So. Trinity Place. I’ve admired this street for a long time now. The first time I walked it was several years ago, with a friend, after breakfast at Betty’s. We found ourselves wandering around the neighborhood checking out all the beautiful old homes. It must have been spring, because I remember all the tulips on the street in front of this particular fence, below. It looked stunning. I cannot believe I was able to find this old photo from that day. I must be getting better at organizing them.
And the person who takes care of the fence is right on with the fall look, 2021. Love it.
The homes here are old. Some as early as 1832. That’s the year Buffalo incorporated as a city! Love it! We’re going to look at all of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. Trinity Place has all of those, and more. Because there are some real treasures here too. Tucked away on this narrow little street that lots of Buffalonians have probably never noticed.
Knowing it was coming up on the list, I turned on it unexpectedly one evening on a bike ride with Tim. He was blown away! He had never seen it before. It’s a cool little street, up and coming, with a few problem areas, but nothing we can’t handle, Buffalo.
Come hike with me.
Those Problem Areas
Let’s get those problem areas I mentioned out of the way first. They are the first two homes on the south side of the street at South Elmwood. They’ve both been neglected for a long time. Ever since I can remember, actually. One is getting visibly worse. No info seems to be available about either one, though. Not that I can find anyway. Anyone?
The one with the for sale sign on it has a South Elmwood address. It’s got a storefront on the Trinity Place side, with what appears to be an apartment above that is probably empty. The rest of this long building appears to be apartments as well. I think some of them are being used, judging only by the cars parked behind it in a kind of large parking lot, that most likely used to be the yard or yards for a house or two that has been demolished. Can’t be sure about that, of course.
Next door to that is the home with the gaping hole in the corner of it, shown above. This is much worse than it used to be, and is so sad to see. The fence you see in the photo is the decorated fence (above) and behind it is the parking lot I just mentioned. There are always cars parked up against both of these homes as they seem to share that same parking lot out back.
It’s sad to see this happening. Especially because of their location at the corner of South Elmwood. The rehab of these buildings could go a long way in helping to bring back this section of Elmwood, which has a couple of bright spots, but could use a few more. Time will tell.
The Rest of the Street
Now, let’s take a look at the real Trinity Place. It’s a gorgeous little street with beautiful old homes. Let’s see them.
First up, these two apartment buildings are getting a face lift. One of the craftsmen told me they’ve both just been completely repointed where needed. Repointing is the removal of a couple of inches of mortar in between bricks and replacing it with new. It’s a big job! He also mentioned that the trim is getting a refresher as well, and the first and second floor doors are next (one door is complete). These two are looking pretty good and getting better!
Love the wrought iron on both of these.
This next one is lovely. Note the leaded glass on the first floor, and those windows in the peak! Nice!
This one, below, is in such great shape that I thought for sure it was owner occupied. But I’m told it isn’t. The owners are good people who care. Love that. Love the color choices here, and check out that light post. Old fashioned and fantastic!
This home, below, is so neat and pretty. I love the windows in the gable with the starburst above!
Did I mention there were treasures on this street? This one has been listed in the NYS and National Registers of Historic Places. Cool! There is a lot going on inside this gem. I could hear it from the street! This is definitely one to watch!
This one reminds me of the homes on Whitney Place several blocks away. It’s an Italianate style home with an Eastlake style porch. At some point, someone thought these two went well together, and they were right. This house is a fantastic city home.
I’m always so happy to see original windows on an old home. This is another Italianate design, (there are quite a few on this street). I’d love to know what type of shingles those are. I don’t think I’ve really noticed these before. The moldings and brackets at the peak and surrounding the porch make this one something special.
The Kinskie / Kinskey Home
It’s at this point that I’m going to tie two of the homes on this street together. This one, below, and another across the street and down closer to South Elmwood. I found a Buffalo Courier Express article from 1928 that discussed the ages of the homes, the street itself, and the city as a whole. It’s always interesting to read old articles like this. To me anyway. They give insight to what life was like in a completely different time. And if you’re like me, they incite daydreams.
I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what the article was about. It’s 1928, and there’s a man by the name of George Kinskey living on Trinity Place in the home above, whose grandfather also lived on Trinity, beginning in 1834, in this home below. His name was Basser Kinskie. (The spelling of their surname has changed slightly over the years.)
Basser Kinskie and his wife came over from Austria in 1834 and purchased this (then) two year old home pictured below. The home doesn’t look all that different today than it did in 1928. The pedimented windows have been replaced. But on the whole, it appears very similar. The plot is still the original 25 feet wide by 200 feet deep it was in 1832, when the home was built.
Changes on Trinity Place
But the article went on to say that a lot had changed on the street since 1834, when the Kinskies moved in. First off, the address of the house was 34 German Street. My best guess is that the street name was changed sometime around World War I. The road wasn’t paved in the 1830s, nor were there street lights, obviously. George Kinskey had tax receipts from 1837 for the original home at 34 German / 51 Trinity Place. The city tax paid was $.75, and the county tax was $1.40. (!) In 1928, when the article was written, the city taxes were $107.24 and the county tax was $21.97. Why the county tax was so much less that year, I couldn’t say. But I can tell you with certainty that the tax bill has gone up since then! Haha!
The city changed as well. The northern edge of the city grew from North Street over to Kenmore Ave. And the population went from 15,000 in 1834 to more than 500,000 in 1928.
The article stated that although George Kinskey’s children wanted their father to move to a more modern area of the city, George wanted to stay through at least 1934, so that members of the family would have lived on the street 100 years. Sweet.
Below is a community garden. I’m told that a lot of neighbors pitch in to grow everything, and anyone can partake of the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. I love this. Community gardens are such a good thing for a neighborhood! They bring people together.
This one, below, is coming around on the opposite side of the street. It has great bones, but could use a little love. I especially like the patios!
This one, below, is a quintessential Allentown home. There is at least one very, very creative person living here. And if the gardens look this good in October, I bet they were amazing in the summer!
Is This Hollywood?
And what have we here, below? This home is so unexpected on this street! Why does it make me think of Mary Pickford? You know, the old Hollywood actress. This house is like a smaller version of an old Hollywood home. I can’t believe this is in Allentown! Love it!
Also, note that the Hollywood home is on a pie shaped piece of land. It falls right at the curve in the street. This is one of those neighborhoods where Buffalo streets converged with Black Rock streets, creating these interesting little twists and turns in our street patterns. Also creating some funky shaped pieces of property, like this pie shaped one, on the inside of the curve. And the one across the street where the community garden is, where there is extra room. It’s part of the evolution of Buffalo. And I happen to think it’s cool.
This next one is beautiful, from what I can see of it. The trees are awesome, and they must keep the porch nice and cool in the heat of summer.
Next – Meet Rhonda
It’s at this next house, below, that I met Rhonda. She lives here with her husband, Dave and two kids, and spoke openly with me about the street, her neighbors and the neighborhood as a whole. Considering that I caught her as she was going down the street to help a friend with a reno project, she was remarkably patient and didn’t rush off. She even allowed me to walk down the street with her while we chatted.
Rhonda moved here 15 years ago with Dave, and their then four month old son. Theirs is a double lot and it’s Rhonda who clued me in to just how deep these properties are. The single lots are narrow, in most cases 25 feet. But they are long and go way back! Rhonda and at least one other neighbor keep chickens in their yard. As a matter of fact, the bucket that holds reno supplies that she’s carrying down to her friend’s house, is topped with a bowl containing three fresh eggs for that neighbor. So unexpected in the city – and yet really cool!
While we chat, she tells me how they’ve watched the street change in the past 15 years. When they first moved in, Rhonda said the neighborhood was “sketchy at times”. I can see that, especially 15 years ago. But they wanted to stay in Allentown so they bought here, and have watched as the street has slowly improved. And I think they may have contributed to that in a much bigger way than Rhonda would have admitted. She spoke about her involvement in the neighborhood very humbly. I like that.
When the home next door, below, sat empty, they went to municipal housing court to complain, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. In the end, Dave and a friend of his fixed the home up and eventually it sold. Rhonda tells me they are beginning to see people who work in the medical field moving in on the street. And why not? It’s a great street! She says the street has changed to a lot more owner occupied homes, and she’s grateful for that.. She pointed out several that are rentals, but they are among the nicest on the street. She’s grateful to have such good landlords on the street as well. It seems that everything is falling into place on Trinity Place.
Rhonda, I love what you’ve done with your property, and the one next door. And I can tell that you are a force on this street, for the good. You, and your neighbors are Buffalo.
Moving Down Trinity Place
These patios look well used. You know I love that. And what a different little dormer! The paint job is very happy, and I like the two separate entrances. This is a very inviting home.
The article I read about the Kinskey family homes was very thought provoking for me. It got me thinking about the changes our city has gone through over the years. This is really a great time to be living in Buffalo, when we’re pulling ourselves up out of the rust, so to speak, to put ourselves back on the map as a beautiful, innovative place to be.
I always get excited when I find a Buffalo house, or a street, or a building I’ve never seen before. Like I said earlier, I found Trinity Place seven or eight years ago now, but I guess Tim had never seen it. When we were on that bike ride I mentioned, I got excited watching him see it for the first time. It’s like I said when I wrote Castles of Buffalo, once in a while, it’s good to see something through someone else’s eyes. Especially when they’re seeing something really cool for the first time.
I still get this feeling on the regular in Buffalo. It’s one of my favorite things. That excitement of finding something cool, learning something new about a place you think you know. That’s why I continue to explore and talk to people. I always learn something. I met a man on an urban hike over on Summit Ave, who recently wrote to me in an email, “…participating in true dialog is one of life’s most outstanding gifts.” How right you are, Frank.
When we stop exploring, stop learning and stop conversing, that’s when we begin to die. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of livin’ to do!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
A Sad Story
This was once the home of Staff Sgt. John W. Haney, below.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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?
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 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.
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!
These next three are triplets!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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On a bike ride several weeks ago, a friend mentioned to me that the area around Orton Place was used as a place for traveling circuses! It’s such a densely populated area that I couldn’t believe it.
Of course, you know I went home that day and immediately looked it up to find out more. And he was right! This area of what is now Allentown was used when the circus came to town! As a matter of fact, shortly before the area was sectioned off and developed, PT Barnum brought Jumbo the elephant here from London. This was in the mid-1880s. Wow! Who would’ve guessed?
I decided to take a closer look and I decided to include St. Johns Place too because, well, there’s something about this street that I really like. Giant old city homes, many of which are the Queen Anne or the Shingle Style, each one with a story to tell.
Let’s Start There
At this first one, on the south side of St. Johns Place is this amazing Shingle Style home. I really wish I’d run into the owners here because I’ve admired the colors of this home for a long time, and I wanted the chance to tell them. It’s so Allentown, isn’t it? Most people pick two, maybe three colors when they paint their homes. These people chose four colors, and each one is spot on. And the paint job itself is unique. Just look at that chimney too. Love the whole house.
Next are a set of twins. And these are fantastic. I’ve never actually seen twins that are this ornate. They’re essentially the same, but with different paint jobs, windows, and finishes. But the same. Look at the upper balcony on the driveway side of the one home (they both have it, but it can only be seen in the one photo). Spectacular. And the pebbled dash on the triangular parts of the peaks. That’s also the same on both homes.
Next, I come to this. You see why I love this street so much? The triple windows in the peak, and the details around them are fantastic, and very unique. The second floor window is also one that makes this Victorian Era home a standout on the block.
In 1900, this home was listed by Gurney & Overturf for sale for $7,200. The ad stated that the property was worth $13,000, and that it was a bargain at that price. In 1900, the median family income in the United States was roughly $450 a year. So you had to be doing pretty well to live on this block. And it shows.
And this, below. Look at the bay window near the peak. Very unusual. I’ve only seen this a handful of times, and these are original. The home itself could use a little attention, but with a clean-up and the right paint, it could be beautiful!
Moving Right Along
This home, below, was built in 1887 for Howard and Jennie D. Bryant. Howard was a writer for the Buffalo Evening News. By 1900, it appears that Howard had passed away, but Jennie still lived in the home with William McNiven, Jennie’s daughter with Howard, Jeannette, and William’s daughter, Agnes.
The home was the victim of arson in or around 2002, but has since been brought back to, and possibly even better than, it’s original state. It is now a two family home, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This home is stunning.
These three are all similar Queen Anne style homes. On this street especially, I’m noticing how the use of color makes a big difference to a home.
And with that, I’m at the corner of Orton at this Stick Style home. This home reminds me of the Humphrey House in North Tonawanda, but it might be just the colors. But, what a Victorian beauty this home is! The corner lot is perfect for this home too. Really shows it off nicely!
I can’t help but think about what a bit of paint could do here. This home could be magnificent.
As I round the corner, I immediately see this home. I’ve always wondered about it. It’s so different from all the others. Alas, no one was around at this home either. There’s a twin to the lion on the other side of the driveway. Love them.
It’s here (on the corner of Hudson) that I ran into Beth. She was doing some yard work for a neighbor. We chatted for a few minutes, and she directed me to a home a few houses away on Hudson to see the amazing gardens. It’s next door to her own home, and her own lovely gardens. Beth’s is the green one, below. I love it that she was modest about her own gorgeous gardens. Might have to head over to Hudson sometime soon…Beth, thanks for the heads up, and for being willing to chat about the neighborhood!
Back to Orton Place
This is where we start to get into some real beauties (as if we haven’t already!). Love the pop of orange on this front door!
This one, below, was owned by one of the developers of Orton Place, Tellico Johnson, who was related to some of Buffalo’s earliest residents. It’s an absolutely lovely home. I could see myself having tea on the upper balcony in the mornings…
Again, note how paint and paint colors really affect the way you see a home.
Mike & Calvin
It’s at this next home that I met Mike and Calvin. That’s Mike on the porch. Calvin was camera shy. Not to be confused with regular shy, because he definitely wasn’t that. I took up entirely too much of their time, but I thoroughly enjoyed their company.
Mike owns the home, and Calvin is an old friend who was visiting. Mike told me of how he first moved into the Allentown area over in Day’s Park. He ‘s been in this home on Orton Place about 20 years or so and has witnessed first hand the changes the neighborhood has gone through. All of Allentown really. It could be pretty rough here back in the 70s and 80s. He’s happy here though, and that’s good to see.
Very friendly guys. Mike, your home is wonderful. Thank you both for taking the time to talk to me. It was very Buffalo of you!
Moving Right Along
Next door to Mike is this amazing home. It was built in 1885 for Dr. Thomas H. Callahan. In 1890 it was featured in “Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition”. One of only four homes in Buffalo to receive that distinction.
Below is a photo of how the home appeared in 1890. Stunning. Note the finial at the top of the bell shaped roof of the turret. Also, the trim at the front of the porch which forms an oval, and at the sides, arches. Love that.
And here is the home today. Once again, paint makes all the difference. It completely changes the look of the house! Back in the 1890s, perhaps this was a more staid neighborhood. The bold color choices here fit right in with the Allentown of today. Note the original balustrade on the second floor porch. Unusual and lovely. We’ve lost the oval and the arches. Wouldn’t it be great to see those brought back?
And this one, below. This home was built in 1887 for Sydney Lake, who was the leader of the Plymouth Methodist Church (now The Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter Ave). A few things to note here. The curved gable window and the sunburst trim surrounding it and the other window in the rear gable. Also there is colored glass in the windows on the second and third floors. Love the art in the garden, and also the stained glass ‘additions’ to the second floor windows. Wish the owners would have been around when I went by, would love to know more about those. It’s a beautiful home!
These next few are among the best kept on the street. All have their own beautiful details to marvel at.
Let’s Hop Over to Pennsylvania Street for a Second
At this point I’m going to veer off the title streets again and include a couple of things I want to tell you about. The first, is this building, below. I’ve had actual daydreams about this place. Right across from Kleinhans Music Hall. Perfect location for a funky little jazz club that serves delicious homemade pub food, and has all the best music. Before and after concerts at Kleinhans, of course. And that upper patio for outdoor seating! Or how about a good old fashioned honky-tonk piano bar? (Mike and Calvin, there’s a good use of that word! Haha! ) Or a breakfast and lunch place for the neighborhood?
Dear owners, could you please sell it to me for zero dollars, so that I may make one of these daydreams come true? Seriously though, I love old buildings like this one. I wonder what it was to begin with, who spent time here, and what were they like? It’s Bellini’s Bistro right now and their menu looks fantastic. Think I’m going out to dinner soon…
And this house is kitty corner from the bistro. So beautiful! Oh, and note the arches in the porch…lovely.
Back to St. Johns Place
Now let’s head back to St. Johns Place to check out the north side of the street.
I’d love to see this one, below, get just a little attention. It’s got such great bones! The five ribbon (?) windows in the peak, the arched window on the second floor, and the details between the other two windows on the second floor, and the shingles! This home is amazing!
There’s some work being done here, and I can tell, it’s going to be fabulous when it’s finished. Looking forward to seeing those upper windows at completion! Love the little patio on the second floor too. Looks like an original window to the right of that. I think that because of the way the window opens out from the bottom. And the new paint job is showing off the dentil molding. Wow!
Next is this beauty. My favorite parts? Those upper windows, the simplicity of the porch. And the entryway. It’s very welcoming. Complete with rocker to come in and sit a spell.
All I can say about this one, below, is wow! Just perfect in every way! The paint colors are spot on, and the execution is flawless. Doesn’t get much better than this!
Grassroots Garden WNY
This is where we come to a sweet little community garden. Love this! And right next door I met Jenny, who is one of the volunteers at this garden. What a little oasis this is! And fruitful too! Without even trying, I saw beets, greens, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, and a bunch of other things! Sweet!
Below is Jenny in front of her own home. She was picking red currants from the bush in front of her house. Apparently, this is the largest yield she’s ever gotten from this bush. She eats them with her oatmeal in the morning, and also will make jam this summer too! Nice!
Jenny and I chatted about the neighborhood. She loves it here, I think she said she’s been here eighteen years (?). You don’t stay that long unless you like it! Love your house, Jenny. Especially the paint colors and that upper window; so many panes! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Appreciate it.
Buffalo Harmony House
And now we reach the last home on the street. And what an interesting home it is! It was designed by H.H. Little, who I first discussed on the blog over on Norwood Ave. It was built for Dr. and Mrs. Hubbard A. Foster and they moved in sometime in 1887. They lived there with their daughter Florence. Eventually Florence married and had a son, they lived in the home as well.
After the Fosters moved out, the Boocock family moved in. William Boocock was a clergyman with First Presbyterian Church. By 1930, the house was owned by Sarah Doxey, and was a two family home.
What is it Now?
It became a boarding house shortly after that, went through several owners, and was left empty for several years. Holly Holdaway bought the home, and along with Daniel Culross, lovingly restored it into the Buffalo Harmony House Historic Bed & Breakfast.
I first met Holly in 2018 when they were just opening up the B & B. She gave me a tour of the home, and it is fantastic! I took tons of photos, which I, of course, lost. (This was before my blogging days so it was before I was forced to be a little more organized about my photos.) Anyway, I spoke to Holly again the other day when she confirmed the B & B has made it through the pandemic and as a matter of fact, they will be expanding this fall. They’ll be opening a lounge with a full bar in the basement level of the home. Look for signage to come!
The stained glass transom window just inside the home inspired the theme of the B&B, and the names of the guest rooms. The Bluejay Billet, Cardinal Canton, Hummingbird Haven, Sparrow Suite, and Robin Room. Sweet. And I believe the floors have been redone since I was there, and they look fantastic.
Listen, I don’t often do this, but Holly and Dan have put their hearts and souls into this place. So have other owners of B & Bs in the area. If you’ve got friends or family coming to town, why not suggest they stay at one of our locally owned B & Bs? This one’s fantastic!
Wow! All of this from a bike ride and a friend telling me about this area being used for traveling circuses before the homes were built! These two streets are seemingly sleepy little streets. But there’s a lot of history here, and there’s a lot going on now. Symphony Circle and Kleinhans Music Hall is just around the bend, and in the other direction, but just as close is the hustle and bustle of Allen Street! There, you’ll find bars, restaurants, shops and galleries galore.
And just like every neighborhood I visit, there are amazing homes. And people. It’s always about the people in the end. I met several on these two streets. Jenny, Beth, Calvin, Mike and Holly (again). It was really nice meeting you all, and I hope to see each of you again soon.
Historic Allentown has always been, and always will be, one of Buffalo’s most popular areas. To live, to eat, to see a play, to visit a gallery, to party. And Orton Place and St. Johns Place are among the best streets in the neighborhood. Take a walk. Go see them. You’ll love what you see.
Get the Book!
They make great keepsakes, or gifts for family and friends (or yourself!). Click here or on the photo below to purchase yours!
I found myself in Allentown the other day with no rush to be anywhere in particular, so I decided to take a walk. It was a beautiful day and there were a lot of people out and about, so I donned my mask, and off I went.
I was on Allen Street at Rick Cycle Shop and started walking towards Delaware. I turned left onto Irving Place. If you haven’t been on this street, you’re in for a treat. It’s like a little oasis. Named for the poet and short story writer Washington Irving, each home is different, the gardens are at times spectacular, and best of all, it’s quiet. Only the rustling of leaves (in summer) and the birds singing. Hard to believe it’s just a short block from Delaware Ave. and off Allen Street, albeit the ‘quiet end’ of Allen.
You should know, I have a thing about front doors. They draw me in. Love it when a homeowner puts a little bit of effort into theirs. Going to include the front doors alongside some of the homes on Irving Place for you to enjoy, because I know I’m not alone in my fascination with them.
29 Irving Place – A Bit of Allentown History
I had a couple of destinations in mind when I set out. The first of which is right on Irving, at number 29. It’s the home where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived for a short time when his family lived in Buffalo. You know, the same F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote such classics as Tender is the Night, The Great Gatsby and more. It’s a pretty house from the street, and is much larger than it appears from the front. I like that it’s been kept up so nicely.
I once read an article that the people who bought the house in the early 1970’s had a big party when the movie The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford was released. This would have been 1974. They bought a block of tickets from the theater, invited friends and family to join them in the celebration, complete with period dress, and Gatsby themed cocktails and appetizers. The story goes that they boldly invited Robert Redford to join them! Apparently Hollywood offered up a much lesser known actor, but the owners of the house refused. Robert Redford or no one at all! Ha! I love it! I also love that the owners celebrated the history of the house like that. I’d like to time travel to that party…
The Lenox Hotel
So, Fitzgerald lived here in Buffalo off and on during his youth. His family first lived in the Lenox Hotel on North Street, at the corner of Irving Place. My second destination of the day. It’s Buffalo’s oldest continuously run hotel, opened in 1896.
At first it was a hotel with luxury suites that some Buffalonians used as apartments. Many of the ‘suites’ were large enough that they had servant’s quarters! It became a fashionable place to live, especially for the rich who wintered outside the Buffalo area. And why not? The Lenox was at the time, surrounded by elegant mansions. The lone survivor of which is the Williams Butler Mansion on the northwest corner of Delaware & North.
In 1900 the Lenox was transformed into a hotel exclusively, probably to take advantage of the visitors to the Pan-American Exposition, which took place in Buffalo in 1901. 2020 finds the Lenox being used as it was intentionally designed, as a hotel and suites combination. Perhaps not quite as grand but still, I’m happy with it’s modern day appearance. Although I would love to have seen that great cornice, and the front porch (for lack of a better word). It also appears in the photo above that there was an outdoor patio above the porch?
The Lenox Hotel & Suites also boasts a five star bar and grill, The Lenox Grill, with excellent reviews of the food, the atmosphere and the service.
As I turned from the Lenox I was immediately drawn to Mayfair Lane on the other side of North Street. Technically this is across the street from Allentown, but to me, this is one of Buffalo’s best kept secrets. I mean, every once in awhile, one of the homes goes up for sale, and there have been articles out there about the place, but it’s so private, it seems mysterious and elegant at the same time. There’s just something about this place.
Mayfair Lane was built between 1926-29 and was designed by E.B. Green, Buffalo’s most prolific architect. It was pretty innovative for it’s day, in that it was done condominium style, or townhouse-like, with a single parking garage for each home below. And while that may seem modern for the 1920’s, the upper level looks anything but modern. The Tudor homes face each other with a sandstone lane between resembling a very charming English garden.
The homes are spacious and comfortable and the lane leads away from North Street to the small castle at the end of the lane, complete with drawbridge. This is where E.B. Green Jr. lived. Mayfair Lane is perhaps the single most unique living space in the city! I never get tired of seeing it.
Back to Irving Place
I tear myself away from Mayfair Lane and head back down Irving Place. These are some of the treasures I saw along the way.
As you can see, there is no shortage of gorgeous homes on this street. Here are a couple of special ones though…it’s all in the details.
This. Note the matching bird house. Sweet! Check out the windows on the side of this house!
Below, note the close up of the windows just to the left of the sandstone arches. Cool! Plus, I want to go through those arches to see that building behind the house!
A Secret Garden
While on this quarantine walk, I headed into one of my favorite little pocket parks in Buffalo. I’ll share some photos, but it’s location shall remain a mystery. Too much traffic is bound to cause trouble in this secret little garden.
I love a good pocket park, especially when it’s an unexpected find. For me, this was very unexpected the first time I saw it! Shout out to the woman who showed it to me, you know who you are. 😉
My Impressions of this Hike in Allentown
For me, walking has become even more important during this time of quarantine. Without my daily walks I don’t know what kind of shape I’d be in right now, both physically and mentally.
Hiking through this neighborhood has cheered me up. Allentown has great history, the escape of a secret garden for that little bit of magic, and the allure of the unique and mysterious Mayfair Lane. Not to mention the homes! It’s urban exploration at it’s best. And this was only one small part of Allentown. Pick a street, or two or three, and go for an urban hike. Or check out the Allentown Street Art, for some fantastic sights! (Note: Some of the art at the link is already gone, check it out!)
Enjoy your city Buffalo. Be safe and stay healthy.
Oh, if you’re interested in seeing the inside of that castle, here is an amazing glimpse.
For those of you who don’t live in Buffalo: Allentown, the Elmwood Village and the West Side are all neighborhoods within the city of Buffalo. As I sit down to write this, it occurs to me that I should have begun this series in Allentown. Because the street art movement in Buffalo really began there.
In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned a time when street artists used to (some still do) go out in the dark of night and create. Illegally. They were constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure they were not getting caught. Some were arrested. Some went to jail.
In 2013, the Allen Street Street Artists Collective was organized by Buffalo historian, businessman and arts supporter, Mark Goldman in conjunction with the Allentown Association. The goal of the collective was to legitimize the artwork done by street artists, to enhance the neighborhood through art and to provide legal work for the artists.
Mark Goldman dedicated his work on Allen Street to his late brother, Tony Goldman, who was a well known street artist in New York City and Miami.
Since 2013, the art on the buildings in Allentown has changed some, a few of the original paintings are still there and are noted as such below. Street art, or public murals, was once described to me as temporarily permanent work. Must be strange for an artist to know that their work will one day deteriorate and eventually be removed and/or replaced.
I for one am glad that they continue on with their work, to our benefit.
(Part of) Tribute to Tony Goldman 2013
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Rear)
“The work we do is not for the faint of heart.” This is a quote from Tony Goldman, street artist. This is the tribute wall that was created in 2013, in honor of Mark Goldman’s deceased brother Tony Goldman, who was himself a street artist, and created large street art displays in both New York City and Miami, by purchasing large scale buildings and hiring talented street artists from all over the world. Tony Goldman was the inspiration for the Allen Street Street Artists Collective. While writing this post, I was walking on College Street in Allentown, and saw that this work, and the following two, were being painted over, and some construction was taking place inside the building. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Iron Fireman 2013
Artist: Rust Belt Division
Located at 245 Allen Street – Rear of Building (Lower) – photo below
This work is based on the Iron Firemen (huge boiler systems) found in old industrial buildings of the Rust Belt.
The artist of this work is described by other Collective artists as reclusive and chooses not to talk about his/her art publicly. He/she also changes his street name from time to time so as to keep his/her identity unknown. Makes me wonder if it is perhaps a public figure who created this mural. This is the second of three that has been painted over this week. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Artist: David Chino
Located at 245 Allen Street – Rear of Building (Upper) – photo below
Chino grew up in Brooklyn, NY surrounded by graffiti. He mainly painted his name on the subway walls while he lived there. He moved to Buffalo in the early 90’s and would only paint occasionally here because he felt that Buffalo was very clean and it didn’t feel right painting here. He impressed the other artists in the Collective though, and was asked to participate in the project. This is the third and final mural that has been painted over this week. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Photo of Iron Fireman (lower) and Chino (upper)
Secondary Occupants 2013
Artist: Julian Montague
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Front)
Julian Montague was part of the Allen Street Street Artists Collective. Earlier he had a project where he created “fake” books by creating new covers for existing books and giving them new names. One of these “books” he titled “Secondary Occupants”. He used the cover of this book to create a mural. He describes it as cutting the building in half using these creatures with eyes that appear to be watching us as we go about our business in Allentown.
Title Unknown 2017
Artist: Nicolas Delfino
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Lower Front)
I don’t know too much about this series of paintings contained within the lower half of “Secondary Occupants”. Done by Nicolas Delfino, they do fit in nicely with the whole Allentown neighborhood, and is perhaps a collection representing the spirit of Allentown. My opinion.
Tribute to Spain Rodriguez 2013
Artist: Ian DeBeer
Located at 233 Allen Street
What sets this mural apart from every other mural in Buffalo is that the artist never actually painted the mural. Ian DeBeer was incarcerated for graffiti art vandalism crimes in New York City, and as a stipulation of his parole he could not use or possess any street art tools. He created this mural with charcoal on tracing paper, then worked with projection artist Keith Harrington to have the mural projected onto the side of the building. The mural was then painted by artists of the Allen Street Street Artists Collective under DeBeer’s direction.
Spain Rodriguez was a comic artist from Buffalo who also dabbled in street art. DeBeer became familiar with his work while in jail. He created this mural as a tribute to Rodriguez’s cartoon that memorialized a fight he had gotten into in a bar on Allen Street called (at the time) The Jamestown, now Nietzche’s.
It’s the back story that makes this mural for me. So interesting.
Artist: Chuck Tingley
Located at 224 Allen Street
Chuck Tingley painted this in 2014, and has now become one of Buffalo’s most prolific and popular artists. This mural was inspired by the ability to persevere and overcome adversity in the form of gender and race bias. The boater is making his/her way through the darkness, being led by the light from the lighthouse. The way the lighthouse is located in the boater’s head leads you to believe that he/she is really following their own inner light. It’s beautiful, no?
Homeland – Perhaps It Is Because I Wish To See You Fly 2017– AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Betsy Casanas
Located at 583 Niagara Street
Casanas was invited by the Albright Knox as part of their Public Art Initiative to create a mural celebrating the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities to the economic and cultural growth of the entire West Side neighborhood. She worked with community members to design the mural itself, and with volunteers to actually paint the mural, making it a true community effort, headed by Casanas.
Covering two sides of the building, and depicting both immigrant and indiginous people, this mural is a true celebration of the community it brightens.
Artist: Prish Moran
Location: 220 Grant Street
Prish Moran purchased the building at 220 Grant Street in 2007. When I met with her in 2017, Prish told me she painted the lower half of the building brown because it was covered with graffiti. Not the good kind. She decided to paint something else to make it look a bit nicer. She went through the folders of pictures she tears out of magazines to save for inspiration, and found a photo she liked. So she painted her own version of it on her building. She makes it sound so easy!
One day, she was working in the (at the time) unopened cafe when there came a knock on the door. She answered it to a gentleman from the refugee resettlement center who was with several women refugees. He explained that he was taking the ladies on a tour of the neighborhood to show them around and when they came upon Prish’s building the women cried tears of joy having seen the mural which was, unbeknownst to Prish prior to this, the Burmese God of Happiness. The women were from Burma, and stated that they now felt at home in Buffalo having been welcomed by the God of Happiness himself. Prish says that the Burmese women from the neighborhood have been touching the mural when they walk by ever since. Great story, and a beautiful mural. Thanks for sharing both Prish.
Welcome to the Iconic Elmwood Village 2018
Artist: Michael Gelen
Illustrator: Bill Jankowski, Zoom Copy
Installer: Andrew House
Located at 1055 Elmwood Avenue
This is a fun mural that was made possible by Marc Corsi, owner of the Poster Art Store housed in the building. He wanted to use childhood images to showcase a diverse group of icons and legends. Included in the background of each icon are clues to their identity, leaving the beholder with the task of identification.
Not gonna spoil the fun and tell you who they are. You’ll have to figure it out yourself. Hint: They aren’t necessarily Buffalonians…
Artists: Augustina Droze | Bruce Adams
Located at 938 Elmwood Avenue
This mural is a happy-go-lucky look at Elmwood Village life, from the Bidwell Farmers Market, to Jim’s Steak-Out, to the cyclist to the skateboarder. Life is good in the Elmwood Village, a neighborhood that was named one of the country’s 10 best neighborhoods by the American Planning Association. Indeed, it is home to some of the city’s best shops, restaurants and art galleries, not to mention the beautiful homes! I took this picture in 2017, but now this painting needs work, or…temporarily permanent?
Nicola Tesla 2018
Artist: Rory Allen
Located at 727 Elmwood Avenue
This mural is a nod to Nicola Tesla who is credited with bringing electricity to Buffalo. Commissioned by 40 Thieves Restaurant, Rory Allen is the artist with Zoom Copy.
Lip Service 2018
Artist: David Mitchell
Located at 712 Elmwood Avenue
This mural was a collaboration between Bureau (owners Jon Eisenberg and Joseph Stocker) and Klub Weimar. They wanted to give back to the community. It was meant to be both provocative and family friendly at the same time. Sort of like the neighborhood itself. Pretty sure the Rolling Stones would approve.
Yellow Dog 2019
Artist: eRic Luplow
735 Elmwood Avenue
Luplow grew up in Batavia, and after a chance meeting with Bureau owners Jon Eisenberg and Joseph Stocker in Arizona, came to give Buffalo this fun, quirky mural on Elmwood. Having visited the Albright Knox regularly as a kid, Luplow always dreamed of having one of his paintings on display in the Albright Knox. He reportedly figures having this mural on Elmwood for all to see is the next best thing.
Eyes (?) 2019
Artist: Chuck Tingley
257 ½ Summer Street – Facing Elmwood Avenue
This mural was done as part of the Flutterby Festival held here this past August. The festival is intended to raise awareness of environmental concerns. According to Tingley, he depicted the eyes closed because they can represent anyone, of any ethnicity. He also wanted to bring attention to the fact that so many of us are closing our eyes to the worlds environmental issues. This one gets me.
Some more shots from my travels around the city. Buffalo is literally becoming covered with art!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through the Allentown, the West Side and Elmwood Village murals! In case you missed it, check outPart 1 of the Buffalo Street Artseries. Next up – Hertel Ave. See you then!
*I happened to be in Allentown today (October 29, 2019) and I am sad to say that the last of A Tribute to Tony Goldman, Iron Fireman and Chino had deteriorated quite a bit in the past couple of years, as you can see from the photos above. All have now been painted over. As I’ve said before in these posts, street art is only temporarily permanent. Although we’re sad to see a mural go, it’s the nature of the beast, and these were deteriorating badly. I’ll be watching to see what happens next, and will let you know if I see anything interesting! Photos below.