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Spaulding Street, shown in red on the map

Spaulding Street runs for two blocks between Hopkins Street and South Park (formerly Triangle Street in the Triangle Neighborhood of South Buffalo.  The street opened in 1890 and is named after Elbridge Spaulding.

Elbridge Gerry Spaulding was born in Summer Hill, Cayuga County, on February 24, 1809.  His ancestors arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 and many of them fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Mr. Spaulding attended the common schools in his area.  When he was 20, Elbridge began his study of law in the office of Timothy Fitch in Batavia.  He completed his studies in Attica, at the offices of Harvey Putnam.


Elbridge Gerry Spaulding

Mr. Spaulding moved to Buffalo 1834 to practice law in the office of Potter and Babcock, the leading attorneys in Buffalo at the time.  He became a partner in Potter and Babcock.  Just two years after arriving in Buffalo, Mr. Spaulding was appointed City Clerk in March 1836.  Also in 1836, he was admitted to practice as an attorney of the Supreme Court and in 1939 as a counselor of the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery.

In the 1840s, Mr. Spaulding was law partners with John Ganson.  Mr. Spaulding’s law practice was large.  In 1841, Mr. Spaulding was elected as Alderman of the Third Ward and became Chairman of the Finance Committee.


Spaulding Exchange Building. Source: Buffalo Express

Around 1845, Mr. Spaulding acquired what became the Spaulding Exchange, which was a five-story building with many shops and stores on the first floor and offices on the upper floors.  The Exchange was located at the corner of Lower Terrace and Main Street and became the hub of Buffalo’s financial industry.  It quickly became one of the most important office buildings in the City and was home to lawyers, bankers, insurance agents and real estate dealers of the time. Mr. Spaulding’s office was located in the building, as well as the Farmers & Merchants Bank and the Bank of Attica (two banks which Mr. Spaulding was involved with).  The building was destroyed by fire in 1851 and reconstructed shortly afterwards.  The building was remodeled again by the Spaulding Heirs in 1917.  The Spaulding Exchange building was still owned by the family when it was was demolished for construction of Memorial Auditorium in 1938, after standing for nearly 100 years!


Elbridge Spaulding. Source: History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.

In 1847, Mr. Spaulding was chosen as Mayor of the City of Buffalo by the Whig party.  While he only served a year, his administration was considered one of progress and achievement.  While he was Mayor, State Aid was obtained to enlarge the Erie and Ohio Basins to improve facilities for lake and canal commerce in Buffalo.  He also oversaw the construction of an extensive sewage system.  The Buffalo Gas Light Company was also organized while he was Mayor, bringing light to the city’s streets and houses.

Mr. Spaulding was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1848. While there, he was Chairman of the Canal Committee.  He also served on the Canal Board, helping to secure a $9 Million loan on State Credit to enlarge the Erie and Oswego Canals.

Mr. Spaulding was elected to Congress in 1849, as a Whig candidate.  He was a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.  He also worked with factions of both the Whig and Democratic parties to oppose slavery.  Particularly, fighting against extending slavery into the new states of California and New Mexico, which was an issue at the time.  He supported President Taylor’s policy to admit California as a free state and opposed the Omnibus Bill which is better known as the Compromise of 1850.

In 1853, Mr. Spaulding was elected Treasurer of New York State.  He was the founder and President of Farmers & Mechanics National Bank in Buffalo from 1852 until his death.

Mr. Spaulding was elected back into Congress in 1859, this time as a Republican.  In 1860, he gave speeches in Buffalo and Washington at meetings held to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.  The speech denounced the Democratic Party and it’s pro-slavery views.  He said:

“A change is essential to the stability of the Constitution and the Union.  We must unitedly resist the Democratic party, and redeem the country from thraldom into which it has been placed by corrupt leaders.  Why should we thus unite?  I answer, because the perilous condition in which the country is placed demands it.  Who is responsible for the agitation of the slavery question?  Who obstruct the public business by agitation?  Who threaten disunion?  Who are sectional in their speeches and action?  and who seek to extend the area of slavery and slave representation in Congress?”

He urged Republicans to support Abraham Lincoln for the US Presidency.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Government had to be loaned money to finance the war.  The Banks of New York, Philadelphia and Boston had loaned the US Government $150 Million in gold. Their resources were so depleted that there was a danger of national bankruptcy and panic.  Mr. Spaulding was the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.  The committee was instrumental in formulating the most important legislation authorizing war loans.  In December 1861, Mr. Spaulding presented Congress with a speech proposing the currency bank bill, later known as the Legal Tender Act and teh National Currency Bank Bill.  These bills allowed treasury fundable notes to be circulated as money as a war measure.  It also expanded the nation’s credit and bolstered confidence in the American dollar.  These acts are what makes paper bills legal tender, and why American money says “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”. The issuance of our paper money is still based on the Legal Tender Act, as presented by Mr. Spaulding.  Because of his finance experience and knowledge, his proposal for the Greenback won respect from his fellow members of Congress.  For this reason, he is often referred to as the Father of the Greenback.

Elbridge Spaulding was married three times.  First to Jane Antoinette Rich in 1837.  Jane was the daughter of G. B. Rich, proprietor of the Bank of Attica.  Mr. Spaulding encouraged the bank to move to Buffalo and became an officer of the bank.  Jane died in 1841 at just 22 years old.  They had no children.  Elbridge married Nancy Strong in 1842.  Nancy was considered to be one of the most beautiful girls in Buffalo.  Nancy and Elbridge had three children – Charlotte, Edward Rich, and Samuel Strong.   Nancy died in 1852.   After her death, he married Nancy’s sister Delia.  Elbridge and Delia bonded over their grief of the loss of Nancy as well as Delia’s grief over becoming recently widowed herself and was also mourning the loss of her 16 year old daughter Mary who died in 1847.  Delia and Elbridge were married 40 years.

spaulding house mainIn 1850, the Spaulding Family moved into a in a mansion at 775 Main Street, at the corner of Goodell.  The house was originally built for William Hollister in the 1830s.  The house was built on what had been the site of Jabez Goodell’s Broadwheel Tavern.

In 1860, The Spauldings lived with Patrick Cunnington, a 25-year-old Irish man who served as coachman; and servants John Myer, a 17 year old boy from Prussia; Ellen Match, a 22-year old woman from New York; Catherine Ott, a 22 year old woman from Bavaria; and Caroline Riehl, a 17 year old girl from New York.

In 1870, the Spauldings lived with seamstress Sarah McConkey, a 30-year-old woman from Canada; and Domestic servants Mary Kraemer, a 26-year-old woman from Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Johanna Roth, a 36-year-old woman from Ireland; and Peter Duringer, a 21-year-old man from Hesse-Darmstadt.

In 1875, the Spauldings lived with “jack of all trades” Peter Dearing, a 26 year old man from German; Rachel Bradley, a 25- year old cook from Ireland; Katie Cofield, a 25 year old “dining room girl” from Prussia; and Mary Flynn, a 25-year -old seamstress from England.

In 1880, the Spauldings lived with cook Rachel Bradley, a 29-year-old woman from Ireland; Marianne Cofield, a 23-year-old servant from Ireland; and seamstress Caroline Schroeder, a 27-year-old woman from Bavaria.

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River Lawn, the Spaulding Estate on Grand Island.  No longer standing.  Source:  Lost Grand Island

The Spauldings also built a summer home, called River Lawn, on Grand Island around 1870.  At this time, Grand Island became an ideal recreational place for many of Buffalo’s wealthy families.  They would arrive on Grand Island by small steam boats.  River Lawn was located between the Beaver Island Club, a private hunting and fishing club and Lewis Falley Allen’s estate, Falconwood.  The River Lawn house was built in the Stick Style.  River Lawn’s 350 acre estate overlooked the Niagara River and encompassed a half-mile of riverfront, broad woodlands and cultivate fields. The estate included a farm, where Mr. Spaulding bred Holstein-Fresian cattle.  Many of the estates and resorts began to close around WWI, as a result of fires, the development of the automobile and the opening of the Canadian lakeshore resorts.  Between 1925 and 1930 the State of New York began to purchase land on Grand Island.  The State ended up purchasing 780 acres, including the Spaulding Estate and other estates.  In 1935, Beaver Island State Park opened for public use, the same year the Grand Island bridges opened.


River Lawn Boathouse, built in 1870 by Mr. Spaulding

The boathouse from River Lawn was also built in 1870 by Mr. Spaulding.  A fancy Victorian era structure, with balconies, arched windows, and French doors.   When River Lawn became part of Beaver Island, the boathouse was going to be demolished.  It was saved by Mr. Spaulding’s grandson, Frank St. John Sidway.  Frank floated the boathouse upriver to his property.  The Boathouse is not part of the state park, it is privately owned.  The Boathouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 1998.

In 1875, for the centennial of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Mr. Spaulding erected a granite cenotaph in Forest Lawn Cemetery in honor of “100 Years of Progress”.  Mr. Spaulding dedicated it in memory of his family members who had fought in the battle, which included Elbridge’s grandfather and 8 other family members!

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Battle of Bunker Hill Monument at Forest Lawn in the Spaulding Plot

Mr. Spaulding was involved in many organizations in Buffalo.  He was a life member of the Young Men’s Association (the predecessor to the Buffalo Library), a life member of the Buffalo Historical Society, a member of the Society of Natural Sciences, and a member of the Buffalo Club.  He was president of the International Bridge Company and a stockholder in several local banks.  He was also involved in the early Buffalo Street Railroads.  He helped found the University of Buffalo in 1846 and was a member of the University Council until his death.  The Spauldings were member of First Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Delia Spaulding died on August 12, 1895.  Mr. Spaulding died May 5, 1897, at 89 year old, after suffering a stroke.  They are buried in Forest Lawn.  The Spaulding Plot at Forest Lawn is home to more than 30 Spaulding relations.  The most recent burial in the plot was Elbridge Gerry Spaulding’s great grandson in 2013!  In addition to the street, Spaulding Quadrangle at University of Buffalo is named for Mr. Spaulding.

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Spaulding Building on Main Street in 1908. Source: A History of Buffalo

Mr. Spaulding left behind an estate estimated to be valued at between $12 and $14 Million (approximately $430 to $502 Million in today’s dollars).  Mr. Spaulding’s will stipulated that the house at 775 Main was to be demolished after his death.  Daughter Charlotte and son Edward developed the site with two buildings.  The Spaulding Building was built at 763 Main Street in 1906 by Edward Rich Spaulding.  The Spaulding Building is a three story commercial and residential building with Classical styling.  The building was designed by McCreary, Wood and Bradney.  The building was purchased by Nick Sinatra in 2015 and is still residential and commercial mixed use.

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Sidway Building image from 1979. Source: NYSHPO

Charlotte and her husband Franklin Sidway built the Sidway Building at 775-783 Main Street in 1907.  The Sidway Building is a six-story mixed use building, also designed by McCreary, Wood and Bradney.  When it opened, the Sidway Building was one of the largest buildings in this part of Main Street.  It was originally built as a four-story loft style building for light manufacturing.  Two stories were added in 1913.  In 1927, the building was remodeled into a modern office building.  In the early 2000s, the building was converted into 67 apartments on the upper floors.

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Spaulding-Sidway House at River Lawn on Grand Island. No Longer Standing. Source:  Lost Grand Island.

After Mr. Spaulding’s death, River Lawn was inherited by daughter Charlotte.  Charlotte and Franklin built a grand Georgian style home on the Estate.  The house was destroyed when it became a part of Beaver Island State Park.

Mr. Spaulding’s grandsons Steven Van Rensselaer Spaulding and Elbridge G Spaulding II were successful in the coal industry in the early 1900s.  Their company, Spaulding & Spaulding, merged with the Hedstrom Company to become the Hedstrom -Spaulding Company.


Restored Spaulding Portrait.  Source:  Buffalo News.

In the 1990s, Mr. Spaulding’s portrait from 1876 was found languishing in a closet in City Hall.  The portrait was restored by Buffalo State College’s Art Conservation Department.  The restoration of the portrait took a year.  Spaulding’s portrait was the first to be restored in partnership between Buff State and the Buffalo Art’s Commission, who oversees public art in the City of Buffalo.  Several Spaulding descendants were in attendance when the restored portrait was unveiled in Mayor Masiello’s office in 1996.

Want to learn about other streets?  Check out the Street Index.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.  As I post this, we are currently in the midst of the Blizzard of 2022 – I hope you all are staying safe and warm.  I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend and a happy and healthy New Year!


  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Spaulding Avenue Named for Father of Greenback”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  October 23, 1938, p12.
  • Vogel, Charity.  “1870s boathouse ‘jewel’ is placed on historic registry”.  Buffalo News.  July 22, 1998, p2.
  • Lost Grand Island.  isledegrande.com/preservation.htm (accessed December 2022).
  • Buckham, Tom.  “Former Mayor Basks in Restoration to Office.” Buffalo News.  December 17, 1996, p12.
  • Spaulding, E. G.  “The Republican Platform”.  Speech delivered at Buffalo and Washington, at meetings held to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin.  1860.  Found online here: https://archive.org/details/republicanplatfo00spau (accessed December 2022).
  • “Spaulding Funeral”  Buffalo News.  May 6, 1897, p17.
  • “The Late E. G. Spaulding.  Buffalo Morning Express. May 9, 1897, p3.
  • “Old Buffalo Landmark to be Improved.”  Buffalo News.  August 18, 1917, p13.
  • “Convention Hall to be Monument to City’s Past”.  Buffalo News.  February 18, 1939, p16.
  • “A History of Buffalo It’s Men and Institutions”.  Buffalo News.  1908.

Map showing Fosdick Avenue in Red

Fosdick Ave is a short, one-block, one-way street between North Street and Best Street.  The street is adjacent to City Honors High School, the former Fosdick-Masten Park High School.  Fosdick Ave is a relatively new street, especially for this part of the City of Buffalo.  The street was created in 1977.  Fosdick Ave is named for Frank Fosdick, principal of Masten Park High.  The street is referred to as Fosdick Avenue in many newspaper articles, city documents, and on Google maps, so I will refer to it as Fosdick Ave, however, the street signs do say Fosdick Street.

The Fosdick family has been in America since the 1600.  They have been in Western New York since 1819 when Solomon Fosdick, his wife Anna, and their nine children traveled across New York State in a covered wagon to settle here.  They stopped in Buffalo, which was still rebuilding after the Burning of Buffalo, and then headed to the Boston Valley twenty-two miles southeast of Buffalo.  Boston at the time was a tiny settlement on the banks of 18-Mile Creek, with about two dozen families.  Solomon was a carpenter and was involved in building many buildings in early Boston.

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John Fosdick, Frank Fosdick’s Father

Solomon and Anna’s eight child was John Spencer Fosdick.  He was two years old when the family traveled to WNY.  John attended school in the schoolhouse in Boston and then attended Springville Academy (now Griffith’s Institute) and then the Boston Academy when it opened in 1834.  The school year at the time was only 3 to 4 months of the year, so John worked with his dad on carpentry and building projects when he wasn’t in school.  Solomon and John built the Presbyterian Church in Boston in 1837.  The church is still standing and is now the Boston Historical Society Museum.  In 1836, John became a teacher at the Common School in Hamburg.  John continued in the carpentry business during non-school months.  In 1841, John married Eunice Andrews and they moved to Randolph, NY, where he taught in the school there.  A son, Charles, was born in 1842.  A year later, Eunice died suddenly in September 1843.  Her death prompted him to move to Buffalo.  In fall 1843, he was appointed a principal of the Grammar Schools in Buffalo.  He worked within the Buffalo Public Schools for the next 26 years and was known around town as “one of the great teachers of his generation”.  In 1845, he married Mary Blain, daughter of Reverend Jacob Blain, minister of the Dearborn Street Baptist Church in Buffalo.  Mary was also a teacher with the Buffalo Public Schools.

John Fosdick was later Superintendent of Education for Buffalo from 1866-1867.  While he was superintendent, he instituted qualifying exams for teachers, which was a revolutionary idea at the time.  He decided that high standards in teacher were going to be enforced and maintained in all of the Buffalo Schools.  John and Mary moved to Westfield in Chautauqua County in 1869 and John Fosdick worked at the Westfield Academy for 9 years and served on the Westfield Board of Education for 3 years.

John was a member of the Free Soil Party, which was for free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men.  John reportedly served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and helped bring runaway slaves across the Niagara River into Canada.  The Fosdick home at 677 Ellicott Street, the SE corner of Virginia Street, was a place where slaves would come to be taken across the river.   Unfortunately, the house was demolished during Urban Renewal of the Oak Street neighborhood.

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Frank Fosdick. Source: Buffaloah.com 

Frank Fosdick was born March 11, 1851 in Buffalo to John and Mary Fosdick.  Frank attended School 14 (Franklin Street School, between Edward and Tupper), where his father was principal and his mother was a teacher.  Mr. Fosdick attended Central High School and then received a Bachelor of Arts from University of Rochester in 1872.  After graduating from U of R, he became a teacher at Buffalo Classical School (sometimes called Dr. Briggs School).  In 1873, he was appointed principal of School  No. 25 (Lewis Street School, near William).  He also served in School No. 33 (East Elk Street School, near Smith) and No. 36 (Day’s Park) before becoming an instructor of Greek and Latin in Central High School (in the Burt Mansion on Niagara Square) in 1884.  He became head of the Classical Language Department in 1891.  In 1891 he was also made Principal of the High School Annex and later of the High School Annexes.  The Annexes were added to provide overflow space for students while new schools were being constructed.  The only high school in Buffalo was Central High School.  The High School Annex opened in 1891 at the corner of Clinton and Ellicott Streets, in the former Clergy House.  Buffalo was growing and did not have adequate school facilities to meet its growing needs.  In 1894, there were 798 high school students at Central High School, 400 in the Annex on Clinton Street and 400 throughout the additional High School Annexes located at schools in different parts of the city.  Students were turned away because schools was at capacity.

The City looked to built an East Side High School to be Buffalo’s second official high school.  The City first began looking at sites for a new high school around 1890.  They looked at multiple sites, mainly in the Fruit Belt and North Oak neighborhoods.  One of the sites proposed for a new school was Masten Place, a small park built by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1887.  Masten Place is named for Judge Masten, an early Mayor of Buffalo.

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1872 Atlas Map depicting the cemeteries between North and Best Streets. The Private Cemetery to the east – current site of the Masten Armory – and the Potters Field to the west – current site of City Honors. Note the small sliver of land that looks like a street west of the Potters Field, this is labeled as property owned by Day & Stevenson, it does not depict the location of Fosdick Ave, which lines up more closely with the end of Maple Street, just to the right of the larger number 7 on the map.

Masten Place had been built on the site of a former Potter’s Field for the City of Buffalo. The cemetery had been created around 1832 to house residents of Buffalo who died from a cholera epidemic.  Five acres of land was set aside for cemetery purposes, with the western portion of it for Roman Catholic burials.  About a year later, General Sylvester Mathews and Birdseye Wilcox purchased another 12 acres for additional cemetery purposes.  This second cemetery was often referred to as the “East North Street Cemetery”.  The Potters Field was used until Masten Place was constructed and bodies were moved to Forest Lawn Cemetery.  The Private Cemetery was used until 1901 when the Masten Street Armory was built.  Bodies  from both cemeteries were reinterred in Forest Lawn.  During construction of the high school building, as well as during more recent renovation activities, additional bodies were located at the site.  It was difficult to know where all of the bodies were buried on the site.  Because the Potters Field was used for indigents and unknowns, there weren’t always good records of where the burials were located.  In 2012, recognizing that other human remains still are on site, a stone monument was placed to recognize the site’s earlier use as a cemetery.


Olmsted’s “Plan for Potter’s Field” which became Masten Park. Source: National Parks Service.

The cemetery site was regraded to make it appropriate for park purposes.  It is located at one of the highest points in Buffalo and the land has a significant slope towards Best and Michigan Streets, which made it hard to maintain the turf of the park.  Olmsted’s plan for Masten Place included winding diagonal walkways crossing the park from each corner, with an open turf playground in the center.  A small shelter house provided toilet facilities and tool storage.  Thick plantings were planted on each side to screen the park from the hustle and bustle of the city.

When the site was suggested for a school, the Board of Parks Commissioners wanted to keep the site a park, so there was a lot of back and forth regarding the school site.  The Parks Commissioners went on record as being opposed, as was reported in the Buffalo Commercial:

“We protest most earnestly against any scheme to take possession of this or any other park property for any purpose. As a precedent alone such action may lead eventually to other encroachments of a most harmful character. It is especially important that every minor place in the heart of the city should be preserved intact. If the present generation is indifferent the next will feel keenly the evil results…”

Eerie words to read when you consider that it just took two generations after Masten Place was lost to turn Humboldt Parkway into the Kensington Expressway, creating detrimental impacts for the neighborhoods of the East Side.

Different school designs were considered to try to build the school and keep the park, such as putting the school on the very edge of the park and leaving the rest parkland.  The Parks Commissioners opposed the idea.  They said that if a portion of the site be used for the school, the whole property should be used and asked to be relieved of the property entirely rather than settle for a lesser park.


Historic Postcard View of the Original Masten Park High School

The school ended up being built upon Masten Place.  The school was constructed by ME. Beebe & Sons at a cost of $240,000(about $8.5 Million today) between 1895 and 1896.  Masten Park High School opened in 1897 to meet the needs of the growing East Side.  Its opening made Buffalo the second city in New York State to have more than one high school (the first being NYC).  Mr. Fosdick was principal of Masten Park High School from its founding until June 1926, for 29 years.  Students affectionally called him Pop Fosdick.  In 1884, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree by the University of Rochester and in 1903 was awarded the same by Princeton.

In 1912, Masten Park High School was destroyed by a 3-alarm fire.  The fire started in an attic on the fourth floor.  The fire was discovered around 12:50pm.  As the students left the building, several were hit by falling bricks.  Principal Fosdick heroically remained in the building until he was sure that all students were out.  After walking out of the building, he then went back into the building with several students to assist in retrieving school records.  When the records were safe, Mr. Fosdick entered the building again to take a final look to make sure no students had been overlooked.  He was injured by flying timbers when the roof and walls collapsed as he was trying to ensure that all students were safe.  Principal Fosdick was taken to his home to recuperate from his injuries.  By 2pm the school was a compete loss.  All students were accounted for with only minor injuries.  The students finished the term doing afternoon classes at Lafayette High School.


Postcard view of the 1914 building for Masten High School. Note the central tower, which no longer exists.

Between 1912-1914, a new building was built for Masten Park High School.  The building opened on September 8, 1914.  The Board of Education was able to build a school quickly by using the plans for Lafayette High School, which was fairly new at the time (opened in 1901).  The exterior surfaces and the shape of the towers are different, but the general layout of the schools are the same.  The new building cost $500,000(about $15 Million in today’s dollars).  The new Masten Park High opened at the same time as Hutchinson High School and Technical High School, providing education opportunities for students throughout the City of Buffalo.  South Park High School was under construction and opened a year later.  Buffalo went from having two high schools when Masten Park first opened to having five High Schools in less than 20 years!

In June 1921, Mr. Fosdick was awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws by University of Rochester.  On his 75th Birthday in 1926, Dr. Fosdick was publicly honored by the City of Buffalo and the school alumni at the Hotel Statler.  They presented “Pop” with a diploma for “29 years of faithful service” to signify his graduation into retirement.  More than 1500 alumni attended the dinner, along with many prominent educators from Buffalo and across the country.  The alumni raised funds to create a scholarship fund to send one male and one female student to college each year.   Dr. Fosdick’s son gave a speech where he calculated that Dr. Fosdick attended 1080 faculty meetings, ate 16,200 school lunches, and listened to 827,640 irate parents – and joked that it was amazing he was still alive at 75 after doing those things!  News of his honor was reported in newspapers across the country.  In October 1926, the University of the Sate of New York conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Letters in tribute to his more than 50 years service as a teacher.

Dr. Fosdick had married Amie Weaver of Westfield in August 1873.  They had four children – twins Edith Wellington and Raymond Blaine; Ethel Dunning Fosdick, and Harry Emerson.  Ethel died at just four months old.  Amie died in 1904.  Mr. Fosdick married his second wife, Mrytilla Constantine on March 18 1907.  Frank and Myrtilla had a daughter, Ruth Sheldon.  The Fosdick Children went on to be successful:


Raymond B. Fosdick. Source: Wikipedia

Son Raymond Blaine Fosdick went to Princeton and New York Law School.  He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to be the top representative to the League of Nations after WWI.  He resigned from that position when he was made President of the Rockefeller Foundation, a position he held for 13 years.  Raymond’s proudest achievement at the Rockefeller Foundation was the development of the yellow fever vaccine.  Raymond authored 14 books, including The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation, published in 1952 and a biography titled John D. Rockefeller, A Portrait, published in 1956.  Raymond married Winifred Finley in 1910.  Sadly, Winifred suffered from mental illness and ended up committing suicide and killing her and Raymond’s two children, ages 15 and 9.


Harry Fosdick on the cover of Time Magazine in 1930 Source: Wikipedia

Son Harry Emerson Fosdick attended Colgate University and Union Theological Seminary.  Harry was named after his father’s friend Harry Emerson.  Mr. Emerson and Frank Fosdick met in college and spent long careers in Buffalo Public Schools.  They promised to name their children after each other.  Mr. Emerson didn’t have any children, but Frank kept his promise and named Harry after his friend.  Harry Fosdick was founder and Pastor Emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City.  Several of his sermons were widely recognized and printed in publications and books.  From the beginning, Harry Fosdick ensured that Riverside Church was interracial, interdenominational and international.  Riverside Church is still known today for its liberal theology and social justice programs.  Harry Fosdick authored more than 25 books.  Reverend Fosdick’s sermons are considered to be an influence on Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who called Fosdick “the greatest preacher of this century”.

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Edith Fosdick’s Vassar Yearbook Photo from 1906

Daughter Edith Wellington Fosdick attended Vassar College.  After graduation, she did settlement work in Buffalo at the Neighborhood House and in New York City.  She worked with the YMCA in France during WWI.  She also worked with the State Charities Aid Association.  She devoted her life to overseas teaching and taught at Kobe College in Japan, in Ginling College in China, the American College in Athens, and in Istanbul.  She retired in 1943 and lived at Butler Hall, Columbia University.

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The cover of Ruth Fosdick’s book, Escape to Freedom, about the Underground Railroad in Buffalo

Daughter Ruth Fosdick attended Mt Holyoke College and taught at the Elmwood School in Buffalo before moving to New York City and then Maine.  She wrote children’s books, including “The Boy of the Pyramids” which won the Jack & Jill Award for best manuscript in 1950.  Her book “Escape to Freedom”, published in 1956 is a story about the underground railroad in Buffalo, inspired by the stories of her grandfather John that were told to her by her father Frank.

In 1880, the Fosdick Family lived at 490 North Division Street in the Ellicott Neighborhood with a 22 year old German servant named Carrie.  In 1900, the family lived at 300 Baynes Street on the West Side with a 31 year old English servant named Mary Ann Folsom.  In 1900, they were at the same address but no longer had a servant;  Mrs. Fosdick’s mother had moved in with the family.  By 1920, the family and mother-in-law had moved to 114 Crescent Avenue in the Parkside Neighborhood.

Frank Fosdick was a Mason, member of the Washington Lodge and Adytum Chapter, a member of the Royal Arcanum, the University Club, Independent Club and other various societies.  He was the only person in Buffalo at the time to be a member of the American Philological Association.  He was a member of the National Education Association, the State Teacher’s Association and the Buffalo Principals’ Association.


Modern View of Fosdick Masten High School (City Honors). Note the lack of central tower compared to earlier image.

Dr. Frank Fosdick passed away on February 26, 1927 at the home of his son, Raymond Fosdick in Montclair, N.J.  The flags in Buffalo were hung at half mast following his death.  He is buried in Westfield near his parents and his first wife.  After his retirement and death, the faculty petitioned to have the Masten Park High School named in Frank Fosdick’s honor.  The resolution to change the name was passed by the School Board in March 1927.  The School was named Frank S. Fosdick High School, but later that year, the name was changed again to Fosdick-Masten Park High School.  The central tower of the school started to crumble and was taken down in 1927.  Students remarked that the very building itself was mourning Principal Fosdick’s death when the tower was removed.

In 1953, Fosdick-Masten became home to the Girl’s Vocational Program and was officially named Fosdick-Masten Vocational High School.  They offered classes in business, foods, clothing, beauty culture and practical nursing.   The Girl’s Vocational school operated at the site until 1979 when the program was discontinued.

woodson gardens

Woodson Gardens. Source:  University at Buffalo

In April 1968, Buffalo Urban Redevelopment Agency (BURA) purchased 39 parcels along Michigan Avenue between North and Best and tore down 29 buildings.  The Board of Education released some of the open space from Fosdick-Masten High School to BURA to build new apartments.  Fosdick Ave was built in 1977 to serve the new apartments, which were called Woodson Gardens.  The apartments were named in tribute to Albert L. Woodson, former chairman of Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.  Woodson Gardens consisted of 160 units of townhouses and garden-style apartments.  At the time, the school was planning to move to Main and Delevan when their new school building was built.  This never happened and Fosdick-Masten graduated its last class in 1979.  The school became a warehouse and the interior was stripped, preparing to be demolished.  The alumni of Fosdick -Masten protested and the building was declared an Erie County Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The demolition never happened. In 1980, the school became home to City Honors School, officially known as City Honors School at Fosdick Masten Park.

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Plan for Fosdick Field. Source: https://restoreourfield.org/

Beginning around 2006, City Honors school officials began looking into purchasing the Woodson Gardens property.  The apartments were planned for demolitions as leases expired.  The Fosdick Field Restoration Project began to look to restore the open space in front of the school, for use as athletics fields for the school.  In 2013, the Woodson Garden apartments were demolished, restoring the open space around City Honors high school once more.  Ownership of the former Woodson Gardens Space was transferred to Buffalo Public Schools.  The school’s property now extends all the way to Michigan Street, which is larger than the property extended when the school was first built, as there were buildings along Michigan Avenue when Masten Place was first built.  Here are some images showing the property over the years:


1894 City Atlas showing Masten Place.  Note the buildings along Michigan Avenue.


1926 Sanborn Map showing the school, the field and the buildings along Michigan Avenue

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1944 image of Fosdick Field. Source: restoreourfield.org

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2002 Aerial Photo showing the Woodson Gardens apartments between Fosdick Ave and Michigan Ave

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Aerial Photograph from 2014 showing the current configuration of the site – note the addition on the northern side of the school (along Best Street) and the open field between Michigan and Fosdick Aves.


View of Fosdick Ave from the corner of Best (note the street sign says St not Ave)

The City of Buffalo is looking into the removal of Fosdick Avenue to connect the field, which is being called “Fosdick Field”, to the remove the barrier between the two parts of the City Honors campus.  The restored field would include a small regulation FIFA field to be used for recess, physical education and athletics.  In addition to the regulation field, it would include pedestrian pathways, landscaping, seating, off-street parking and a tunnel.  The City has completed a traffic study.  The road is currently blocked off to traffic.  After 45 years, Fosdick Ave may be a relic of the past.

So the next time you are near City Honors, think of the Fosdick Family –  of the fugitive slaves who may have passed through our city led by John Fosdick, the people saved because of the yellow fever vaccine, the souls who were uplifted by Reverend Fosdick’s words, and the countless number of other students influenced by Pop Fosdick in his 50 years in the Buffalo Public Schools!

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Name of Masten Park High Changed to ‘Frank S. Fosdick’.”  Buffalo News.  March 1, 1927, p1.
  • “Dr. F. S. Fosdick, Former Masten Principal, Dies”.  Buffalo Evening News.  February 28, 1827, p3.
  • “Masten Park High Destroyed by Fire”.  Buffalo News.  March 27, 1912, p1.
  • “Students Sing Alma Mater Over the Ruins”.  Buffalo News.  March 28, 1912, p16.
  • “Is it Feasable:  A Schoolhouse Site May be Proposed by the Mayor”.  Buffalo Morning Express. March 30, 1890, p15.
  • “High School on High Street”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  December 31, 1891, p5.
  • Fodick, Raymond B.  Annals of the Fosdick Family.  The American Historical Company:  New York, 1953.
  • “More Teachers Needed”. Buffalo Sunday Morning News.  September 30, 1894, p2.
  • “1500 Masten Park Alumni See ‘Pop’ Fosdick Graduated at 75”.  Buffalo News.  March 13, 1926, p26.
  • “William, Diedre”.  City Honors Campaigns for Restoration of Its Athletic Field”.  Buffalo News.  October 8, 2013, p21.
  • “Authority Names Projects to Honor Commissioners”.  Buffalo News.  September 29, 1982, p25.
  • “Masten Park”.  The Buffalo Commercial.  January 22, 1895, p5.
  • “Olmsted in Buffalo:  Masten Place”.  https://www.olmstedinbuffalo.com/masten-place/  (accessed November 2022)
  • LaChiusa, C.  “From Masten Park High School to City Honors:  The Story of a School Site”.  https://buffaloah.com/a/north/186/hist/tc.htm (accessed November 2022)
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Map of Pooley Place and Cordage Alley

Today we’re going to talk about two streets in the Grant-Forest Neighborhood of the West Side – Cordage Alley and Pooley Place. Pooley Place runs between Grant Street and Dewitt Street. Cordage Alley, also known as Cordage Lane or Cordage Place, is a small little alley that runs for one block between Pooley Place and Bird Avenue. It used to be the “center of one of Buffalo’s greatest industries”, the Pooley & Butterfield rope factory. Historically, this area was a part of Black Rock and was known as Upper Black Rock, with Lower Black Rock on the other side of Scajaquada Creek.  It was called “upper” because it was upriver of the Lower Black Rock as the Niagara River flows south to north.

George Pooley was a well-known resident of Black Rock. He was born in 1816 in Suffolk, England to Edward Pooley and Maria Smith Pooley. The family came to America around 1824 and settled in Wayne County, New York. In 1843, he married Mary Ann Clinton, who was born in Black Rock in 1821. They lived in Palmyra, NY and had two children – Maria Smith and Mary Clinton – and then moved to Buffalo in the late 1840s and had two more children – George Clinton, and a daughter who died before being named. Mary Ann Pooley died in May 1853 and was buried in Palmyra with her baby daughter.

162 BirdMr. Pooley got remarried a year later, in 1854, to Cornelia Pooley. George and Cornelia had four children – Mary Hubbard, Cornelia, Katie, Edward, and Harriet  Of Mr. Pooley’s nine children, only three lived to adulthood – Maria Smith Pooley, Harriet Pooley and George Clinton Pooley (we’ll call him George Jr). The Bird family lived at 162 Bird Avenue.

After coming to Buffalo, he created a rope-walk business as Pooley & Butterfield. His partner Martin Butterfield was a resident of Palmyra, New York. The rope-walk was an old fashioned industry. The workers were called rope-walkers.  Ship’s rope is made of a number of strands, typically three. The strands in turn are made of several threads, which makes a hawser. Three hawsers are twined together to form a cable. Ship’s rope was made from hemp, typically Manilla hemp from the Philippine Islands. Loose hemp fibers were brought into a shed where a man attacked them with a hacker, a gigantic curry-comb with teeth about the size of a ten-penny spike.  Oiling a handful of the hemp, the hemp was run through the comb again and again until all the strands face the same way, binding it into other strands.  Then the strands went to the rope-walker.  The rope-walker would walk through a long, open shed.  The shed was 16 feet wide and 1000 feet long, almost the length of Pooley Place.  The shed didn’t have sides, just a roof.  The rope-walker, who wore a long leather apron, would take a number of strands from the comb-man, wrap them tightly around his waist under his apron and hitch the end to a wheel at one end of the shed.  An assistant would turn the wheel, which was fitted with hooks to twist the loose stands together.  The rope walker, walking rapidly backwards, fed the room from under his apron until he reached the shed, clipped off the remaining strand and began again, walking back and forth..  To keep things uniform in strength and thickness, the rope-walker would have to go the same pace as the wheel-man.  The rope-walkers would make the strands into hawsers and the hawsers into cables.  Dozens of them would work at a time at the rope-walk.  At it’s height, the business employed 40 men who worked to put out about 3 tons of rope a day.

Rope Walk 1872 Atlas

1872 Atlas of Buffalo showing the rope walk on Pooley Place. Note the property of Geo, Pooley along Cordage Alley south of Pooley Place (near the number 153 on the map). Mr. Pooley’s house is shown along Bird Avenue on his property.

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Ad for Pooley & Butterfield from the 1858 Buffalo City Directory

Shipbuilders from all over the Great Lakes and even some that sailed on the ocean came to Cordage Place to buy their cordage.  This included ropes to hoist the sails of their schooners, ropes to hold anchors (before the days of chain cable) and ropes for all of the other thousands of uses for ropes on a sailing ship.  The ropes for all of the Great Lakes were supplied on Cordage Place, it was before Detroit, Chicago or Cleveland grew, so Buffalo provided the majority of supplies and materials for lake shipping.  The thousands of ships on the Lake would get their cordage in Buffalo.  This was not the only rope-walk in Buffalo, there were many, including one not far from Pooley, owned by Mr. Francis Wardell on Thirteenth Street between Massachusetts and Hampshire Aves.  Mr. Pooley’s rope walk was one of the largest.

Rope Walks were very much a part of life in the middle of the 19th Century.  Well-known American Poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem about it.  Longfellow is best known for poems such as Paul Revere’s Ride and the Song of Hiawatha.  His poem titled The Rope Walk, which was published in the Buffalo Morning Express on November 2, 1855:

In that building long and low,
With its windows all a row,
Like the port-holes of a hulk,
Human spiders spin and spin,
Backward down their threads so thin,
Dropping, each, a hempen bulk.

At the end an open door;
Squares of sunshine on the floor
light the long and dusky lane;
And the whirling of a wheel,
Dull and drowsy, makes me feel
all its spokes are in my brain.

And the spinners to the end
Downward go and re-ascend,
Gleam the long threads in the sun;
While within this brain of mine
Cobwebs brighter and more fine
By the busy wheel are spun.

Two fair maidens in a swing,
Like white doves upon the wing,
First before my vision pass;
Laughing, as their gentle hands
Closely clasp the twisted strands,
At their shadow on the grass.

Then a booth of mountebanks,
With its smell of tan and planks,
And a girl poised high in air
On a cord, in  a spangled dress,
With a faded loveliness
And a weary look of care.

Then a homestead among farms,
And a woman with bare arms,
Drawing water from a well;
As the bucket mounts space,
With it mounts her own fair face,
As at some magician’s spell.

Then an old man in a tower
Ringing loud the noontide hour,
While the rope coils round and round
Like a serpent, at its feet,
And again in swift retreat
Almost lifts him from the ground.

Then within a prison-yard,
Faces fixed, and stern, and hard,
Laughter and indecent mirth;
Ah! It is the gallows-tree!
Breath of Christian charity,
Blow, and sweep it from the earth!

Then a schoolboy, with his kid,
Gleaming in a sky of light;
And an eager, upward look;
Steeds pursued through lane and field;
Fowlers with their snares concealed,
And an angler by a book.

Ships rejoicing in the breeze,
Wrecks that float o’er unknown seas,
Anchors dragged through faithless sand;
Sea-fog drifting overhead,
And with lessening line and lead
Sailors feeling for the land.

All these senses do I behold,
These and many left untold,
In that building long and low;
While the wheels go round and round
With a drowsy, dreamy sound,
And the spinners backward go.

Pooley Place was opened in honor of George Pooley after several citizens, including G. Dewitt Clinton, petitioned to put a street there in 1866.  Pooley and Butterfield became George Pooley & Son after George Clinton Pooley entered the business.

Eventually, ships started to use wire cables, making the rope unnecessary and the rope-walkers fell to the wayside.  The name of Cordage Alley is one of the few reminders of the major shipbuilding that happened here in Buffalo.

George Pooley & Son Rope-Walk closed in 1888 and was absorbed by a larger trust – The National Cordage Company.  The National Cordage Company was a trust and owned nearly all of the cordage buyers and distributers in the country at the time.  Due to the trust, Pooley & Son wasn’t able to purchase hemp and therefore could not operate their role-walk.  They were offered stock in the company in return for keeping their works idle.  Mr. Pooley fought to keep his works in operation, as many of his employees had been with the firm for 10 to 20 years.  But he was unsuccessful.  The American Cordage Company absorbed the National Cordage Company in 1892.  American Cordage sold off the machinery, which hadn’t been used in several years, and ended up selling the land back to the Pooley family.  The Pooleys sold their stock when it was high.  They ended up making money in the deal and also still owned their land.


1894 Atlas of Buffalo showing how most of the ropewalk property was now developed with houses.

Mr. Pooley had built tenant cottages along Forest Avenue and three large houses on West Avenue to house their workers.  Around 1891, they began building houses on Pooley Place. Mr. Pooley was well known in Black Rock.  He was a member of Grace Church and served as Chairman of the Black Rock Business Men.

The building at 92 Pooley Place, formerly George Pooley & Sons rope-walk, was converted into a laundry used by the Buffalo Steam Laundry.  The building caught fire on February  10, 1895 around 7:30pm from an overheated drying-room.  Fireman battled the blaze for two hours, but the building was a complete loss.

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Mr. Pooley’s grave in Forest Lawn

George Pooley died on February 8, 1898. He had been suffering from cancer for several years and had surgery to remove his arm at the shoulder in January.  He had recovered well from the surgery and was hoping to return to a regular life shortly after, when he became ill and died from kidney disease.  Mr. Pooley is buried in a family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  When he died, he was almost 83 years old and was the oldest voter in the 24th ward.  It took two years to settle the estate through Surrogate Court.  Daughter Maria had to petition for her fair share of the estate.  The will was contested as it was believed to have been procured through coercion from son George Jr and George Jr’s wife Margaret.  Maria also alleged that her father was not of sound mind when the will was executed.  Interestingly, Maria’s name was also left out of some of the obituaries published in the newspapers, but her name was included in others.  During the trial, it came out that part of the will had been written by Henry Perrine, one of the executors of the estate, and not by Mr. Pooley himself.  The will did not make provisions for the division of the real estate, other than leaving the family home to his widow Cornelia.  The estate involved about $140,000 (about $4.6 Million in today’s dollars) in personal property and real estate.  The real estate was worth about $78,000 ($2.6 Million today) and was all rented out, and brought in about $3,000 to $4,000 ($98,000 – $131,000 today) in income each year.  The Pooley Home at 162 Bird, which was left to Mr. Pooley’s widow, Cornelia, was valued at $1,000 ($32,000 today).  The personal property estate was divided as follows – to Cornelia, widow, $30,000 set in a trust; to George C Pooley, son, $20,000; to Margaret Pooley, his wife, $10,000; to Maria Vosburg, daughter, $10,000; to Harriet E Manning, daughter, $20,000 to George Manning, grandson, $15,000.  The remainder was divided among grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Maria was looking for the court to allow the sale of the real estate to pay off legacies.  The court held that it would be foolish to dispose of the remainder of the real estate at the time and divided the real estate between the three children – George, Maria and Harriet.  Deeds to the real estate were transferred to the respective heirs in July 1900.

By 1900, most remnants of the rope-walk were gone, and the property was fully developed with houses. In addition to George’s own house on Bird Avenue, several other houses built by George Pooley are still standing on Forest, Pooley Place and Bird.  The Grant Ferry Neighborhood Intensive Level Historic Resource Survey completed for the City of Buffalo lists the following houses as built by George Pooley – 162 Bird Ave, 172 Bird Ave, 201 Forest, 203 Forest, and 90 Pooley.  There may additional properties as well.

The next time you pass Pooley Place or Cordage Alley, think about all the rope that once was made in Buffalo!  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Made Money in Cordage”.  Buffalo Weekly Express. May 11, 1983, p5.
  • “Overheated Drying Room”.  Buffalo Morning Express. February 10, 1895, p14.
  • “The Rope-Walk”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  November 2, 1855, p 4.
  • Holloway, Hubert.  “Notes and Quotes”.  Buffalo News.  February 13, 1958, p25.
  • “All Around Town.”  Buffalo Courier.  March 10, 1982, p5.
  • “A Hemp Trust”.  Buffalo Sunday Truth.  February 26, 1888, p 8.
  • “City and Suburbs:  Black Rock”.  Buffalo Times.  February 4, 1887, p4.
  • “Death of George Pooley”.  Buffalo News.  February 9, 1898, p1.
  • “Coercion Alleged”.  Buffalo Times.  February 17, 1899, p5.
  • “Pooley Estate Settled”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  April 27, 1900, p6.
  • “Pooley Will Under Dispute”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  October 20, 1899, p1.
  • “Pooley Will Case Settled.”  Buffalo Times.  March 12, 1900, p4.
  • “George Pooley Will Decision”.  Buffalo News.  March 12, 1900, p9.
  • “Deeds Filed.”  Buffalo Review.  July 25, 1900, p6.
  • “Ghosts of Old-Time Rope-Walkers Inhabit Cordage Place, Erstwhile Center of Vessel-hawser Industry”.  Buffalo Courier.  November 8, 1925, p63.

Screenshot (8)Connelly Avenue runs one block between Bailey Avenue and Olympic Avenue in the Kenfield neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street is named after John Connelly, from Connelly Brothers Ship Chandlers, a waterfront business in Buffalo for more than a century!

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Portrait of John Connelly. Source: Jennifer Connelly

John Connelly was born in Ireland around 1852.  His father, Michael Connelly as a sailor who visited nearly every port in the world.  On one trip Michael Connelly traveled to the Great Lakes.  He was impressed with Buffalo, which he called “a city of promises”.  In the 1860s, Michael’s two oldest sons, Michael and James sailed to America and came to Buffalo.  In 1866, they brought their brother, John, to the country.  John was about 14 years old and had already been working in the rolling mills in Wales for 50 cents a week since he was 10 years old.  He was excited to come to America, to get away from the cold, hunger and poverty of the old country.  

John and his brothers worked hard to establish a ship chandlery business for themselves here in Buffalo.  Connelly Brothers Ship Chandlers was established in 1870.  Brother James tragically died in 1872, drowning at the foot of Illinois Street. To start their business, John and Michael would take their rowboat to Tonawanda, load it with lumber and tow it to Buffalo, pulling the tugboat from the towpath the horses used along the canal.  It was noted that even as he got older and was successful and could work less, John would still get up early, get dressed, read the newspaper by gas light and get to work right at sunrise.  The ship company was located at the southwest corner of Ohio and Michigan Streets, at a site selected by John Connelly.  They built some of the first steamers built for shipping lumber on the Great Lakes.  In 1896, they built the last steamer that was built to ship lumber on the Lakes.  

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View of the Buffalo River, between 1900 and 1910. Note Connelly Brothers, the small building in the foreground to the left of the bridge abutment. Source: Library of Congress. Click here to see larger image.

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Mary Connelly. Source: Jennifer Connelly

John Connelly met Mary Sullivan on a trip along the Erie Canal. She was from Ireland and was visiting friends in Oswego, New York.  She returned to Ireland and Mary and John wrote letters to each other for a year.  He then made his only trip back to the old country in 1885 to marry her.  The Connellys lived on Michigan Avenue, which was called Michigan Street at the time.  It was still a quiet, residential street lined with trees.  Today, the site of their house is a parking lot across the street from the Seneca Buffalo Casino.  John and Mary had eleven children, six sons and five daughters.  Unfortunately, five of the children died in childhood.  Five sons and a daughter lived to adulthood – Boetius, William, John Jr, James, Mary and Arthur.  

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Connelly Family on the steps of their house. Source: Jennifer Connelly

In 1901, the Connellys moved to 126 Fargo Avenue.  The family lived there for many years.  The house is now a part of the Nickel City Housing Cooperative and is known as Plankton House.  The family also had a servant who lived with the family.  In 1900, their servant was Mary Giritt, a 19-year old woman from Germany.  In 1900, the servant was Annie Snyder, a 20-year old from Germany.  In 1920, their servant was Elizabeth Endres, a 27-year old woman born in New York state to German immigrant parents.  Because John had to leave school to work at a young age, he insisted that all of his children complete high school and offered them all a college education.  John Jr and William were the only two who went to college – both becoming attorneys.  William sailed on the Great Lakes to help finance his education, served in the U.S. Navy and specialized in marine law.  Boetius served in the US Army during WWII.  Mary and James worked for Connelly Bros.  Arthur worked in labor relations. 


Ad for Connelly Ave Lots for Sale from 1921. Source: Buffalo Times.

Connelly Street was developed in the early 1920s as Buffalo grew.  John Connelly did not see Connelly Street as a source of pride.  The street was named in his honor, which was a sign of his respect and esteem throughout the community.  However, Mr. Connelly could only think of the money he lost when the street was cut through his property!

Despite being eager to grow his fortune, Mr. Connelly was also known as an easy target for those down on their luck.  People would approach him for spare change, and Mr. Connelly would always empty his pockets for them.  Eventually, his family persuaded him to give his change to the bookkeeper every morning, so that he would not have cash on him while walking around town.  Mr. Connelly would then ask his bookkeeper for half a dollar to buy a handkerchief at the store across the street.  He’d buy a hanky and then give the change to the person who asked.  Because of this, he had many, many handkerchiefs!

Mr. Connelly died in 1928.  He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna.   After Mr. Connelly’s death, son James and daughter Mary Connelly Keene and Mary’s husband Russell Keene continued the business.  In 1933 Mary Connelly Keene became President of the company. 

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Aftermath of the Bridge Collapse. Source: Buffalo News.

On January 21, 1959, the Michigan Avenue Bridge collapsed in what is often referred to as “the Tewksbury Disaster.”  That winter was very cold, with heavy snow and bitter temperatures.  On January 21st, there was an unseasonable thaw.  The 50 degree day combined with a wind storm broke up the sheet of ice along Cazenovia Creek around 6pm, pushing the ice from the creek into the Buffalo River.  The ice jam ran up against the hull of the MacGilvray Shiras, owned by the Kinsman Transit Company in Cleveland.  The Shiras was moored for the winter at Concrete Central Elevator and full of corn.  The Shiras broke free from its mooring around 10:40pm during wind gusts of 48 miles per hour.  A chain-reaction accidental crash when the steamer Shiras broke loose from a dock owned by Continental Grain Company.  The Shiras floated down river, where it struck the steamer Michael K. Tewksbury, which was stationed for the winter at the Standard Elevator and full of wheat.  The boats continued downriver, past the Ohio Street lift bridge which was under construction and out of service.  The story goes that the bridge operators for the Michigan Ave bridge were drinking at the Swannie House and not manning the bridge.  One rumor says that the bridge operator was in bed with his mistress!  William H. Mack testified in Federal Court that he did visit the tavern twice during that evening, from 8:20-8:40pm and from 10:00-10:20pm but that he was back on duty a half hour before the first warning call came in.  Shift change for the bridge came at 11pm.  One of the bridge tenders, Casimir Szumlinski, came on duty at 11.  A call came in at 11:10pm from the watchmen at Standard Elevator alerting the bridge that there was a loose boat coming their way.   It was said an earlier call came in at 10:45pm but the operators were waiting for Mr. Mack and Mr. Szumlnski because they did not know how to raise the bridge.  Mr. Szumlinski recollected to the Buffalo News in 1969, “I saw the boat about 1000 yards away.  It looked like a phantom coming out of the night – no lights, no flares”.  The efforts to raise the bridge came too late, they were only able to partially raise the bridge before they needed to abandon the bridge.  Two of the bridge tenders were injured as the boats slammed into the Michigan Avenue Lift Bridge at 11:17pm.  The bridge plunged into the river, also damaging a water main.  The two ships came to a stop near the wreckage of the bridge, abutting each other and wedged in the River amongst the wreckage of the bridge.  The Shiras had traveled almost 3 miles! 

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Approximate path of the MacGilvray Shiras on January 21, 1959

The ice jam created by the ships blocking the river caused intense flooding in the First Ward. The quick thaw and the rain that occurred caused one of  the worst flooding events in Metropolitan Buffalo History.  There was also major flooding that night in Tonawanda and Amherst along Ellicott Creek.  Delaware Park lake (now Hoyt Lake) rose several feet, closing Delaware Avenue.  The New York Central Railroad tracks between Forest and West Delevan were washed out from flooding on Scajaquada Creek.  Smokes Creek flooded an area 2 square miles in size, causing a state of emergency to be declared for Lackawanna. 

At 7:45am the next morning, the north tower of the Michigan Avenue bridge toppled, crushing the roof of the Connelly Bros building and kicking out the sidewall timbers of the Engine 20 (the fireboat) firehouse.  Connelly Bros lost the building, many marine supplies, a pier, and a 40-foot supply ship which sunk under the weight of the twisted bridge girders.  The boat was recovered several months later, found in the rubble in the river.  It took about two weeks for the Shiras and the Tewksbury to be freed from the wreckage, with tug boats and a coast guard ice-breaker cutting thru the ice.  51,000 bushels of wheat were unloaded from the Tewksbury to lighten the load to help free the ship from the wreckage of the bridge.  Suction equipment was used which pumped out the wheat into trucks.  With the Michigan Avenue bridge wrecked and the Ohio Street bridge closed for repairs, the Skyway was the only way to access South Buffalo from Downtown.  The trucks hauled the grain from the wreck site over the Skyway to Connecting Terminal, an 8-mile trip.  A channel was finally cleared on February 3rd preventing the risk of the River flooding again.  The Shiras was damaged and on February 12 was towed to the GLF elevators to be unloaded and then taken to the American Shipbuilding dry dock for repairs.  The Shiras ended up being towed to Hamilton, Ontario and sold for scrap in June 1959.  The Tewksbury continued operations, returning to winter in Buffalo in following years.  In 1962, the Tewksbury was renamed, but the ship saw service until 1975. The Michigan Avenue bridge reopened December 7, 1960.  

Connelly Bros Boat 1946

Connelly Bros Boat at their pier, 1946. Source: Buffalo News.

Connelly Bros Boat

Connelly Bros Boat Recovery in March 1959, after the bridge collapse. Source: Buffalo News.

At that time, Connelly Bros was 89-years old and were the oldest chandlery business in Buffalo.  The company lost an estimated $200,000 ($1.8 Million today).  It took many years for a ruling on how the three parties involved – The Continental Grain Co (owner of the dock), the Kinsman Steamship Co (owner of the steamer MacGilvray Shiras) and the City of Buffalo must share the payment of damages.  The City was held partially liable because it was determined there should have been adequate time to lift the bridge.  The case revolved on whether or not the Shiras was properly moored at Concrete Central elevator.  The lawsuit for the damages was appealed at least six times.  Final settlements for the 28 claimants was decided in 1966, totaling $1.8 Million ($16.5 million today) in damages.  The original damage claims exceeded $3 Million!  Connelly Bros ended up receiving $42,500 ($389,331 today) for business damages and $42,238.17 ($386,932 today) for damages to the building.

mary connelly 1974 ancestry

Mary Connelly Keene, 1974. Source: Jennifer Connelly

After the bridge collapse, the company leased space in a warehouse on Scott Street.  The company suffered another tragedy when the warehouse suffered a fire four years later on March 9, 1963.  Connelly Brothers moved to 43 Illinois Street on March 21, 1963, just 12 days later!  In February 1969, Mrs. Keene was presented a plaque by the Buffalo Propeller Club and the International Shipmasters Association which recognized her contributions to both groups.  Mary Keene was president of the company for more than 40 years!  A rarity for a woman of the time!

Shipping in Buffalo was changing.  The winter of 1974 was the first year since before the Civil War that no freighters spent the winter in Buffalo.  The grain ships, like the Shiras and the Tewksbury, used to spend the winter with storage grain for Buffalo flour mills.  In 1974, it was decided they could move grain in by train as needed.  At the height of grain shipping in Buffalo, there would be more than 100 ships wintering in Buffalo.  In 1973, there were just 12 vessels.  The loss of winter ships impacted the Buffalo economy.  Each ship that stayed in port typically spent about $75,000 (about $500,000 today) in Buffalo before leaving in the spring.  This includes towing, docking fees, shifting fees, shipkeeper pay, and electric and water bills.  Additionally, they’d spend money on food and repairs during the fit-out to prepare the ship for the spring lake season. At the time the entire business of Connelly Bros was built around marine trade.  The company branched out to serve ships across the Great Lakes, not just in Buffalo, trying to survive.  


43 Illinois Street, the final location of Connelly Bros. Source: Julia Spitz

Connelly Bros 1976

Connelly Bros Ad from 1976.  Source:  Buffalo News

Mary Keene’s son Gilbert Norwalk was president of the company after Mary retired. Mary Keene died in 1978 at age 81.  She is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Tonawanda.  As the marine business continued to decline, Connelly Bros eventually shifted to including Auto Repairs as part of their business to keep up with the times.  The company closed in 1984, after 114 years in business!  In 2014. the Illinois Street building was listed as part of the Cobblestone District local historic district.  

So the next time you’re down at the waterfront, think about Connelly Bros and the 114 years they spent working on helping ships in the harbor! Special thanks to Jennifer Connelly, Great Granddaughter of John Connelly, for allowing me to use some of her family photos in this post.  

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Connelly Street a Memorial to Ship Chandlery Founder”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  January 12, 1942, p6.
  • Wood, Jerry.  “Company Crushed in Bridge Collapse”.  Buffalo News.  February 26, 1959, p1.
  • “US Judge Rules on Who Shall Pay in Bridge Disaster.”  Buffalo News.  May 1, 1963, p10.
  • Maserka, Ron.  “Damages in 1959 River Crash Are Set at $1.8 Million”.  Buffalo News.  April 22, 1966, p25.
  • “Mrs. Keene to get Plaque”.  Buffalo News.  February 3, 1969, p2.
  • Buckham, Tom.  “Waterfront’s Economy Hit Hart by Loss of Winter Grain Fleet”.  Buffalo News.  January 25, 1974, p34.
  • “Connelly Bros Leases Building”.  March 21, 1963, p33.
  • “Mary Connelly Keen Dies; Headed Ship Supply Firm”.  Buffalo News.  June 28, 1978.
  • Hariaczyi, Todd.  “January 21, 1959:  The Michael K. Tewksbury topples the Michigan Avenue Bridge”.  Buffalo News.  July 4, 2017.
  • “Mayor Aids Confer in Flood Emergency; Zero Cold Forecast”.  Buffalo News.  January 22, 1959, p1.
  • Kowalewski, Ed.  “1959 Bridge Crash Still Vivid.”  Buffalo News.  Janaury 21, 1969, p29.
  • Maselki, Ron.  “$1.8 Million Damage Found by Investigator of 1959 River Crash”.  Buffalo News.  April 21, 1966, p67.
  • “Crews Start A Task To Cut Away the Bridge.”  Batavia Daily News.  February 2, 1959.  P1.
  • “Conveyors Unloading Grain From Aft Hold of Tewksbury”.  Buffalo News.  January 29, 1959, p31.
  • “Visited Tavern Before Crash, Bridge Operator Tells Court”  Buffalo Courier Express.  May 3, 1961, p64.

Note from Angela:  After more than a decade of my street project, I’ve become a much better researcher.  So, I’ve felt like I should go back and reexamine some of my early posts!  I have been able to find some more in-depth sources and I’ve gotten much better at using microfilm at the library!  So, I have decided to rewrite my very first blog post.  I never felt we fully gave Mr. Fargo his due.  This story has everything – pony express, mansions, estate lawsuits, custody battles, divorce, estate lawsuits, an abandoned mansion, and did I mention estate lawsuits!?  Enjoy!  

fargo AVEFargo Avenue runs between Hudson Street and Niagara Street in the Lower West Side neighborhood of Buffalo.  The street was originally named 10th Street when it was laid out as part of the original Village of Black Rock.  The street was named in May 1869 for William Fargo, founder of American Express and Wells Fargo & Co.  I have not been able to figure out officially why they left the last three blocks of Tenth Street still remaining with the number.  In June of 1869, the residents of Tenth Street between Hudson and Carolina Streets petitioned to change the name of their part of the street to Fargo Avenue as well.  The residents then rescinded their petition and submitted a new petition to change the name to Forest Avenue.  However, the street remains Tenth Street.  The streets don’t quite align at Hudson Street, so perhaps the City felt it was better to keep them as separate streets, and then perhaps the residents couldn’t quite agree on what their street should be named!

William Fargo 1860 photo by matthew brady

William Fargo, around 1860.

William George Fargo was born in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York in 1818.  The Fargo family had been in America since 1670 when William’s Great-Great-Great Grandpa Moses Fargo came from Wales.  Mr. Fargo’s father fought in the War of 1812 in Western New York, particularly at the Battle of Queenstown Heights.  William Fargo was one of ten children and attended rural schools, where he learned the three r’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic –  during the winter months.  At the age of 13, he dropped out of school to begin working as a mail carrier, carrying mail from Pompey by way of Waterville, Manlius, Oran, Delphi, Fabius, and Apulia (about a 40-mile route).  While he was delivering mail, families along the route would ask him to make purchases in other towns.  He’d charge the people a small fee for the service.  This sparked the idea of what became his nationwide express delivery service.  Express delivery is a service in which letters or packages are delivered by a special service to ensure speed or security.

Mr. Fargo worked in the grocery business in Syracuse, but he realized that transportation interested him more.  In 1839, he connected with the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad and the Pomeroy Express Company in Albany.  In 1843, he became the Pomeroy Company’s Buffalo agent for their stagecoach service (at the time still the only public transportation between Batavia and Buffalo).  In 1844, he formed a partnership with Henry Wells and Daniel Dunning to organize the first express company west of Buffalo.  An express company is a business that provides delivery of parcels.  The company connected the Pomeroy firm to extend to Cleveland and Detroit.  In the summer, they transported via Lake Erie, but after lake navigation season ended, they’d use stage coaches and sleighs.   They extended to include Chicago and Milwaukee.  Mr. Dunning withdrew his interest in the company and Mr. Wells sold his interest in the company to William Livingston in 1846 and the company name was changed to Livingston & Fargo.


American Express office and cart, 1878. Source: American Express.

In 1850, the American Express Company was established, with Henry Wells as President and William Fargo as secretary.  American Express was the merger of companies – Wells & Company; Livingston, Fargo & Co; and Wells, Butterfield & Company.  In 1856, American Express started to expand into financial services by offering a money order business, to compete with the US Postal Service money orders.  In 1868, American Express Company merged with the Merchants’ Union Company.  At that time, Mr. Fargo was president of the nationwide firm.  By 1881, American Express has 3,000 offices.


Wells Fargo Wagon (listed as both 1860 and 1879).  Source:  Wikipedia.

Shortly after the organization of American Express, some of the directors didn’t want to expand to California, though Mr. Wells and Mr. Fargo wanted to expand.  So in 1852, Wells, Fargo & Company was organized to transport parcels and mail to San Francisco, using steamships from New York to the Isthmus of Panama and from Panama to the California Port.  They continued this route until the Union and Central Pacific Railroad was complete.  Wells Fargo’s pony express was the only link between many frontier towns.  They established banks in the West to fill the needs of gold miners.  Wells Fargo grew during the 1850s and 1860s, building on a reputation of trust between the business and their customers.  Wells Fargo was a part of a transportation revolution as travel began to be more accessible and the United States grew westward.  The company always sent their business via the fasted way possible depending on the region – stagecoach, steamship, railroad, pony ride, or telegraph.


Wells Fargo Stage Stop in Black Canyon City, Arizona, built in 1872.  Source:  Wikipedia.

By 1866, Wells Fargo stagecoaches covered 3,000 miles of territory across California, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, and Idaho.  In 1888, Wells Fargo became the country’s first nationwide express company, serving communities from the urban centers of the eastern seaboard, through the rail hub of Chicago, farming regions of the Midwest, ranching and mining centers in Texas and Arizona, and lumber mill towns in the Pacific Northwest.  The Wells Fargo wagon was a piece of Americana so familiar that when Meredith Willson wrote The Music Man in the 1960s about his childhood in Iowa in the 1910s, he included a song about the Wells Fargo Wagon coming to town.  In 1905, Wells Fargo separated the banking and express operations.

Both Wells Fargo and American Express ended their express service in 1917 when the US Treasury began to consolidate railway lines as part of the war effort.  All contracts between express companies and the railroad were null and express shipping was consolidated into the US Railway Express Agency (REA), which continued service until 1975.

Wells Fargo and American Express helped to revolutionize shipping across the country.  The companies were an important part of establishing regular mail service across the country and they helped to reduce postal rates.  They charged less than the government and offered better service, so US Postal Service had to keep up.

Mr. Fargo played a prominent role in the development of American railroads.  He served as Vice President of the New York Central and was a Director of both the Northern Pacific and the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia lines.  He was also connected with the Buffalo Coal Company and the McKean & Buffalo Railroad Company.  He was a stockholder in several large manufacturing interests in Buffalo.  He was the majority stockholder and President of the Buffalo Courier Company.  He was a member of the first board of Buffalo State Hospital when it opened in 1880.

Mayor Fargo First House - Buffalo Times

47 Niagara Street, the Fargos first home in Buffalo. Source: The Buffalo Times

William G. Fargo married Anna Hurd Williams in January 1840.  The Fargos came to Buffalo in 1843.  They originally lived in a house they built at at 47 Niagara Street. The house was at the corner of Franklin Street. When the Fargo family moved out, the building was converted to business purposes and had several uses over the years.  Supposedly in 1948, when the building was being remodeled, the construction workers found old Wells Fargo boxes in the house.  The building’s last use was as Crotty’s Peace Pipe, a restaurant and lounge, which was in the building from 1949 to 1971.  Crotty’s closed on Kentucky Derby Day.  The building was torn down as part of Phase II of the Main Place downtown urban renewal project in the 1960s and the building’s site is now a part of the site of Erie County Family Court and the Fernbach Parking Ramp.

1862fargos mayor portrait

Mayor Fargo’s Portrait. Source: City Hall Portrait Collection.

Mr. Fargo served as Mayor of Buffalo from 1861 to 1865, during the Civil War.  He was known as being a friend to soldiers during his time as mayor.  He paid to ship care packages to the Buffalo troops and provided the local regiment with regimental flags.  In 1864, he helped Union forces prevent a Confederate plot to invade Buffalo and other Lake Erie cities.  During William Fargo’s time as Mayor, Mrs. Fargo was President of the Christian Commission, an organization that prepared bandages and necessities for soldiers of the war.  Mayor Fargo was nominated for a third term as Mayor in 1865, but lost to Chandler Wells by just 200 votes, in a a 51% to 49% vote.  This Chandler Wells often gets mistaken as the Wells in Wells Fargo.  Mr. Fargo’s business partner was Henry Wells, and I found little evidence that Henry Wells lived in Buffalo for any substantial amount of time.  I tracked both Chandler Wells and Henry Wells’ families back to the 1600s and found no relation between the two families.  We’ll learn more about Chandler Wells when we discuss Wells Street.


Fargo Property in Center of Photo. Source: 1872 Atlas of Buffalo.

In 1867, the Fargos purchased a property bounded by Fargo, West, Pennsylvania, and Jersey.  In April 1870, the family moved into the Fargo Mansion.  The house was completed in August 1872.  Artists and artisans from Europe were brought to design, construct and decorate the structure. The Fargo Mansion was very elaborate and was 22,170 square feet in size.  It cost $500,000 (about $12.1 Million today) to build with a total of $621,000 (about $15.1 Million today) including the house, barns, greenhouses, and grounds.  The stable, built at the corner of West Avenue and Pennsylvania Streets cost $50,000 (about $1.2 Million today) alone.

fargo mansion

Fargo Mansion. Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

The house was three stories, with a five-story central tower, and was designed by JD Towle, a Boston Architect.  Mr. Towle also designed the houses of George Howard, Bronson Rumsey, and Myron Bush.  The main entrance was on Fargo Avenue, with the library entrance on Jersey Street.  There was a beautiful hall on each floor.  Many kinds of woods were used throughout the house – black and French walnut, ebony, birdseye maple, cherry, tulip, tamarack, ash, satinwood, rosewood, elm, oak, butternut, California woods, and many more.  Wood from every state in the Union (37 at the time) was included in the building.  The grand stairway was made of walnut and was considered to be one of the finest in any private residence in the country.  The staircase was rarely used, because the Fargo home had the first elevator ever installed in a home in Buffalo!  The rooms on the first floor had 15-foot ceilings, the second floor had 14.5-foot ceilings and the third floor had 14-foot ceilings.  The bedroom chambers each contained its own bathroom and were decorated in their own color – red, green, pink, blue, and amber.


Statue of Charlotte Corday by Pasquale Miglioretti, similar to the one found in the Fargo Mansion. Source: Flickr

The house had a billiard room on the third floor.  The drawing room had a crystal chandelier which had 3,684 pieces and weight 1,150 pounds.  The house was rumored to have gold doorknobs.  The house was decorated with fine art throughout the house, including a marble statue of Charlotte Corday in her prison chair which had been displayed at the Paris Exposition of 1867.  There were at least three of these statues made.  The library was home to a large onyx clock which was imported from Paris.  While living in a lavish mansion, Mr. Fargo was said to have always remembered his humble roots.  For this reason, the family kept a photograph of the small cottage where Mr. and Mrs. Fargo lived when they first married prominently on display in the library.

fargo entrancehall

Hall at Fargo Mansion. Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

The spacious lawns and gardens of the grounds of the Fargo Mansion were designed by William Webster.  He was a landscape architect in Buffalo.  Before Frederick Law Olmsted came to town, Mr. Webster was responsible for the design of many of Buffalo’s parks, as well as work in the Village of Depew.  The property had 249 feet on both Jersey and Pennsylvania Streets and 627 Feet on Fargo and West Avenues.  In addition to the 5.5 acres, Mr. Fargo bought the blocks across the street on Fargo and West Avenues and kept them vacant during his lifetime.  The property contained a conservatory filled with rare tropical plants.

The Fargo’s property was managed by Mr. Isaac Clark, who took care of the house for 25 years.  The family reportedly had a staff of 14 people year-round to run the the mansion.  Some of the staff were with the family for many years, and several of them were included in the wills of the family members.

  • In 1855, the family had three servants living with them – Harriet Langdon, 22, from Ireland; Catherine Liston, 21, from Ireland; and Patrick Langdon, 25, from Ireland.
  • In 1860, the family had three servants living with them – Mary Murphy, 27, from Ireland; Hannah Holman, 22, from Germany; and George Stanford, 27, from England.
  • In 1870, the family had four domestic servants living with them – Mary Murphy, 40, from Ireland; Bridget Murphy, 28, from Ireland; Phillip Pasmore, 30, from England; and John Williams, 27, a Black man from Virginia.
  • In 1875, the family had eight staff living with them – Cooper Williams, a 33 year old Black Man, Butler, from South Carolina; Mary Murphy, 45, Cook, from Ireland; Agnes Bugard, 30, Parlor Maid, from Canada; Maria Minnihan, 30, Chamber Maid, from Ireland; Bridget Nicholson, 17, Nurse Aid, from Ireland; Abby Washington, 50, Nurse, from England; and Maria McCall, 28, Governess, from Canada.
  • In 1880, the family had 11 servants living with them – Mary McCall, 33, from Scotland; Mary A Glenny, 41, from France; Marie Pedeberdot, 35, from France; Kate Connell, 24, from Pennsylvania; Bridget Nicholson, 22, from Ireland; Mary O’Hara, 40, from Ireland; Ambrose McAlbin, 27, a Black man from Mississippi; James Buckley, 26, from Ireland; John Jamison, 43, the coachman, from Ireland; and John’s wife and daughter Anna Jamison, 43 and Jamie Jamison, 21.

When the Fargos moved uptown, many prominent families began to move to the Lower West Side as well, as Downtown started to change from a residential neighborhood to a central business district.  Lots were advertised around the Lower West Side neighborhood as being “near the Fargo Mansion” to up their desirability as soon as the Fargo Mansion was built.  The Sidway homestead was another large estate in the area (on the block bounded by Pennsylvania, Eleventh-now West, Hudson, and Twelfth-now Plymouth Streets), just southeast from the Fargos.

The Fargos helped to found St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1846, which was originally located at Washington and Swan Streets.  They later helped to establish Christ Church on Delaware Avenue in 1869.  When Christ Church merged with Trinity, they became members of Trinity Episcopal Church.  They were considered to be very generous people.  Mr. Fargo was on the first board of the Buffalo State Hospital.  After the Chicago Fire, Mr. Fargo donated $10,000 ($242,763 in today’s dollars) to those who had lost their homes.  During the Civil War, Mr. Fargo continued to pay the salaries for all of his employees who joined the Union Army.

william fargo grave

William Fargo Grave. Photo by Author.

Mr. Fargo died in August 1881 after being ill with Bright’s disease of the kidneys and an enlarged liver.  He is buried in the family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  When he died, American Express had 2,700 offices and employed more than 5,000 men. It isn’t often that you see last words printed in the Buffalo News, but Mr. Fargo’s obituary indicates that his last words were “Oh, dear me”, uttered as he was helped to bed about two hours before he died.  At the time of his death, Mr. Fargo’s wealth was estimated to be $20,000,000 (about $581 Million today).

So what happened to Mr. Fargo’s wealth?  William and Anna had eight children.  Five of the children died in childhood- Alma Cornelia died at ten months old in 1842, Sarah Irene Fargo died in 1854 at age 11, Hannah Sophia in 1851 at age 4, Mary Louise at six months old in 1852, and Edwin Morgan in 1865 at age 4.  Three children lived to adulthood – Georgianna, born in 1841; Helen Lacy, born in 1857; and William George Jr, born in 1845.

fargo babies

Graves of the Fargo Children. In the back are the graves of William Fargo’s parents – William and Tacie. Photo by Author

Eldest daughter Georgianna (Georgia) Fargo married Charles McCune in 1865.  They divorced in 1879 and Georgia moved to New York City, where she continued to live for the rest of her life.  In January 1885, Mr. McCune married Libbie Wells.  Libbie was the daughter of Chandler J. Wells, Mr. Fargo’s political rival!  When Mr. McCune died in March 1885, just two months after his wedding to Libbie.  Georgia happened to visit Buffalo shortly after his death.  Newspapers reported that she was in town to contest the will, and speculated as to the reasons that Georgia might be eligible for a portion of the McCune Estate.  Mr. McCune had been the head of the Buffalo Courier and the estate was estimated to be worth $800,000 (about $24 Million today). The newspapers called Georgia “the divorced wife”.  Georgia spoke back and said that Mr. McCune was her divorced husband.  The Buffalo Morning Express printed the divorce documentation in the paper in March of 1885, including the salacious details about Mr. McCune’s adultery and the times and places at which it occurred.  Grover Cleveland was one of the lawyers involved in Georgia’s divorce case!  Georgia visited with her family, cleared her name and headed back to New York City.  In 1888, Georgia had to take her uncles James and Charles to court regarding the will of her father.  The estate had not been paying her the full amount of her inheritance stipends.  The estate was required to pay her the full amount.

william fargo jr

Grave of William Fargo Jr and his wife, Minerva. Photo by Author.

Son William George Fargo, Jr, died at age 27 in 1872.  His  pregnant wife Minerva survived him and twin girls Mary Carver and Annie E were born just a month after his death.  Minerva died in 1873, when the twins were just 7 months old.  After Minerva died, the twins lived at the Fargo Mansion, and were treated as members of the Fargo family.  Minerva’s will technically gave custody of the children to her mother, Mrs. Prendergast, who lived in Westfield, Chautauqua County (Chautauqua County friends will likely recognized the Prendergast name, they were an influential family there). Mrs. Prendergast would come to visit the children, and they visited with her in Westfield a few times on short visits.  In 1884, there was a heated legal battle for custody of their twins between the grandmothers, as Mrs. Prendergast wanted to return to Chautauqua County with the girls, taking them away from the only home they had known.  The court decided that Mrs. Prendergast had waived her rights to custody, by allowing the girls to live at the Fargo Mansion for 10 years.  Mrs. Fargo was awarded custody of the children, so they stayed at the Fargo Mansion, with the condition that Mrs. Prendergast and the children could visit.  The twins attended boarding school at Ogontz School for Young Ladies near Philadelphia beginning in 1888.  During breaks, they’d lived with their Aunt Georgia in New York City.  Mary Fargo married Louis Balliet in December 1896.  Annie Fargo married William Perry in February 1896, but sadly she was widowed just a year and a half later when her husband was thrown from a cart.  Annie married Frederick Albree in March 1900.

Daughter Helen Lacy Fargo married Herbert G. Squiers in 1881.  After marriage, Helen never again lived in Buffalo.  Mr. Squiers was  in the US military and served as US Ambassador to Berlin and Secretary of the US Legation in Pekin during the Boxer uprising.  He was later appointed minister to Cuba and to Panama.  In 1883, a suit in surrogate court between Helen Fargo Squires and the estate of her father, William G. Fargo, took place.  Helen was awarded $70,000 at that time, and she agreed to not use any of her remaining $150,000 until the death of her mother.  At the time, William Fargo’s estate was worth about $5,000,000 (about $121 Million today) which was held in trust by the executors for the heirs.  Helen died in 1886 due to complications during the birth of her fourth child.  After Helen’s death, Mr. Squiers contested her will in court.  There was much debate with the executors of William Fargo’s estate over whether Helen had intended that the money she inherited from her father should stay in trust until her children are of age, or whether Herbert had rights to that money.  The court decided in Herbert’s favor in 1887.

After William Fargo had died in 1881, his brothers James Fargo and Charles Fargo had been made Executors of William Fargo’s estate, along with Franklin D Locke, the family’s lawyer. James lived in New York City and Charles lived in Chicago.  In addition to his home, there were also other real estate holdings.  There was disagreement on how to deal with the property.  The heirs wanted to sell the properties, but the executors felt that the property should be held until the real estate market changed and prices in the area increased.  Property values in Buffalo were very low at the time.  A lawsuit resulted, which took nearly a decade to settle.

William G. Fargo Sr’s wife Anna died in July 1890.  Anna had remarried Francis Frederick Fargo (no relation to the original Fargo family) in 1883.  The contents of the mansion, except for special items, were left to Georgia and the twins Annie and Mary.  Mrs. Fargo’s will directed that the personal and real property be converted into cash at public auction  or private sale, and be invested for the benefit of Annie and Mary, who were just 16.  Mr. Francis Fargo, the second husband, died in 1891, just six months after his wife.  Daughter Georgia was the only child still living and she lived in New York City, with the twins staying with her when they were home from boarding school.  The Fargo family officially moved out of the Buffalo house in September 1891.

As soon as Anna Fargo died in 1890, there was a lot of debate over what to do with the mansion.  In 1900, the Buffalo Morning Express reported that:

“The house is so large, so spacious, so unseemly spacious, that but few families in Buffalo or out of it would care to take it as a home.  It might do for an old fashioned family of 16 children, but that kind of a family is scarce nowadays.  A more recent family of parents and two or three children would find themselves lost in such a vast house.  The Fargo mansion was built when entertaining was done on a much grander scale than in the present time.  The magnificent dances and royal dinners that the old mansion saw when William G. Fargo was alive made it famous.  The tendency nowadays is toward smaller and more exclusive entertainment than the good large-hearted days of yore, and therefore it would be difficult to discover a man that would use such a house a the present time in which to play host.  The Fargo mansion might do for the royal fetes of an emperor, but not for the more modest entertainments of a latter-day American family.”

It was estimated that William Fargo spent $50,000 (about $1.5 Million today) annually to maintain the house.  Articles of the time estimated that people would need at least half that to keep up the house.  The house had lofty ceilings, large rooms, and vast halls.  Therefore, most modern men of means preferred to build their houses as to the modern standards of architecture.  The Lower West Side was also no longer considered fashionable, as the millionaires of Buffalo moved to Delaware Avenue and North Street.  The house, which cost $500,000 ($12.1 Million today) to build was estimated to “only” be worth $150,000 ($4.9 Million today) in 1890.


Fargo Mansion from the grounds. Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.

The contents of the mansion were sold at public auction in September of 1890.  Several thousand people were said to have attended the estate sale, many who came just to walk thru the mansion.

Some people wanted the mansion to be turned into a public institution – a hospital, a religious retreat, a library or an art gallery.  Public institutions generally do not have the funds to maintain such a large building and the required upkeep.  Georgia Fargo contemplated turning the house into a monument for the memory of her family.  Nothing ever came of her plan and she died in 1892, after two years of illness.  At that time, the only Fargo relatives still living were the 19-year old twins and four young grandchildren (ages 10, 9, 8, and 6), none of whom lived in Buffalo.  Georgia left most of her estate to the twins, Annie and Mary.  Georgia also set aside money for 9 of her existing and former servants in her will, including the following:

  • Mary Pedeberdot – $14,000 ($455,647 today)
  • Mary Coghlan $6,000 ($195,277 today)
  • Mrs. A Allman, seamstress – $1,500 ($48,819 today)
  • Isaac Clark – $1,000 ($32,546 today)
  • Mary Lane – $1,000 ($32,546 today)
  • Mary Murphy – $1,000 ($32,546 today)
  • Victor Belquien – $1,000 ($32,546 today)
  • Mrs. Egan – $500 ($16,273 today)
  • Martha Brown – $250 ($8,136 today)

In December 1891, the Fargo Mansion was listed for sale at $180,000 ($5.9 Million today) including the 5-acres that went with the house.  The executors of the estate had had zero offers in a year and a half on the market.  Ads were listed in the newspaper stating “Do you want a mansion?”  By the end of 1893, the estate was advertising for bids for the demolition of the house.

Some people wanted to turn the mansion into a high school.  In 1893, the City of Buffalo wanted to put an option on the property for the mansion and a property ten feet on each side of the mansion, but the executors wanted to sell the property in its entirety or not at all.  In March 1894, one of the Alderman tried to negotiate with the Fargo estate to trade the old Prospect Reservoir site for the Fargo mansion site.  The Fargo estate asked for $75,000 ($2.6 Million today) in addition to the Prospect Reservoir site (which was valued at $120,000 – $4.1 Million today –  at the time).  In addition to the high cost, many residents felt that the property was too large for a school and that the new high school should be located on the East Side, closer to the center of population.  Others felt that one of the biggest drawbacks of Buffalo’s Central High school was that it was carved out of a mansion, which made a rambling school, as opposed to a building built specifically for a school.  By December 1894, the Prospect Reservoir Site was being proposed for the site of what became the Connecticut Street Armory.

st. mary's on the hill

St. Mary’s On the Hill church when it was crumbling before it was demolished. Source: https://buffaloah.com/a/niag/781/781.html

In December 1894, a benefit for St. Mary’s-on-the-Hill church was held at the Fargo Mansion.  The benefit was a holiday bazaar to raise money to pay of the debt off the church which was incurred to build their chapel at the corner of Vermont and Niagara Streets in 1893.  The bazaar ran for three days and raised over $2,000 (about $69,000 today).  Thousands of people attended the bazaar, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mansion one more time before it was torn down.  St. Mary’s-on-the-Hill closed in 1994 and crumbled in a demolition by neglect situation.  Despite a fight from preservationist, the church was eventually demolished in 2010.  The bell from the church was saved and is on display at the corner with a memorial to the church.  The site is now a parking lot for D’Youville College.


Pencil Sketch of the Old Fargo Mansion, by HH Green. Source: The Buffalo Sunday Express.

The estate was still being contested by the heirs during this time and went to the supreme court in November 1898.  It took a full year to settle; the decision was made by Justice Warren B. Hooker to put the property on the market to be sold at Public Auction.  The Fargo Estate included $524,000 of real estate ($18.7 Million in today’s dollars) and had been tied up in court since William Fargo’s death in 1881.  The Fargo estate also included 160 acres of land in Cook County, Illinois.  All parties agreed that the land near Chicago was more valuable, so it did not need to be divided at that time, so the judgment only pertained to the Buffalo land.   The land included ten parcels:

  1. 200 Washington Street occupied by Filbrick’s bill posting agency.  Selling for $33,000
  2. The Times Block on Main Street above Exchange Street.  Selling for $50,000
  3. A leasehold interest in the Dunston Building at the Terrace and Seneca Street.  Selling for $15,000
  4. On Seneca Street west of Main, occupied by Buffalo Commercial Bank and insurance and real estate agencies.  Selling for $80,000
  5. A second parcel included with number 4.
  6. One story building at Franklin Street opposite city hall, next to Shea’s Garden Theatre on the north.  Owned by the Fargo and Cary heirs.  The Fargo interest was selling for $20,000
  7. The property from Pearl to Franklin Street opposite city hall occupied by Shea’s.  Occupied by Shea’s.  Owned by Fargo and Cary heirs.  Selling for $100,000
  8. The old Fargo home at Niagara near Franklin Street.  Selling for $50,000
  9. The old Fargo home on Fargo Avenue.  Originally cost $500,000 itself but “it is at present of but little value”.  The property was valued at $150,000.
  10. Warehouse on Express street, running from Franklin to Pearl north of Niagara Street.  Occupied by Adam, Meldrum and Anderson Company.  Selling for $26,000

The judgment stated that the properties must be disposed of and sold within one year of the judgement.  The judgment also said that if within three months of the judgment, the Fargo mansion doesn’t sell, it may be razed so that the property can be subdivided into building lots to be sold individually.

Fargo newel post wm

Fargo Mansion Newel Post. In the Collection of Buffalo History Museum. Source: Buffalo History Museum

The staircases, mirrors, mantels, and bookcases from the mansion were sold off in 1900.  In December 1900, JC Mussen Building Contractor advertised in the Buffalo Commercial that they had secured part of the woodwork of the Fargo Mansion and were planning to use it to put up cheap buildings suitable for stores, concessions, restaurants, etc, for the Pan American year.  While many properties built for guests to attend the Pan Am were temporary, it is possible that some properties that were built during this time may still stand and may include wood from the Fargo Mansion.  The Newel Post from the staircase is in the collection of the Buffalo History Museum and was on display in the Buffalo Made exhibit for many years.  You can see from the photograph how detailed and intricate the entire staircase must have been!

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Fargo property today, outlined in blue.

The property was razed beginning in the fall of 1900.  The property was subdivided into parcels which were sold off for building lots.  An entire neighborhood developed on the Fargo property.  Today, the neighborhood is listed as the Fargo Estate Historic District, a national historic district.  Mr. Fargo’s estate was still being disputed in court by Mary and Annie (the twins) and the Squiers children as late as 1919.  Annie died in 1933 at her vacation home in Florence, Italy.  Mary died in 1951 in Como, Italy where she lived for the last 18 years of her life.

So next time you drive down Fargo Avenue, bank at Wells Fargo, use an American Express credit card, or visit Fargo, North Dakota, think of William Fargo and his family!  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  1. “To Be Sold:  The Fargo Real Estate in this City Will Be Disposed Of”.  Buffalo Commercial.  November 15, 1899, p9.
  2. “Beautifying the Village of Depew:  Landscape Architect William Webster is Making the Place Very Attractive.”  Buffalo Evening News.   June 4, 1898, p 7.
  3. Kelly, Edward.  “Many Changes in Fargo Avenue.”  Buffalo Times.  November 7, 1925, p14.
  4. “Razing the Fargo Mansion”.  Buffalo Times.  April 6, 1925, p6.
  5. “The Fargo Mansion:  Its Desirability for Use as a High School Urged”.  Buffalo Courier.  March 10, 1894, p5.
  6. “The Fargo House for a School”.  Buffalo Commercial.  March 7, 1894, p9.
  7. “Fargo-Fargo”.  Evening Telegraph.  August 9, 1883, p4.
  8. “The Fargo Will”.  The Evening Telegraph.  December 29, 1883, p1.
  9. “She Outstaid Her Welcome”.  Buffalo Evening News.  February 4, 1884, p8.
  10. “In Dispute”.  Buffalo Express.  February 2, 1884, p5.
  11. “They Remain At Home:  The Little Twin Sisters Stay at the Fargo Mansion.” Buffalo Times.  February 20, 1884.
  12. “Will The Old Fargo Mansion Fall?”  Buffalo Evening News.  May 2, 1890, p9.
  13. “A Grand Project:  Ultimate Disposition of the Fargo Mansion”.  Buffalo Express.  August 14, 1890, p5.
  14. “Interesting Inventory:  Appraisal of Pictures, Plate, Etc in the Fargo Mansion”.  Buffalo Courier.  September 12, 1890, p6.
  15. “Decadence of a Mansion”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  December 1, 1893, p5.
  16. “The Fargo House:  A Conspicuous Mansion Which May Soon be Torn Down”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  December 10, 1893, p5.
  17. “Memory of Express Pioneer Perpetuated in Street’s Name”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  November 10, 1940, p7-3.
  18. “Home and Society”.  Buffalo Morning express. June 16, 1889, p10
  19. “Helen Squiers’ Will:  Her Military Relict Wants it Liberally Interpreted”  Buffalo Times.  November 25, 1886, p5.
  20. “The Courts”.  Buffalo Morning Express. February 4, 1887, p6.
  21. “William G. Fargo”  The Buffalo Commercial.  August 4, 1881, p2.
  22. “WM G. Fargo Dead:  The Laborer’s Son Who Became One of America’s Wealthiest Men”.  Buffalo News.  August 3, 1881, p13.
  23. “Close of a Busy Career:  The Hon. William G Fargo Dies at Buffalo Yesterday”.  New York Times.  August 4, 1881, p5.
  24. “Wells Fargo History”.  https://www.wellsfargohistory.com/  accessed October 2022.
  25. “The Common Council”.  Buffalo Commercial.  June 22, 1869, p3.
  26. “Citation for Judicial Settlement”.  Buffalo Times.  August 4, 1919, p8.
  27. Severance, Frank.  Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  1912.
  28. The McCune Divorce.  Buffalo Express.  March 24, 1885, p5.
  29. Mrs. Fargo’s Will.  Buffalo Morning Express.  July 23, 1890, p5.
  30. Buell, Franklyn.  Fall of the House of Fargo Recalls Days When Buffalo Was A Gateway to the West.  Buffalo Evening News.  May 5, 1971, p28.


Accepting the award

I was awarded the Owen B. Augspurger award from the Buffalo History Museum!  The award was established in 1974 in honor of Mr. Augspurger, who was a former History Museum president.  The award is presented to an individual for outstanding service to the cause of local history.  The award is given out annually at the Museum’s Red Jackets Awards Ceremony, which was held last night.  I am honored to be among the distinguished list of past recipients.

Here are the remarks I gave during the ceremony:

I’m so honored to be receiving this award.  My streets project started because I went to the library to find out how Keppel street got its name.  I know it’s not named after my family, as my dad is an immigrant and all of our Keppel family is still in the Netherlands.  All these years later, and I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the Keppel street name, but I’ve learned about so many streets along the way.  I was boring my friends telling them the stories I was uncovering, so I started to write the stories to share them on a blog, and Discovering Buffalo, One Street at a Time was born.  I never really thought it was something that other people would really care about.  But I think my blog works because streets are something that are personal to us all.  Everyone comes from a street – whether it’s the street where dad lived when he first moved to town,  the streets where grandma and grandpa lived, they’re all full of memories.  And so there’s a connection, even if the person the street was named after had little to do with the actual street.  It’s a way to connect with our history in a hyper local way.  When I started, I thought I’d maybe have 12 followers.  And now there’s more than 9,000 of us!

As a professional urban planner, I get to live part time in the future, looking forward to new development projects, looking at how to build a better community for our future.  Because of my work in history, I get to live in the fabulous juxtaposition between the past and the future.  I cannot help but look at projects like the new Ralph Wilson Park they’re building at Lasalle Park and be really excited for what’s coming, but in my mind, I also see the canal slips and heavy industry that 1932 Buffalo decided to turn into a park to celebrate the city’s centennial. I live in the Hotel Lafayette, a grand historic hotel, and sometimes, if I squint my eyes, I can see those who came before walking down the hallways.  I get to live our history every single day, living and working in the heart of downtown which our city grew, radiating out from Niagara Square like spokes on a wagon wheel.

I think Mr. Augspurger and I would have gotten along, both because of our interest in local history and also Mr. Augspurger’s work on downtown development projects like the Main Place Mall and the parking ramps.  One of the things I do for my job is to track parking, so I can tell you that the Augspurger Ramp is about 74% occupied.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along, to Debra for nominating me, to the History Museum, and to everyone who has shared my posts, or come to hear me speak.  My favorite thing is when people share their stories with me, which adds to the rich tapestry of the city that lives in my brain.  I hope to keep learning and keep sharing for a long time to come!

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Owen B. Augspurger Parking Ramp

Those of you who came to my University Express Talks last fall will know that I have been researching urban renewal plans of the 1950s and 60s and how they impacted Downtown and the neighborhoods around it.  The creation of Main Place Mall, which Mr. Augspurger helped make happen, was Buffalo’s first private urban redevelopment plan.  Previous urban redevelopment projects had been to create government owned housing projects.  I know that Main Place Mall gets a bum rap, but it was a successful mall for many decades after opening and holds a special place in the retail history of downtown.  I have fond memories of going to the food court for lunch on school field trips and sneaking off to grab a book at Walden Books while every else ate lunch.  Mr. Augspurger also helped to create the off street parking program for downtown, hence the parking ramp was named for him.  Mr. Augspurger was also involved in helping to save the Ainsley Wilcox mansion and create the Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site, which long time readers of my blog will know was also the house of Judge Masten!

I really truly appreciate all of you have been along for this journey!  I have some new posts coming soon!   I’m working on rewriting the very first post I ever wrote, now that I have some new research.  Also coming up will be posts about when the corner of Walden and Bailey was “way out in the country”, some info about the Erie County Penitentiary, and a story about a man who had too many handkerchiefs!


House of Lewis Falley Allen on what is now Niagara Street.

I have also began working on trying to little deeper into some of the people I’m researching.  One of the things I want to do is talk about “the help”.  I think it’s important to remember that these men who “built” Buffalo, they built it with lots of help.  I’ve been working to dig into my research to try to find info about live-in help that lived with some of the families I write about.  I want to try to give a glimpse into what early Buffalo life was like for the influential, and give a name to those who have been forgotten to history.  For example, I have learned that Lewis Falley Allen had a staff of five to run his household.  The staff in 1880 included housekeeper, Elizabeth Ryan, a 50 year old woman from Ireland and her 20 year old daughter Agnes who served as a servant; servants Rosa Bronson, a 16 year old girl, from New York; Emma Hudson, 27 year old woman from Canada; and John Hogan, a 24 year old man from Ireland.  Look forward to more info like this in future posts.

Lastly, I will be giving my last walking tour of the season on Sunday, October 9th at 1pm, Discovering Lower Main Street.  Click here for more about the tour.  The tour ends right next to Southern Tier Brewery if anyone wants to watch the end of the Bills game after the tour.  Hope to see some of you there!

jones streetJones Street is a street in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood of the East Side, running between Clinton Street and Lyman Street.  Historically, the street went one block further north to Howard Street and one block south to Seneca Street.  The street is named after a prominent Buffalo family who once had a pork and beef business on the site.

miles jones pb

Source: History and Genealogy of the Ancestors and Descendants of Captain Israel Jones

Miles Jones was born in Park-Hempstead, Connecticut, on May 20, 1804. His parents were Elizabeth Merrill and Marquis Jones. The Jones ancestors had lived in America since the Colonial Times. Miles was apprenticed to a shoemaker in the Village of Fredonia, where he learned the shoemaking trade. Miles came to Buffalo around 1820.

Mr. Jones married Elizabeth Roop in April 1829. Elizabeth was born in Buffalo in January 1810. Her father, John Roop, had come to Buffalo from Germany by way of Pennsylvania. During the Burning of Buffalo in 1813, Mr. Roop was murdered by Native Americans. Elizabeth was orphaned and taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Bidwell of Black Rock. I couldn’t find what happened to her mother, but sources list her and her brother as orphans. Once grown, Elizabeth was courted by the Bidwells’ son General Daniel D. Bidwell. However, she preferred Miles Jones, so she became Mrs. Jones.

The Jones family first lived on Delaware Avenue, where the County Jail is now. In 1835, moved to a steamboat (temperance) hotel that they ran on Lloyd Street near Prime Street. This hotel was one of the best known in town for those waiting for transportation on the Canal or Lake. At the time, the Canal area was still a place of upstanding businesses and the heart of the Village of Buffalo. It had not yet become the seedy part of town. The Joneses quickly became a well-respected part of Buffalo society life. Miles was elected First Ward Supervisor in 1839, 1840, 1841, 1851, and 1852.

In 1844, Miles Jones was made an inspector of beef and pork. He established Miles Jones Pork & Beef Wholesale business. The business was located near the canal at the corner of Prime and Hanover Streets. Mr. Jones was a pioneer in the pork packing industry. His pork packing house was looked upon as a marvel of its day. Wondering how pork was sold back then? In 1846, Miles advertised in the paper for sale of “500 pork barrels, 800 smoked hams, 600 smoked shoulders, 2000 pickled hams and shoulders, 100 barrels of Mess Pork, 200 barrels of Prime Pork, and a large quantity of odds and ends.”

The family moved from the canal area to 14 Green Street. Green Street is a small cobblestone street off of Washington Street that is basically just a cobblestone driveway into a parking lot these days. You might think the road was lost because of the construction of the Thruway. However, the street was already consumed by William Fargo’s American Express, which used the land for their shipping sheds.

miles jonesIn 1854, the Jones family built a large house at the corner of Chippewa and Georgia Streets. This was on the location of the Reservation Line, which divided the New York State lands from the Holland Land Company land. The Reservation Line was established in 1786 when the land was reserved for New York State.  At the edge of the reservation was where Peter Porter laid out the original settlement of Black Rock, with the streets named after states and numbers.  When Mr. Jones purchased the property, there was nothing but fields to the west of their home. The Jones Family house was originally numbered 135 but was later changed to 186 West Chippewa. The Jones property also extended to Ninth Street. The Jones family owned two houses on Ninth Street and another house on Cary Street. Their carriage house associated with their Chippewa Street home was also located at the dead-end of Cary Street. In 1869, residents of Ninth Street petitioned Common Council to change the name to Prospect Avenue, which was granted by June of 1870.

The Jones family lived with their twelve children, two domestic servants, and a carriage driver. The children attended Buffalo Public Schools. Unfortunately, two of the Jones children died in childhood. The Jones family owned much of the block, so they’d subdivide their property to build homes for their many children as they grew up.

  • Helen M. was born in January 1830 and married Oliver Bruce in 1848. She had four children – Isabella, Helen, Miles, and Oliver. Her husband died in 1855, and Helen married David F. Day. The family lived at the Day Mansion at 69 Cottage Street. She died in May 1890. The mansion was later used by the Salvation Army as a Home for Young Women but was later demolished.
  • Marshall N was born in September 1831. Marshall was married three times – to Harriet A Beach, Rosanna Quinn, and Hulda Smith. Marshall had six children – Miles, William, Freddie, Richard, Eva, and Hulda. Marshall and his family lived for several years in the family homestead on Chippewa Street. In 1880, he moved to Main Street near Bryant.
  • Chapin William (sometimes went by William) was born in October 1833. He married Caroline (Carrie) Cox in August 1859. They had 5 children – Kate, Marshall, Roop, Allen, and Elizabeth. Chapin and his family lived near the rest of the family, at the corner of Cary Street and Morgan (now South Elmwood).
  • Sarah Stanard was born in November 1835. She married Lafayette E. Mulford in June 1865. They had one child, Henry Jones Mulford, and lived at 90 Bryant Street.
  • Miles was born in October 1838. He died at age 6 in 1844.
  • Elizabeth Roop was born in April 1840. She married Allen M Adams in June 1863. They had 7 children – Allen, James, Frank, Elizabeth, Miles, Helen, and Jay. Their family lived at 1211 Seneca Street.
  • Dencie was born in 1842. She died just before her second birthday in 1844.
  • Henry Roop was born in March 1844. Henry and his wife lived at 13 Ninth Street (which became 25 Prospect when the street name changed). They had two children. In 1874, they moved into 267 Georgia Street, where they lived for 14 years before moving up Niagara Street near the corner of Rhode Island.
  • Elsie Louise was born in January 1847 and married Charles H. White in 1868. They had two children. She and her family lived at the family homestead on Chippewa. After the house was old, they moved up to Allen Street. She died in June 1908.
  • Isabella Clara Jones was born in May 1848 and married Frank H. Ransom in December 1869. They had two children. She died suddenly in Rome, Italy, on vacation with her family in 1885.
  • Ida Francis was born in April 1850 and married John Siver in July 1870. Mr. Siver worked at the Lackawanna steel plant (which became Bethlehem Steel). They had eight children – John, Burton, Eva, Ida, Leroy, William, George, and Elsie. The family lived at 82 Fields in South Buffalo.
  • Eva Imogen was born in Sept 1853 and married George M. Trefts in February 1876. They had three children – George, John, and Chilion. They lived at 25 Prospect when her brother moved out. She died in October 1899.

The youngest brother of Miles Jones, Merlin Willard Jones, also came to Buffalo to work with Miles in the pork business. Merlin lived across Prospect from the rest of the family at 28 Prospect.

church of the messiah main street

Church of the Messiah Alter on Main Street. Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.

The Jones family were universalists. They attended the Church of Messiah which was located on Washington Street near Swan. In 1866, the church moved to a new building on Main between Chippewa and Huron.  The Jones family donated money for the new church for a pulpit made by the Thompson Hersee factory of Buffalo. Miles Jones was a member of the Hiram Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons. Mr. Jones died in 1869 at age 64 after being confined to his house due to his ill health. Despite this, he insisted on going to the polls to vote on election day, his final outing. He is buried in Forest Lawn

Miles and Elizabeth’s sons Henry and Marshall had entered the pork packing business. When Miles retired, the business was continued by Henry and Marshall under the name Miles Jones’ Sons. The Jones property near the canal was sold to the DL&W Railroad. At that time, the plant moved to Clinton Street near the corner of Metcalfe Street. This area was near the Buffalo stockyards on William Street, so it was a popular area for meatpacking.  Buffalo’s meatpacking industry was second only to Chicago.  When Miles Jones’ Sons business closed, Jones Street was opened through the property in 1882.

georgia apartments

Lasalle Apartments. Source: Author.

The Jones family house on Chippewa was listed for sale in 1878. It was listed for sale again in 1885 as “a large 2.5 story house with lot, 152 feet frontage on Chippewa and Georgia Streets, will be sold at a bargain.” Similar to the case with the Fargo Mansion, just six blocks away, there was little demand for such a large house. The area of the West Village was shifting towards multi-family uses. In 1889, it was used as a boarding house with furnished rooms for let. It was listed for sale again in 1891 and 1892. The last owner of the house, Charles Beckwith, had listed the house for sale but died in the home in 1895. Following Mr. Beckwith’s death, it was demolished to build the LaSalle Apartments. The LaSalle apartments opened on the site in 1898.

Over time, the West Village neighborhood changed. Old housing began to be demolished. Single-family residential structures made way for commercial buildings such as the Lasalle Apartments which replaced the Jones family home or the Roanoke Hotel at Elmwood and Chippewa, built in 1901 for the Pan American Exposition. The building is now home to Evergreen Health Services. The Hutchinson Homestead was replaced with Hutchinson Technical Central High School (Hutch-Tech) in 1913.

The area’s property tax base declined, partly because of the demolition of houses and an increase in privately developed parking lots. In particular, parking demand increased significantly from the Federal Office Building, which opened at 200 Delaware Avenue in 1971. The Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Office Building houses 50 federal agencies and a workforce of 1,200 people. Much of the parking was on illegal, unlicensed lots.  These illegal lots provided free parking for federal government employees. The government emptied the building in 2005. It was sold to private developers and renovated into The Avant, a mixed-use building with a hotel and condos.

In 1974, the West Village Community Association organized to bring awareness to the neighborhood’s historic value and help to revitalize and rehabilitate properties in the area. During the 1970s, 62 of the West Village’s 166 residential structures had been renovated. These renovated structures provided 265 improved housing units in the neighborhood. In addition, the Association held workshops on recycling older houses to help homeowners improve their buildings and offer suggestions and resources.

The Association saw the detrimental impact of the parking lots in the Georgia-Prospect Street area and wanted to turn the area into a robust residential neighborhood. In the summer and fall of 1979, the Lower West Side Resource & Development Corporation conducted a preliminary planning study. One of the recommendations included infill housing for the vacant lots, particularly those in the Georgia-Prospect area. Improvements to traffic patterns were another measure to improve the neighborhood conditions. Georgia Street would be made two-way; West Chippewa between South Elmwood and Whitney Place would be made one-way eastbound; Prospect Avenue between Huron and Georgia would be one-way toward the southeast; Huron Street between Niagara and Elmwood would be two-way. This was to be designed as a calming traffic measure to lessen the intrusion of downtown traffic using the neighborhood streets to zoom up to get to the highway. Today, West Chippewa and Georgia Street are one-way heading west and southwest; Huron is one-way heading east; Prospect (now Rabin Terrace) is now two-way.

west village

Map of West Village. Red Boundary shows the National Historic District. Orange Boundary shows the Local Preservation District. Blue boundary shows the Georgia- Prospect Urban Renewal Area.

In 1979, the West Village Historic District became a City of Buffalo Local Historic District. The local district is bounded by South Elmwood, Tracy, Carolina, Niagara, and Huron Street. In addition, properties on the north side of Carolina Street between Tracy and Niagara were included in the local district.

In July 1983, the West Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The boundary for the National Historic District is slightly smaller than that of the local district. The properties being looked at for the Georgia-Prospect Urban Renewal Project were left out of the National Historic District.

In February 1982, the City of Buffalo adopted an Urban Renewal Plan for the Lower West Side (Georgia-Prospect) area. Cannon Planning & Development was retained to establish a formal planning and development framework for the West Village. The plan attempted to provide community growth by assembling vacant and underutilized land to convert into productive residential uses. The program included two areas: the first Virginia-Carolina – the area between Carolina, Virginia, West, and Fell Alley. The second area was Georgia-Prospect – the two-block area bounded by Chippewa, Georgia, Huron, and South Elmwood. We will concern ourselves with the Georgia-Prospect area as this is the former land of Miles Jones.

Properties within the urban renewal area were surveyed by the Lower West Side Resource & Development Corporation. A second survey was independently completed by Cannon Design. Surveys were exterior only, with interior inspections only made on sample properties. The results of the survey indicated that 55.9% of parcels in the area were open or dilapidated. Most of the land slated for acquisition consisted of vacant land (with parking on it). The plan included demolition of all structures and improvement on properties except 241, 245, 247, and 267 Georgia Street, if rehab proved feasible for those structures(which it was).

As part of the urban renewal project, the following properties were demolished. Each of these buildings was listed as contributing to the West Village Local Historic District.  Photos show what the buildings looked like in the late 1970s/early 80s before demolition:

  1. 193 West Huron Street – a one-story residence constructed in 1872 with a front addition built in 1910. The building was constructed in a Second Empire motif with a false Mansard roof with rounded dormer windows. The property had a weird shape due to its frontages on both Huron and Prospect.

    193 Huron

    193 Huron. Source: NYSHPO

  2. 11 Prospect – a 1 and a half story brick Italianate foreman’s cottage built in 1854. It was initially constructed for Robert Denton, a piano turner who became a partner in Denton, Cottier, and Daniels. This Buffalo music store is still in business today. This property had an unusual orientation due to its location on the Reservation Line and the angle of Prospect Street. The house was built oriented towards Huron Street. The building’s last use was as a rooming house.

    11 prospect

    11 Prospect. Source: NYSHPO

  3. 17 Prospect – a two 1/2 story Shingle Style cottage built around 1910. This house had a unique orientation due to its location along the Reservation Line and the street angle. The building was built askew, with no distinct orientation. It faced neither Huron Street nor Prospect Ave.

    17 prospect

    17 Prospect

  4. 28 Prospect – a two-story Italianate-style house built in 1866. The house’s original owner was Miles Jones, and the house was occupied by Merlin, his brother.

    28 prospect

    28 Prospect. Source: NYSHPO

  5. 32 Prospect – a 1 and a half story wood Frame Italianate cottage built in 1861.

    32 Prospect

    32 Prospect. Source: NYSHPO

  6. 53 Cary Street – a 2 and a half story brick carriage house with gable roof built in 1852. The property had a Cary Street address, but the building faced Chippewa Street. It was originally built as a part of Eliza Abell’s house at 166 W Chippewa. The main house was demolished in the 1960s to build Dewey’s Diner, which was also demolished. The carriage house was vacant before it was purchased by the city.

    53 Cary Street

    53 Cary. Source: NYSHPO

  7. 55 Cary Street – a two-story wood-frame Italianate cottage built in 1854. It was typical of the working-class homes that were built in the 1850s in this part of Buffalo.

    55 Cary

    55 Cary. Source: NYSHPO

  8. 67 Cary Street – a two-and-a-half-story brick Italianate residence built in 1854. Its last use was as apartments.

    67 Cary

    67 Cary. Source: NYSHPO

  9. 69-71 Cary Street – a two-story carriage house built in 1854 at the dead-end of Cary Street. This building served as the carriage house for the Jones family home. It was later converted into apartments.

    69-71 Cary

    69-71 Cary. Source: NYSHPO

  10. 166 South Elmwood – a two-and-a-half-story brick Italianate residence built in 1865. The house was later converted to apartments and had a concrete block addition for tavern use. The original owner of the house was John R. Hazard, a coal dealer. The original address for the site was 144 Morgan Street before Morgan Street was changed to South Elmwood.

    166 S Elmwood

    166 S. Elmwood. Source: NYSHPO

  11. 192 South Elmwood – a two-and-a-half-story brick Italianate-style cottage built in 1854. The original owner was Milton Randall, a steamboat agent. A front addition was constructed in the front of the house for tavern use. The rear was converted into apartments.

    192 South Elmwood

    192 S. Elmwood. Source: NYSHPO

Five houses within the urban renewal area were saved and are still extant.  The following properties within the area have been rehabilitated, with the black and white photos showing the buildings in the late 70s/early 80s, and the colored photos showing conditions today:

  1. 241 Georgia Street – a two-story Italianate-style house built in 1869. The house was initially built by Rueben Sparks. The house is divided into four apartment units.

    241 Georgia

    241 Georgia (Source: NYSHPO)

  2. 245 Georgia Street – a three-story Second Empire style house built in 1870. Originally built by L.A. Hamilton. The house is currently divided into three apartment units.

    245 Georgia2

      246 Georgia (Source: NYSHPO)

  3. 247 Georgia St – a two-story Italianate-style house built in 1866. The house was originally built for Robert E Skillings, a livery operator. The porch collapsed in 1977. The building is currently divided into two apartment units.

    247 Georgia

    247 Georgia before. Source: NYSHPO 

    247 Georgia_now

    247 Georgia today. Source: Author

  4. 267 Georgia Street – a three-story Second Empire style house with a mansard roof built in 1874. The building was home to Miles Jones’ son. The building is currently divided into five apartment units.

    267 Georgia

    267 Georgia Before.  Source: NYSHPO

    267 Georgia

    267 Georgia Street today. Source: Author.

  5. 3 Prospect Avenue – a two-and-a-half-story Queen Anne Style residence built in the 1890s. The house is oriented towards Huron Street and has been subdivided into three apartment units.

    3 prospect

    3 Prospect (now 3 Rabin Terrace) before.  Source:  NYSHPO

    3 prospect now

    3 Rabin Terrace today

infill houses 2

Infill Houses along Rabin Terrace

As part of the urban renewal project, infill housing was built. The city paid for land assembly and infrastructure. Thirty-two new housing units were constructed in the Georgia-Prospect area by Marrano Homes. These were the first new homes to be built in the area in 30 years. The houses were sold at market rates and ranged in price from $45,000 to $60,000 ($133,800 – $178,500 in today’s dollars). Similar houses in the suburbs at the time were going for $85,000 ($252,800). The houses are small, charming, and have a design reminiscent of the Italianate houses in the area. This differed from other new housing built in the city that mostly resembled suburban ranch-style homes. These houses are generally looked at as a successful infill project.

infill houses

Examples of Infill houses in this area

rabin terrace

Rabin terrace Dedication. Source: Buffalo News.

In 1996 Lower Prospect Avenue was renamed Rabin Terrace in honor of Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin. He was assassinated on November 4, 1995. Prime Minister Rabin had been working towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, and signed several historic agreements with Palestinian leadership as part of the Oslo Accords.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Yasser Arafat.  He was assassinated following a rally in support of the Oslo Accords by an extremist Yigal Amir, who opposed the terms of the accords.  The square in Tel Aviv where he was assassinated was renamed Rabin Square in his honor.  There is also a walkway named after Rabin in the America-Israel Friendship Grove in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York(note from Angela, this is my favorite park!).


Recent Image of Rabin Terrace sign.

The Rabin Terrace street signs in Buffalo went up on the first anniversary of his death.  Today, these infill houses sell for $380,000-$400,000.  Many of the residents have fantastic gardens, and this is a popular area for Garden Walk each year.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Monument to a Peacemaker.” Buffalo News November 5, 1996, p.B-4.
  • “Death of Miles Joes, Esq.” Buffalo Commercial. January 4, 1869. P2.
  • Sheldon, Grace Carew. “Buffalo Of the Olden Time: Henry Roop Jones.” The Buffalo Times.
  • Sheldon, Grace Carew. “Buffalo of the Olden Time: Miles Jones.” The Buffalo Times. Series: December 12, 1910, p11, December 11, 1910. P 40, December 9, 1910, p 15.
  • City of Buffalo Community Development Department. “Lower West Side (Georgia-Prospect) Urban Renewal Plan. February 23, 1982.
  • National Parks Service. Certification Report. West Village Historic District. July 1983.
  • “Buffalo Common Council: Name of Streets” Buffalo Courier. December 7, 1869. p2.
  • Langdon, Philip. “Replace Some Illegal Parking Lots With Homes, W. Side Group Urges.” Buffalo Courier-Express. 1979.
  • Buffalo Courier-Express, April 11, 1982. p 13
  • Haddad, Charles. “38 New West Side Houses Planned”. Buffalo Courier-Express. July 17, 1982. p1.
  • Jones, Asahel Wellington.  History and Genealogy of the Ancestors and Descendants of Captain Israel Jones.  Laning Company:  Madison, Wisconsin. 1902


Sprenger Avenue shown in red.

Sprenger Avenue runs between Doat Street and Genesee Street in the Schiller Park neighborhood of the East Side.  The Schiller Park neighborhood developed around picnic groves developed by German immigrants at Braun’s Grove (later Genesee Park) and Schiller Park.  Braun’s Grove (Genesee Park) is now the location of the George K Arthur Community Center.  Across Genesee Street, Schiller Park is 36 acres in size and officially became a park in 1912.  The park is named for German poet, historian and philosopher Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. During the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration built the Schiller Parks Pools and Locker House.  The Locker house still stands.  While the pools have been filled in, Schiller Park is home to one of Buffalo’s splash pads. Schiller Park is also home to the Schiller Park Senior Center.  Sprenger Avenue divides Schiller Park into two parts.    

Sprenger Avenue is named for Magdalena Sprenger Warner.  Mrs. Warner went by Laney/Lena and was the wife of Leopold Warner. When the street was coming through land that Leopold owned, they decided that since there were other Warner families in town, it would be more special to name it after Laney’s maiden name, Sprenger.


Leopold Warner. Source: Buffalo Evening News.

Laney was born in Vienna, Austria in May 1822, daughter of Abraham and Lena Sprenger.  Leopold Warner was born in Bzenec in 1818.  Bzenec was part of the Austrian Empire at the time but is now part of the Czech Republic.  Laney and Leopold married on April 10,1842.  After the revolution of 1848, the Warners left Austria and settled in Utica, NY.  Their trip to America from Vienna took three months. They soon learned that Buffalo had greater promise than Utica and moved here in 1854.

Once in Buffalo, Laney helped her husband get his start in clothing.  She made men’s and boys caps which Leopold sold door to door in a reed basket.  Years later, at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1892, the basket was displayed, full of flowers instead of caps!


Rendering of the Warner Bros Building on the Terrace. Source: Buffalo Morning Express.

In 1855, Leopold established Warner Brothers & Co. men’s clothing with his brothers Joseph and John.  They were one of the first clothing manufacturers in Buffalo.  They were first located at 41-43 Main, then expanded to Exchange Street and then to Pearl Street at the Terrace.  This area was a hub of clothing firms – in addition to Warner Brothers & Co, there were the firms of Henry J. Brock & Co, M. Wile & Co and Rothschilds Brothers. The business was successful and became the second largest wholesale clothing house in the city of Buffalo.  They sold products across the Northeast and also into some of the Southern states.  The firm had more than 1,200 employees.  


Sketch of Fire at Warner Brothers Building on the Terrace. Source: Buffalo Courier.

The Warner Brothers building at Pearl and Terrace had a fire and in 1878 and another in 1891.  Both fires caused significant damage to the building and inventory.  Two fireman died in the blaze in 1891.  Warner Bros & Co started a relief fund for the benefit of the families of the fireman.  Warner Bros & Co was so large, it also operated at 72 – 76 Pearl Street, now better known as Pearl Street Grill and Brewery.   Leopold retired from the firm in 1878.  The business continued to be run by the Warner family and was renamed Kempner & Warner in 1895. 

warner brothers 1888

Warner Brothers & Co Clothing at 72 Pearl Street.  Now Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. Source: 1888 City Directory

The Warners lived on Scott Street through the 1850s and 60s.  Scott Street was a desirable residential area at the time due to its proximity to the lake.  The Warners had five sons and eight daughters.  Their daughter, Liddie, remembered running out of the house to see President Lincoln’s funeral procession pass down Perry Street.  She called it the saddest day of her childhood and recalled neighbors crying in the streets.  The Warner family later moved to 413 Michigan Street, now the location of the parking lot for the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital.  They lived on Michigan Street when the street was paved for the first time. Unfortunately, five of the children died in childhood.  Another son, Louis, died of typhoid fever a few weeks before he was to be married.  Louis Warner’s fiancée, Josephine Jellinek, died a few weeks later, on August 31, 1889, reportedly of a broken heart.  She was buried in the Warner family plot next to Louis on September 3rd, 1889, the day which they were to be married.  So heartbreaking!  


Louis and Josephine’s graves in Forest Lawn.

In July 1885, the Warners moved to 132 Morgan (now South Elmwood).  The house was at the southwest corner of Huron and was originally built for Charles H Williams.  Mr. Williams was a banker and you may be familiar with Mr. Williams later house, still located at 690 Delaware Avenue (near Delaware and North). 


Temple Beth Zion at 599 Delaware Avenue. Source: “Buffalo and Its Points of Interest – Illustrated”, NY Commercial Publishing Co, 1896.

The Warners were charter members of Temple Beth Zion.  Temple Beth Zion began as the Orthodox congregation of Beth Zion in 1850.  In 1864, the congregation embraced Reform Judaism and a new constitution was initiated, keeping the name.  The congregation worshiped in several former church spaces until they decided to construct a new temple.  The new Temple Beth Zion was designed by Edward Kent in the Byzantine style and opened located at 599 Delaware Avenue in 1890.  Delaware Avenue at this time was considered Millionaire’s Row.  The choice of a property along Delaware Avenue and the use of society architect Kent was a way for the members of Temple Beth Zion to take their place in Buffalo society.  Most of the members had been Central European immigrants the generation before.  During the dedication of the new Temple, Leopold lit the perpetual lamp, known as ner tamid in Hebrew, a fixture in nearly all Jewish places of worship.  The lamp was dedicated by the Warners in remembrance of their son, Louis, who had passed away shortly before the temple dedication.  It is reported that the lamp is still hanging in the Temple.  Leopold was a charter member and Vice President of Temple Beth Zion for 25 years.  


Current Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware

After 70 years in their temple, Temple Beth Zion suffered a devastating fire in 1961 that gutted their building.  There was debate about whether to move from the city into the suburbs.  Many other other religious communities were doing so at the time, as Western New York suburbanized.  In 1963, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to remain a city-based congregation and remain in the city.  The new Temple Beth Zion at 805 Delaware was completed in 1967, designed by Max Abramovitz.  The modern, brutalist architecture of the Temple creates an open and light-filled sanctuary.  The ten sides of the building represent the ten commandments.  There is a large amount of symbolism throughout the building and it is considered to be a midcentury architectural treasure of Buffalo.  Temple Beth Zion remains one of the oldest and largest Reform congregations in the country, and the largest Jewish Congregation in Western New York.

After retiring from Warner Brothers & Co, Leopold was involved with real estate throughout the city.  Mr. Warner was one of the largest land holders in the city of Buffalo.On July 29, 1885, the Evening Telegraph reported in a Town Talk column that “Leopold Warner is gradually buying up the whole town.”  

Laney Warner spoke English, but enjoyed reading German authors.  The family were active in many organizations in early Buffalo, such as the Young Men’s Association, the predecessor of Buffalo Public Library.  They attended many plays at the Academy Theatre, which was located on Main Street between Seneca and Swan Streets.  


Warner Grave in Forest Lawn.

The Warners were considered to be generous and charitable.  Mr. Warner refused to foreclose on a mortgage on a house he owned on Sprenger Avenue because the owner had a family and Leopold refused to leave them homeless.  Leopold was president of the Jewish Benevolent Association and founded the Jewish Orphanage in Rochester in 1878.  The Orphanage served children of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.  In 1892, he left an endowment of $5,025 (approximately $159,650 in today’s dollars) to the orphanage to provide $150 ($4,765 today) to each girl in the orphanage to serve as a marriage dowry for the orphan girls. 


Laney Warner’s Grave in Forest Lawn.

Mr. Warner died in March 1900.  He is buried in the family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Laney Warner died on May 13, 1910 and is buried next to her husband.  

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Don’t forget there are still tours coming this season!  The next tour will be Discover Lower Main on Sunday August 14th at 1pm, meeting outside of Tim Hortons at Main & Scott Street (near Canalside).  Feel free to just show up!  For more info and additional dates, click here.  Hope to see some of you soon!



“Sprenger Avenue Given Name to Honor Wife of Area Owner”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  June 9, 1940, p.8W.

“Death of Leopold Warner”.  Buffalo Evening News.  March 21, 1900, p16.

“The Late Leopold Warner”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  March 25, 1900, p6.

“Synagogues/Temple Beth Zio”.  Jewish Buffalo History Center.  https://jewishbuffalohistory.org/synagogues/temple-beth-zion/

“Thrice Married, Thrice Blessed – Golden Wedding at Concert Hall”.  Buffalo Courier.  April 11, 1892, p5.

“Another Good Block.  The Fine Business Structure Which Warner Bros & Co Are Erecting”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  October 14, 1888, p12.  



Roehrer Avenue

Roehrer Avenue runs between Best and East Ferry Streets in the Kingsley Neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo.  The land where the street is now was once owned by John Roehrer.  He owned most of the land between Jefferson, Best, Humboldt Parkway and Ferry Streets.  In addition to Roehrer Avenue, he also developed Wohlers Avenue, Portage Street and Celtic Place.  Peter Wohlers (sometimes spelled Wahlers) was also a part of the Best Street Land Company, hence the name of Wohlers Avenue.


John Roehrer.  Source:  Buffalo and the German Community

John Roehrer was born in Buffalo on October 27, 1855.  His father, Johann Georg Roehrer, was a Bavarian immigrant and his mother, Margarethe Herbst, was American-born.  Mr. Roehrer attended local public schools, the German Evangelical Lutheran parish school, and the Bryant & Stratton Business College.  Johann owned and operated a brewery on Best Street.  John’s first job was at the brewery.  Because of business panics, the company made little money and there was no inheritance left for John.

Mr. Roehrer married Mary Louise Beckman in 1880.  John worked at the Schoellkopf Tannery, where he made $6 a week.  After he got married, he asked for a raise.  The tannery was unable to meet his demands so he left and went into business for himself.  He took over an inn and restaurant, which he ran for 8 years.  In 1884, he organized the Broadway Belt Line Land Company, leaving the hospitality business and entered the real estate business.  He also organized the Best Street Land Company and later the Glenwood Land Company.  The associations purchased and subdivided properties on the East Side of the City.  Mr. Roehrer oversaw the building of the first houses on East Utica Street, Glenwood Avenue and other cross streets.

In 1889, he partnered with Mr. Albert Ziegele, Jr, a brewery owner, to establish the firm of Roehrer & Company Insurance Brokers.  Mr. Roehrer was said to be successful in his business dealings because he was always fair and honest.  He worked with craftsmen and laborers to build the homes they would sell.  Mr. Roehrer would then helped his workers be able to build and own houses of their own as well.  This was unique at the time, as many laborers could not afford to own a home.

roehrer house

Roehrer House to the left of image, with the commercial building in front of the house. The entrance of the house is through what used to be a side door. The house has been subdivided into multiple units.

The Roehrer family originally lived on Maple Street.  In 1891, he built a large home at 454 East Utica, at the corner of Roehrer Street.  The house is still standing, but was moved to the rear of the lot in 1920 so a commercial building could be built on Utica.  The house now has a Roehrer Street address.  The Roehrers had one daughter, Grace.

roehrer graveMr. Roehrer was a 32nd Degree Mason, a member of the Modestia Lodge No 343, Order of the Free Masons and the Zuleika Grotto No. 10.  He was a prominent member of the Buffalo Sangerbund (a singing society), and served as treasurer of their association.   He was also a member of Central Presbyterian Church.  Mr. Roehrer died in 1928.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Don’t forget, tours are coming up!  This coming Saturday, May 14th is the first of the season.  1pm meeting outside of Public Espresso at the Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington Street Buffalo 14203.  Rain or shine!  Feel free to just show up!  For more info and additional dates, click here.  Hope to see some of you soon!


  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Roehrer Avenue Honors Area Owner’s Memory”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  May 28, 1939, pg L8.
  • Mueller, Jacob.  Buffalo and Its German Community.  German-American Historical and Biographical Society.  1911-12.

Hi friends – we are kicking off tours for the season!  This season, I will be giving two tours.  The tours build off my unique perspective and experience as a historian and urban planner that will show glimpses of both the city we once were and the city we are becoming.  


Discover Downtown – Then and Now.  This tour will focus on the area and buildings around Lafayette Square, Niagara Square and Roosevelt Plaza.  We’ll take a look at how this area became the central hub of Downtown Buffalo, looking at the past and at some of the new developments happening in the area.  This tour will include about 1.5 miles of walking.  We will meet at 1pm outside of Public Espresso in the Hotel Lafayette at 391 Washington Street, Buffalo NY 14203.  The tours will be a loop and will end close to the starting point.  Here is the facebook link for the Discover Downtown – Then and Now tours:  https://www.facebook.com/events/946865436001874/946865439335207

Discover Downtown – Then and Now will run on the following dates:

      • Saturday May 14th, 1pm at 391 Washington Street, Buffalo NY 14203
      • Sunday July 17th, 1pm at 391 Washington Street, Buffalo NY 14203
      • Saturday September 10th, 1pm at 391 Washington Street, Buffalo NY 14203

Discover Lower Main Street.  A new tour for this season!  This tour will focus on Lower Main Street and the former canal district.  We’ll take a look back at the past, but also talk about how urban renewal and highway construction shaped the area and at some of the new developments happening in the area.  This tour will include about 1.5 miles of walking and one set of about 15 stairs.  We will meet at 1pm outside of Tim Hortons in HarborCenter at 1 Scott Street, Buffalo NY 14203.  The tours will be a loop and will end close to the starting point.  Here is the facebook link for the Discover Lower Main Street tours:  https://www.facebook.com/events/732763641253479/732763654586811 

Discover Lower Main Street will run on the following dates:

      • Saturday June 11th, 1pm at 1 Scott Street, Buffalo NY 14203
      • Sunday August 14th, 1pm at 1 Scott Street, Buffalo NY 14203
      • Sunday October 9, 1pm at 1 Scott Street, Buffalo NY 14203

All tours will be free, but donations will be graciously accepted.  All money received will go directly into continuing to build up Discovering Buffalo, One Street at a Time.  Can’t make a tour but would like to contribute?  You can contribute via paypal here:  https://paypal.me/akepps or by venmo @akepps83 

Street parking in Downtown is free on weekends, or there are several pay parking lots near both locations. Both meet up locations are only one block away from the Metro Rail – you’d get off at Lafayette Square Station for the Discover Downtown – Then and Now Tour, or at Erie Canal Harbor/Canalside Station for the Discover Lower Main tour.  

You can RSVP by emailing buffalostreets@gmail.com or on the facebook events pages.   Any updates to the tours will be posted on the facebook page.

As always, thank you all for your support and comments.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in person this summer on tours!   


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