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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
And the current view from the top of the stairs.
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.
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.
More photos of the woodwork in the hall. Note the work being done to the ceilings. And, another stained glass window!
Speaking of stained glass, there is more stained glass in the library.
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.
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 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!
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!
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!
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!
This room is believed to be where most of the servants slept. It would have been set up dormitory style.
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!
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!
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.
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”
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What a wonderful article! Thank you again for all the photos as I walked down memory lane from my days there when it was Bishop McMahon High School. How wonderful to see those familiar rooms again. What an honor it was to have spent four years there. I have been driving by regularly to see the progress. What I wouldn’t give to see the inside! I’m hoping when it’s completed there may be tours given, with you as the docent, of course! I also share your love of homes, their history, and the people who lived there so this is quite a treat for me. Thank you so much for the update and looking forward to more! I think of you and your mom often.
Thanks you Joanne! So happy you enjoyed the article! I can’t wait to see it finished! I LIKE the tour idea!
I would love to see it as well!!!! Carolyn Chiavetta-Borczuch class of 1980
Hi Ellen, i love the passion you have for the house. Last I was there was in 2017. Have to admit it was looking a bit rough. This was the home of my gggrandparents and where my dad played. It really is a beautiful house and so happy it’s getting the attention it deserves! I can’t wait to go back to visit!
I can’t wait to see it completed! The story of your great, great grandparents has captivated many Buffalonians through the years! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for reading!
Susan (Wachowiak) Creighton August 20, 9:50 AM (Class of 63’)
Thank you for such an amazing article. I attended Bishop McMahon in the early 60’s and followed my two sisters that had also attended. After graduating from school I was offered a job as the receptionist in the front office. I worked there for 3 years. While attending the school and working there Mother Corine was the principle. The Sisters and staff were very kind and my associate that worked as the head secretary and bookkeeper was a dear person.
At our 50th reunion we were able to tour the building when it was a Charter School. Not much had changed except for all the computers and electronics. The original PA system was still there and in use.
All the photos that you have posted are wonderful and I am so excited to see all of the glory being brought back to this historic house.
Thank you Susan! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and thanks for sharing your 888 Delaware story!
So interesting to see the progress…student at McMahon..graduated 1967.
Thank you for reading!
I also graduated from McMahon in 1955 and remember sitting on those very stairs between
Classes. What beautiful woodwork was there and the bannister was beautiful.
So happy that almost all the woodwork is still there and in amazingly good shape! Thank you for reading!
The sculptor Karl Bitters had a studio on Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks.
Cool, thanks for sharing and for reading!
Williams S. Wicks, partner of EB Green, designed a great camp in the Adirondacks for John Albright (Albright Knox Art Gallery). He was a member of the Adirondack League and retired back to Barneveld NY- on the way to Old Forge. It amazes me that a man known for designing mansions most enjoyed building log cabins!
You’re right! Wicks actually wrote a book about designing and furnishing cabins in 1899! I wrote a little about it here: https://hellobuffalohikes.com/city-living-summit-ave/ Let me know what you think! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment!
I loved attending Bishop McMahon. I was Class of 1964. It is a beautiful building. I am so happy it will continue to live on.
It sure seems like it was a wonderful place to attend high school! Thank you for reading!
I attended high school there graduating in 1971. Knew it was a beautiful building but wish we were taught the wonderful history of it to appreciate it even more. I recall being up in the nurses office on the 3rd floor. Thank you so much!!!
Ah – this is the first I heard of the nurse’s office being on the third floor. Thanks for sharing and for reading!
Love watching the progress. I re.ember going through the pictures of the house in the library. The history of the house always fascinated me. I never hear any mention of the elevator. Having an elevator In a house was a big deal. Is it still working?
Jeanne Hastings 77
It is, and appears to be in its original state. The doors and surrounding woodwork looks fantastic still! Thank you for reading!
I got stuck in that elevator after hours – I’d been working on the yearbook and was rescued by dear Sister Phillip. Class of ‘62.
It was a privilege to have spent 4 years in such a lovely ‘home’. The staircase! The history! The Sisters! The education- graduating meant you had at least the equivalent to at least a paralegal nowadays.
How I’d love to see what it has transformed into.
Great story – thanks for sharing! Would love to have seen the place when you were there! Great story – thanks for sharing!
I attended Bishop McMahon, Class of 72 and remember using the elevator when I had some medical problems. Our principal allowed me to take on other person with me on the elevator to help with my books. It’s was amazing being able to use that elevator that year. I also remember going to the bookstore in the mornings for our supplies and coke cola before classes. Can’t believe we drank that before morning classes! Amazing place to have gone to school for 4 years. Still follow the updates on the mansion restoration. Thanks for sharing the updates.
As a graduate of Bishop McMahon this article has been a joy to read! To look back at the photos brings back wonderful memories! As said previously I do wish we were told/taught more about the history of the mansion when going to school there, but never to old to learn and appreciate! Thank you!
Marygrace Lovern Lettiere ‘73
Nice to hear from you again Marygrace! It’s a wonderful home/school! I cannot wait to see it when it’s finished!
Thanks for this article Ellen. My mom Ann Barrett was the 1st class to use the Mansion for her studies. She used to tell us stories about how beautiful the Mansion was. I was only in it once when my children were small. I’m glad to see that someone is restoring it to its original grandeur. I can’t want to see the completed project!
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a beautiful building and I can’t wait to see the completed project either! Stay tuned… Thanks for reading!
As a graduate I too wish we were given the history when we went to school there. I remember as a senior we had the priviledge of having our homeroom in the mansion. I remember we were in pretty close quarters and my seat was right next to a beautuful carved fireplace.
Sounds like you have awesome memories! Thank you for sharing them, Gail. And for reading!
My son attended a pre-school there and I recall being in the large board room for some of his IEP Meetings. It was gorgeous then and I often wondered the history of the building. Had no idea this was once Bishop McMahon or the Goodyear mansion.
I’m so glad you came upon this post! Thank you for sharing your story and for reading!
Love this! Count me in for a tour too!
It’s looking like it just may happen! Stay tuned…thank you for reading!
Thank you for this! What a wonderful thing for my sons to see about their great-great grand parents! I appreciate it as well, amazing to see…
Awesome! Thank you so much for the kind words!
Such memories. I went to Bishop Mc Mahon 1966-1969. Walking down that beautiful spiral staircase. Can’t wait to see when it’s completed.
I can’t wait either! I stopped by there a couple of weeks ago, and as with everything since covid, it’s taking longer than expected, but stay tuned! I’ll definitely be doing a follow up! Thank you for reading!