ll reminisce about someday!

Seriously, if you live in the area, and you haven’t seen these, take a walk. They’re designed by school children at WBCS…and they’re inspiring!

I’ll drop photos of them in, here and there, during our hike so you can experience them just like we did…as we went along.

Parkdale Ave

Back to the hike. As we round the corner on to Parkdale, and as we pass the side of the old school, these are the homes we see.

There are so many things I notice about this home, below. Let’s start at the peak with the pebbled dash. I want to say that there’s a design to the pebbling, but from this angle, I can’t say for sure. The tiles that are set into the bricks are unusual. Martha and I agreed they’ve probably always been there. Note that the bricks directly above the tiles stand out further from the rest, probably to protect the tiles.

Off to the left, you can see that the entry door is on the side of the enclosed porch. But the front of the house has another door, with large sidelights. I like that in the good weather both doors can be open to allow plenty of fresh air.

And this one below, is in great shape! It looks like the upper porch was re-done at some point. I probably wouldn’t have thought to do it, but they saved some of the wrought iron when they did the porch. Really nice touch.

Martha’s Family Home

Next is the home Martha grew up in. She lived here with her parents, three brothers and one sister. It’s a really pretty house. But to get the full effect, check out this listing from a couple of years ago.

Martha and I have to stop ourselves from going into the back yard to look around. I can see the curiosity in her face. She notices that there’s a chimney on what used to be a back porch. If you click on the link above, it’s not just a fireplace that someone’s added, it’s an oven. Maybe a pizza oven? It’s a fantastic porch and yard all around!

The Neighborhood

As we hike Parkdale Ave Martha is peppering the conversation with names of the people who lived in this house or that. So many that I could never be able to match up the house with the family names. But here’s a few. Guzzetta, LaDuca, Missana, Ciffa, Cavalieri, Lagatutta and Callari.

Some of these families may have lived on Lafayette… But you get the idea. This was a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Martha mentions that she never thought of it that way when she was a child, but telling me all the names really drives it home for her. And it sure does seem like she knew everyone!

As we approached this one, Martha says she thought it used to have an apartment out back, and sure enough, there it is… Note the details around the windows and front entry. I’d never have noticed that if I were just driving by.

And these.

At this house below, Martha tells me that when she lived across the street, there was an older couple that lived in this house that didn’t have any children. But they ‘adopted’ all the kids on the street. They must have made an impression, and quite possibly a difference in some of the children’s lives. Sweet story.

This last one is still in great shape. Or back in great shape, I can’t be sure. But it looks good.

On this section of Parkdale (between Lafayette and Auburn) I noticed that a lot of the homes are still the original clapboard. Some have been covered with vinyl siding, but I want to say that most of them are still original. I like this.

Back to the Corner of Parkdale and Lafayette

The first thing I see is this huge, gorgeous old home. Needs a bit of work, but it appears that all the original detail is still intact, most of the original windows are still there, and it could be brought back. I’d love to see it happen. Same color, with white and black trim. Yes, please.

Kitty corner from that home is the Buffalo Dream Center. These buildings are fantastic and appear to be in great shape!

Martha tells me this used to be the Lafayette Baptist Church ‘back in the day’. The Buffalo Dream Center has been headed by Pastors Eric and Michelle Johns since 1993 and now calls these buildings (above) home. The church is very involved in outreach services to Buffalo’s community, serving children, the poor and the hungry. If you are looking to get involved in any of these ministries, take a look at their website. This is one busy place!

The Homes

As we continue up Lafayette, Martha starts rattling off names again. Castiglia, Battaglia, Cannizzaro, Severino, Cipolla. We stroll on, and this is some of what we see. Fantastic! The two last homes in this grouping are twins!

And this one, back in the day, was home to one of Martha’s friends, the Missana family home. Martha remembers it being beautiful inside. I’d love to see it now.

Along here, they just keep getting better.

Love the paint job here, there’s that black trim again!

You could almost imagine this is a cabin in the woods. Love it!

Love the rounded porch, and the curved leaded glass!

And still, Martha is mentioning names, Palumbo, Falcone, Rubbino, Falzone. As we approach Colonial Circle at Richmond, she remembers a family on Richmond Ave named Gulino. She remembers them being very nice.

Here’s a quick story about one of the previous residents of this house, below. Born in 1881, in Italy, Anthony Carnavale came to Buffalo when he was a child. He learned to play the saxophone when he was young, which was considered a pioneering instrument at the time. He played as a member of the 74th Regiment Band, who played at the Temple of Music at the Pan American Exposition. Cool! Carnavale went on to play at many downtown theaters, including the Olympic and the Lafayette.

In 1927, he opened Carnavale’s Spaghetti House on Niagara Street. It became very popular with local politicians and members of the entertainment community in the city. He continued to be active in the music scene in Buffalo until his retirement. Interesting guy. He lived in the house with his wife, Rose, his son and two daughters.

These. Are. Awesome.

And this one is fantastic. Check out the windows in the dormer.

Lafayette High School

This is where we come to Lafayette High School. Can you imagine going to high school in this building?!

This building was completed in 1903 and designed by Esenwein & Johnson, noted Buffalo architects. Their firm designed the Temple of Music that I mentioned earlier, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Calumet Building, the iconic Electric Tower, numerous homes, and many, many more!

For whatever reason, Martha didn’t attend Lafayette High School (or Annunciation HS for that matter). So I phoned a friend. Actually, I texted a friend, Lori. When asked what her favorite part about going to Lafayette High School, Lori immediately responded with “Teachers and friends!” I love that about Lori. When I pressed her about the building, she said she always knew how special it was, and always thought it was beautiful. Even as kids, they respected that. Cool. Thanks Lori.

The school is now Lafayette International Community High School, serving the multicultural community that the West Side has become throughout the years. I love this too.

I know a woman who came to Buffalo when she was 16, from Germany, many years ago. She didn’t speak English, and had to spend an entire year sitting in a high school classroom learning English by listening and observing. She felt awkward and, in her words ‘stupid’. It should make all of us happy that Buffalo has schools like this where children can ease into life in a new country more comfortably than in years past.

The Home Stretch

As we pass the high school, we come upon a lot of really great houses.

This one is awesome, below. Martha mentions she loves this kind of sunroom. Me too, Martha! The plaque on the front says 1877, and I daresay that most of those small windows are original! Would that column of windows to the right of the door be considered a sidelight? Either way, I like it. And sweet that there is a literal bell in the place of a traditional doorbell. I love this one.

And this one, below. Like when I hiked Woodward Ave., I’m noticing again that I’m a bit drawn to the orange color of this house. Never would have thought to choose this color, but it works. That said, I’d love it if there were a little more uniformity, maybe the first floor the darker orange, and the second floor and peak the lighter color? It’s possible the owner is working on that. Love the green too!

The entryway is perfection for this house. Goes to show, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Just right.

Guercio’s and More

When we arrived back at Grant Street, we headed over to Guercio and Sons to pick up a couple of things. Martha tells me that she walked over here every Saturday with her Mother to get groceries for the week. Her brother still comes every other week or so. I haven’t been in here in a couple of years, so I took a good look around and if I lived within walking distance, I’d be in here all the time. Great produce, staples, and gorgeous imports. Still love this place.

Photo credit: Unknown

As Martha and I go back out onto Grant, she mentions again that Sweet_ness 7 was a bakery when she was a kid. After Guercios, she and her Mom would go to the bakery, and then to the Meating Place for, well, meat. Haha! That’s a little up Grant on the east side of the street just before Auburn. You could throw a stone at it from Sweet_ness. Martha says that if they really needed something they couldn’t get at those three places, her Mother would head over to Super Duper, which was further south on Grant.

There were other stores and shops along here as well for all their other needs. I love this.

My Impressions

When I first set out to write this post, I thought I’d research some of the homes along Lafayette and see what I could learn. It’s kind of how I usually start a city living post. But every post evolves in it’s own way, and when I texted Martha about her childhood home, I saw a completely different post taking shape. She was so enthusiastic about the neighborhood, I found I couldn’t wait to see it through her eyes. Sort of like when I hiked around downtown with my 3-year-old granddaughter, and wrote Castles of Buffalo. It’s always good to see things through someone else’s eyes. It gives you a whole new perspective.

Well. Now I have a whole new perspective on the West Side. I’m not a stranger to this area, but I’ve never lived here. I also understand my old friend Martha a little better. That seems to happen when you learn about where someone comes from. Martha became so animated as we turned onto Parkdale! It was pretty cool to watch. I only regret that I was enjoying her talking about the homes and the families who used to live in them so much, that I didn’t get a photo of her ‘in her element’ so to speak.

I had to settle for using this photo of Martha (center) from the Shamrock Run, 2020, pre-quarantine. It was the last time we socialized together, until our urban hike last week. That’s Martha’s husband, Mike, on the left and my husband Tim between Martha and me.

Idealistically Speaking Though

This neighborhood was a fantastic place to grow up. Martha tells me how they walked or rode bikes everywhere. They’d walk to Front Park near the Peace Bridge to ice skate. They’d walk to church, to school, to their friend’s homes. To relatives nearby. It seems like there were a lot of relatives nearby. Martha and her friends would even ride bikes over to Canada to “this little beach we called the Baby Hole.” Haha. Sweet.

To me it seems idyllic. What more could you ask for?

It’s Thought Provoking

You know, there is a lot of talk around Buffalo about creating livable spaces. Places where people will want to live. This neighborhood is the kind of thing we should want to build. But honestly, I don’t know that you can build it. You can put the infrastructure there, and hope it happens. But I think it has to happen organically. You can’t force it.

Martha and her family could get everything they needed on Grant Street. On the East Side, where my father grew up, his family got everything they needed on Fillmore Ave or the Broadway Market.

It’s a gamble every developer takes. They create from a vision of something they think will be good for the city, or a neighborhood. Then they hope other people see it too. Like when Guercio and Sons first opened their doors on Grant Street sixty some years ago. They took a chance that the people of the neighborhood would want what they had to offer. It turns out that in this case, the neighborhood wanted exactly what they had to offer.

In this little neighborhood, where Martha grew up, what do the people living here now, want (and need) next? The area is coming back, that’s for sure. But what will it take to make it a really idyllic place to live again?

There are people meeting, discussing and planning exactly that, as I write this.

Look for another post on the West Side soon to discuss. This place has got more to say.

Get the Book!

They make great gifts for family and friends (or yourself!).  Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!

*Special thanks to Lori Mroz, Prish Moran, and especially Martha Emiliani. Thanks for everything guys!

Interested in renting either Sweet_ness 7 or the Tablernacle spaces at 220 Grant Street, email Prish Moran at 220grantstreet@gmail.com.

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