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Archive for November, 2021

metcalfeMetcalfe Street runs between Clinton Street and William Street in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood of the East Side. The street is near the former Buffalo Stockyards and is named for James Metcalfe, a meatpacker.

The Metcalfe family came to America from Yorkshire, England, before the Revolutionary War. James Harvey Metcalfe was born in Bath, New York, in August 1822. James moved to Ellicottville with his parents in the 1840s. James came to Buffalo at the age of 33 in 1855, after the death of his father and a daughter. His first job in Buffalo was as a hotel keeper, operating the Drover’s Home. The Drover’s Home was located on Elk Street, where the Lake Shore and Erie Railroads exchanged freight, at what was known as Elk Street Junction. A drover is someone who drives cattle or sheep. Mr. Metcalfe quickly learned that more money was to be made in livestock in Buffalo rather than the hotel industry. He became a partner in the meatpacking firm of Metcalfe & Cushing, one of the largest local meatpacking houses. He was simultaneously a partner in Metcalfe & Gibbs, meat distributors in New York City.  In 1863, The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad opened the East Buffalo Stock Yards.  Metcalfe & Cushing were in charge of the department of hogs.  The Stock Yards had capacity for up to 35,000 hogs at a time.

Mr. Metcalfe was a strong promoter of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad and served as a Director. He was the largest stockholder in First National Bank, located on the southeast corner of Main and Seneca Street. He served as President of the bank for many years, during which time the bank weathered several financial panics. Mr. Metcalfe was appointed as a parks commissioner in 1876 and contributed to the improvement of the Buffalo Parks System until his death.

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Metcalfe House on Swan Street. Source: New York State Office of Historic Preservation

James Metcalfe married Erzelia Frances Stetson in 1849, and they had six children – Frances, Kate, James Jr, George, Francis, and Guy. The first two daughters were born in Ellicottville. Unfortunately, Kate died as an infant and is buried in Jefferson Street Cemetery in Ellicottville. In Buffalo, the Metcalfes lived in a house on Swan Street, one door from Michigan Avenue. At the time, Swan Street was a fashionable neighborhood. The house was across the street from Benjamin Fitch’s dry good store, which later became the Fitch Creche – the country’s first daycare center. The Metcalfe’s house was listed as a Buffalo Landmark in 1979 but was demolished in 1992 after a wall collapsed.

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House at 672 Delaware Avenue. Source: Buffaloah.com

Mr. Metcalfe was fond of animals and had a dozen fine horses. In 1871, they moved to Delaware Avenue into a house purchased from Aaron Rumsey at 672 Delaware Avenue. When the Metcalfes moved to Delaware Avenue, he also got a cow, who grazed on the grass outside his gardens. The family had a lot of pets – dogs, cats, a pony, several varieties of pigeons, a raccoon, and a bear cub!  The family noted that the bear cub was well behaved; his only incident was when a popcorn vendor came to the house – the bear stole some popcorn.

The family attended St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at Swan and Washington Streets and later Christ Church. The Metcalfe family often attended plays in box seats at the Academy of Music. The children would enthusiastically stand near the rail of the box seats, blocking their father’s view. Mr. Metcalfe was known for settling into his chair and taking a nap, letting the kids enjoy the show.

Many distinguished guests would visit the Metcalfe Home, including James Blaine. James Blaine was a politician from Maine who served as U.S. Congressman, Senator, and Secretary of State. Mr. Blaine is said to have liked Mr. Metcalfe’s sitting room design so much, he copied it when he designed his own mansion on Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.  The Blaine mansion is still standing today.

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Metcalfe Marker in Forest Lawn

Mr. Metcalfe retired from his position as President of First National Bank in June 1879 due to his ill health. Unfortunately, the youngest Metcalfe son, Guy, drowned at age 11 while playing on the canal bridge in August 1879. Mr. Metcalfe, already ill and now heartbroken over the loss of his son, died eight weeks later on October 5, 1879. Both James and his son are buried in the Metcalfe Plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

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Metcalfe House in 1895. Source:  Wikimedia

James Metcalfe’s son, James Jr., built a house at 125 North Street from the estate for himself and his mother, Erzelia. The house was built just around the corner from their former house at 672 Delaware on the same property Mr. Metcalfe had purchased from Aaron Rumsey in 1871. The Metcalfe House was commissioned by McKim, Mead, and White architectural firm in July 1882 and was completed in 1884. This was the first house the NYC-based firm designed in Buffalo. The house cost $23,464 to build($636,263 in today’s dollars). The 125 North Street house was described in 1926 as “a charming house that was the scene of many exclusive but brilliant little dinners, for Mrs. Metcalfe had the happy knack of assembling clever people together.” The house was smaller than the grand mansions of the previous generation, with lower ceilings. They required less heat, fewer furnishings, and fewer servants.

After the Metcalfes moved out, the 125 North Street house was occupied by E.R. Thomas and Edward M. Mills. The house was then leased to the Graduates Association and was used as a rooming house. By 1926, the house was “without a tenant and probably will pass, like so many others of its neighbors, into the discard, although it far too artistic a house to meet any such fate.”

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Former Butler Mansion, now Jacobs Executive Center. Source: UB

The former Metcalfe house at 672 Delaware was demolished in 1896 to build two homes for the Williams Brothers at Delaware and North – 672 Delaware for George Williams and 690 Delaware for Charles Williams. Like 125 North Street, these houses were also designed by McKim, Mead, and White. The house at 672 Delaware was the most expensive house of its time in the area, costing George Williams $171,877 (about $5.6 million today). The house was sold to Edward H. Butler, founder of the Buffalo News, in 1905. The Butler family lived in the home for 69 years.

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Metcalfe House on North Street. Pillars from the Butler Mansion can be seen on the right hand side of the photo.  Source: Library of Congress

Sportsystems Corp purchased the 672 Delaware Ave property and 125 North Street in 1979. Sportsystems became Delaware North due to the site’s location at the prominent corner of Delaware Avenue and North Street. The company insisted they could not move their headquarters into the Butler Mansion unless they created a 38 spot parking lot.  They planned to demolish the house to build the parking lot on the Metcalfe House site. The 672 Delaware mansion was meticulously rehabilitated by Delaware North to bring it back to its glory days. The Delaware North headquarters moved into the mansion in 1987.
Preservationists fought to save the Metcalfe House at 125 North, particularly Francis R. Kowsky, Professor of Fine Arts at Buffalo State. Professor Kowsky referred to the architecture of the building as the midway point between HH Richardson and Frank Lloyd Wright. In February 1980, 125 North Street was demolished. The parking lot was determined not to be needed and was removed a few years later.

Parts of the Metcalfe House were saved, and you can visit them today! First, the solid cherry dining room and library of 125 North Street were dismantled and stored in boxes. Then, in 1989, the pieces were reassembled on the first floor in Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College. The Metcalfe Rooms serve as a reception area and conference room. The reconstruction of the rooms cost $220,000 and was financed by private donations, including Delaware North’s donation of $40,000.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Once it appeared that the preservation battle was lost, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was also interested in taking the front portions of the interior. The Met received the entrance hall, central staircase, and parlor. The Stair Hall and Entrance were installed between 1990 and 1992 in the Museum’s American Wing. Guests enter through a former doorway and exit through the original colonial-style split (Dutch) door. The room features “a fashionable “inglenook” – a fireplace flanked by built-in benches – and a dramatic staircase with a half-story landing lit by leaded-glass windows.” The parlor has remained in storage.

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Entryway from the Metcalfe House at the Met. Source: Wikimedia

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Stairwell from the Metcalfe House at the Met. Source: Wikimedia

Many architects feel that the wrong house was demolished. The mansions at 690 Delaware and 672 Delaware were big repetitive style houses, whereas 125 North Street was unique and different. The property at 672 Delaware Avenue is currently owned by University at Buffalo. It is known as the Jacobs Executive Development Center. The site of the Metcalfe House is a part of the gardens associated with the Jacobs Center.  The demolition of the Metcalfe house organized the preservation movement in Buffalo. It led to the creation of the Preservation Coalition of Erie County (now a part of Preservation Buffalo Niagara).

So, next time you head down Metcalfe Street, think of the Metcalfe family’s houses that are no longer standing.  And the next time you pass the corner of Delaware and North, imagine someone playing outside with their bear cub!  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:

  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Metcalfe Street Named for Bank Founder Who Also Built Up Parks.” Buffalo Courier-Express. January 7, 1940, pL5.
  • “The Duchess Strolls: Pomander Walk.” Buffalo Courier. June 5, 1926, p6.
    “First National Bank: Resignation of Mr. Metcalfe as President.” Buffalo Commercial Advertiser. June 9, 1879, p3.
  • “Obituary: Mr. James H. Metcalfe.” Buffalo Courier. October 6, 1879, p2.
  • Cardinale, Anthony. “Rising from the Rubble The Historic Metcalfe House was Razed Ten Years Ago, But Parts of It Can Be Revisited.” Buffalo News. December 24, 1989
  • Bosco, Jim. “At Home in the Office Eight Years and $6 Million Later, A Delaware Avenue Mansion Blossoms as Executive Offices.” Buffalo News. April 23, 1989.
  • Sommer, Mark. “Metcalfe house, preserved in part at Buffalo State, helped launch a movement.” Buffalo News. February 14, 2020.
  • Fairbanks, Phil. “Metcalfe House is a Long Way from Home Remains of Buffalo Landmark Will Go On Display in New York.” Buffalo News. July 7, 1991.
  • “Home of a Thousand Voices: Members of the Metcalfe Family in Ellicottville, New York.” Wisteria. June 29, 2017. http://wisteria-dawn.blogspot.com/ (online November 2021).
  • Larned, JN.  “A History of Buffalo:  Delineating the Evolution of the City.”  Empire State Company, 1911.

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hutchinson ave

Hutchinson Avenue

Hutchinson Avenue is a street in the Lasalle Neighborhood of North Buffalo. The street runs between Midway Avenue near Bailey to Clarence Avenue. The street used to run through to Clyde Avenue into the Harrison Radiator Kensington Plant. At some point, the road was fenced off from the industrial site. It is named for Edward Howard Hutchinson.  The Hutchinson Family was an important family in Williamsville’s early history, as well as in Buffalo.  

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Old Village Hall on Main Street in Williamsville. The Hutchinson Homestead is the white house in the photo. Source: Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

John Hutchinson, Edward’s grandfather, first arrived in Williamsville from Connecticut in 1815. He returned to Connecticut to marry Harriot Martin and brought his bride to Williamsville in 1818. John Hutchinson worked as a tanner and was the first chief of the Williamsville Fire Department, which started in 1835.  The group was known as “Rough and Ready Fire Engine Company No. 1.”   In memory of his grandfather, in 1907 Edward Hutchinson gave Williamsville the land on which the Village Hall and Fire Headquarters were built. To honor the family, in 1908 the Williamsville Hose Company changed its name to the Hutchinson Hose Company.  They are still in operation today, with two stations – one at 5565 Main Street and one at 5045 Sheridan Drive.  It is the oldest volunteer fire company in Erie County.  Edward Hutchinson also contributed $3,000 ($90,000 in 2021 dollars) towards the building of the Village Hall and firehouse.  Village Hall also contained the Town of Amherst Offices.  The building was built with limestone quarried from the Young’s quarry, located at what is now the Country Club of Buffalo.  In 1964, the Village and Town separated their offices and Amherst Town Hall was built on the site of Old Village Hall.  Williamsville Village offices moved into a building that had been used by Amherst Police Department.  

John Hutchinson’s son, John Martin Hutchinson, was born in Williamsville on March 7, 1820. Like his father, John M. worked in the leather business. He opened a leather store on Lower Main Street where he sold the pelts tanned by his father. His business grew, and he had two stores. John M. Hutchinson married Eunice Alzina Howard in January 1851. Rufus Howard, who Howard Street is named for, was the brother of Eunice.

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Daguerreotype of Edward H. Hutchinson at age 3. Source: The Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.The Daguerrotype was donated by grandson, along with Edward’s trousers and shoes.

Edward Howard Hutchinson was born on March 7, 1852 in Buffalo. His mother died when Edward was just 5 days old. After her death, John and Edward moved from their home at Ellicott and North Divison Streets to the home of Eunice’s sister, Sally. Sally was married to James D. Sheppard (sometimes spelled Shepherd). The Sheppards lived at 175 West Chippewa Street.  James Sheppard had built the house in 1844.  Mr. Sheppard was often referred to as the “Father of Music in Buffalo”, arriving in Buffalo in 1827.  He used to play the piano for the crowds at the old Eagle Tavern on Main Street.  He established the pioneer music store of the Lower Great Lakes region.  He later formed the firm of Sheppard & Cottier, which later became Denton, Cottier & Daniels.  They are still in business today!  Mr. Sheppard gave lessons in piano, violin and organ.  

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Sheppard House on West Chippewa.  Source: Buffalo Historical Society Publications

Edward attended School No. 10, located on Delaware Avenue between Mohawk and Huron. He attended Central High School at Court Street and Niagara Square until 1869. In preparation for attending Harvard, he studied with Dr. Horace Brigg’s Private School. Unfortunately, ill-health ended his studies.

His health improved, and Mr. Hutchinson began working at the pork packing firm of L.W. Drake at age 18. Five years later, the Drake plant burned down, and the company dissolved. Just 23 years old, Edward established Buffalo’s first newspaper advertising agency with a complete job printing plant. The agency was located at 195 Main Street.  Mr. Hutchinson built several buildings, including the Hutchinson Block, built in 1887, located on Main Street north of Virginia Street. The Hutchinson consisted of a 4-story building with 12 residential apartments. It was considered a model apartment house in its day. In 1890, he constructed the Strathmore at Main and Carlton Streets, a duplicate of the Hutchinson Block.  In 1889, he built the Hutchinson Office Building, located at 71-73 West Eagle Street.  

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Hutchinson Home, 180 Morgan Street (now 200 South Elmwood). Photo by author.

In September 1872, Edward married Jeannie Blanch Ganson. Jeannie was the niece of John S Ganson. The Hutchinsons had two daughters – Martha and Blanche. The family lived at 180 Morgan Street (now 200 South Elmwood) for nine years. On June 8, 1882, Mr. Hutchinson purchased the house built by Dennis Bowen in 1853. The home was located at 157 West Chippewa, now the site of Hutch Tech High School. Mr. Hutchinson also bought and sold the Joseph Warren House to the east of the house. The Warren house was moved to a property on West Avenue. The property was next door to the Sheppard house, where Mr. Hutchinson had grown up. When the Hutchinsons moved in, they added a west wing to the house.  After his aunt and uncle died, Mr. Hutchinson inherited the house. They had it demolished to allow additional lawn on the west side of the property.  The lawns of the Hutchinson house were known for their extensive gardens.  

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Hutchinson Home, 157 W Chippewa.   Source: Buffalo Historical Society Publications

 

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Hutchinson Gardens on West Chippewa.  Source: Buffalo Historical Society Publications

In 1882, Mr. Hutchinson formed a partnership with George Thurstone to go into the drug business. Mr. Thurstone would operate the store, located at 416 Main Street, and Mr. Hutchinson would tend to the financial affairs of the store.  In 1887, Mr. Hutchinson decided to focus on banking. He was a nationally known banker, working as a Director of Marine Back for 26 years. In 1913, he became a Vice President of the People’s Bank. In 1927, the merger occurred that formed Manufacturers & Traders Trust Company (M&T); Edward became Honorary Chairman of the Board. He also served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Williamsville and a Trustee of the Erie County Savings Bank.

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Edward Howard Hutchinson     Source: Buffalo Sunday Morning News

Mr. Hutchinson was also involved in public service. In 1887, he was elected Alderman of the 10th Ward on the democratic ticket. At the time, the Ward was considered a Republic stronghold. He served in 1888 and 1889, the only Democrat ever elected by that constituency. Mr. Hutchison would say that he had been a Democrat since age 8 when he heard Stephen Douglass speak in Buffalo on the Terrace in 1860. Mr. Hutchinson was also a close friend and supporter of Grover Cleveland.

In 1890 and 91, Mr. Hutchinson served as secretary of the committee campaigning to revise the City Charter. The Citizen’s Association was successful. The State Legislature approved the new charter, which divided the City into 25 wards and set a three-year term for mayor. In 1891, he was appointed by Mayor Bishop to serve as a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners. During his tenure, he traveled to look at fire departments in other cities and countries to compare their operations to Buffalo’s. In 1895, he was appointed by Mayor Jewett to an advisory committee to City Council regarding the Niagara Falls Power Company and Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Canal Company. This committee helped to enable the use of streets to allow for the transmission of electricity. In 1901, he was appointed by Mayor Diehlto to serve on a commission working for a Union Station in Buffalo. In 1932, he was named to the committee in charge of the Buffalo Centennial Celebration. His name had often been bounced around to be nominated for Congress, Mayor, or Governor. Mr. Hutchinson always refused to allow even a nomination to come forward in his name.

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Central High School on Court Street. Source: WNY Heritage

In 1909, the City of Buffalo had realized that the Central High School was overcrowded, and a new facility was needed. Downtown prices had become higher, but the City was eager to keep a school in the central part of the City. So they put out a request for proposals for a site.

On January 16, 1909, the Hutchinsons offered their property. It came as a surprise to everyone. Both Edward and Jeannie had attended Central High School, and it was where they had met. They had been members of the group known as “Miss Ripley’s Boys and Girls,” named after Mary Ripley. The Hutchinsons donated their property to give something back to the school that had educated them. As they joked, “They didn’t want the property to go into the hands of strangers.”

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Approximate boundary of the Hutchinson Property donated to the City of Buffalo shown over image of modern Hutch Tech High School

The Hutchinson property was approximately 113,000 square feet in size and was valued at $175,000 to $250,000 at the time, which would be about $5.2 to $7.5 Million today. The value was set to increase in the next two years. The construction of the Elmwood Extension would extend Morgan Street northward to be called South Elmwood. It would open up the property to prime frontage along South Elmwood. Other properties were proposed for the school, including the following:

  • the Jewett Property on Delaware Avenue, extending from Chippewa Street to the Hotel Touraine (backing right up to the Hutchinson Property), amount unknown
  • The Buffalo Orphan Asylum Property, for $60,000
  • The George S. Metcalfe property on Cottage Street from Maryland to College Street, for $129,500
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Houses on Johnson Park that were demolished when Hutch Tech was built. Source: Buffalo Historical Society Publications

The Hutchinsons offered their property for free as a gift to the City. The Hutchinson property consisted of multiple properties: first, the Sheppard Property, owned by Mr. Hutchinson; the Hutchinson’s house, which belonged to Mrs. Hutchinson, the land had been given to her as a gift from John M. Hutchinson; the Warren property which Mr. Hutchinson purchased in 1889; and property on the rear of Whitney Place that had been a part of the Whitney Estate which had been purchased by Mr. Hutchinson. The Common Council called the gift a “noble and generous act.” As a result, the school was named after the Hutchinsons and became Hutchinson Central School. In 1954, the school merged with Technical High School and became Hutchinson Technical Central School, typically referred to as Hutch-Tech. Work on the school began in March 1913. In addition, other properties along Johnson Park were purchased to allow for the full use of the site.

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Hutchinson House, 296 Linwood Avenue. Source: Beautiful Homes of Buffalo.

After donating their property, the Hutchinsons moved to a new house built for them in 1910 on Linwood Avenue. In the 40s, the site was home to Stratford Business School. In the 50s and 60s, the site was home to the Girl Scouts Headquarters.  In 1970, the Girl Scouts moved out of the building and moved to Jewett Parkway.  The site of the Hutchinson House is currently a parking lot for the Saturn Club on Delaware.  The front steps and a Hutchinson marker are still visible along the sidewalk on Linwood.  

While contributing to Buffalo, he also held Williamsville in high regard. In 1911, the Williamsville Free Library opened in Williamsville Village Hall. More than 200 books were donated by Mr. Hutchinson to the library. He also gave the hose company the original bucket his grandfather had used as part of the old all-bucket brigade.

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Hutchinson Memorial Chapel. Source: Buffalo News.

Mr. Hutchinson was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for more than 50 years. He built the Hutchinson Memorial Chapel of the Holy Innocents in memory of his parents in 1895. Among the items placed in the chapel’s cornerstone when it was built were the Bible, prayer book, and hymnal that belonged to Mr. Hutchinson’s mother and his father’s fire commissioner badge.  The chapel was located on the grounds of the Episcopal Church Home, which occupied the entire block surrounded by Busti Avenue, Rhode Island Street, Massachusets Avenue and Columbus Parkway.  The Episcopal Chuch Home was the oldest privately operated home for aging in Western New York, having been incorporated in 1858 by Reverand William Shelton.  Before the Church Home located on the Rhode Island Street site, the site had been home to an orphanage.  The Church Home was a major institution on the West Side.  At one time, it had been home to 1,000 residents and had 500 employees.  The Church Home closed after many years of planning for a new Peace Bridge or expanded plaza deisgn.  The site was sold to New York State in 2013.  The State sought to demolish the six buildings on the site to expand the Buffalo plaza of the Peace Bridge.  Residents and organizations fought to preserve two of the structures on the site – Thorton Hall, built in 1905, and the Hutchinson Chapel.  The Hutchinson Chapel, located on Rhode Island Street, is the only building still standing, vacant and boarded up. 

In 1908, Mr. Hutchinson donated $10,000 (about $300,000 in 2021 dollars) to St. Paul’s for their 50th Anniversary Celebration. That same year, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson contributed a $25,000 ($750,000 in 2021 dollars) organ, one of the finest in the country. After Mrs. Hutchinson died in 1921, Mr. Hutchinson donated organ chimes and a memorial stained glass window to the church. After his death, a second window was placed in his memory.

Mr. Hutchinson supported many projects in Buffalo that he saw as valuable to the City. He said, “I know of no better investment for a Buffalonian’s capital than in building up this city.” He was one of the first contributors to the Pan American Exposition, a life member of the Buffalo Historical Society, Vice President of the Buffalo Public Library Board, and a supporter of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences (Science Museum), the Academy of Fine Ars (the Albright Knox) and the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. He was a member of the Lodge of the Ancient Landmarks, No. 441. The Lodge building is still standing today at 318 Pearl Street, home to Lucky Day Whiskey Bar. In 1935, Mr. Hutchinson was honored with a service medal after 62 years of membership at the lodge, which began when he was just 21 years old.   He served as President of the Board of Trustees for Buffalo City Cemetery (Forest Lawn) for 33 years.

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Hutchinson Plot, Forest Lawn.

Mr. Hutchinson had a stroke on February 17 and died on February 26, 1938, just before his 86 birthday. He had been active in his business affairs, heading to the office at Erie County Savings Bank daily, up until his stroke. He often said people were like good machinery and shouldn’t be allowed to sit idle, so he never retired. On his 85th birthday, he was quoted on the front page of the Buffalo News saying that he felt he was in good shape as he ever was.  He credited his well being to a strict schedule – waking up every day at 6am, breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 12:30, supper at 5:30 and in bed by 10pm.  His funeral was at St. Paul’s, and he is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Newspapers referred to him as Buffalo’s First Citizen. Flags in Buffalo were at half-mast after his death.

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:

  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Hutchinson Avenue Honors Buffalo Banker’s Memory.” Buffalo Courier-Express. October 26, 1941, p5.
  • “Edward Howard Hutchinson.” Buffalo Courier-Express. February 27, 1938.
  • “E. H. Hutchinson, 62 Years in Lodge, Honored at Rites”. Buffalo Courier-Express. April 5, 1935, p7.
  • “Interesting Sketch of John M. Hutchinson, Pioneer of Williamsville.” The Amherst Bee. October 14, 1909, p1.
  • “E. H. Hutchinson Succumbs at 85, Funeral Monday”. Buffalo Evening News. February 26, 1938, p1.
  • Sheldon, Grace Carew. “The Edward H. Hutchinson Home.” The Buffalo Times. October 11, 1909, p2.
  • “Mr. and Mrs. Edward H Hutchinson Two of Buffalo’s Most Sincere and Generous Philanthropists Give Their Beautiful Homestead.” The Buffalo Times. January 17, 1909, p41.
  • Endres, Matt.  History of the Volunteer Fire Department of Buffalo New York.  Wm. Graser, Printer, Buffalo, 1906.
  • Frank H. Severance, ediro.  Buffalo Historical Society Publications, Volume 16:  Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  Buffalo Historical Society:  Buffalo NY, 1912.  
  • Hubbell, Mark.  Beautiful Homes of Buffalo.  Buffalo Truth Publishing Company:  1915.  
  • McCarthy, Robert.  “State Purchases Former Episcopal Church Home”.  Buffalo New. July 3, 2013.
  • “Local Banker is 85 Sunday.”  Buffalo Evening News.  March 5, 1937, p1. 
  • “Girl Scouts Plan to Move”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  July 1, 1969, p27.  

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Box Ave

Box Avenue runs between Fillmore Avenue and Moselle Street in the MLK Park neighborhood of the East Side.   I always enjoy finding the origins of streets like Box, where you’d think perhaps there was a box factory near there or something.  Instead, the street is named after Henry Box.

Henry Wellington Box was born in Cornwall, England on April 23, 1836.  His parents died when he was young, so he started working at age six.  He drove sandcarts on a farm.  He worked his way up to making $12.50 (about $440 in today’s dollars) a year.  The sand was necessary in Cornwall to make the soil useful for farming.  At age 13, he came to America.  At the time, the crossing of the Atlantic took 32 days.  When he landed in New York, he had nine English shillings.  He spent three of those shillings on dinner when he arrived.  The rest of his life, he would say that after the weeks of ocean voyage food, the meal tasted better than anything he ever ate after!  His first job in America was working on a farm near Honesdale, PA.  He decided that he finally needed to get an education, and at age 16 enrolled in the rural school while working part-time at the farm.  He became acquainted with a prominent Pennsylvania lawyer who helped him attend Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, PA.  To earn tuition and board, he taught in nearby rural schools.

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Source: Buffalo Times

Mr. Box studied law in the office of Judge Campbell Collins of Wilkes-Barre, PA.  In 1859, Mr. Box was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar.  He came to Buffalo in 1861 and worked as a clerk in the law office of Sherman S. Rogers.  He worked for a salary of $2/week and slept in the office to avoid having to pay rent.  Mr. Box was admitted to the New York State bar in 1862.  He worked his way up in the profession and quickly became recognized.  He was particularly known for his work as a criminal lawyer.  During the 1870s, he started to be in demand as corporation counsel for a variety of companies, so he discontinued his criminal practice.  He served for 31 years as attorney for the Buffalo Street Railway and played an important role in its expansion.  He also served as the attorney for Union Fire Insurance Company, Buffalo Gas Company, Bell Telephone Company and Western Union.

Mr. Box developed an interest in real estate.  He built the subdivisions in the Box Street section; as well as two subdivisions  on Clinton Street – one near the stockyards and the other east of Bailey Avenue; and the Sweet Avenue subdivision.  He named streets for some of his friends – including Warren Street for Orsamus Warren and Sweet Avenue for Charles A Sweet.  He named Selkirk Street after the husband of hiw wife’s sister, John Selkirk.  He built more than 400 houses on the East Side of Buffalo, mainly for railroad employees and mechanics.

Mr. Box married Mary Mason Peabody in 1865.  Mrs. Box was the daughter of John Peabody, another prominent family.  The Box family lived on Pearl Street and later built a mansion at 638 Delaware Avenue.  They adopted one daughter, Mary Elizabeth Box.  Mary Elizabeth’s coming-out party was held on December 26th 1893 at the Hotel Niagara and had more than 1000 guests.  The family collected paintings and books of immense value.

In 1893, he served as a New York State Commissioner to the Chicago World’s Fair.  He was a member of the Buffalo Club, the Country Club, the Buffalo Library, the Historical Society(Buffalo History Museum), and the Fine Arts Academy (Albright Knox Art Gallery).  He returned to Great Britain several times to visit relatives on London and Edinburgh, Scotland.

henry boxMr. Box retired in 1901.  He passed away in 1909 at Saranac Lake.  He had suffered from tuberculosis for five years before his death.  He spent his last year in the Adirondacks to help with his health.  He is buried in Forest Lawn in the Peabody-Selkirk-Box family plot.

The value of Mr. Box’s estate was determined to be $134,974 in personal property and $150,082 in real property.  It took years to close out Mr. Box’s estate due to his extensive real estate holdings.  This would total about $8.5 Million in today’s dollars.  In 1923, to help close out the estate, the remaining 88 lots on Clinton, Archer, Littell, Seneca, Clemo and other streets were offered for $35,000.  Some of the family’s paintings were donated to the Albright Knox and 850 books were donated to the JN Adam Memorial Hospital to build their library.  Donations were also left to Buffalo General Hospital, Sisters Hospital, Buffalo Orphan Asylum and Children’s Hospital.  Mary Elizabeth never married, in her will she left her remaining money to various organizations including the Tuberculosis Association.

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:

  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Box Avenue Memorial to Noted Lawyer.”  Buffalo Courier-Express.  January 21, 1942
  • “Funeral of Henry W. Box.”  The Buffalo Commercial.  February 11, 1909, p10.
  • “Henry W. Box Passes Away”  Buffalo Express.  February 8, 1909, p8.
  • “To Close The Estate of Henry W. Box.”  The Buffalo Enquirer.  June 25, 1923, p5.
  • “Hospital Gets Books as a Henry W Box Memorial.”  Buffalo Courier.  November 3, 1912, p25.
  • “Will of Henry W Box is Filed for Probate.”  Buffalo Courier.  February 16, 190, p7.
  • “Life Story of Henry W Box is History of Distinguished Man.”  Buffalo Courier.  February 14, 1909, p41.

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