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blossomBlossom Street is a street in Downtown Buffalo that runs between East Huron Street and Broadway.  It is cut in half by Hersee Alley.  It functions mainly as an alley for buildings along Ellicott and Oak Streets these days, but it is still designated as a street by the City of Buffalo.  Buildings along the street have windows and doorway entrances that once looked out onto Blossom Street, but are now bricked over.

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Street sign that has seen better days

 

20200301_154105It is not named for flowers, but for Ira Allen Blossom.  Mr. Blossom served as right hand man to Joseph Ellicott. Mr. Blossom’s family were pioneers in Monmouth, Maine, where Ira was born in 1789.  In his 20s, Ira moved to Meadville Pennsylvania for work.  When he was 26, he came to Buffalo as Joseph Ellicott’s assistant.

Mr. Blossom started as Joseph Ellicott’saide in 1821 and was later a Subagent for the Holland Land Company following Joseph’s resignation.  Mr. Blossom was connected to the Holland Land Company until the company was sold to the Farmer’s Loan & Trust Company in the 1840s.  He was then appointed receiver of the Buffalo branch of the United States Bank.  He was also made receiver of the Commercial Bank.  While working for the Holland Land Company and the banks, he was known for being lenient with giving credit to promising young men to start their businesses.  A number of businessmen in Buffalo attributed much of their success to Mr. Blossom’s confidence in them and expressing his confidence through credit.

 

Mr. Blossom partnered with Mr.Lewis Allen to lease what is now the site of the Ellicott Square Building.  In May, 1829, they secured a 63 year lease for the property bounded by Main, North Division, Washington and Swan Streets.  They were able to get the lease at a bargain.  This land had been set aside for Joseph Ellicott by the Holland Land Company in 1816 to build his home, but the Village Trustees interfered and straightened the path of Main Street.  Joseph was disgusted and gave the land to Joseph Ellicott the younger, his nephew.  For the first 21 years, they paid only $700 ($16,000 in today’s dollars) per year, for the second 21 years $850 ($19,000) a year, and for the third 21 years, they paid $1,000 ($23,000) a year.

It was written of Mr. Blossom and Mr. Allen at the time, “the magnitude of their enterprise frightened every conservative in town.” They saw the potential of the site and built a block of fourteen 2-story buildings on the site.  The first legitimate theater in Buffalo was built on the site in 1835.  This theater, William Duffy’s Theater, was on South Division Street between the alley at Washington Street.  It burned down in the 1840s.  The Young Men’s Association (which became the Buffalo Public Library) leased and occupied the upper part of the Theater building.  Reverend Cicero Stevens Hawkins worshiped in the theater in the late 1830s with a group of Episcopalians.  These worshipers later formed Trinity Church, on Delaware Avenue.  Other buildings on the site were filled with businesses as well.

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Buildings located at what is now the Ellicott Square Building

Mr. Blossom and Mr. Allen’s lease on the Ellicott Square ran out in 1892, after both men had died.  On March 1, 1893, the properties were all purchased by the Ellicott Square Company for a fee of $1,080,000 (about $33,583,730 today).   By 1895, when they were planning to construct the Ellicott Square Building, the buildings on this property were described as “the sorriest exhibit of business buildings in the city.”  The planned Ellicott Square Building was expected to cost 2 Million to construct.

Mr. Blossom married Eunice Hubbard.  They lived at the triangle at Franklin, Swan and Erie Streets, across from St. Joseph’s Cathedral.   The famous naturalist Audubon was a guest at their home.  Mr. Audubon was thought to have painted portraits of the Blossoms in 1825, which the family treasured.  The house stood in a garden and was framed by majestic trees of the primeval forest.  The Blossoms had one daughter, Anna.

In 1831, Mr. Blossom, along with John Beals, Samuel Callendar, Elizah Einer, James McKay and Noah Sprague met to organize a parish of the Unitarian church.  The congregation grew and constructed its first building in 1833, at the corner of Franklin and Eagle Street.  The building is still standing today, having been remodeled into a commercial building by the Austin Family. 

In 1832, Mr. Blossom was elected to Buffalo’s first Board of Alderman.  For two terms, he represented the old Third Ward on the board.  He was offered other public offices, but he declined them.  He helped to incorporate the University of Buffalo and was on the university’s first council.

He also was known for giving generously to public projects he believed would benefit Buffalo.  He was known for his hospitality.  He was also known for taking care of the poor, at a time when the indigent were not considered a general public responsibility; his gifts and kindness helped many families.

blossom grave 2He died in 1856.  Mr. Blossom’s tombstone read “a man who never turned his back on his honor, a loyal citizen, a generous friend.”  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

After Mr. Blossom died, living across from the Cathedral and hearing it’s carillon inspired Mrs. Blossom to become a Catholic.  She gave the house to the church.  On the site of the house, St. Stephen’s Hall was built.   Mrs. Blossom and Anna moved to New England.  When Mrs. Blossom died in 1875, she was buried along with her husband in Forest Lawn.

Portraits of Mr. Blossom can be found in the collection of the Albright Knox Art Gallery and the Buffalo History Museum, both portraits are the same painting.  The portrait in the Albright Knox Collection was attributed to John James Audubon and was believed to have been painted in 1825. The Albright’s  portrait was donated, along with a portrait of Mrs. Blossom, in 1943 by the grandson of the Blossoms, Ira A.B. Smith.  The second portrait, was donated to the Buffalo Historical Society at a later date by the estate of one of Mr. Blossom’s associates in the Holland Land Company office.  This second portrait was accompanied by Mr. Blossom’s journals.  The 1835 journal reveals that an associate (Mr. Johnson) commissioned the painting, along with a copy, for his colleague in 1835.  The paintings are both believed to have been done by Samuel Bell Waugh and not by Audubon as had been originally thought.  Both museums attribute the painting to Waugh now.  The picture of Mr. Blossom in this article is a newspaper copy clipping of the painting.

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index.   Be sure to subscribe to the blog so that new posts are sent directly to you – you can do so on the right hand side of the home page.  You can also like my blog page on facebook at facebook.com/buffalostreets.

Sources:

  1. Winner, Julia Hull.  “The Puzzle of Buffalo’s Two Ira Blossom Portraits that Look Just Alike”.  Buffalo Evening News Magazine.  December 1, 1962, p 1.
  2. “Centennial Planned for Unitarian Church”.  Buffalo Evening News.  November 21, 1931.  p 4.
  3. Buffalo Changes:  The Old Buildings Now on Good Business Sites, and the New Structures which are to Replace Them.  Buffalo Express.  Feb 3, 1895.
  4. Audubon Works Are Acquired by Art Gallery.  Courier Express , Nov 19, 1939, sec 5 p3.
  5. Goldberg, Arthur.  The Buffalo Public Library:  Commemorating its first century of service to the citizens of Buffalo – 1836-1936.  Privately Printed, Buffalo New York, MCMXXXVII (1937).
  6. Smith, Katherine.  Named for Ira Blossom. Courier Express Nov 19, 1939, sec. 5, p3.

 

emerson placeEmerson Place is a small one-block street that runs between Michigan Avenue and Masten Avenue in the Masten Park neighborhood on the East Side.  The Street is named for Henry P. Emerson, superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.  The Emerson neighborhood and Emerson School of Hospitality are also named after Henry Emerson.  In Addition to the Emerson School on Chippewa, the Buffalo schools are about to start classes in a new location on West Huron, where the former CW Miller Livery was converted into classroom space and a new gymnasium was built on a parking lot.  The new school will be The Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, formerly known as Emerson Annex.  The school expansion project was one of Mark Croce’s projects.  Mark passed away earlier this month.  He was a friend of this blog and I always enjoyed talking with him about the history of his buildings.  Since there’s no Croce Street, I write this post in memory of Mark, as well as in celebration of the new space for the students!

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Henry Pendexter Emerson was born in Lynn Field, Massachusetts in 1847. He was the son of Oliver and Eliza (Weston) Emerson and is a relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He attended Phillips Andover Academy. in Massachusetts. He received his A.B. Degree in 1871 and A.M. in 1874. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, he started teaching Greek and Latin at Potsdam Normal School.

Mr. Emerson came to Buffalo in 1874 to teach at Old Central (located on Niagara Square). After nine years, he became principal of the school. While he was principal, he obtained $60,000 in appropriations to enlarge the school. This was a very large appropriation at the time.

At the time, the superintendent of schools was a political office. Dr. Emerson ran for it in 1892 on the Republican ticket. He was elected for six successive four-year terms. After the office ceased to be an elected office, he was appointed to continue as superintendent by Mayor Louis Fuhrman. In 1919, Dr. Emerson retired.

Dr. Emerson married Mary Estey of Middleton, Massachusetts in 1874. They lived on Allen Street at the site of what is now the Allendale Theatre (Theatre of Youth) and later at 122 College Street in Buffalo.  The family returned to Middleton every summer and kept a home there on a lake. After retirement, they moved to Middleton full time. They returned to Buffalo every winter for more than a decade to reunite with his fellow teachers and friends.

While Dr. Emerson was superintendent, he was considered an education reformer. He often said, “Better schools make a Better Buffalo”.  Buffalo’s rapid growth had caused school problems at the time.  The population had more than doubled between 1870 and 1900 (from 117,714 to 255,000 people).  Schools were crowded and the quickest growing immigrant populations lived in areas where there were often no schools.  In 1900, almost 3/4ths of the school population was foreign-born or the children of foreign-born.  City services – such as garbage pickup, water supply, sewer, trolley service, etc had difficulty keeping up with the growth, and schools were no exception.  Classrooms at the time could be jammed with as many as 100 students assigned to a single teacher.  The schools were poorly ventilated and poorly lit, with inadequate seating.  Students learned by rote, reciting text together, and passed each grade with a written test, if they passed at all.  In 1890, 76% of children were in 1st and 2nd grade.  There was no school board, school policy was set by the City Council.  As superintendent, Dr. Emerson appointed and supervised the 700 teachers.  Many of the teachers at the time were poorly educated young women from politically connected families.  An October 1892 article in Forum, described the school system of Buffalo as an example of how not to run a public school system.

Dr. Emerson introduced free textbooks for public schools, the first local kindergartens and the first evening classes. He also introduced the first courses in home economics and industrial arts, from which Buffalo’s vocational schools developed. While he was superintendent, four public high schools were built – Lafayette, Masten, South Park and Technical. The Masten High School building is now City Honors. Technical High School was located at Cedar Street and Clinton Avenue (now school administration offices and storage). Technical High School merged with Hutchinson and Central High Schools and is now Hutchinson Central Technical High School (typically called Hutch Tech these days). Lafayette High School and South Park High School are also both still in operation, though Lafayette is now Lafayette International High School.

Dr. Emerson provided free medical and dental exams for students, as well as special classes for the physically and mentally handicapped.  He also introduced non-academic subjects such as music and art.  Dr. Emerson also founded the first local teacher training school. He published two books while he was here – a Latin textbook, “Latin in High Schools” in 1891 and an English grammar textbook “A Course in English For Schools” in 1905. The books were widely used in schools across the country for many years.

Dr. Emerson was president of three educators’ organizations – the Council of School Superintendents of New York State, the State Teachers’ Association, and the National Education Association. He was loyal to his students and encouraged them to finish high school and if possible, college. At the time, it was typical for many students to go into the world of work after they completed 5th or 8th grade, as opposed to completing high school.  For many, it was more important for the students to earn money to help the families than to go on to higher education.  In 1915, the number of students who reached 9th grade was five times more than in the 1890s.  Class sizes were smaller and teachers had better training.

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The Former Emerson Vocational School on Sycamore Street (now Harvey Austin School)

In addition to the street, Emerson Vocational High School is named after Dr. Emerson. The school had originally opened as Peckham Boys Vocational School in 1911, at the corner of Peckham and Townsend Streets. Peckham Vocational School was the first vocational school in Buffalo to have its own facilities. The school focused on upholstery, tailoring, cabinetmaking, machine shop, welding, drafting, painting, baking and culinary arts. The school was located at the corner of Sycamore Street and Koons Avenue from 1926 to 2002. It was named in Dr. Emerson’s honor in 1937. Emerson school became co-ed in 1975. In 2002, Emerson school moved to Chippewa Street and became Emerson School of Hospitality. The school at Sycamore and Koons was remodeled and became Harvey Austin Elementary School.  Emerson School operates Emerson Commons, also on Chippewa, a cafeteria-style restaurant operated by students.

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The former CW Miller Livery before renovations into classroom space for Emerson School (Source:  Buffalo Business First)

In addition to the Emerson School of Hospitality on Chippewa, Buffalo’s schools will be expanding its footprint very soon.  The Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management will be in the renovated former CW Miller Livery on Huron.  Construction of an adjacent gymnasium building is being completed in what was a parking lot.  Students are expected to move in next week (January 2020).  The CW Miller Livery has had a fascinating history of its own – it was built as a “palace for horses” and was considered to be one of the finest stables in the United States.  It uses a unique construction as the floors were suspended from steel trusses at the top of the building.  It provided stalls for approximately 250 horses when it was built.  C.W. Miller was a businessman who had made his fortune providing horse transportation to Buffalonians.  After WWI, the livery was converted to a parking garage for cars.  The building was vacant for several decades before being renovated into the expansion of the school by a development team and the Buffalo Public Schools.

Dr. Emerson also donated Emerson Lodge to Camp Rotary, a camp near his home in Massachusetts that allowed poor boys an opportunity to enjoy outdoor life.  While Camp Rotary still exists, I was unable to determine if the lodge is still standing.

While at college, Henry met Frank Fosdick, who became a lifelong friend. They promised to name their children after each other. Frank Fosdick served as principal of Masten High School from 1914 until 1926. Masten High School was renamed Fosdick-Masten High School in Frank Fosdick’s honor in 1927.  Dr. Emerson had no children himself, but Mr. Fosdick kept his promise and named his first son Henry Emerson Fosdick.  Henry Emerson Fosdick was a prominent pastor, serving at First Presbyterian Church in the West Village, Manhattan and the historic, inter-denominational Riverside Church in Morningside Heights, Manhattan.  He was featured in a Time Magazine cover store on October 6, 1930.

Dr. Emerson died in 1930. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Middleton, Massachusetts.

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Emerson Row Houses

Emerson Place is also known for its rowhouses.  It’s one of the only remaining sets of rowhouses left in Buffalo (it was never a common housing style here).  The rowhouses on Emerson were built in 1893 by Benjamine B. Rice.  Benjamin Rice was a real estate developer who developed several streets in the Masten Park neighborhood.  The Emerson rowhouses consist of two seven-unit row houses.  They became a City of Buffalo Local Landmark in 1981 and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

So the next time you grab lunch at Emerson Commons or are driving through Masten Park, think of Dr. Emerson and his attempts to reform our schools.

To learn about more streets, check out the Street Index.   Be sure to subscribe to the blog so that new posts are sent directly to you – you can do so on the right hand side of the home page.  You can also like my blog page on facebook at facebook.com/buffalostreets.

Sources:

  1.  Smith, Katherine H.  “Emerson Place Memorial to Long-Time School Head”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  November 16, 1941, sec6 p3.
  2. “Emerson High School Students Take Part in Funeral Services”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  April 23, 1937. p12.
  3. Motter, HL, editor.  International Who’s Who:  Who’s Who in the World:  A biographical dictionary of the world’s notable living men and women.  William G. Hewitt Press, Brooklyn NY, 1912.
  4. Seller, Maxine.   “The Education of Immigrant Children in Buffalo”,  April 1976.  Found in Institutional Life:  Family, Schools, Race and Religion. Shumsky, Neil Larry, editor.  .  Garland Publishing, Inc, New York.  1996.
  5. LaChiusa, Chuck.  “C.W. Miller Livery Stable”  Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.  https://buffaloah.com/a/whur/75/75.html (online January 2020)
  6. Buffalo City Directories
  7. Emerson Place Row.  Building Structure Inventory Form.  Accessed from NYS Office of Parks and Recreation via cris.parks.ny.gob (online January 2020)

ramsdellToday’s post is about two streets – Ramsdell Street and Eugene Avenue.  Ramsdell Street is an east-west street running between Delaware Avenue and Grove Street in North Buffalo. At the end of the street is a park, Ramsdell Park.

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The street is named for William Mayhew Ramsdell. Mr. Ramsdell’s parents, Henry and Mary Ann came to Buffalo from New London Connecticut in the early 1850s via the Erie Canal. The family is descended from Elder Brewster of Mayflower fame. William was born in July 1864 at 49 Mariner Street. At the time, Mariner Street ran from Virginia Street into the”North Street woods”. Between Virginia Street and the Ramsdell Home, there was a large vacant lot. Mr. Ramsdell attended the old School 36 on Day’s Park and the Old Central HIgh School.

In 1879, at age 15, Mr. Ramsdell began delivering the Buffalo Express along the waterfront. Two years later, he applied for a job in the office of the newspaper. His job was a combination of office boy and printer’s devil – an assistant to the printer. He quickly advanced through the ranks, serving as collector, cashier, assistant business manager, advertising manager, business manager and in 1901, he became publisher of the Buffalo Express. He remained with the Express as publisher until the merger with the Buffalo Courier, at which time he retired.

In 1893, he founded the first newspaper travel bureau in the state outside of New York City. Mr. Ramsdell enjoyed traveling himself. He made seven trips to Europe between 1907 and 1937. In 1912, while in Europe, he met Rudyard Kipling (author of the Jungle Book). Mr. Ramsdell and Mr. Kipling corresponded for many years. mr. Rasmdell was also an acquaintance of Presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Taft, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

Mr. Ramsdell married Margaret Scott Adam in 1894. Margaret was the adopted daughter of Robert B. Adam of AM&As. They had one son, Robert, and three daughters: Margaret, who married Dexter P Rumsey Jr; Gay, who married John L Kimberly; and Jean, who married Luther E. Wood. The family lived for 11 years at 54 Ashland Avenue and for 31 years at 1132 Delaware Avenue (now an Amigone Funeral Home). After retirement, the Ramsdells lived in the Windsor Apartments on West Ferry Street.

Mr. Ramsdell was known for his sense of humor. When asked on forms where a space was listed for “college degree”, he’d write that he “once lived at 48 College Street.”

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View from Eberhardt Mansion (large building at NW corner Delaware and Kenmore Ave)

Mr. Ramsdell was a member of the Delaware Avenue Land Company, which bought and developed a tract of land from Delaware Avenue to Military Road, north of the Beltline Railroad. They purchased the land in the 1890s. At the time, Mr. Ramsdell stated “that property seemed so far from the center of town that we owners were considered very optimistic in our expectation that homes and factories would be built there”. The land company ended up struggling to develop the land and sold it for barely more than what they had paid for it. The land company dissolved in 1898, the same year the electric street car first extended to Kenmore, with the Village of Kenmore incorporating in 1899. If they had held on a little longer, they may have been able to make more money from the land.

In the early days of Kenmore, they referred to this section of North Buffalo as “South Kenmore”. There was a two room school house built on Ramsdell Avenue that accommodated 40 students. The school was also used by the Baptist Congregation of Kenmore. The school later suffered a fire and remodeled as a home, still standing at 29 Ramsdell Avenue.

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Mr. Ramsdell was a life member of the Wanakah Country Club, the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, the Buffalo Public Library and the Fort Niagara Association. He attended Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ramsdell died in 1948 and is buried in Forest Lawn.

eugeneEugene Avenue is a north-south street running from Washington Avenue in Kenmore to a dead end near Delaware Consumer’s Square (Target Plaza).  One of Ramsdell’s partners in the Delaware Avenue Land Company was Eugene Fluery. Eugene Street is named after him. Mr. Fleury was a former music critic and cirulation manager at the Buffalo Express, working with Mr. Ramsdell there. Mr. Fleury was born and educated in New York City. He was associated with newspapers of Cleveland and other cities before coming to Buffalo. He worked for the Express for 17 years. He lived on Linden Avenue and died on December 8, 1903.

If you’d like to learn about additional streets, check out the Street Index.  Be sure to subscribe to the blog so that new posts are sent directly to you.  You can do so on the right hand side of the homepage.  You can also like the page on facebook at facebook.com/buffalostreets .

Sources:

  1. “Descendant of Elder Brewster has a Street Bearing His Name”. Buffalo Courier-Express. July 7, 1940. 4L.
  2. “W.M. Ramsdell, 83, is Dead; Ex-Carrier Rose to Publisher”. Buffalo Evening News. Jan 2, 1948,33.
  3. “Land Company Dissolution”. Buffalo Evening News. October 21, 1898.
  4. “Eugene Street Carries Given Name of Express Music Critic”. Buffalo Courier Express. February 2, 1941. 2, sec 6.
  5. Parkhurst, Frederick. History of Kenmore, Erie County, New York. Village of Kenmore, New York, 1926.
  6. Percy, John and Graham Miller.  Images of America:  Kenmore, New York.  Arcadia Publishing.  Charleston South Carolina, 1998.

austinstAustin Street is a street in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo, running between the Niagara River and Military Road.  The road is about one mile long because the land it originally ran through was the State Reservation, which was a one mile strip of land from the river inland.  When the Village of Black Rock was incorporated in 1813, Austin Street was the northern boundary of the Village.   The part of Black Rock north of the Scajaquada was often referred to as “Lower Black Rock”, as opposed to Upper Black Rock which Peter Porter originally laid out.  Austin Street is named after S.G. Austin, an early Buffalo lawyer.

lyjGdRx6Stephen Goodwin Austin was born in West Suffield, Connecticut to Joseph Austin, a farmer, and Sarah Goodwin, a sea captain’s daughter, in October 1791.  He studied at the academy in Westfield, Massachusetts.  In 1811, he began his studies at Yale College and graduated with honor in 1815.

After graduation, he began his study of law in the office of Daniel W. Lewis in Geneva.  In 1819, he received a license to practice in the State of New York.  He then left Geneva and came to Buffalo at the end of 1819.

When he came to Buffalo, the project of creating the harbor for the port was the biggest issue of the day.  Mr. Austin saw the future happening here in Buffalo and decided to make the city his home, despite it being a small town of only about 2,000 residents at the time.  He boarded at the Eagle Tavern with Millard Fillmore and Joseph Doat.  The Eagle Tavern was located at Main and Court Street, the current location of the Liberty Building.

He was often considered as someone who possessed the knowledge, ability, integrity and qualifications for public service, but Mr. Austin never wanted political or other public office.  He declined it over the years, time and again.  The only office he held was Justice of the Peace for one year, in 1821.

While serving as Justice of the Peace, an important trail came under his jurisdiction.   Tommy Jimmy, also known by Tommy Jemmy or his Native American name of So-on-on-gise, was accused of murder.  The woman killed, Chaughquawtaugh (or Kauquatau),  was a Seneca woman who was accused of bringing about the death of a man using witchcraft.  She had fled to Canada.  Tommy Jimmy, at the Chief’s request, brought her back home.  Once they crossed back into Indian Territory, he killed her.  Chief Red Jacket and other Native Americans testified that the act was in accordance with tribal law.  Since the land was sovereign land, Justice Austin’s Erie County Court of Oyer and Terminer could not reach a decision in the case.  The jury found that the woman was executed in accordance with tribal law.  The case was moved up to the Supreme Court.  The Court did not render a decision, as the Native Americans had sovereignty over their land.

In the legal field, Mr. Austin was considered a man of clear insight, thorough knowledge and careful judgement.  He was perceptive and intellectual. He was sought after as a legal representative and was able to grow a lucrative business.   As his business grew, he accumulated a large estate.  He had invested much of his savings in real estate from the time he first arrived in Buffalo.  Buffalo’s growth rewarded him, as he was able to retire from legal practice at age 52 with a large fortune.

Stephen purchased land on the southeast side of Niagara Square in 1828.  Mr. Austin Married Lavinia Hurd in October 1829.  They had four daughters, two of which, Adeline and Frances, died in childhood.  A third daughter, Lavinia Hurd Austin was born in 1833 and married George P. Russell of Philadelphia.  Lavinia Russell died in 1874.  The final daughter, Mrs. Truman Avery, aka Delia was born in 1842. (Note from Angela:  how annoying is it when women in history books are only listed as “Mrs. Husband’s Name”?  Sometimes it’s so hard to find out their first name!!  Delia is almost always referred to as “Mrs. Truman Avery” in history books and newspaper articles.  I will refer to her Delia from here on out!) 

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Niagara Square in the days of the Austin Family.  Their home is shown to the right of the monument.  Erie County Hall can be seen behind the home.

The Austin family lived at 11 Niagara Square, where the Buffalo Athletic Club (also known as the Athletic Club Building) is now.  The house was built by Benjamin Rathbun.  Mr. Rathbun was one of the early builders of Buffalo and was especially prominent during the 1830s.  In 1835 alone, Rathbun built 99 buildings.  The Austin house was completed in 1836.  The house was the site of lots of entertaining.  At the time, Niagara Square was home to homes of many prominent Buffalonians.  The square itself was composed of eight triangular fenced in parks and was the most fashionable part of town.  The postcard view here would be from after 1914, because the Telephone Building can be seen just beyond Old County Hall.  Newspapers report that Mrs. Austin and her daughters were “most accomplished” and they “presided with grace, dignity and charm” over entertainment at the Austin House.  After the Austin family left the house in the 1890s, the house was converted for business purposes.

In 1851, a meeting of some of the leading citizens of Buffalo took place at the Austin House.  This meeting was the start of the Buffalo Female Academy (now Buffalo Seminary).  Both of the Austin daughters attended the Academy.

The Niagara Square house was demolished in 1922 to become the new clubhouse for the Ellicott Club.  The Ellicott Club was founded in 1895 and its first home was the top floor of the Ellicott Square Building.  On May 22, 1922, the members of the Ellicott Club held a ceremony to celebrate the underwriting of and groundbreaking for their new building.  They had a band and marched from Ellicott Square to Niagara Square.   The new clubhouse was to be called “The Buffalo Athletic Club” and a new organization was created.  The Ellicott Club officially disbanded on March 31, 1923.  By 1938, the Buffalo Athletic Club had more than 2,700 members.

The family were members of First Presbyterian Church when it was located on Main Street at Church Street.  The Austin Family also gave to many other organizations, but their donations tended to be off the radar because, as a friend was reported saying after Stephen’s death “Little is known of his gifts because of his conviction that charity should not be seen or talked about.”

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Lavinia Hurd Austin

Lavinia Austin was a founder of the Buffalo Orphan Asylum.  Organizational meetings for the development of the asylum were often held at the Austin house on Niagara Square.  Stephen Austin served as the 2nd president of the Orphan Asylum.  Lavinia also donated $10,000 to the organization, which allowed for Infant ward addition to be built in 1877.  She also left $9,000 to Ingleside Home (a home for unwed mothers and wayward girls) and $5,000 to the YMCA in her will after her death in 1884.

Stephen Austin had significant land holdings in Buffalo.  He owned the land northwest of Niagara Square, where several prominent Buffalonians lived, such as Henry Sizer, Darrow Noyes, and Stephen Parrish.  The houses were demolished in the 1950s for the Federal Reserve Bank (now New Era Cap) Building.

In 1868, when the National Savings Bank organized, Stephen was voted President.  He worked full time at the bank until his death, a position for which he refused to take any salary.  He also served as President of the Buffalo Scale Works and owner of the Bennett Elevator, the elevator which replaced Joseph Dart’s original grain elevator in 1863 after the Dart Elevator suffered a fire.  It was said after he died that it was rare to see Mr. Austin on the street, because he spent so much time in his work pursuits.

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The Austin Family monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Stephen Austin died in 1872 and is buried in the Austin family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.   At the time of his death, his estate was estimated at $2 Million (about $42 Million today).  After Mr. Austin’s death, the Niagara Square house was occupied by his wife, along with Delia and her husband, Truman G. Avery.  The family lived there until the 1890s.

Lavinia Austin purchased the Universalist Church building at 110 Franklin Street in 1880.  Like their home on Niagara Square, the church was built by Benjamin Rathbun.  The former church was expanded it and significantly altered. The remodeled building was referred to Austin Building or the Austin Block over the years.  This remodel is often credited to her husband in modern local history sources, however it occurred well after Mr. Austin’s death.  Newspapers of the time indicate that the purchase and construction/remodeling of the Austin Building was completed by Mrs. S.G. Austin.  After its conversion to offices, the building was said to be one of the finest in the city.  The offices were elegantly styled and decorated and were occupied by F.W. Caulkins (the architect who designed the remodel), the Buffalo Cement Company, Lee & Zink (a real estate firm), Green & Wicks Architects and other companies over the years.  The upper floor consisted of a grand hall, which was occupied by the Academy of Fine Arts (now the Albright Knox).  The Academy, as it was known in those days, occupied the entire third floor, one room in the second story and one room in the basement.   The hall was lit by skylights from the ceiling to allow as much light into the hall as possible (this was before electricity).  The Academy was located here for five years, after which they moved into the Young Men’s Associations new building on Lafayette Square (the old Buffalo Library).   Stephen G. Austin, Delia Austin Avery, Truman G. Avery, as well as Delia & Truman’s daughter Lavinia Austin Avery were all life members of the Academy of Fine Arts.  The building is currently owned by Erie County.

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Delia Austin Avery’s building at 77 Pearl Street  Source:  Preservation Ready Sites

Stephen Austin owned 204-206 Main Street (often called the Granite Block).  Delia took over management of the building after her father’s death.  The Granite Block was taken down in 1905 for the Merchant’s Exchange/Chamber of Commerce building.  Mr. Austin also owned the building at 302-304 Main Street (now 300 Main Street).  The family is shown as owning the 300 Main Street building until at least 1891, so it was likely managed by his wife and daughter after his death.  Delia continued in her father’s real estate pursuits, purchasing several properties in her own name.  Delia also built a building in 1891 at 77 Pearl Street, adjoining the Merchant’s Exchange building.  The Heacock Homestead, home of Reuben Heacock was demolished to build the building.  The Austins had purchased the former house in 1876.  The last tenant in the home before it was demolished was the Union Veteran Legion.  Over the years, Delia’s building on Pearl Street was home to William H. Walker wholesale shoes, Rugby Knitting Mills, the Board of Trade Cafe, and other businesses.

Delia Stewart Austin married Truman Gardner Avery, in 1868.  Truman Avery was a lawyer who came to Buffalo from eastern New York State in the 1860s.  When he came to Buffalo, he gave up law to work as a grain merchant.  Delia had a hard year in 1872, she lost both her father and her first child, Jessie, at 10 months old.  Two years later, her sister died.  The Austin family owned much of the land where Symphony Circle is located.  In 1887, Delia Avery donated the parcel of land at the Circle for First Presbyterian Church in honor of her parents.  The church was then able to sell their downtown property for the construction of Erie County Savings Bank and build their current building on the Circle.

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The Avery Mansion on Symphony Circle

After leaving Niagara Square, Delia and her family lived on The Circle (now Symphony Circle) in a large mansion.  The mansion was constructed in 1892.  Delia served on the board of the Ladies’ Hospital Association at Buffalo General Hospital, the 20th Century Club, and the Home for the Friendless.  She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Delia died in 1922 and is buried in the family plot.  Delia followed in her parents charitable footsteps.  After her death, it was said that “no worthy cause ever appealed to her in vain”.

Delia’s daughter, Lavinia Austin Avery, was born in 1876 when the family still lived at Niagara Square.  Lavinia attended Buffalo Female Academy and the University of Buffalo Teacher’s College and married James McCormick Mitchell in 1907.  James Mitchell was the son of Reverend Samuel Mitchell, the pastor at First Presbyterian Church.  James worked as a lawyer at the firm of Kenefick, Cooke, Michell and Bass.

After her parents died, Lavinia Mitchell no longer wanted the Avery mansion on The Circle, and offered the 4 acres of land to the Buffalo committee that was working to build a new music hall.  Money had been left in the wills of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kleinhans to create a Buffalo Foundation to be used to build a new music hall.   Several locations were looked at for the music hall, including Humboldt Park near the science museum and Delaware Park near the Rose Garden.  Architect E. B. Green had even designed plans for an addition to the science museum that would function as a music hall.  Residents near Delaware Park opposed the Rose Garden site because they did not want to use park lands for this purpose.   The Buffalo Foundation upheld that public parks should be preserved for its natural beauty for recreation and not further encroached upon by public buildings.  This stance followed the lead of State Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses, who had also resisted numerous proposals to erect additional buildings in Central Park in New York City.  The Buffalo City Planning Board also took a stance to oppose further use of parks for such buildings.  The land at The Circle was offered for $50,000 by Lavinia Mitchell, less than half of it’s assessed value.  The site offered the spaciousness and beauty of a park location, while allowing for parking but also was bordered by magnificent elm trees, and direct access into the park system via the circle and parkways.  It also was on both east-west and north-south bus lines, and had easy access to tourist traffic from the Peace Bridge.  The property was officially sold on July 19, 1938 after a large public hearing, at which the public were overwhelmingly in support of the location.  The mansion was demolished in 1938 and Kleinhans Music Hall was built. The Circle was renamed Symphony Circle.

1901

Pomeroy House on Oakland Place

Lavinia and her family first lived on Summer Street, on a house where the Richmond-Summer Recreation Center is now located.  In 1911, Lavinia Mitchell purchased the home at 70 Oakland Place (often referred to as the Pomeroy house) from the Pomeroys.  Mr. Mitchell died in the 1940s.  Lavinia sold the Oakland Place house in 1967 to a developer who subdivided it into three units.  Lavinia had been a president of the Garret Club and was on the board of directors of the Twentieth Century Club.  She died in 1968 and is buried in Forest Lawn in the family plot.

Want to learn about more streets?  Check out the Street Index.  Coming in the new year will be a multi-part series about the Fruit Belt on which I have been working hard.  Stay tuned!  You can subscribe on the home page and new articles will be emailed to you directly.

Sources:

  1. H.B. Hall & Sons, “Stephen G. Austin,” Digital Collections – University at Buffalo Libraries, accessed November 17, 2019, https://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/items/show/80993.
  2. Smith, Katherine.  “Austin Street Honors Justice Who Presided at Indian Trial”.  Buffalo Courier Express, Sunday May 26, 1940, p W8
  3. Meeting Notices.  Daily Courier, April 29, 1851.
  4. Myszka, Dawn.  “Kleinhans Music Hall and its Polish Connection”.  Am-Pol Eagle.  http://ampoleagle.com/
  5. “Kleinhans Music Hall:  Before the Music”.   http://archives.bpo.org/kmh-letc.htm (accessed November 2019)
  6. Wachadlo, Martin.  “Oakland Place:  Gracious Living in Buffalo.  2006.  https://buffaloah.com/a/oakland/70/wach.html (accessed November 2019)
  7. H. Perry Smith, editor.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Co Publishers, Syracuse NY.  1884.
  8. “The Old Church:  No Longer in God’s Service, but Used for Business Purposes”.  Buffalo Evening News.
  9. “The Groton Avery Clan”.  North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000.  Provo, UT:  Ancestry.com, 2016.
  10. “The Art Gallery”.  Buffalo Express.  June 11, 1881.
  11.  Brown, Christopher.  Historic Plymouth Avenue in the Kleinhans Neighborhood.  Kleinhans Community Association, 2006.
  12. “A Seven-Story Fire-Proof Is to be on Pearl Street and Will Be a Credit to Buffalo”.  Buffalo Evening News.  June 4, 1891.
  13. “Buffalo Orphan Asylum.”  Buffalo Express.  August 2, 1924.
  14. “To Break Ground Monday for New B.A.C. Clubhouse”.  Buffalo Courier.  May 21, 1922.
  15. Burr, Kate.  “Picturing Some Buffalonians as They Were”.  Buffalo Times.  July 1, 1928.
  16. “Ellicott Club to Observe Demise with Celebration”.  Buffalo Courier.  March 31, 1923. p. 14.
  17.  “Death of Stephen G. Austin”.  Buffalo Courier.  June 20, 1872.  p.1.
  18.  Ball, Charles.  “History of Niagara Square”.  Buffalo News.  May 17, 1921.
  19. Reports of the President and Secretary, submitted at the Annual Meeting.  Buffalo Historical Society.  January 9, 1923.
  20. Chapin, Willis.  The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy:  A Historical Sketch.  Published by the Academy, January 1899.

 

 

goodellstreetGoodell Street is an east-west street that runs Michigan Avenue to Main Street.  Goodell Street forms the northern boundary of the Central Business District and typically “south of Goodell” is used as a definition for what constitutes “Downtown Buffalo”.  North of Goodell Street is the Medical Campus and the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  Until the 1950s, Goodell Street ran thru to an intersection with Cherry and Locust Streets.  The Kensington Expressway, which ends at Goodell Street, cut through the Fruit Belt.  I am currently working on a multipart series about the streets of the Fruit Belt and the historic development of the neighborhood.  Stay tuned!  Goodell Street is named for Jabez Goodell, one of the early residents of Buffalo.

Jabez Goodell was born in Holland, Massachusetts in 1776.  He was the only son of Icabod Goodell.  Jabez had three sisters – Huldah, Mary, and Persis.  Jabez came to Buffalo in 1806.  At the time, Buffalo had four shops, consistent mostly of Indian goods and a small drug shop, one blacksmith, one shoemaker, one carpenter and a joiner.  He purchased lands at their original price from the Holland Land Company.  His purchases were at the northern edge of the original layout for the Village of Buffalo.  Due to the growth of the city over the next half-century, his lands increased in value to create a substantial estate.

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Properties owned by Jabez Goodell

Mr. Goodell owned Outer Lots 135, 136, 137 and 145, 146, and 147.  This included properties along Genesee Street and the property where Goodell Street would eventually be laid out.  He also owned lot 33, west of Delaware Avenue near Tupper.

Goodell Street ran through Mr. Goodell’s property.  He operated the Broadwheel Tavern at the corner of Goodell and Main Streets.  The Tavern was located where the Sidway Building now stands.  It was said that his tavern “entertained man and beast”.  His house was burned during the War of 1812, along with the rest of Buffalo.  He rebuilt at Goodell and Oak Street.  His house was later owned by Mayor Solomon Scheu.

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The former St. Peter’s Evangelical Church

Mr. Goodell donated land on Genesee Street at Hickory to the German Evangelical Society of Buffalo in 1834.  The first worshiped on the site in a building that was originally built as the original First Presbyterian Church but was moved to the Genesee Street Site.  Their second church was the original St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which was moved to their property in 1850.  In 1851, they became St. Peters German United Evangelical Church.  In 1877, they built the current Victorian Gothic church that is located on the site.  The tower on the church was removed in 1991, along with small pinnacles that had been surrounding it.  The congregation moved in 1974 when they merged with Lloyd’s Memorial Church to become New Covenant Church of Christ.

Mr. Jabez was a stockholder in the Batavia Street Plank Road Company and served as President of the company.  Batavia Street became Broadway.   Plank roads were common in New York State during the late 1840s and 1850s.  A plank road is made of wooden planks or logs.  The wooden roads were easier and cheaper to maintain that McAdam roads, another common road type of the time period.  The first plank road in the United States was built in Syracuse.  The Batavia Street Plank Road Company controlled 2.5 miles of the roadway and invested $13,000 ($428,910 in 2019 dollars) of capital improvements into the road in 1850.  These road companies were organized and regulated under New York State law.

6Mr. Goodell died in September 1851 at 75 years old.  In death, he donated 10 acres and $10,000 (about $333,000 in 2019 dollars) to the newly formed Buffalo Female Academy to build a 30,0000 square foot school.  Ten months after he died, Goodell Hall opened at the school, just behind the Evergreen Cottage at the corner of Johnson Park and Delaware.  Classes had been held in Evergreen Cottage (Mayor Ebenezer Johnson’s former home) for the 1851 school year.  In 1852, the school moved into Goodell Hall and the cottage was used as a home for the Principal.  The Academy was renamed Buffalo Seminary in 1889 and they moved to their current location on Bidwell Parkway in 1909.

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Jabez Goodell Grave

Mr. Goodell married Diadamia Day, but they had no children.  After the donation to the school, he left his the remainder of his property and estate to be distributed to different societies as well as to religious, missionary and education associations of the Presbyterian church.  Mr. Goodell had been an elder at First Presbyterian Church.  The Goodell estate at his time of death was worth about $400,000 when he died.  That would be more than $13 Million today.  At the time of his death, he was the largest public benefactor who had lived in Buffalo.  He also left $500 ($16,672 in 2019 dollars) to his hometown of Holland, Massachusetts, to provide perpetual care of the cemetery.  He is buried in Forest Lawn, which opened only two years before he passed away.

The rest of the Goodell family was also prominent in Western New York and the Southern Tier.  The Goodell Family at the time was reportedly considered the way the Kennedy Family is in Massachusetts.  Robert Goodell was born in 1601 and immigrated from Dennington England to Massachusetts with his wife and children in 1634.  Jabez was a sixth generation Goodell in America.  Robert was his great-great-great grandfather.  The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a 12th generation Goodell and fourth cousin, six times removed to Jabez Goodell.

It is often said in Buffalo that the road is actually pronounced “GOOD-ul”, but because Roger Goodell’s branch of the family pronounces it as “Good-elle”, the pronunciation has changed as his career has risen in the NFL.  I’d love to hear from some Buffalo old timers, especially those who live in the Fruit Belt…how do you pronounce it?

To learn more about other streets, check out the Street Index.   Stay tuned for my upcoming series about more streets in the Fruit Belt area!  You can subscribe to the site on the homepage and new articles will be emailed to you as soon as they are posted.

Sources:

  1. Boltwood, Robert.  “St. Louis’ Pioneer Catholic Church, Enters 12th Decade”.  Buffalo Courier Express, Sunday August 27, 1939, p L7.
  2. “St. Peter’s to Honor Founding 102 Years Ago”. Buffalo Courier Express.  Feb 6, 1937, p 25.
  3. Graham, Tim.  “The Other Goodell:  How NFL commissioner’s dad ran afoul of Nixon”.  Buffalo News.  February, 3 2018.
  4. Ketchum, William.  An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo.  Rockwell, Baker & Hill Printers:  Buffalo NY.  1865.
  5. Severance, Frank.  “Jabez Goodell”.  As found in Lovering, Martin. History of the Town of Holland, Massachusetts.  The Tuttle Company:  Rutland, Vermont.  1915.
  6. “Batavia Street Plank Road Co”.  Daily Courier.  January 15, 1850.
  7. Zobel, Michael.  “Letter: Learn the correct pronunciation of Buffalo’s Goodell Street”.  Buffalo News.  April 29, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

smithSmith Street is a 2 mile long road on the East Side of Buffalo running from the Buffalo River to Broadway. Smith Street is one of the interchanges from the I-190 Thruway, Exit 4.

Henry Kendall Smith was born on the island of Santa Cruz (now Saint Croix) on April 2, 1811. His parents were Jeremiah Smith and Jane Cooper Smith, who were of English origin. At the time of his birth, the island was in possession of the English during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1815, following the peace between Britain and France, the island was once again a Danish territory. Mr. Smith, Henry’s father, was an architect and builder. While the English had occupied the Island, there had been prosperity. When Denmark returned to power, property values depreciated greatly and many plantation owners were ruined. The change in government caused Mr. Smith to lose a great deal of money. However, his social standing allowed him to achieve the rank of major in the Danish provincial army, which allowed him an income as opposed to financial ruin. One day, while passing through a fort, some quicklime was accidentally throw into his face. Following the accident, he was confided to bed for weeks and blinded for life. At the time, the family consisted of Jeremiah and Jane, along with two sons and two daughters. The family struggled to make ends meet. Mrs. Smith, was not discouraged by the family’s misfortune, and helped her children to look towards the future. A long litigation took place revolving around the accident. Eventually, rather than continue the ligation to get his fair share due to him, Henry’s father accepted a settlement of $1,500 from the party responsible for his injuries, in order to be able to educate Henry.

At the age of 8, Henry was sent to Baltimore to study under Reverend Dr. Berry, a minister of the Church of England and a scholar. When Henry left for Baltimore, his father told him that he would now have to take care of himself and that it was his responsibility as to whether he would sink or swim. Henry reported replied that he would swim, and left behind his family forever.

For those who have seen the musical Hamilton, or know Alexander Hamilton’s history, Henry’s story will sound familiar. Alexander Hamilton was also from St. Croix, and was sent to America to receive an education after experiencing poverty early in life.

Henry_Kendall_Smith,_mayor_of_Buffalo

Henry Smith’s Mayoral Portrait

At age 17, he became a clerk at a wholesale dry goods store in New York City. In his free time, he would continue his studies of the classics, believing that there was another occupation out there for him, and that he would not be a clerk forever. One day, his employer told Henry that he was acting like a woman or a “clumsy boor”. So Henry told his employer that he could do the work himself, and left the store. Shortly prior, he had met Daniel Cady of Johnstown, New York. who was engaged in a trial in New York. After listening to Cady’s arguments and the reply by Ogden Hoffman, Henry was inspired and decided he would become a lawyer.

Henry traveled to Johnstown, found Mr. Cady, and asked to enter his office as a law student. At the time, lawyers did not go to law school, but rather learned the trade in a law office. Mr. Cady welcomed Henry into his office. Henry was devoted to his books and continued his studies under Mr. Cady until he was ready for his examination. While he was studying, he earned an income by teaching at a school. Henry was admitted to the bar in May 1832 and continued to practice in Johnstown. In October of that year, the Young Men’s State Democratic Convention met in Utica, and Mr. Smith was one of the delegates from Montgomery County. During the convention, he delivered a speech regarding the nomination of a gubernatorial candidate which gave him the reputation of an accomplished and logical speaker. At the convention, Henry met Honorable Israel T. Hatch, from Buffalo, who invited Henry to come to Buffalo.

Henry moved to Buffalo in spring of 1837, to form a partnership with Mr. Hatch. After working with Mr. Hatch, Henry also worked with George W Clinton, Mr. Williams, Isaac Verplanck and others in Buffalo.

At the breakout of the Patriots War in 1837, Henry was made Captain of one of the five companies of volunteers formed by citizens for the protection of Buffalo. He continued in the militia service for some time, passing through the ranks until he attained the rank of Colonel. When he was made Colonel, he was given a gold watch that had the inscription, “The citizens of Buffalo to Hon. Henry K Smith, the eloquent and efficient advocate of the Erie Canal and the rights of the City.”

In 1838, Mr. Smith was appointed District Attorney for Erie County. He resigned after seven months, because he was being requested so often for other civil business as a lawyer.

In 1844, he accepted the office of Recorder of the City of Buffalo, an office he held for four years. Subsequently, in 1846, he was appointed postmaster of Buffalo and held the office for two and a half years. In 1850, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo. He was nominated for state assembly, state senate and congress. In 1840 he was a delegate to the national convention which re-nominated Martin Van Buren for president (Van Buren lost that election to William Henry Harrison).

Mr. Smith married Miss Vorhees in spring of 1834. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant of Johnstown. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly after their marriage. In 1838, he married Miss Sally Ann Thompson, the daughter of Shelton Thompson of Buffalo. After 18 months, she too passed away, leaving behind a son, Sheldon Thompson Smith. Henry suffered greatly after the death of both of his wives. To deal with his grief, he focused on the care and education of his son, on his professional duties and politics.

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Mr. Smith had considerable musical talents. He taught himself to play the violin. He would often be found singing with his family and would sing the Star Spangled Banner, God Save the King, and other patriot songs on festive occasions such as the Fourth of July or St. Patrick’s Day. He was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal, during the time of Rev. Shelton, for whom Shelton Square was named.

Mr. Smith died on September 23, 1854, at age 43. He is buried in Forest Lawn.

During the 1950s and 1960s, there was a Proposed East Side Expressway that went through several iterations. The Expressway was originally planned to start at the Kensington Expressway at an interchange at Best Street, run along the south side of Humboldt Park, now MLK Park, and to continue along Walden Avenue. They then decided to shift the expressway south of Walden in order to preserve the Walden Business Corridor. The Expressway was going to run 2.6 miles and end at Walden Avenue near the City Line. The Expressway was included in New York State Highway Law 1957. In 1958, they decided that it would be better if they were also able to connect the Thruway I-190 to the Expressway with an additional route. This highway was thought to be beneficial to the planned opening of the Thruway Industrial Park and to help bring people into the struggling Broadway-Fillmore shopping district. At the time, Broadway-Fillmore was the 2nd most dense area, second only to Downtown in both size and value.

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One of the plans for the East Side Expressway and Smith Street Spur

The Proposed Smith Street spur would start at the East Side Expressway with an interchange at Miller Avenue, and continue southwest along Memorial Drive to Fillmore Avenue, then would follow Fillmore to Smith to the Smith Street interchange of the I-190. Reports at the time said that this spur of highway was “essential to the lifeblood of the East Side”. More than 300 houses were planned to be demolished as part of this Smith Street Spur proposal. The plan was debated for many years, with various alignments discussed and fought over. Elmer Youngmann, the District Engineer for the New York State Department of Public Works (for whom the Youngmann Expressway – I 290- was named) was against putting the spur down Memorial Avenue due to the high costs of the road due to the private properties along the route. Neither the East Side Expressway in this alignment nor the Smith Street Spur were ever built.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index!

Sources:

1. Proctor, L.B. “Sketches of the Buffalo Bar: Henry K. Smith”. Published in Buffalo Courier & Republic, 1869.

2. Viele, Henry K. “Sketch of the Life of Hon. Henry K. Smith”. Published in Buffalo Courier & Republic, May 25, 1867.

3. Rizzo, Michael. Through the Mayor’s Eyes. Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 2005.

4. The Proposed East Side Expressway and Proposed New Arterial Route. Buffalo: 1961.

chandlerstreetChandler Street runs between Military Road and what used to be NY Central Railroad tracks.  Historically, this area was home to factories and industrial buildings.  The street’s access to the rails made it a prime place for these types of businesses.  The buildings along the street were home to the Jewett Refrigerator Company, the Double Truss Cornice Brake Company, the Acme Steel and Malleable Iron Works, Barcalo Manufacturing, Buffalo Weaving & Belting Company, Linde Air Products, Loblaw Groceteria, and others.

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The iconic Linde tower at the Former Linde Complex on Chandler Street source: buffaloah.com

In the last few years, Chandler Street has become a hip new place.  Signature Development’s Rocco Termini has created a new district with redevelopments along both Chandler and Grote Street.  Some are calling this area “Chandlerville” the way that the Larkin District has developed into Larkinville. Several buildings along the street have now been redeveloped and are home to new businesses.  The former Linde complex is now home to Utilant, Barrel & Brine, Blackbid Cider, an accounting business and a call center.  The former Loblaw/Barcalo space is home to Thin Man Brewery and Tappo Pizza.  The land here was originally owned by Henry Chandler and the street was named for him.

Henry Chandler was born in Springfield Massachusetts in 1830.  He was a descendant of William Chandler, one of the earliest settlers in Andover, who arrived in America from England in 1637.  As a boy, Henry moved to Seneca County, New York with his family after his father lost his fortune during the Panic of 1837.  At age 15, Henry got a job teaching in the village school.  Henry was said to have had keen artistic sense from a young age.  While teaching, he supplemented his income by painting signs and decorating wagons and sleighs.

In 1850, Henry came to Buffalo and got a job as a typesetter at the Commercial-Advertiser.  While working there, he figured out a process for engraving that made it available to the general public, by using a wax process that allowed it to be done at a much lower cost.  The first job using the process was in 1853, which was a cover of a writing book published by Phinney & Co, who owned a bookshop on Main Street near Seneca Street.  The second job was a set of calendar frames.  Henry was having such great success, he asked his brother Frank to join him in his business venture in 1856.  The brothers worked together for most of their lives.  Their first year in business together, the brothers printed maps of the Great Western Railway of Canada and the Illinois Central Railroad.  In 1858-1859, Henry developed a process for photographing on wax which allows for engraving without needing to redraw.

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Example of a map done by Jewett & Chandler.

In 1859, Elam Jewett, owner of the Commercial Advertiser used Henry’s process to win the bid for engraving from the US Patent Office.  In 1862, Henry joined Mr. Jewett’s firm, which eventually became Jewett & Chandler.  They established an engraving house at 178 Washington Street.  In 1874, Matthews & Northrup joined the business.  The business was known by several names, including “J.N. Matthews Co” and “Matthews-Northrup Works”.  For many years, all illustrations of the US patent office used Chandler’s process.  The process was also used extensively for map engraving and the company was world renowned.  Many maps and atlases across the Country were completed using the Chandler process, including those used by General Pershing to guide the troops into Mexico and by President Wilson in his talks in Versailles.

Henry Chandler married Frances Long.  They had two sons, Henry Long and Frank Darwin, and a daughter who died as infants.  One son, Albert Hotchkiss Chandler, survived to adulthood.  Mr. Chandler owned property throughout the city, including where Chandler Street is located, property on Delaware Avenue and his home on Niagara Square.  The Chandlers lived at 89 Niagara Street.  At the time, Niagara Square was a residential neighborhood.  The Chandlers neighbors included the Bancrofts of Bancroft, Barnes & Co( which became the William Hengerer Company), and the parents of Dr. James King, a prominent doctor.

chandler house _ wny heritage

Henry Chandler House, 89 Niagara Street. Source: John H Conlin, WNY Heritage, Winter 2004.

The house at 89 Niagara Street had been built around 1852 by Philo Balcom.  Mr. Balcom was a trustee of the Baptist church that was located next to the house, and owned a brick business.  The house was a 2.5 story brick Italianate house with a four story tower built in the Second Empire style.  The house was sold in 1855 to Fidelia and Alden Barker, a land and insurance agent.  The Barker’s sold the house to Henry Chandler on August 29, 1864.  While the Chandlers owned the house, the tower was likely built.  Henry had a reversal of fortune in the 1870s, which forced him to leave the property at 89 Niagara Street and move to York Street.  The house was then sold at auction by Erie County Savings Bank.  Henry Chandler’s nieces remarked that what they remembered most about their uncle’s house on Niagara was that they had a first floor bathroom, which was an unusual feature during the 1870s.

With the building of City Hall, the US Courthouse, the State Office Building, the Buffalo Athletic Club and the Statler Hotel in the 1920s-1930s, Niagara Square shifted from residential towards being a civic center.  At some point, the house at 89 Niagara Street became a restaurant.  The restaurant had different names over the years.  It was known as Valentine’s for many years.  In the early 1990s, it was known as Grille 91, a restaurant that was described as “comfortable” and offered “well-prepared classic food”. In 1998, the restaurant became Carlos O’Ryan’s, which served casual Mexican and Southwestern food. The house was sold by the Valentines to “157 West Mohawk Realty Corp” in 2000 for $50,000.  At the time, there was a proposal for a new Courthouse to be built on the site.  The house was the last remaining house on Niagara Square and was demolished in 2007 to build the new courthouse.

The only house that still remains from this area of Downtown as a residential neighborhood is The Old House Downtown, (formerly known as Big Blue due to it having been painted blue) at 153 Delaware.   You can learn more about that house by checking them on facebook as The Old House Downtown or stop by on Tuesdays when they serve donuts on the lawn as the City of Buffalo Office of Coffee and Donuts.

chandler graveHenry Chandler owned sorrel horses which he rode along Delaware Avenue. Mr. Chandler also donated money to First Baptist Church, Buffalo Historical Society, the Young Men’s Association (which became the Buffalo Public Library).  He was also a member of the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Beaver Island Club and the Buffalo Field Club.  He was an accomplished poet, and his poetry was published in several magazines.  He died December 21, 1896.  He is buried in Forest Lawn.

Mr. Chandler’s son, Albert, worked as an electrician in the US Navy during the Spanish-American war.  At age 26, he enrolled to study civil engineering at Cornell University.  He was the city engineer of the City of New York.  In that role, he worked on the first section of the New York City city-owned and operated subway.  The lines are now part of the modern subway’s A, B, C, D, E, F, G and M service.  Additionally, N, Q, and R trains run partly on the tracks from the original lines.  He was also responsible for many of the grade crossing improvements in the Greater NYC area and drew all preliminary plans for bridge and tunnel approaches to Manhattan.  Albert died in 1932, leaving behind two young children, Henry (Harry) and Emily.  Albert is buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

Albert’s family lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. After his father’s death, when Harry was 13, Harry received a scholarship to Adelphi Academy and another to attend Lehigh University. After graduation in 1941, Harry got a job working for Proctor and Gamble Defense Corporation, in Mississippi.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor that year, Harry immediately went to the local air base and enlisted in the Air Force.  On March 15, 1945, Harry was flying a mission north of Berlin.  His plane was hit by a shell, taking out the controls.  His co-pilot was nonresponsive, and Harry was ejected from the plane as it spiraled.  Harry landed in a field and was captured by German police.  Harry spent two months as a prisoner of war.  It was only later that Harry learned that his mission had been important to history, the factory they had been assigned to destroy had been working to create an atomic weapon for Nazi Germany.    Harry returned to his job at P&G, retiring in 1981.  Harry is still alive today.  His sister Emily passed away in 2018 at age 103!

So the next time you’re hanging out on Chandler Street, think of the Chandler family and all they accomplished.

Want to learn about other streets?  Check out the street index.

Sources:

  • Smith, Katherine.  Chandler Street Perpetuates Name of Engraver-Inventor.  Buffalo Courier-Express, December 10, 1939, p W5.
  • Sukiennik, Greg.  A crucial mission; story of survival.  Manchester Journal.  November 12, 2017.  https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/a-crucial-mission-story-of-survival,524408? (online August 2019)
  • Public Notice – Superior Court of Buffalo.  Buffalo Courier.  January 25, 1878.
  • Buffalo News Real Estate Transactions.
  • Buffalo News Restaurant Listings.
  • The Magazine of Poetry:  A Monthly Review. Moulton, Charles Wells, publisher. January 1894.
  • The American Stationer.  Vol. XL – No.1.  New York, July 2, 1896.

 

 

 

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