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sprenger

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.

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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!

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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.  

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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. 

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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!  

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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). 

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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.  

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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.  

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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. 

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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!

 

Sources:

“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.  

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

Sources:

  • 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.  

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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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Greene Street in Lovejoy

Buffalo only has a few streets whose names could be colors – Pink, Brown, Grey. One of them, Greene Street, runs from Broadway to William in the Lovejoy Neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street is named for two brothers who were physicians in Buffalo – Joseph C. Greene and Walter D. Greene.

The Greene brothers came to Buffalo from Vermont.  The Greene family is an old New England family descending from Henry Greene.  Henry Greene sailed from Ipswich, England to Newberry Port, Massachusetts in 1643.  They are related to General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War Fame.  Joseph and Walter’s brother, Stephen, was a naval surgeon in the Civil War and also practiced medicine in Buffalo with his brothers.  There were five Greene Brothers in Buffalo – the Doctors Joseph, Stephen, and Walter mentioned above; Insurance Agent Simon and U.S. Customs Officer George.  I wasn’t able to find out why the street is only named after the two of them!  In addition to those five, there were two other brothers – Edson and William; and 7 sisters – Naomi, Elizabeth, Almira, Elizabeth II, Mary Anne, Caroline, and Cynthia.  Various members of the family spelled their last name as Green without the e.

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The five Greene Brothers in Buffalo; Back row: Walter and Stephen; Front row: George, Joseph and Simon. Source: Cindy Davis, via Ancestry.com

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Dr. Joseph Chase Greene. Source: Cindy Davis, via Ancestry.com

Joseph Chase Greene was born in Lincoln, Vermont, on July 31,1829, the oldest of the fourteen Greene siblings.  He attended Barry Academy in Vermont and Albany Medical College, receiving his MD in 1855.  He then studied in the clinics in New York Hospital in New York City and came to Buffalo in 1863.

Joseph Greene married Julia Taggart of Vermont in 1856.  They had three children – Dr. Dewitt Clinton Greene, Anna Adelaide, and Julia Delphine.  Joseph and Julia’s first home (and Dr. Greene’s office) in Buffalo was at 444 Elk Street (now South Park Avenue).  When brother Stephen moved to town in 1875, Joseph moved to 124 Swan Street and gave the Elk Street house to Stephen.  Julia Greene died in 1882, and Joseph then married Mary Burrows Smith.  In his later years, Joseph lived and practiced at 1125 Main Street, near Best.

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Museum Director of Collections, Walt Mayer preparing the mummies on exhibit in 2019. Source: Buffalo History Museum

In the 1890s, Joseph Greene made a trip around the world.  He collected valuable relics of ancient Egypt, Assyria and Syria; Sixteenth Century armor from England and other mementos from the age of chivalry; prized Oriental trinkets, and beautiful canes from every country in the world.  These specimens are part of the Joseph C. Greene Collection at the Buffalo History Museum.  A few years ago, the mummies from the Greene Collection traveled with the exhibit “Mummies of the World”, along with the Museum Director of Collections, Walt Mayer.

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Joseph C. Greene gravestone in Forest Lawn

Joseph Greene was associated with the City of Buffalo Health Department.  He served as an alderman in 1885 and was president of the fourth branch of the New York State Medical Society, the Erie County Medical Society, and the Buffalo Historical Society.  Joseph was a Knight Templar, 32nd Degree Mason and member of the Buffalo Consistory and Shrine.  He died at age 70 from complications from diabetes in 1899.  He is buried in Forest Lawn.  

In addition to the street, Joseph Greene also has what is known as the Bristol Rock.  Wanting to find a way to celebrate his childhood in the Bristol, Vermont area, he paid a carver to engrave the Lord’s Prayer on the slab and his own name.  Some people say that Greene was upset by the cursing and swearing of the loggers traveling along the road, so he put the prayer to make them think twice about their language.

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Bristol Rock with the Lord’s Prayer carved into it by Joseph C. Greene MD, Buffalo New York. Source: RoadsideAmerica.com

walter greene 2Walter David Greene was born in Starkboro, Vermont, in 1853, the youngest son and second youngest child of the Greene family.  He went to local schools and the Friends’ School on the Hudson.  He joined his brothers in Buffalo and entered Buffalo Medical School in 1873.  At the time, Buffalo Medical School was located at Main and Virginia Streets.

In medical school, Walter Greene was a member of the University Quiz Club, known by U.Q.C.  The U.Q.C. was born out of a society called “The Skulls”.  They rivaled with another society called “The Scalpels”.  Because of the initials, outsiders called the U.Q.C. “You Queer Cusses”.

After two years working in Rochester, Walter Greene practiced medicine in Buffalo for 37 years.  In 1882, Walter Greene was appointed district physician of the City of Buffalo Health Department.  He served for eight years, becoming head of the department.  From 1897 to 1902, he served as assistant health commissioner.  He became Health Commissioner in 1907.

Walter Greene married Mary Pursel of Buffalo in 1878.  They had two children – Frank, who died in infancy, and Clayton.  They lived at 385 Jersey Street, which was also Dr. Greene’s office.  They were members of Plymouth Methodist Church, which is now Porter Hall – The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.

    walter greeneDr. Walter D. Greene. Source: Twentieth Century Buffalo, 1902-1903.

Walter Greene was a past potentate of Ismailia Temple, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a 33rd degree mason, thrice potent master of the Lodge of Perfection.  He was Lieutenant Commander of DeMolay Lodge 498, buffalo chapter Lake Erie Commandery.  He was also president of the New York State Medical Society, member of the American Public Health Association the Erie County Medical Society, Buffalo historical Society, Buffalo Club, and Society of Vermonters.

He died on August 3, 1917 while traveling to West Falls, NY for a family reunion.  He slipped on a rock while walking alongside a creek, landing on his back.  He got up quickly and said he felt fine, but after a few moments was stricken with terrific pain in his back and trouble breathing.  He died just a few moments later.  He is also 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.

Sources:

  • “Kin of Old King Tut and Mummied Pets Are On View Here”.  Buffalo Courier.  March 4 1923, p87.
  • “Dr. Joseph C. Greene Dead”.  Buffalo Evening News.  January 4, 1899, p5.
  • “Greene Street Honors Brothers, Physicians”.  Buffalo Courier Express, April 21, 1940.  Pg. L4.
  • “Masonic Order Pays High Tribute to Dr. Greene”.  Buffalo Courier.  August 7, 1917. p5.
  • “Dr. Greene, Once Commissioner of Health, Stricken”.  Buffalo Courier.  August 4, 1917, p4.

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Hamlin Road shown in Red. The former Hamlin Driving Park outlined in Light Blue

Hamlin Road runs between Lonsdale Road and Humboldt Parkway in the Hamlin Park neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo. The street opened in the early 1920s, running through what used to be the grounds of the Hamlin Driving Park.  The street and neighborhood are named after the Hamlin Family, a prominent family in Buffalo and East Aurora.

cicero hamlinOn November 7, 1819, Cicero Hamlin was born in Hillsdale in Columbia County, New York. His parents were Reverend Jabez and Esther Stow Hamlin. Cicero Hamlin would say that he started his life as a poor child and that his only heritage was “being of sound health and good digestion.” Cicero was the youngest of a family of ten. Cicero came to East Aurora in 1836 and purchased the general store operated by his brother John W. Hamlin. The store was located on Main Street near what is now Hamlin Avenue in East Aurora.

In 1846, Cicero Hamlin moved to Buffalo, where he entered the dry goods business in the firm Wattles and Hamlin at 252 Main Street. Mr. Wattles left the business in 1847, and Mr. Hamlin continued the business alone until 1852. Then, he joined the firm of Mendsen & Company, a wholesale-retail carpet and house furnishing business. The firm was reorganized as Hamlin & Mendsen. In the 1860s, Mr. Hamlin Built the Hamlin Block on Main Street.  He remained in business there until 1871.  In February 1888, the Hamlin Block was destroyed by a fire. A new Hamlin Black was constructed in its place by the end of 1888.

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Cicero Hamlin breaking the world’s team’s record.   Source: Buffalo History Gazette

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Gravestone for Mambrino King, East Aurora. Photo By Stacy Grinsfelder, True Tales from Old Houses

In addition to his real estate interests, in May 1855, Cicero Hamlin established Village Farm in East Aurora. The farm began as 55 acres and expanded to 600 acres by the 1890s. The farm had the reputation of some of America’s best trotting horses. The farm was located at the west end of the Village, fronting on the north side of Main Street. His first horses were Little Belle, Mag Addison, and Hamlin Patchem. At its peak, the Village Farm stabled 748 horses. In 1882, Mr. Hamlin purchased “Mambrino King” for $17,000. The horse was judged the most handsome horse in the world. Many people traveled to East Aurora to visit Mambrino King. In one day, Mambrino King was taken out of his stall to be shown to visitors more than 170 times! Mambrino King was put down on December 5, 1899. He is buried in front of a house on North Willow Street, and the grave marker can be seen from the sidewalk.

The Hamlin farm closed in January 1905. The horse line continued at the Ideal Stock Farm, founded in 1905 by Seymour Knox. Cicero Hamlin donated land to the Village of East Aurora to create Hamlin Park. Hamlin Avenue in East Aurora runs through the property that was once the farm.

Before 1873, there were several attempts to manufacture glucose in the United States, but with little success. Cicero Hamlin developed a process that helped form an entire industry; he founded Buffalo Grape Sugar Company in 1874. Buffalo Grape Sugar Company merged with the American Glucose Company in 1888. The works of the American Glucose Company in Buffalo were the largest in the world. Their brands were well known both in domestic and international markets. The Buffalo plant employed 500 men and processed 10,000 bushels of corn per day to create glucose, syrups, grape sugar, and animal food products. American Glucose Company also had factories in Peoria, Illinois; Leavenworth, Kansas; Iowa City, Iowa; and Tippecanoe City, Ohio. Their headquarters were located at 19-23 West Swan Street in Buffalo.

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Hamlin Driving Park in 1870. Source: Buffalo News

What became the Hamlin Park Neighborhood in Buffalo was still a rural area in 1868 when Cicero Hamlin established his Driving Park at the corner of East Ferry and Humboldt Parkway. The Driving Park was included in Frederick Law Olmsted’s parks plan for Buffalo. The Driving Park quickly became popular and gained international fame. It had a one-half-mile speedway for trotting and pacing races and training stable for 75 horses. Horse-riding was a gentleman’s sport. Many of Buffalo’s important businessmen were officers of the Buffalo Driving Park Association – Chandler J. Wells, Cicero Hamlin, E.R. Buck, J.H. Metcalfe, Myram P Busch, George Gates, Joseph G. Masten, R.L Howard, and Jewett Richmond. Race days were an important occasion in Buffalo. There was a festive atmosphere, many stores declared them holidays, and the trolley offered half-fare travel to the Driving Park. The Belt Line Railroad opening in 1883 eased access to the track, with a station at Fillmore Avenue near Northland. People traveled from across the country to view the races and to race here. There were railroad car sidings to allow for Pullman cars, day coaches, and special freight cars for the horses.

In 1869, Frederick Law Olmsted looked to integrate the Driving Park into his Parks Plan. Mr. Olmsted looked to put an expanded parkway near the entrance of the race course with a circular or elliptical form for a spot to put a fountain, statue, or other monument. This didn’t happen. The Driving Park grew crowds of up to 40,000 people for special events. After the races, many people would go to the nearby Parade House at The Parade park (aka Humboldt Park, now MLK Park).

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1895 Map of Buffalo showing the location of the Driving Park/Fairgrounds. Humboldt Parkway is shown in green to the east of the Driving Park site. The Driving Park Station can be shown at the corner of Fillmore and Northland. Source: Rand, McNally & Co Map of Buffalo.

In 1888, Hamlin sold the Driving Park to a group of 120 stockholders who were looking to start up an International Industrial and Agricultural Exposition in Buffalo at Hamlin Park. The largest investor was Cicero Hamlin himself. They planned to create a permanent fairgrounds, similar to the one in St. Louis. He felt Buffalo was a good location between New York and Chicago for fairs. Other stockholders included – Philip Becker, Jacob Schoellkopf, JJ Albright, Daniel N. Lockwood, D.E. Morgan, George Urban Jr, and Jewett Richmond. They constructed several exhibition buildings, including the largest fair building in the world. The Fair opened on September 4, 1888 to great fanfare. However, long-term attendance did not come. The fair lost money and closed within five years. Public transportation made it hard to get to the Fair. A horsecar up Main Street took about an hour from the downtown railroad depots. Passengers actually had to get out and help push the cars up the Main Street hill from North to Virginia Street!

Trolley service finally came to the Park in 1892.  That year, Mr. Hamlin put $25,000 into the Driving Park. He built a new grandstand modeled after the one in Monmouth Park, New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Hamlin offered free admission for that year for those who would take standing room admission. He felt this was a way to increase interest in the Park and allow “regular” folks to come, in addition to the upper class.

In 1895, a grandstand stairway collapsed, and 20 people were injured. In 1896, a fire swept through the grounds and destroyed the buildings, ending the horse races. In January 1898, Mr. Hamlin announced he would divide the Driving Park grounds into residential lots.  Thus began the development of the Hamlin Park Neighborhood.

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Hamlin House on Franklin Street. Source: Hamlin House Restaurant

Cicero Hamlin married Susan Jane Ford in September 1842. They had three sons – Frank, William and Harry, and two daughters – Anna and Kate. Sadly, Anna died as a newborn and Kate passed at age 3. The Hamlin Family lived in a house they built at 432 Franklin Street. The Hamlin property consisted of the entire corner of Franklin and Edward Street, where 420, 426, 436 and 440 Franklin now stand. The house is a two-story Italian villa, and is still standing today.  Cicero and Susan moved to 1035 Delaware Ave and sold the property in the 1890s.

The Buffalo Orpheus (a German singing society) used the 432 Franklin Street house as its headquarters starting in 1915. In 1920, the American Legion purchased the Hamlin House, and the house is still the clubhouse for Troop 1 Post 665 of the American Legion. Additions were added to the right side of the building and a gym was added to the rear of the building in 1940. The rear portion of the building has been used as the Legion’s auditorium but used to be the family’s stable.  (Note from Angela:  If you’re looking for a good fish fry – Hamlin House is a great place!)

Cicero Hamlin died February 20, 1905, just three weeks after the sale of Village Farm.  He was considered to be one of Buffalo’s oldest and wealthiest citizens when he died.  He is buried in the Hamlin family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Cicero’s son Harry Hamlin was born in Buffalo on July 17, 1855. Harry worked with his father in the Village Farm and in the American Glucose Company. Harry married Grace Enos in 1878. Harry and Grace lived on North Pearl Street. Harry was killed in an automobile accident on June 3, 1907 at age 52.

chauncey hamlin

Chauncey J. Hamlin

Grace and Harry had a son named Chauncey Jerome Hamlin, born January 11, 1881. Chauncey attended Miss Hoffman’s School, Heathcote School and Nichols School. Graduating from  Yale in 1903 and from Buffalo Law School in 1905, he was admitted to the bar in February 1909.  Chauncey Hamlin helped to launch the Buffalo Legal Aid Bureau. After serving in WWI, he gave up his active law practice in 1919 to serve the community.

Chauncey married Emily Gray in 1904. The Hamlins lived on West Ferry Street between Delaware and Elmwood Avenues. They had three children – Martha, Mary and Chauncey, Jr.  In 1910, they purchased an estate in Snyder.  The John Schenck House and moved to Snyder.  This estate included the John Schenck House, is a small stone house built in the 1830s on Harlem Road near Main Street.  Between the 1890s and the time the Hamlins purchased it, the house had ceased to be residential.  It was used as oat storage by the farmers who lived on the land.  The house reportedly has a slant due to the weight of the oats.

schenck house harlem

Stone House on Harlem Road, Snyder. Source: NYSHPO

The Hamlin Estate included the Schenck House, the main large mansion house (where the family lived), and two other frame houses. They set up a small museum in the old stone house to display the fossils and other natural objects found in the nearby quarries that the Hamlin children would find. They referred to it as the Snyder Museum of Natural History.

In 1922, the Hamlin Estate was sold to the Park School of Buffalo, a private school founded in Buffalo in 1912. When the school moved to Harlem Road, the grounds were described as:

“large barns in prefect repairs, carriage sheds, and a farmhouse. There were great apple orchard, large trees, fields of grain and a tiny brook winding its way down to two enchanting ponds. Best of all, at the entrance of the estate, a very old, stone house banked with lilacs and forsythias, having in it gardens, flowers and herbs which might have been growing there for a century.”

The Hamlin’s home was converted into the main classroom building at Park School, now called Hamlin Hall.

hamlin house snyder

Hamlin House in Snyder. Now Hamlin Hall at Park School.  Source:  Image of America:  Amherst by Joseph Grande.

Chauncey Hamlin would later say that “the little stone house contributed concretely” in his interest in the Buffalo Museum of Science.  Chauncey Hamlin became President of the Museum of Science in 1920. At the time, the Society of Natural Sciences had no permanent building of its own. Some of its collection was housed in a building near the art gallery at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Penhurst Place, but the major collections were located in borrowed space in the Buffalo Public Library on Lafayette Square.

hamlinhall

Hamlin Hall at the Buffalo Science Museum. Source: Friend of Author

Chauncey Hamlin led a campaign to raise funds to build a permanent building in Humboldt Park (now MLK Park). The Buffalo Museum of Science opened in January 1929. Mr. Hamlin continued on as President until 1948. He worked with other families to finance the creation of and upkeep of exhibits in the halls of the museum including the Schoellkopf, Lark, Knox, Kellogg, Goodyear and Bennett families. Chauncey Hamlin contributed over $241,277 (about $4 Million in today’s dollars) to the museum funds. He served on the American Association of Museums as President. He helped to found the International Council of Museums in 1948 and headed the organization for the first five years of its existence.

Chauncey Hamlin also served as the first President of the Buffalo City Planning Association. He led the site selection committee for the new City Hall, which selected the west side of Niagara Square for the site of the building.  From 1925 to 1947, he was Chairman of the Niagara Frontier Planning Board. While on the Board, he pushed for construction of the Grand Island Bridges and other parkways in Buffalo. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal of the University of Buffalo in 1931 and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Alfred University in 1954.

harry hamlin

Actor Harry Hamlin, Great Great Grandson of Cicero Hamlin.  Source:  @harryrhamlin Instagram

Chauncey died on September 23, 1963 in Carmel, California.   He is buried in Forest Lawn.

Chauncey’s son, Chauncey Hamlin Jr. was born in March 1905. Chauncey Jr’s son, Harry R Hamlin, was born in 1951. You might recognize this Harry Hamlin as an actor. Harry was People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1987.  (Disclaimer:  I am watching Harry in my favorite tv show, Veronica Mars, as I write this.)  Harry is the Great Great Grandson of Cicero Hamlin who the street and neighborhood are named after!

So the next time you drive through Hamlin Park in Buffalo, go to Hamlin Park in East Aurora, stop at the Science Museum, or watch a moving starring Harry Hamlin, think of the Hamlin 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.

Sources:

  • Askew, Alice.  “Racing Day Marks Era of the Horse.”
  • Keller, Ed.  “Cicero J. Hamlin Village Farm Among Trotting’s Greatest.”  The Harness Horse.  P 50.
  • “Village Farm.”  Pictorial and Historical Review East Aurora and Vicinity.  1940.
  • Fink, Margaret Reid, editor.  “Chauncey Jerome Hamlin”.  Science on the March.  Volume 44, No 2.  December 1963, p1.
  • NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  Building Structure Inventory Form.  The John Schenck House.
  • “C.J. Hamlin Dead”.  The Buffalo Commercial.  February 20, 1905.  p11.
  • Kwiatkowski, Jane and Paula Voell.  “Buffalo’ 20th Century Club: The Far-Sighted Men and Women Who Shaped Our Past and Set a Course for the Future”.  Buffalo News.  November 28, 1999.

I recently realized that we’ve discussed 200 streets on the blog!  Can you believe it?  We’re technically at 206 streets.  There are 1544 street names in the City of Buffalo, so we’ve covered around 13% of streets so far.  The 200th street was Eggert Road, which was pretty cool since it was an important street to me growing up, and I also lived on Eggert for 5 years during college!

Here’s a map of all of the streets I’ve written about so far:

streets

I have begun to think about making some upgrades to the site sometime soon.  One of things I’d love to be able to make an interactive map for the site.  My vision is that you could zoom into a street and be able to access the post about that street when you clicked on the street name.  Are any of my readers more tech-savvy than me and know how to make this happen?  Please email me at buffalostreets@gmail.com if you are interested in helping me figure out how to do that!

What’s your favorite street I’ve written about?  What streets do you wish I’d write about?  As many of you know, historic research can be hard at times and I’m sure we’ll never know everything about every street.  Sometimes it feels like you hit a lot of dead ends but then you’ll find some info that takes you on a different path entirely.  That’s the frustration and also the beauty of historic research! I plan to continue writing as long as I keep finding information! 

I feel like I’ve become better at research in the more than a decade I’ve been doing this, so I may revisit some earlier posts to bring additional information about those people.  Is that something you would be interested in? 

The Erie County University Express schedule for this semester just came out – I’ll be speaking in July at West Side Community Services.  Find more information, along with all the other wonderful courses presented through University Express here:  https://www4.erie.gov/universityexpress/classes

I have some fun posts coming up, so stay tuned!  Hope everyone is starting to enjoy the warmer weather as we start to hopefully get back to normal and come out of COVID!  

A few posts ago, we talked about General Hayes, for whom two streets in Buffalo get their name.  Did you know there’s another General who actually had three streets named after him!?  Unfortunately, two of this General’s streets don’t exist anymore and the third was renamed.  Today, we’re going to talk about Brig. General David Burt, two Burt Avenues and Burt Alley.  

burtave

Approximate Former Location of Burt Ave

Burt Avenue was located between Abby (now Rittling Blvd) and Hopkins Streets near Tifft Street in South Buffalo.  The street appears on maps as early as 1894.  It is unclear if there was ever development on the street.  I was unable to find evidence of development; however, there were some records of sale of properties on Burt Ave.  The street doesn’t appear to ever have been opened, as it’s listed as “not opened” on maps as late as the 1950s.  Burt Ave, along with other streets in this area appear to be paper streets.  Paper streets are streets that only exist on paper, designed for subdivisions that never end up built for whatever reason.  This area of Buffalo was referred to as part of the the Ogden Gore Tract.  The land was originally a part of the Buffalo Creek Reservation.  Between 1838 and 1842, negotiations were in place with the Ogden Company to acquire the Reservation land for white settlement.  The Ogden Company reportedly obtained the land from a Council of Chiefs. The negotiations were later reported to be “a scandalous condition of bribery and corruption, shameful methods of bribery and intoxications seeming to have been used in procuring signatures.”  We’ll discuss this more when we learn about Ogden Street.  Burt Avenue and the streets in this area may have been planned for development, but as South Buffalo developed, other subdivisions were built first and this area never developed the way that was planned.  This area was surrounded by heavy industrial uses.  If anyone lives near here or has family that lived near here, I’d love to know if you know any more about these streets!

burt ave

1894 Atlas of Buffalo map showing Burt Avenue and other streets that were likely never fully developed in this part of South Buffalo.

There was also a Burt Avenue in North Buffalo.  In 1908, the street name was changed to Coburg Street to remove the street duplication of names.  Newspaper reports of the time indicated that there were no houses built on the street at that time, so the name change would not impact anyone.

burtalley

1894 Atlas of Buffalo Map showing Burt Alley. Court Street is the bottom of the photo with Burt Alley above it in the center part of the photo.  Also depicted is Buffalo High School on the former Burt property and the Tucker Building built on the site of the Burt Family’s 2nd house.  Source:  Erie County.

 

20220131_172808

Remnants of Burt Alley seen between the Convention Center on the left and the Walbridge Building on the right.  Photo by author.

Burt Alley was located between Pearl and Franklin Streets, north of Court Street.  At times, it was also known as Burt Street.  In 1938, the street name was changed from Burt Alley to Omaha Alley.  The name change was the result of a two-year campaign by the Junior Chamber of Commerce to abolish duplicate and confusing names.  Since the Burt name was also used for Burt Ave, the name was changed.  There were 31 street names change at this time, and oddly, this was not the most street names changed by council in one session!  It took a year for the new street signs to go up due to a funding shortage.  Whether you call it Burt or Omaha, the alley is now covered by the Buffalo Convention Center, a portion of its path can still be seen between the Walbridge Building and the Convention Center from Franklin Street.  

davidburt

David Burt. Source: Ancestry.com

David Burt as born in Northampton, Massachusetts in November 1791.  He came to Buffalo in 1815 and opened a general store.  His store was located on the west side of Main Street between Court and Huron opposite the Tifft House

General Burt succeeded General Peter Porter as Brigadier General of the 46th New York State Brigade.  He served on the Village of Buffalo Board of Trustees and was Pension Agent for local veterans of the Revolution and War of 1812. 

In 1825, General Burt accompanied Governor Clinton and other distinguished guests on the inaugural ride on the Seneca Chief to open the Erie Canal.  This event is often referred to as the Wedding of the Waters.  General Burt served in the Assembly from 1827 to 1829.  He served as a Director of the United States Bank, the Commercial Bank and the Buffalo & Niagara Falls Railroad.  

burthouse

Burt House on Niagara Square Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.

General Burt married Harriet Whiting in September 1830.  They had four children – Harriet, Henry, Maria and David Jr.  The Burt family lived in a mansion on Niagara Square that was built in 1832.  Mr. Burt had purchased the lot from Seth Grosvenor for $7,750 (about $251,000 in today’s dollars) in 1832.  The Burts were members of Trinity Church.   Their property was on the triangle of land at Niagara Square bounded by Court, Franklin and Genesee Streets.  It was one of the largest mansions in the city and considered to be among Buffalo’s grandest homes.  Guests at the Burt home included Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and the long time Commanding General of the US Army – Winfield Scott.  

Destruction_of_the_Caroline

The Destruction of the Caroline by George Tattersall. Source: Wikipedia

During the Patriot’s War in 1837, the Canadian Patriot movement took possession of Navy Island.  Led by William Lyon McKenzie, from the town of York (now Toronto), they declared the island The Republic of Canada.  The population of the island grew from about 25 to over 600 men.    Navy Island is a small island on the Ontario side of the Niagara River near Niagara Falls.  The Ship “The Caroline” belonging to William Wells of Buffalo ran between Buffalo and Slocher (Schlosser) opposite Navy Island.  The Canadians thought the steamer was bringing supplies to the Patriots on Navy Island (which it was).  The Canadians boarded the ship, killed the watchman and set the steamer on fire.  They sent the ship over Niagara Falls.  There was outrage in Buffalo over the actions of the Canadians and a fear of going to War again (the memories of the War of 1812 still in many Buffalonians minds).  General David Burt issued orders to the different militia commanders to mobilize in Buffalo for the defense of the frontier in December of 1837.  About 1200 men mobilized – 300 in Buffalo, 100 at Lower Black Rock, 200 in Upper Black Rock, 200 in Tonawanda and the others in Niagara Falls.  The men were discharged from service after the island was vacated by the Patriots.  

burtgraveGeneral Burt died on August 9, 1848.  He was buried with military honors at Forest Lawn.  After General Burt’s death, his widow sold the house to the City of Buffalo in 1853 for $31,000 (about $1.2 Million in today’s dollars).  The City turned the house into a school, Central High School, which opened on the site in 1854.  This was the early days of public education and the need for public schools was still being debated.  At the time, there were no high schools in Buffalo.  The only higher education that students could receive was through what was called a “Third Department” at two other public schools – School 10 on Delaware Avenue and School 7 on Swan Street.  These Third Departments were established in 1848 and taught arithmetic, algebra, geometry, natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, botany, grammar, bookkeeping and English composition.  Eventually the Third Departments grew and the city felt they might need to establish a Central school.  

Central High School was made ready for the 100 students with two teachers.  There were considerable opposition from the press and the public.  In 1858, there was a student rebellion and a petition was circulated to abolish the school.  In 1861, a law was passed which put the school under the supervision of the Board of Regents.  This was the only high school in Buffalo until Masten Park High School opened in 1897.  Central High was the alma mater of both the wife of and the daughter of a US President – Abigail M. Fillmore, daughter of President Millard Fillmore was one of the first students at the school; and Frances Folsom, who later married President Grover Cleveland also attended Central.  Many of the who’s who of Buffalo that have been written about on this blog also attended Central.  One of the most well known teachers at Central was Miss Mary Ripley.  

central high 1908 buffalo times

Central High School, 1908. Source: Buffalo Times

Two generations of General Burt’s descendants attended school in the old house.  In 1870, a wing was added that fronted on Franklin Street to expand the school.  In 1885, the Burt Mansion portion of the school was demolished and replaced by a new three-story structure connecting to the the Franklin Street wing.   In 1914, the school moved to Elmwood Avenue on land donated by the Hutchinson family and became Hutchinson-Central High School.  When Hutchinson opened, they had 122 teachers and 2500 students, along with 4 other high schools – Buffalo’s high schools had 7000 students in total.  Quite a growth from 2 teachers and 100 students when Central opened!  General Burt’s Great Granddaughter taught at Hutchinson High.  After Hutchinson opened, the Old Central building was still used for education of students, including ninth graders attending school there to accommodate the disruption in schools as the new Masten Park School (rebuilding after a fire) and new Hutchinson school buildings were being organized and the construction of the new South Buffalo high school (South Park High) was being completed. 

After the education purposes moved out, the Old Central property was sold by the City of Buffalo in 1926 to help finance the construction of Buffalo City Hall.   William J. Connors Senior (Fingy Conners) purchased the property in March 1926 for $500,000 (about $7.8 Million in today’s dollars).  Mr. Connors, owner of the Buffalo Courier had just brought the Courier and the Buffalo Express together in a merger and planned to erect an office building on Niagara Square for the newspaper.  The first Courier-Express issue hit newsstands on June 14, 1926.   The Courier-Express ended up selecting at Main and Goodell for their building instead, and the Courier-Express building at 787 Main opened in 1930 (now the Catholic Diocese Offices.)  In August 1927, the State purchased the former High School property on Niagara Square to build the Mahoney Office Building.  

Douglas Jemal’s Douglas Development purchased the property in 2020 for $4.1 Million.  Crazy to think that Mr. Jemal is only the 6th owner of the property since the Holland Land Purchase in 1793! Douglas Development is working on a plan to remodel the building into a boutique hotel.  

burthouse2

1872 map showing the location of Central School (in the green triangle on the left). The second Burt Mansion is shown on the lower right corner labeled as D. Burt

After selling the Niagara Square house, Mrs. Burt built a house just a few doors down at 37 Court Street, at the corner of Pearl Street.  That’s right, just like the Burts having multiple streets, they also had two mansions!  The house cost $20,000 in 1861(about $633,000 in today’s dollars).  Mrs. Burt’s gardens were noted for their beauty.  Mrs. Burt lived at the home with her son David Jr., daughter Maria, Maria’s husband Edward Reed, and Maria’s three children.  I wasn’t able to find any pictures of this house, but it was said to be a grand mansion.  The Burt family’s neighbor at the corner of Court and Franklin Street was Albert Tracy

tuckerbuilding buffalo express

Sketch of the Tucker Building on the site of . Source: Buffalo Express

Harriet Burt died in December 1885.  Following her death, the house was demolished and replaced by the Tucker Building.  There were fewer and fewer residential homes around downtown as it was shifting towards a the Central Business District.  Newspaper reports of the time stated that “The rapid growth of Buffalo and the imperative demand of business caused this apparent sacrilege, and as usual with such demands there has been erected on the same site a finer, more costly and more durable building than the former”.  The Tucker Building was demolished for the construction of the Buffalo Convention Center.  

One of David Burt’s grandsons was Frederick Northrop Burt.  Frederick was well known in Buffalo as the proprietor of F. N. Burt Company, who made boxes and cartons.  The company started in a small shop at 440 Main Street in 1886.  F.N. Burt developed a machine that could make boxes and they became the world’s largest producer of small paper boxes.  Their main headquarters was in a building on Seneca Street until 1959 when they moved to Cheektowaga.  The Seneca Street building is now known as 500 Seneca and was renovated into a mixed-use complex by Savarino Companies in 2016.  F.N. Burt closed their operations in Cheektowaga in 1999 after 113 years.

The next time you drive around Niagara Square, think about the Burt Family and all the students of Buffalo who attended school there over the years.  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.

Sources:

  • “Two Thoroughfares Memorials to Soldier – Banker-Merchant” Courier Express November 13, 1938. Found in Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, Vol 2 P. 130.
  • “Street Changes Due”.  Buffalo Evening News.  February 23, 1938, p3.
  • “A Credit to Buffalo:  The Splendid Seven Story Building Erected by Mr. David Tucker”.  Buffalo Express.  March 18, 1888, p12.
  • “Passing of Central as a High School”.  Buffalo Commercial.  July 11, 1914, p 13.
  • “In the Early Days of the Central High School.”  The Buffalo Illustrated Times.  November 29, 1908, p40.
  • “Central High Soon Mere Memory; Board Prepares to Surrender Structure”.  Buffalo Courier.  February 8, 1925, p79.
  • “Halcyon Days of Burt Mansion Are Recalled”.  The Buffalo Exrpess.  March 28, 1826, sec6,p8.
  • “Buffalo Courier-Express.”  Buffalo:  Lake City in Niagara Land.
  • “Tales of Older Buffalo – A Pioneer Buffalo Merchant”.  Buffalo Evening News.  August 15, 1938, p8.
  • Miller, Esther.  “F.N. Burt Co. Closes 100 Workers Lose Jobs at the 113-year-old firm”.  Buffalo New.  October 16, 1999.
  • “Buffalo’s Central High School and the Free School System”.  Buffalo History Gazette.  https://www.buffalohistorygazette.net/2013/01/buffalo-central-high-school-free-school.html
  • Hill, Henry Wayland.  Municipality of Buffalo, New York:  A History, 1720 -1923.  Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1923.  

normalNormal Avenue runs between Hudson Street and Hampshire Street on the West Side of Buffalo.  The street  was originally named 13th Street.  It is one of the original streets laid out in Black Rock by Peter Porter.   Last post, we talked about General Hayes, who was important to the University of Buffalo.  Today, we’re gonna talk about Buff State!  What does Buff State have to do with Normal Ave?  Read on!

In 1871, the Buffalo Normal School opened in a Victorian building at Jersey and 13th Streets (now Normal).   A Normal School is a school for teachers.  The Normal School movement was an effort to standardize what students were learning and improve schools.  The first State Normal School was in Massachusetts in the 1830s.  A bill to establish a State Normal School began circulation in Albany in early 1844.  The bill was signed into law later that year by Governor Bouck.  Beginning with the Albany Normal School, Normal Schools began to be established throughout New York State.  Albany was followed by Oswego, Potsdam, and Cortland.  By 1930, there were two New York State Colleges for Teachers and nine State Normal Schools throughout New York State.

Buffalo and Erie County looked towards establishing a Normal School here in 1866.  The State opted to move forward with the schools at Brockport and Fredonia first.  Buffalo continued to fight for a Normal School. the Buffalo Normal School was approved by the State Legislature in April 1867.  The City was responsible for providing a site and building for the school.  The State provided $12,000 ($226,055 in 2022 dollars) per year to run the school.  Jesse Ketchum provided a 5-acre lot to the City for educational purposes.  The lot was valued at $20,000 ($376759 in 2022 dollars).  The Board of Supervisors approved $45,000 ($847,708 in 2022 dollars) to erect a building and appointed Oliver G. Steele, Albert T Chester, Dennis Bowen to the Normal School Building Committee.

normal school 1872

1872 Atlas of Buffalo showing Blocks 105 with the State Normal School and Block 88 with the Black Rock Burying Ground.

The City and County debated the site for the school.  Because Mr. Ketchum died in September 1867 before the deed was finalized, there was some back and forth regarding the site.  The site donated by Jesse Ketchum was known as Block 105.   Across Jersey Street was Block 88 – bounded by Jersey, Rogers (now Richmond), Porter and 14th Street.  Block 88 was the site of the Black Rock Burying Grounds.  The Black Rock Burial Grounds had been established by William A. Bird on behalf of the Village of Black Rock in 1818.   This burial ground was used for the residents of Black Rock, as well as for paupers who died at the Poor House, which was located to the west of the property, near where D’Youville College is today.  When Forest Lawn Cemetery opened in 1850, the Black Rock Burial Ground was discontinued and  many of the bodies were moved to Forest Lawn by their friends and family. In October 1864, the City of Buffalo had donated the Black Rock Burying Grounds property to the Charity Foundation of the Protestant Episcopal Church with the agreement that the Charity Foundation would move the remains.   The Charity Foundation is the organization that ran the Episcopal Church Home for aged women and for orphans, which opened in 1866 on Rhode Island Street.  At the time, the Charity Foundation was interested in Block 105.  The Charity Foundation argued that the Block 105 site was better suited for them, as the existing buildings there could be used by the Charity Foundation, whereas they were useless to the school.  The Normal School ended up moving forward with their original plans on Block 105.  Beginning in 1875, the Charity Foundation began selling off Block 88 for residential development.

Construction of the Normal School began and a Ceremony was held to lay the cornerstone of the Normal School in April 1869.  More than 3,000 people came out to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone.  A large parade marched from St. James Hall (at Main and Eagle Street downtown) to the West Side, led by city and county officials.  A poem by Mary Ripley was read at the ceremony.

Normal school building_0

Original 1871 State Normal School. Source: Buffalo State College

The building was inspected by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of New York and the State Comptroller in August of 1870.  They approved the building and the City then transferred the property to the State to establish the school.  The first local Board of Managers of the school were appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and included:  John B. Skinner, Francis H. Root, Grover Cleveland, William H Greene, Albert H. Tracy, Thomas F. Rochester, Joseph Warren, Allan Potter, Henry Lapp.  The first Principal of the School was Henry B. Buckham, coming from Vermont.  The Buffalo Normal School opened on September 13, 1871.

The Normal School had three departments:  Normal, Collegiate and Scientific.  The Normal Department was set up for the education of teachers and had three courses of study:  Elementary, Advance English and Classical.  Students had a three year program of study.  Students were required to sign a pledge that they intend to devote a reasonable time to teaching following their education.  The first year was devoted to elementary study, the second year to more advanced English course.  The first term of the third year, the students took Philosophy of Education, School Economy and Methods of Teaching.  The second term involved teaching in the School for Practice.  The School for Practice was established with a class of 20 pupils from each of the 10 grades of the public schools set up within the Normal School.  During the term, Normal School students were given experience as temporary teachers in each grade of children.  Permanent teachers in these classrooms served as teaching critics and helped the Normal School students learn to teach.  Tuition into the Normal Department of the school was free if the pledge was signed.  Without the pledge, tuition was $60 per year.  Graduates of the school received a diploma which gave them a license to teach in New York State.

The Collegiate Department was organized to allow Normal School students to pursue an extended course of study and receive a typical four year degree, similar to other Colleges.  This was one of the first Normal Schools to offer such a department.  The four year program included:  the study of Language, English, Mathematics, History, Philosophy, Elocution, Drawing, and Composition.

The Scientific Department was established to prepare students for employment as a practical Chemist, Engineer, Surveyor, etc.  The courses were taken over three years and consisted of:  higher Mathematics, History or Language, Practical work, Surveying, Mechanics, Field Engineering, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Drawing, and Laboratory work in Chemistry.  Tuition for the Collegiate and Scientific Departments was $60 ($1,130 in 2022 dollars) per term.

At the time, each Normal School was entitled to twice as many pupils as it had Assemblymen.  Candidates had to receive a recommendation from a County Commissioner of Schools or a City Superintendent in order to apply for admission.

The school opened with 86 students – 75 women and 11 men, and 15 faculty members.  There were 195 children taught in the School of Practice.  They were all located in the three-story building at Jersey and 13th Streets.  There was some talk about creating a boarding hall as part of the Normal School, however I don’t believe it was ever built.  Students who required boarding typically found it with private families near the school.  The first school year was divided into two terms of 20 weeks each – one starting September 13th and the second beginning February 14th.

1894

1894 Map of the State Normal School. The Science Annex can be seen behind the school. The other building on the site was the Principal’s Residence, located at 110 14th Street. York Street is at the top of this image, Jersey at the bottom, with Porter running diagonally across the bottom left.

In 1888, the Buffalo Normal School was renamed the State Normal and Training School.   Because of growing enrollment, a science building was added behind the school and connected via a 2nd floor bridge.

In the early 1890s, residents of the street wanted the name changed.  A petition was distributed and signed by the majority of the taxpayers on the street.  There were originally many street named after numbers in this area.  Thirteenth was one of the streets in the area that hadn’t yet been changed:  Six Street had become Front Avenue,  Ninth Street had become Prospect Avenue, Tenth Street had become Faro Avenue, Eleventh Street had become West Avenue and Twelfth Street became Plymouth Avenue.  The Taxpayers suggested Normal Avenue for the name, in honor of the Normal School.  At the time, some people took offense with the name, writing editorials stating that if a street was “normal” would that imply that other streets were abnormal?

On January 16, 1894, the matter of the street name was taken up by the City of Buffalo Committee on Streets.  The City Assessors had found that the petition was not signed by the majority of owners with property fronting on the street and therefore the name was not able to be changed.  By February, 6 1894, the Board of Public Works was again looking at changing the street name.  The name was officially changed in August 1894.  The residents reportedly were happy to feel that they no longer lived on unlucky 13th street!

1915

1915 Map showing the Buffalo State Normal School. This building is still standing today. Again, York Street is at the top of this map, with Jersey Street on the bottom and Porter Avenue running diagonally across the lower left. Note the small building along the York Street side of the site, this was the same Principal’s Residence shown on the earlier map. The house was moved during the construction of the 1914 structure. The residence was demolished when the school was expanded in the 1950s.

By 1901, the school enrolled 828 students.  As the school continued to grow, they began making plans to build an expanded school.  In 1914, the school moved into the larger facility that is there today.   The building was designed to be similar in style to Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

New Normal complete

1914 Buffalo State Normal School. The original 1871 Building had been in front of this building, where the lawn is now.  Source: Buffalo State College

When the 1914 building was constructed, it was anticipated it would meet the school’s needs until the 1960s.  The school grew more quickly than anticipated.  By 1920, the school had outgrown their Lower West Side Facility and began plans to move up to Elmwood Avenue.  They planned to move to property the State owned that was affiliated with the State Insane Asylum.  In 1928, the school became the State Teacher’s College at Buffalo.

rockwell hall

Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Avenue..

In 1931, the Elmwood Avenue campus opened, the centerpiece of the building being the Main Building at 1300 Elmwood Avenue (now Rockwell Hall).  The building contained the college’s library, cafeteria, administrative and faculty offices and an auditorium.  Rockwell Hall has a similar style reminiscent of Independence Hall and the original 1914 State Normal School.  The State architects must have liked the Federal Style!  Today, Rockwell Hall is still one of the most prominent buildings on the campus, home to classrooms, computer labs, dance studios, and performance spaces.

In 1945, the school became the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo.  In 1950, they became SUNY, New York State College for Teachers and in 1951 the State University College for Teachers at Buffalo.  In 1960, they became the State University College of Education at Buffalo.  In 1961, they became State University College at Buffalo, known colloquially as Buff State.  A lot of names for a school that’s only had two locations!

In 1951, the Main Building was renamed Rockwell Hall in honor of Harry Westcott Rockwell, principal of the Buffalo State Normal School beginning in 1919.  He served as the first President of the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo in 1926.  Rockwell helped guide the school through their move from the Lower West Side to Elmwood Avenue and worked to get the college State approval as a teacher’s college, becoming the first state-operated college to offer a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. Under Mr. Rockwell’s guidance, the school grew from 275 students on a 3.5 acre campus to 2,022 students on a 55 acre campus.  Rockwell retired in 1951 after issuing 10,000 diplomas and awarding more than 5,000 degrees over 32 years at the college.

GroverClevelandHSBuffaloNY

The 1914 Normal School Building. The original 1871 building was on the lawn in front of the school.

After the Normal School moved uptown, the building on Normal Avenue became Grover Cleveland High School in 1931.  The school was named after Grover Cleveland, who had served on the Board of Managers of the Normal School when it first opened in 1871!  The school was renovated in 1959 when an addition was built on the north end for additional classrooms, a swimming pool and a gymnasium.  In 2011, the final class of Grover Cleveland High School graduated.  The building was renovated from 2011 to 2013, when it was reopened as the International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland High School.  In 2017, Architectural Digest named the school the Most Beautiful Public High School in New York State.

The next time you drive down Normal Ave or pass by Buff State, think of the State Normal School and quest for education of teachers here in Buffalo…and all of the teachers that have influenced students of Buffalo over the years.  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.

Sources:

  • “Wanted – A Name.”  Buffalo Evening News.  July 13, 1891, p5.
  • Buffalo Courier.  July 14, 1891, p4.
  • Minutes.  Corporation Proceedings, Board of Alderman, Buffalo.  Monday January 15, 1894.
  • “The Name Will Remain.”  Buffalo Enquirer.  January 16, 1894, p2.
  • “All Around Town.”  Buffalo Courier.  August 15, 1894, p5.
  • Lee, Richard J.  “The Campus School at SUNY Buffalo State, 1871 -1991”.  A Selection of Works on the History of Buffalo State College. Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State.  https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/buffstate-history/5
  • Buffalo State College – Our History.  https://suny.buffalostate.edu/history
  • “Normal School.”  Buffalo Daily Gazette June 8, 1844, p1.
  • “Normal Schools – A Proposition for Buffalo”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  January 7, 1867, p4.
  • “A Normal School in Buffalo.”  Buffalo Courier.  April 26, 1867, p8.
  • “The Normal School Question Decided.”  Buffalo Commercial.  June 27, 1867, p3.
  • “The Normal School”.  Buffalo Courier.  July 9, 1867, p8.
  • “The Church Foundation and the Normal School”.  Buffalo Commercial.  April 21, 1868, p1.
  • “The State Normal School and College”.  Buffalo Courier.  July 26, 1871, p2.
  • Waldek, Stefanie.  “The Most Beautiful Public High School in Every State In America”.  Architectural Digest.  September 12, 2017.
  • The President Harry W. Rockwell Digital Collection.  Digital Commons at Buffalo State. https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/rockwell_buffalostate/  (online January 2022)
  • “Notice”.  Buffalo Weekly Express. October 25, 1864, p4.
  • “Proposed Change in the Location of the Normal School”.  Buffalo Express.  April 2, 1868, p2.
  • Smith, Henry Perry.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Company, 1884.

hayesplace

Hayes Place

Hayes is one of Buffalo’s street names that was used twice! Municipalities typically don’t like having duplicate street names as it leads to difficulty with mail delivery and providing emergency services. Often when street name changes happened throughout Buffalo’s history, it was during times when they were removing duplicate street names. This usually happened when the City boundary was expanded, when Post Offices were consolidated or discontinued, or when confusion occurred due to duplicate names. Hayes Place is a short street off of Seneca Street near the I-190. Place is typically used for streets that don’t have a throughway. In the case of Hayes Place, the road dead-ends at a factory along railroad tracks. Interestingly, the other streets in this area also end at the tracks but are named Street. Buffalo does not have strict naming conventions when it comes to Street versus Avenue versus Road, etc! Hayes Road is also the official name of the ring road that circles UB South Campus, the centerpiece of which is Hayes Hall. All three of these are named for Edmund Hayes.

hayes road

Hayes Road at University of Buffalo

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Edmund B. Hayes. Source: Ancestry.com

Edmund B Hayes was born in 1849 in Farmington, Maine. He attended public and preparatory schools in Maine and then Dartmouth College. His time at Dartmouth was not continuous. Instead, Mr. Hayes would take time off in-between semesters to earn tuition by working at farms or teaching. After completing two years at Dartmouth, he transferred to MIT, where he graduated in 1873 with a civil engineering degree.

After graduation, he worked for the Passaic Bridge Company in New Jersey and for the engineering division of the Erie Railroad. He came to Buffalo in 1874 to join George S. Field at the Morrison Field Bridge Company. At this time, railroads were expanding across the country, so bridge building was a very profitable business. Mr. Hayes handled the engineering, and Mr. Field dealt with the contracting.

In 1883, Mr. Hayes proposed a cantilever design for the Michigan Railroad bridge across the Niagara River.  The Michigan Central Railway was owned by Cornelius Vanderbuilt, who was looking for a crossing between Canada and the US.  Mr. Hayes proposed the first steel span cantilever bridge across the Niagara River, known as the Niagara Cantilever Bridge.  Previous bridges across the gorge had been a suspension bridge.  This was was the largest steel span bridge in the world at the time.  The train was in operation until 1925 when modern trains became heavier and a new bridge was needed.

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Cantilever Bridge at Niagara Falls. Rand, McNally & Company.

In 1884, the company became the Union Bridge Company, of which Mr. Hayes was part owner. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Field oversaw an 8-acre manufacturing site at the foot of Hamburg Street that created 15,000 tons of material used to make bridges worldwide! The Union Bridge Company built the Poughkeepsie Bridge over the Hudson River in 1888. This bridge was in service until 1974 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.  The bridge reopened in 2009 as a pedestrian walkway as part of the Walkway Over the Hudson Park.

ub_alumni_club1

Edmund Hayes House at 147 North Street, pictured in 1925.  Source: UB Archives

Edmund Hayes married Mary H. Warren in 1878. Mary was a sister-in-law to Edmund’s partner and friend George Fields. In 1892, they moved into a Green & Wicks-designed home at 147 North Street. This house was two doors down from the Metcalfe House. They had no children, but the home was known for entertaining people from the worlds of art, literature, music, and science.

Mr. Hayes served for three years as Chief of the Engineering Division of New York State under Governor Cornell’s administration from 1880 to 1882 and Governor Grover Cleveland’s in 1883.  He was given an honorary military title by his friend Governor Grover Cleveland, who made him an honorary General in the National Guard, and he became General Edmund Hayes.  The title was only honorary.  A story was passed along regarding a time that General and Mrs. Hayes were eating dinner when a down on his luck man rang the doorbell.  The man told the staff “surely General Hayes would want to see a fellow soldier” and that they had served in the same regiment during the war.  General Hayes had the man turned away as they new he was lying as “General” Hayes had never fired a gun.

In 1891, the Union Bridge Company was sold to the US Steel Company, which late became the American Bridge Company.  General Hayes and his wife took a trip overseas to celebrate. They traveled to Europe, Egypt, and Palestine.  General Hayes became a Capitalist and Philanthropist.

In 1897, General Hayes invested with John J. Albright to found the Buffalo Bolt Company in North Tonawanda. They also invested in the Ontario Power Company in Canada. General Hayes was an early automobile user in Buffalo. He funded Hares Motors to manufacture Locomobile, Simplex, and Mercer automobiles.

General Hayes served on the Board of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (now Albright Knox Art Gallery). In 1892, he gave $5,000 ($81,271 in 2021 dollars)  to assist them in offering classes. From 1915 until his death, he would give to the organization to cancel out their annual debts.

The Hayes Family attended St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. General Hayes Hayes was the longest-serving vestryman with 34 years of service. In the Episcopal Church, a vestryman is a member of the Church’s leading body. In 1906, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was in financial distress. He offered $50,000 ($1.5 Million in 2021 dollars) to the church if others in the congregation matched it. The congregation matched the funds, and the church remained in Shelton Square.

In 1913, Dartmouth awarded him an honorary Master of Science degree 40 years after attending the school. He returned the favor with a check for $10,000 ($280,755 in 2021 dollars).

In 1922, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes moved to 198 North Street.  They sold the 147 North Street home to the University of Buffalo Alumni as their first clubhouse.  The Alumni Club was established in 1921, a separate organization from the Alumni Association.  The Alumni Club was established to create a “greater university” through loyalty of the alumni.  The Hayes House was well suited for a clubhouse.  The grounds were shaded by elm trees.  The house contained reception rooms, reading rooms, a library, card rooms, billiard room and an assembly hall.  More than 2,000 meals were served at the Alumni Club each month.  The financial collapse of 1929 affected the Alumni Club and membership was considered a luxury by the members, a luxury they could no longer afford.  The Alumni Club put a portion of the property on the market, but no potential buyers came forward.  They were unsuccessful in obtaining a bank loan and defaulted on the mortgage.  After 1931, the Alumni Club became a group devoted to raising money for scholarships as opposed to a social organization.  The 147 North Street house was then a restaurant for many years, including Tuyn’s Restaurant and Martin’s before the building was demolished.  Like its neighbor, the Metcalfe House, the site of the Hayes House is now the lawns and gardens of UB’s Jacobs Executive Development Center (formerly the Butler Mansion).

hayes grave

Hayes Grave

Edmund Hayes died on October 19, 1923, after suffering a stroke. Mary died a year later, on November 18, 1924. They are buried in Forest Lawn. They left significant amounts of money to various organizations throughout Buffalo:

  • Their artwork was left to the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, along with $75,000 ($1.2 Million in 2021) for future art purchases.
  • St. Paul’s church received another $50,000 ($812,713 in 2021) for an endowment known as the Edmund Hayes Fund.
  • Buffalo General Hospital received $10,000 ($162,542 in 2021) for an endowment known as the Edmund Hayes Fund.
  • Children’s Hospital received $10,000 ($162,542 in 2021) for the Mary H. Hayes Fund
  • Home for the Friendless, $5,000 ($81,271 in 2021) to be known as the Mary H. Hayes Fund
  • YMCA, $10,000 ($162,542 in 2021) for the Edmund Hayes Funds
  • Farmington, Main Old South Church, $10,000 ($162,542 in 2021) for the Edmund Hayes Fund
  • Farmington Library, $20,000 ($325,085 in 2021) to purchase books and maintain the institution

The remainder of the estate was divided equally between the University of Buffalo and Dartmouth College. The University of Buffalo received $389,000 ($6.3 Million in 2021).  General Hayes had served on the UB Council from 1920 to 1923 – during the years when the University was trying to establish a College of Arts and Sciences. The Erie County Almshouse property was purchased by the University in 1909. The Hayes Estate bequest allowed the University to transform the Almshouse building into classrooms and offices. To remember General Hayes, the University named the building Edmund B. Hayes Hall.  Hayes Hall is a highly visible structure along UB’s Main Street frontage and is often used in images to represent the South Campus.

Hayes Hall was initially built as the Erie County Insane Asylum as part of the Erie County Almshouse and Poor Farm. The building is the only remaining County insane asylum building in Erie County. The first Erie County Almshouse and Asylum was built at Porter and York in 1829. In 1849, the institution moved to Buffalo Plains (University Heights). What we now know as Hayes Hall was built in 1874-79 and was designed by George Metzger. In 1893, the mentally ill became wards of the State. Patients were moved to the State Asylum on Forest Avenue (the Richardson Olmsted Complex today). What is now Hayes Hall and the other buildings were used as a county hospital. The last patients were moved to the Erie County Home and Infirmary in 1926.

Erie County Hospital, University Archives, 1896 call number 20DD:7

Erie County Hospital, 1896.  Source:  University Archives

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Hayes Hall, UB. Photo by Author

In 1926, Hayes Hall was remodeled in the Georgian Revival Style by Cyrus K. Porter and Sons. This was when the distinctive clock tower was added to the building. The building’s first university use was as an administrative and academic building.  Hayes Hall remodeled again in 1954 by James, Meadows & Howard to expand the building for classroom uses.  The the late 1960s, Hayes Hall was the site of student and faculty protests related to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.  Since 1977, the building has been home to the School for Architecture and Planning.  (Note from Angela:  this is where I spent a lot of time while getting my Masters in Planning from 2007-2009).  The building underwent significant renovations from 2010-2015 by Bergmann Associates to modernize the building for a modern architecture and planning school.  The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Next time you drive past Hayes Place or 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.

Sources:

  • “General Hayes Noted Bridge Builder Dead”.  Buffalo Commercial.  October 19, 1923, p1.
  • “General Edmund Hayes.”  Buffalo Times.  October 19, 1923, p22.
  • “Arts Academy Benefits By Hayes’ Will”  Buffalo Commercial.  November 7, 1923, p12.
  • Edens, John.  “90 Years Ago, A Club for UB Alumni”.  UB Reporter.  December 22, 2011.
  • “Edmund B. Hayes Hall.”  University at Buffalo University Archives.
  • “Edmund B. Hayes Hall.”  Historic American Buildings Survey.  SHP No 10PRO7210.  Accessed via https://cris.parks.ny.gov/

eggertroad

Eggert Road

Eggert Road is one of the longer streets we’ve talked about here.  Eggert is a 6.5-mile, north-south route that runs through four municipalities – Cheektowaga, Buffalo, Amherst, and Tonawanda! The street is named for the first Postmaster of Eggertsville, Christian Eggert.  Eggertsville was also named for Mr. Eggert.  Eggertsville is one of five hamlets in the Town of Amherst. In New York, a hamlet is an unincorporated settlement within a town. A hamlet has no local government or official boundaries. Eggertsville centers around the corner of Main Street and Eggert Road. The western edge of Eggertsville is the City of Buffalo line, but the eastern border is often disputed. Adjacent to Eggertsville, the hamlet of Snyder centers around the corner of Main and Harlem Road. People differ in their opinions of where Eggertsville ends and Snyder begins. Eggertsville and Snyder are often thought of as one unit, such as in the Eggertsville-Snyder Public Library. The Town of Amherst has an Eggertsville Action Plan which uses the following boundary: west to Niagara Fall Boulevard, south to Kenmore Avenue/Main Street, Getzville Road to the east, and Sheridan Drive to the north.

eggertsville

Approximate boundary of Eggertsville

The Eggertsville area was first settled by property owners with large tracts of land. The first building in what became Eggertsville was a general store built on the northeast corner by Abraham Miller in 1811.  Mr. Miller lived behind the store. His property extended north along what became Eggert Road, where he set aside a cemetery to be used by the community. The first burial there was a child named Elizabeth Grobin.  Abraham was buried there in 1845. The cemetery was used until at least 1873. Mr. Miller’s property and the cemetery are now St. Benedicts Roman Catholic Church and School.  A hotel was built at the corner of Main and Eggert in 1816.

The first church in what became Eggertsville, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was incorporated in 1827 and was granted its present site in 1829 by the Holland Land Company.  St. Paul’s is the oldest Lutheran Church in Erie County.  The church was first called the German Reformed Church. The congregation was established by Reverend Meyerhoffer, an ex-chaplain of the German Army who gathered together German-speaking residents of Buffalo, Black Rock, and Amherst from Alsace Loraine.  The original church on the site was built in 1833 and a new church was built in 1874.  Unfortunately, the church was destroyed by a fire in 1879. The church was rebuilt and dedicated in 1880. (Note from Angela: this is the church I grew up attending – Hi St. Paul’s friends!)

eggert

Christian Eggert III.  Source:  Town of Amherst

Christian Eggert was born in April 1795 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mr. Eggert was actually Christian Eggert III. His grandfather, Christian Eggert, had come to Pennsylvania from Uckermark, Germany in 1742. Christian III moved from PA to Western New York in 1831, going into business with Hugh Cathcart as “Cathcart & Eggert”. Cathcart & Eggert owned an Iron Foundry and Plough Factory in Williamsville which built ploughs, cast iron turnpike scrapers, sleigh-shoes, wagon boxes, wagon axles, stoves and other cast iron materials.  The partnership was ended in 1832, with Christian Eggert continuing the company himself.  Mr. Eggert also worked as a land surveyor and surveyed many properties across Western New York.

Christian III married Anna Hershey in March 1818. They had ten children. Benjamin, Aaron, Jacob, Melvina, Oliver, Christian, Ann Marie, Esther, Andrew, and Anna. The first six children were born in Pennsylvania. The others were born in Amherst.

In 1836, The Buffalo and Williamsville Macadam Company was incorporated by Christian Eggert, John Hutchinson, and the Hopkins Family. The company operated a paved toll road. Macadam is a form of pavement invented by John McAdam in Scotland in the 18th century. The Buffalo & Williamsville Macadam toll road went from Buffalo to Williamsville along what is now Main Street and opened in 1837. At Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo and at Getzville Road in Amherst, there were toll gates. Everyone who traveled along the road had to pay the toll, including rates for vehicles and bicycles. In addition, farmers taking livestock to market were charged on a per-head basis. The toll gates operated until 1899.

On the southeast corner of Main and Eggert, Christian Eggert built a house in 1832. Mr. Eggert set up the first post office in this house in 1855. At the time, Post Offices moved around based on who Postmaster was, so they were often located in residences and business places. In 1861, when Michael Snyder became Post Master, residents of Eggertsville were angry since this moved the Post Office a mile to the east to Main & Harlem. Since several roads converged at Eggertsville, more business happened at Main & Eggert than at Main & Harlem. They also would have to pass the Toll Gate, which had a charge each way of 5 cents for a single wagon and 8 cents for a double wagon (between $1.50 and $2.56 today). There were 200 residents impacted by this change instead of 40 who were not affected. About 140 residents of Eggertsville banded together to write to Washington to have the old post office reinstated. The Post Office was back in Eggertsville beginning in 1867 when Christian Eggert was reappointed as Postmaster.  Residents of Snyder got their own Snyder Post Office in 1882, with Michael Snyder as Postmaster.

The Eggertsville Post Office was discontinued in 1905, and postal service was transferred to Williamsville.  The Eggertsville Post Office was reestablished in 1914, and discontinued in 1930 when it was absorbed by the Buffalo Post Office.

Christian Eggert III died in August 1879 at the age of 84. He is buried in the Williamsville Cemetery on Main Street in the Village of Williamsville.  Son Christian M. Eggert was one of the first Postmasters of the Tonawanda Post Office.  Son Aaron Eggert was the first lawyer in the town of Amherst establishing a law office in 1868.  Son Oliver Eggert was Sheriff of Erie County from 1865-67.

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Eggertsville House, circa 1875. Source: A History of the Town of Amherst

In 1859, the Eggert’s house was converted into a tavern by Nicholas Chassin. The Chassin family had a 15-acre plot extending south along Eggert Road. Eggertsville residents will recognize the Chassin name as there is a street named after him, Chassin Avenue, running parallel to Eggert through what was the Chassin property. Many of the settlers in the area at the time were of French origin. When new French immigrants arrived in Buffalo with little to no money, they were told to go out to see Nicholas Chassin. He would take them in, feed them and let them live with him until they found work. The Eggerstville House was demolished in 1960.

At the bend in Main Street, between Ivyhurst and Koster Row, was a little brick church, behind which was a cemetery. In 1866, it was designated as “The Free Church” and in 1880 as “The Union Church .”The church was a small, red brick building with a Pennsylvania Dutch fence and gateway. As members of the congregation passed away or moved, the church was abandoned and demolished. The cemetery was deeded in May 1849. It was known as “The Resting Place” and was dedicated for all denominations.  Two of the Eggerts were buried in The Resting Place: Christian III’s son, Christian M Eggert, who died in 1861 at the age of 31 and Christian M. Eggert’s daughter (Christian III’s granddaughter), Isabell Eggert who died at 19 in 1873.

eggertsville cemetery

Map showing the two Eggertsville Cemeteries – one behind St. Benedict’s Church and one located between Ivyhurst and Koster Row.

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Christian M. Eggert and daughter Isabell L. Eggert’s gravestone in Skinnersville Cemetery

In 1950, Henry Juette was looking to build a house on Main Street near Ivyhurst, having purchased the property from Erie County. The property along Main Street was the original church site. Residents of Eggertsville were up in arms as the development of the house would cut the cemetery property off from public access. The house would prevent those who did wish to visit the cemetery from maintaining their relative’s graves. The property had been purchased by John G. Sattler from the church. Mr. Sattler deeded the land to Erie County. Many of the older families had passed away or moved away, so the cemetery was not kept up. Many of those buried in the cemetery were the founders of Eggertsville, including the Frick Family. The Fricks were the first purchaser of land in Eggertsville from the Holland Land Company in 1817. Two of the Eggert children were buried here. The cemetery was abandoned in 1956, and those from this cemetery and the Eggert Road Cemetery (where St. Benedict’s is now) were moved to Skinnersville Road Cemetery in 1956.  Both Christian M. Eggert and Isabell Eggert’s bodies were moved at this time.  The original cemetery was developed with the existing residential subdivision.

crosbymansion

Crosby Mansion, Eggertsville. Source: Beautiful Homes of Buffalo.

In 1893, the Buffalo and Williamsville Railway opened, making Eggertsville more accessible. Large country estates, such as the William H. Crosby Estate, were developed for successful Buffalo businessmen. The Crosby Estate was 243 acres along Main Street, between Bailey Avenue and Eggert Road. William Crosby was a business tycoon.  He owned the Crosby Company, a metal works known for making bicycle frames, founded in 1896 at the corner of Pratt and Broadway.  Crosby Blvd in Eggertsville and Crosby Hall at UB are named for William Crosby.

eggertsville subdivisions

Some of the original subdivisions of Eggertsville – The Crosby Estate in Red, Pomeroy Park in Blue, High Park-Country Club in Green, Amherst Estates in Orange and Hollywood Subdivision in purple

In the early 1900s, these large estates began to be broken up for further residential development. Beginning around 1910, the Amherst Estates were developed by R.W. Goode and G. H. Sickles. They included the streets LeBrun Road, LeBrun Circle, and Keswick Road. They created 180 lots which ranged from one to five acres. The homes in the Amherst Estates were built as expensive homes in various styles for “people of means.”

In 1916, Chas S. Burkhardt developed the High Park-Country Club section adjacent to the Amherst Estates. The development’s name came from the Country Club at Main and Bailey. The Country Club became Grover Cleveland Park and Golf Course in 1926. High Park Boulevard was built and developed with what was considered a “high-class” neighborhood at the time. They restricted the development to single-family homes and required houses to all be setback at least 40 feet from the street and to cost at least $5,000 ($127,500 in 2022 dollars).

The Hollywood Subdivision was established in 1919, built out of John Sattler’s estate. This development includes Westfield, Ivyhurst and Dellwood Roads. While higher-end homes were built earlier, these houses catered to working-class residents looking for inexpensive modest dwellings.

The Crosby Estate was developed in 1926 as Cleveland Park Terrace.  The neighborhood was developed as a “Garden City” style of development. The development had 1300 home sites, 8 miles of streets, 16 miles of sewer and water, and gas, electric, and phone service.

pomeroy

Pomeroy Mansion, Eggertsville. Source: Beautiful Homes of Buffalo.

Pomeroy Park was developed by J. C. Troidl beginning in 1929.  Pomeroy Park was established by Gurney, Overturf & Becker from Robert W. Pomeroy’s estate and advertised as “Buffalo’s finest subdivision.”  Robert Pomeroy was a prominent lawyer in Buffalo.  Pomeroy Park consists of the streets Elham Drive, Bradenham Place, Longleat Park, Audley End and Greenaway Road.  The development consisted of 59 lots and was restricted to “high-class” single family dwellings.  Advertisements of the time indicated that there were other restrictions in place to “assure purchasers of pleasing environments”….not sure what that meant at the time, but it could refer to restrictive covenants which limited people of color from owning homes in certain neighborhoods.

Like much of Western New York and the rest of the country, the growth of Eggertsville slowed during the Great Depression. The boom was replaced by a period of recession and stabilization. The area then began to grow again in the 1950s, when prosperity returned to America, with post-war suburbanization building out much of Eggertsville and Snyder, including sites like the former Hedstrom Estate.

The next time you drive down Eggert Road, think of Christian Eggert and the other early settlers of Eggertsville!  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.

Sources:

  • Young, Sue Miller.  A History of the Town of Amherst, 1818-1865.  Town of Amherst, 1965.
  • “Eggertsville Post Office.”  Buffalo Daily Courier.  August 17, 1861.
  • “Obituary – Christian Eggert.”  Buffalo Courier.  August 16, 1879.
  • Fess, Margaret.  “New House Isolating Cemetery Causes Furor”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  August 20, 1950, p 22-A.
  • “The Amherst Estates.”  Buffalo Evening News.  May 7, 1910.  P53.
  • “Opening High Park”.  Buffalo Commercial.  March 19, 1915, p10.
  • Hubbell, Mark, editor.  Beautiful Homes of Buffalo.  Buffalo Truth Publishing Company, 1915.
  • Petri, Pitt.  The Postal History of Western New York.  copyright 1960, Buffalo NY.
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