City Living – Allentown

City Living – Allentown

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.

Irving Place

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.

The view as you come off Allen St. Picture the trees full of leaves in the summer creating a canopy over the road.

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…

I want to go look inside this house at 29 Irving, the former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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.

The Lenox Hotel
Photo credit: The Lenox Hotel website

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 Williams-Butler Mansion

The Lenox Hotel & Suites today.

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.

I don’t know about you, but this entrance is drawing me in too! 😉

Mayfair Lane

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.

Even in the winter, it looks lovely.
Photo credit: estately. com

But in summer, wow!
Photo Credit: Buffalo Rising

And at night, with a good view of the parking below.
Photo Credit:

And this shot…
(Seems to me that North Street should have better light standards, just saying.)
Photo Credit:

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 is the garage for the home above. Spectacular, and unusual for Allentown. It’s on what appears to be the lot next door, but it works.

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!

The little garden that runs along the side of the road on Irving Place next to The Lenox…

A last look in the direction of Allen Street.

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.

Buffalo’s Residential Parks, Part 2 of 3:  Arlington Park

Buffalo’s Residential Parks, Part 2 of 3: Arlington Park

Several years ago now, I heard a story about a particular house in Arlington Park.  The person telling it spoke about the architectural detail, the unique building process and the care that has been taken to keep the structure original. I had no idea where Arlington Park was. Of course I asked a few questions and the next chance I had, I took off to explore. Here’s a photo of that house.  To my eye, it’s enchanting. And it sparked a real interest in residential parks.

In the beginning (1856), Arlington Park was designed and laid out as a private park on the estate of James Wadsworth.  The estate was accessed from North Street and extended to Allen, bordering on Wadsworth Street. Private parks were quite common among the rich in Buffalo at the time.  For us, that’s hard to imagine today, even among the rich.

Wadsworth was wealthy to be sure.  He was from Durham, Connecticut, and was a Yale graduate who settled in Buffalo in 1845, to open a law practice.  By 1850 he was chosen as the city’s attorney, and by 1851 he was elected Mayor of Buffalo. He served one term, which was one year at the time.  He was then named president of Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich Railroad after his mayoral term ended, and also served as a New York State Senator from 1856-58.

Basically, you could say he was successful enough to have a private park on his estate.  Wadsworth left Buffalo for New York City in 1859.

The city grew up around the park and through pedestrian use, the park was eventually ruled to be part of public domain in 1884.

Frederick Law Olmsted lived on Arlington Park while he was working in Buffalo designing our Park System.  He actually designed the green space in the park, going off of his own notion of what a common city space should be. After experiencing the park, I have to agree with that notion. It is everything a residential park should be! Trees, shrubs, flowers, meandering walkways, pretty light posts.  Enough space to throw a frisbee around or have a picnic, but not enough space for a baseball diamond. You get the idea.

Arlington Park is in Allentown just one block off of the busiest end of Allen Street.  It’s a small 300’ x 100’ plot of land. But standing in the center of the park, you would never believe the shenanigans that go on one block over.  The park is such a haven. It’s quiet (it really is!), it’s picturesque, and the homes. They are nothing short of spectacular!

The story goes that because Olmsted lived here, architects were attracted to building here, and they all tried to outdo each other.  Whether it’s true or not, we’ll never know. But you have to admit, it must have been a rare opportunity to be able to build on a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the greatest landscape architect our country has ever seen. What we do know for sure is, the homes that were built here make living on Arlington Park quite a charming prospect.

They are all different styles and sizes.  Some are apartments, some are single family homes.  They are all well maintained. They are very close together.  Some people think this lends itself to the sense of community here.  My husband and I have always joked that the reason we have great parties is because our house is small and people are forced to mingle.  There’s something to be said for that.

Same thing applies to this type of city living.  There is a sense of community when you know your neighbors.  Some neighborhoods have it. Arlington Park definitely does. I’ve wandered through many times, and each time, I get into friendly little conversations with residents and visitors alike.  This is truly what a community should be.

There also appears to be an active block club in Arlington Park who keeps the residents in touch, the park in good shape, the flowers planted etc. The overall effect of all of it is serene, appealing and friendly.

If you think about it, Arlington Park is actually a microcosm of what Buffalo truly is.  A warm, welcoming, friendly place to live.

As I mentioned in part one of this series, residential parks are a great place to do a bit of urban exploration. Arlington Park is no exception. Take some time this spring and summer to get out and experience it and the surrounding neighborhood.  Fair warning, you may find yourself getting into some great conversations with the locals. Enjoy it!

Missed the first of three posts about our residential parks? Read about Day’s Park here.

Look for my third and final post about Buffalo’s residential parks next week.   It’s going to be a good one!

Subscribe and never miss a post.   Enjoy your city Buffalo!

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