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

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Approximate Former Location of Burt Ave

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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David Burt. Source: Ancestry.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Central High School, 1908. Source: Buffalo Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next time you drive around Niagara Square, think about the Burt Family and all the students of Buffalo who attended school there over the years.  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Sources:

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

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carltonCarlton Street runs from Main to Genesee Street in the Medical Campus and Fruit Belt neighborhoods of Buffalo.  Like many streets in this area, it was impacted by the construction of the Kensington Expressway (NYS Route 33), which separates Carlton Street into two, with its final two blocks of the 33, cut off from the rest of the street west of the 33.

Carlton Street is named for Ebenezer Carleton Sprague.  Ebenezer went by the nickname of Eben and was born in Bath, Grafton County, New Hampshire on November 26, 1822.  Eben Sprague was the Great Great Great Grandson of Frances Sprague, who sailed to Plymouth on the ship Anne, and was the First Secretary of the Plymouth Colony.  Eben Sprague came to Buffalo in 1825 with his parents Noah Sprague and Abiah Carleton.  Technically, you could say that Carlton Street was named for Eben’s mom and her family.  The name was spelled interchangeably as Carleton and Carlton, depending on the source.

Noah Sprague worked in the mercantile business in Buffalo and was well known around Early Buffalo.  He was elected County Clerk of Erie County in 1831 and 1840.  He was mostly identified with the lake business and had an office on the docks for many years.

EbenCarletonSpragueEben Sprague attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Harvard College in 1843.  After graduation, he studied law in the office of Millard Fillmore and Solomon G. Haven, two of the most distinguished lawyers of their day.  Mr. Sprague was admitted to the bar in October 1846.  He was a successful lawyer and was associated with both Millard Fillmore and his son, Millard Powers Fillmore.  Mr. Sprague founded the firm Moot, Sprague, Marcy and Gulick.  He was well respected among the legal community for nearly 50 years.

Mr. Sprague served as the lawyer for the International Railroad Company, the Great Western Railway of Canada, Grand Trunk and Lake Erie & Western Railroads as well as other railroad and manufacturing concerns.  His firm went by several names over the years.  He served as attorney for Erie County Savings Bank for more than 40 years, beginning in 1854.

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Sprague House at Delaware and Chippewa in center of photo. Source: Chippewa Street Development Report

In 1849, Eben Sprague married Elizabeth H. Williams.  They had eight children, but only four lived to adulthood – Henry Ware,  Carlton, Louise and Mary.  The Sprague Family lived in a cottage on High Street and then moved to a home on the northeast corner of Chippewa and Delaware.  The house at 235 Delaware Avenue was originally built by W. S. Gardner in 1836 for Alexander A. Eustaphieve.  The house was a three story, Federal-style brick structure.  The house had a basement kitchen, which was the older style of house popular in the early days of Buffalo, called an English basement house.  The house was demolished in 1930.  The site is currently Starbucks and Bocce’s Pizza.

The Sprague house was a center of culture.  Mr. Sprague studied languages – including French and German which he was fluent in, and Latin and Greek.  He enjoyed poetry, especially Shelley.  He always said if he hadn’t’ been a lawyer, he’d have been a writer.

Mr. Sprague served as President of the Young Men’s Association, which developed into the Buffalo Library; Vice President and Curator of Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts (the Albright Knox Art Gallery); a member of the Buffalo Natural Science Association, the Harvard Club and the Thursday Club.  He was also one of the founders of First Unitarian Church.  In 1890, he was made the third Chancellor of the University of Buffalo.

In 1876, he was nominated to fill a vacancy in the State Senate for a single session.  During his time in the Senate in 1877, he was a member of the Committee on Canals and helped reduce tolls on the Erie Canal.  He also was a member of the Judiciary Committee, and worked to better the new code of civil procedure, which included writing 600 amendments to the code!  His constituents wanted to nominated him the next year, but he declined.  He had no desire for other public positions.

In the 1880s, Mr. Sprague advised wealthy Buffalonians to share their riches, saying, “It was wealth without a conscience that sowed the seeds of the French Revolution and drove its possessors into exile and to the guillotine.”  He was a supporter of many charities, giving of his time, money and attention.  He served as a Secretary of the Buffalo Orphan Asylum and a Trustee of Children’s Aid and Charity Organization Society, and of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Mr. Sprague wrote a number of essays that he published.  In 1891, Mr. Sprague printed a book titled “Lessons from the Life of Benjamin Franklin” for the young people of Buffalo.  This book is an autobiography of Franklin’s that was edited by Mr. Sprague.  In Mr. Sprague’s introduction he wrote to the boy and girls, hoping they could learn from Franklin’s life and, “while they cannot all be Franklins, they can become respected and prosperous.”  He desired wide circulation of the book, so he sold it at cost.

sprague graveMr. Sprague died on February 14, 1895 at the age of 73.  He suffered fell into a coma while home reading to his wife by the fire.  He died the next day of kidney disease.  His grave says:  Jurisconsultus Insignis – Civis Fidelis Literis Perdoctus- Hominum Amator, which means “Distinguished Lawyer – A Loyal Citizen – Lover of Human Learning.  He left behind an estate valued at $50,000 in real estate and $150,000 in personal property ($1.6 Million and $4.9 Million in today’s dollars).  Eben left his law office to his son Henry, who continued the practice until his death.  The firm then continued under Eben’s grandson!

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.  “Carlton Street Memorial to Outstanding Buffalo Lawyer.”  Buffalo Courier-Express.  April 20, 1941, p 7-3.
  • “E.C. Sprague Dead”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  February 14, 1895.  p1.
  • “Last Will of Late Eben Carlton Sprague”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  June 14, 1895.  p2.
  • “Loved and Mourned:  A Departed Bright Light of the Bar of Buffalo.”  Buffalo Courier.  February 16, 1895, p6.
  • “Mr. E.C. Sprague:  Sudden Death of One of City’s Most Prominent Lawyers at Noon.”  Buffalo Evening News.  February 15, 1895, p6.
  • Patterson, Roger.  “Chippewa Street Development Report.”  Prepared for the Dept of Community Development, Buffalo New York.  February 1980.
  • Franklin, Benjamin.  Lessons from the Life Of Benjamin Franklin.  Ebenezer Carlton Sprague, editor.  P. Paul & Bro Publishers:  Buffalo.  1891.

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Marvin Street is a short street running between South Park Avenue and Perry Street in the Cobblestone/First Ward neighborhood of Buffalo.  The street is adjacent to the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.  The street is named for Asa Marvin, and his family, who used to own a bunch of land in the First Ward of Buffalo.

marvinAsa Marvin was born October 13, 1778 in Norwalk Connecticut.  He grew up in Kirkland, in Oneida County.  He worked as a hatter and invested in property.  Mr. Marvin married Sarah Lockwood. They had two sons, George and LeGrand, and a daughter, Sarah.  Both sons were prominent lawyers in Buffalo during the 1830s-60s.  Asa and Sarah came to Buffalo after LeGrand had established himself here.  The Marvin Family lived at the southeast corner of Court and Franklin Streets.  The elm trees planted in front of the mansion were considered to be the tallest trees in Buffalo before they were chopped down.  Asa Marvin died on December 12, 1849.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

LeGrand Marvin was born in 1807.  He attended Hamilton College and then moved to Baltimore to teach.  He returned to Buffalo to study law with Philander Bennett.  Le Grand was admitted to practice as an attorney in 1833.  George was three years younger and attended Yale.  He returned to Buffalo and studied law under his brother.  George was admitted to the bar in 1836.  George married  lived on West Mohawk Street, the site of his house is now covered by the Statler.  George represented the Ninth Ward in the County Board of Supervisors and served as Chairman of the Board during his time.  The Ninth Ward at this time was the area around Niagara Square and up Niagara Street to Porter.  The brothers formed a partnership and worked together in their law practice.  It was said that the Marvin brothers had the largest law practice in the City of Buffalo.  

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Sketch of Le Grand Marvin, Buffalo Evening News, December 3, 1887

Around 1831, Le Grand had been given power of attorney to care for his parents large estates.  He purchased real estate in the City for his father and managed it until he formed a partnership with George in 1839.  As a result, the Marvin family owned extensive property in Buffalo, including Marvin Street and all the land bordering it.  Le Grand Marvin divided the streets into building lots shortly before the street was opened in 1841.

In the spring of 1842, LeGrand made some bad endorsements for businesses which failed and as a result, became insolvent.  The law practice’s articles of incorporation were changed so that George was in charge, to help protect LeGrand from investors coming after him and collecting against the business.  

Le Grand married Julia Reynolds, a schoolteacher from Syracuse, in 1854.  They divorced in 1861.  

Following the death of their mother in 1963, the brothers began to argue over their mother’s properties.  The properties had been purchased by Le Grand originally.  Mrs. Marvin obtained title by foreclosure when Le Grand had his financial struggles.  She left the property to Le Grand in her will.  The litigation that follows broke up the firm and the law partnership dissolved in 1864. 

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Some of the Marvin-owned Properties along Marvin Street. Note: they are labeled here as owned by both George Marvin and Simon Greenwood. These were the properties that were under disputed ownership for 25 years while the case proceeded Source: 1872 Hopkins Atlas of Buffalo

The court case that proceeded was the longest in City history at that time.  After 22 years, the court case was settled in February 1886, in favor of Le Grand.  George had died in October 1882.  The matter was over real estate that was valued at $80,000 (about $2.2 Million today) and $12,000 (about $335,000 today) cash.   The value of the estate changed often, due to the longevity of the case, so various reports indicated differing amounts.  George’s family continued to appeal the case.

LeGrand became eccentric during his later years, and he was known to travel around Buffalo on the hottest days of summer wearing “artics and a woolen shawl”.  Following his death, the Buffalo Commercial said that:

No man, with his own hands, ever built a taller monument to his own eccentricity, than Le Grand Marvin.  He possessed an irrepressible tendency to rush into print on all matters that concerned him, however remotely….as a rule, his contributions to the press were declined with thanks, as the mere fact of publishing them would lay the medium through which they appeared open to libel suits from the inhabitants of Buffalo, consequently his literary remains are to be found principally in pamphlet form.

Whenever he felt anyone ran afoul of him, he’d jot it down and include it in his next pamphlet.  It was said that he distrusted and condemned all churches, political parties and professions.  He claimed that his marriage was not legal because his wife wore rouge at the wedding, so he felt she had defrauded him.  Despite the failure of his marriage and subsequent divorce, he wrote a pamphlet on “The Joys of Perfect Matrimony”.  He didn’t have any children, but he wrote pamphlets on “The Proper Rearing of Children”.  

While he was eccentric, he was still considered a fine lawyer and was well respected as one of the oldest members of the Buffalo Bar.  The court case continued following Le Grand’s death in 1887, with the case in another round of appeals and the will contested by George’s widow and children.  The properties were mainly located in the First Ward, and was some of the most valuable land in the city at the time.  In addition to the value of the land and buildings, they also brought in considerable rent from businesses operating on the properties.  Holmes Mill, Hamlin’s Grape Sugar Works, De Laney’s Forge and Cook’s Distillery were some of the businesses located on the land.

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Old Buffalo Library bookplate showing Le Grand’s name. Source

The suit was decided yet again in favor of Le Grand almost a year after his death.  The bulk of his estate was to be left to the Buffalo Library (one of the predecessors to the Buffalo & Erie County Library).   Le Grand left behind a 37 page will, his final pamphlet.  After accounting for 25 year of legal fees and a few gifts to friends, the Library was expected to received about $35,000 or about $950,000 in today’s dollars.  Le Grand had been one of the founder’s of the library and was a life member.  The estate was contested by George’s family and finally settled in February of 1891.  

When he died, Le Grand also donated his body to University at Buffalo for research and dissection.  His skeleton was mounted in the vestibule of the Medical College on High Street for many years.  Do any of my UB friends know if they still have his skeleton?  

Sadly, George’s family was left without that income they had expected to come into after winning the law suit and the estate.  The loss of that money, plus the legal fees strained the family’s finances.   Son Phillip (Le Grand’s nephew) committed suicide in 1915 by jumping from a sixth floor window at the Buffalo Savings Bank.  Prior to his death, Phillip had visited every lawyer in the building trying to negotiate a loan to tide him over from the family’s financial difficulty and keep their home at 450 Richmond.  

So the next time you’re at the Casino, maybe take a look out the back of the parking ramp onto Marvin Street and pour one out for the Marvin Family.  And seriously, UB, someone let me know about that skeleton!

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.  “Marvin Street Linked with Pioneer Buffalo”  Buffalo Courier-Express.  June 19, 1938, 4E.
  • “Le Grand Marvin:  A Chapter of Reminiscences Concerning the Great Litigant- Selections from His Own Works”  The Buffalo Commercial, December 10, 1887, pg 3.
  • “Some Old Buffalo Characters:  Recollections of People and Things in Early Buffalo””  Buffalo Commercial, October 14, 1911.
  • “Le Grand Marvin Wins His Law Suit after 22 Years”.  Buffalo Evening News.  February 9, 1886.
  • “Le Grand Marvin:  One of Buffalo’s Most Noted Characters Gone to His Last Rest”.  Buffalo Weekly Express.  December 8, 1887.
  • Percy C Marvin Jumped to Death at Bank Building.  Buffalo Times.  April 19, 1915.
  • “Le Grand Marvin’s Suit:  Wins a Victory in One of His Long Contested Suits”.  Buffalo times.  November 28, 1888.

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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.

 

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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.

outerlots goodell

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.

st peters

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.

goodell

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tracy Street is a short street in Downtown Buffalo, running for two blocks between Delaware Avenue and Carolina Avenue, running parallel to West Tupper and Johnson Park.  Tracy Street is unique to the downtown area, as it is mostly residential homes, most of which date from approximately the 1860s.

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Houses on Tracy Street

The street is named for Albert Haller Tracy.  Some places spelled his middle name as “Hallar”, but his gravestone uses Haller, so I will use that here.  Tracy Street was opened in 1838.  Mr. Tracy originally owned the land occupied by the street.  At one point, Mr. Tracy tried to sell the land and the houses along the street to Mr. Lewis Allen for $500 (approximately $12,000 in today’s dollars).  Mr. Allen turned down the offer, saying that it was not worth that much money.  By the 1860s, the land along the north side of Tracy Street was part of Rumsey Park, owned by one of the richest men in Buffalo.

Albert Hallar Tracy was born in Norwich Connecticut in June 1793.  His father was a physician and Albert originally intended to follow his footsteps and study medicine.  However, after deciding medicine was not his passion, he went to Batavia to study law.  In 1815 he was admitted to the bar in the Village of Buffalo.  He practiced law in partnership with James Sheldon and later with Thomas C. Love.

Mr. Tracy was elected to the House of Representatives in 1819, when he was only 24 years old.  He ran on the Whig ticket and represented nearly all of Western New York.  He turned 25 during the time between election day and his inauguration.  He served three terms in Congress and was friends with many statesmen of the time, including future President Martin Van Buren.

During his time in Congress, one of the major issues at hand was the admission of Missouri to the Union.  Mr. Tracy argued on the house floor against allowing Missouri as a slave state.  Mr. Tracy stated:

“We  are called up on now to act with  promptitude and decision upon this question; that posterity will hold us responsible if we consent to entail this evil upon it; an evil which can only be eradicated hereafter by civil commotion and perhaps bloodshed….slavery engenders pride and insolence in him who commands, and inflicts intellectual and moral degradation on him who serves, that it is abominable and unchristian.  Then why should we not apply this restriction?  Why should we hesitate to prohibit such an institution in a State whose geographical position alone ought to exclude it?”

Missouri was eventually accepted as a slave state (with Maine as a free state) in what became known as the Missouri Compromise.

Mr. Tracy was considered to have an unusually brilliant and logical mind, which contributed to his success.  In 1829, Governor DeWitt Clinton appointed him a circuit court judge; however, Mr. Tracy declined the post.  Shortly after, he was elected to the New York State Senate, where he served from 1830 to 1838.   During his term as a Senator, he served in the State Court for the Correction of Errors, in which the Senate was included.  Mr. Tracy wrote more than 150 legal opinions during his time in the State Senate.

Mr. Tracy was one of the nine original members of the Buffalo Harbor Organization, which organized in 1819.  He was also a member of the first Board of Directors of the United States Bank, which incorporated in Buffalo in 1826.  In 1846, he helped to incorporate the University at Buffalo.  He also served as President of the Buffalo Water Works Company from 1855 to 1859.

Later in life, Mr. Tracy moved from the Whig to the National Republican party.

tracy graveMr. Tracy married Harriet F. Tracy.  Albert and Harriet had two sons – Albert Haller Tracy, Jr. and Francis W. Tracy.  The Tracy family lived at the northeast corner of Court and Franklin Streets.  Mr. Tracy died on September 19, 1859 and he is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Harriet died in March 1876.  Albert Jr died in 1874.

800px-Agnes_Ethel_001Francis (Frank) married Mary Robinson in 1862 and they had a child named Harriet in 1867.  Frank suffered from alcoholism and Mary divorced him in 1871, and was awarded custody of Harriet by the court.   Frank then married Agnes Ethel in 1873.  Agnes was a popular broadway actress of the time.  Frank died in 1886 at the age of 47.  Frank’s will was contested by Mary on behalf of Harriet, but Agnes was awarded all of Frank’s fortune.

Read about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

 

Sources:

  1. “Tracy Street Linked to Lawyer Who was a Congressman at 24″Courier Express June 26, 1938, sec 5 p 2
  2. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress – Albert H. Tracy (id:  T000343)
  3. “In the Matter of Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Francis W. Tracy”.  New York State Reporter.  Surrogate Court, Erie County, Filed November 18, 1886.
  4. Proctor, L.B. The Bench and Bar of New York. Diossy and Company:  New York, 1870.

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exchangeExchange Street has been an important street in Buffalo since the early days of settlement.  Exchange Street runs approximately 1.75 miles from Main Street in Downtown to Selkirk Street, near the Larkin District of the East Side of Buffalo.  Exchange Street was one of the first streets in Buffalo, originally a pathway that was traveled by Red Jacket and other members of the Seneca Nation as they came into Buffalo from the Buffalo Creek reservation. Joseph Ellicott incorporated the path when he laid out the original street plan for Buffalo.  The street was originally named Crow Street.  Exchange Street was particularly important during the railroad era of Buffalo’s history.

Map Showing the Inner Lots of Buffalo. Source

Map Showing the Inner Lots of Buffalo.  Source

John Crow arrived in Buffalo around 1801 or 1802, coming from Whitestone in Oneida County, New York.   Mr. Crow occupied a house on Inner Lot No. 1, the southwest corner of Washington and Crow Streets.  The log house had been built by Mr. Johnston, an Indian agent and interpreter who served for the British government and remained here until the Holland Land Company arrived.  Mr. Johnston had received land from the Native Americans in exchange for providing them with boards and planks from the timber on his land.  Legally, Mr. Johnston’s  land hold was not binding.  In negotiations with the Holland Land Company, Mr. Johnston gave up a portion of his land in exchange for keeping a portion along Buffalo Creek where he had his lumber mill separate from the Buffalo Creek Reservation.  Mr. Crow built an addition to the house with a tavern.

When Erastus Granger arrived in Buffalo to serve as postmaster, he set up shop in Mr. Crow’s tavern.  The tavern was also the first place of lodging for Samuel Pratt when he arrived in Buffalo.   You can visit a replica of the Crow Tavern and Mr. Granger’s post office in the Pioneer Gallery at the Buffalo History Museum.  At the time, Exchange Street only ran from Main to Washington, as no streets at the time had been laid out beyond those early streets.   In 1806, Buffalo had 16 houses (8 on Main Street, 3 on the Terrace, 3 on Seneca Street, and 2 on Cayuga-now Pearl Street), two stores – a contractor’s store and a drug store, two taverns, and two blacksmiths.  Mr. Crow stayed in Buffalo until 1806, when he moved to Hamburg and later Pennsylvania. Mr. Crow died in Waterford, PA in 1830.

In 1809, Crow’s Tavern became Landon’s, which burned down in 1813 during the Burning of Buffalo. It was rebuilt by Mr. Landon after the war, and was operated by him until 1824.  In 1825, Phineas Baron took over and renamed it the Mansion House.  Mansion House was in business until 1929!

Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

The street was named Crow until many “gentleman” of the city felt that Crow was a vulgar name, since crows were considered to be vulgar, dirty birds, so the street was changed to Exchange Street in 1836.  By 1839, there were several unsuccessful petitions to try to change the name back to Crow.

ex-post

Exchange Street Terminal – NY Central

Many train stations were located along the Exchange Street corridor as early as the 1850s.  The New York Central Exchange Street Terminal was built in 1870, with expansions in 1885, 1900, 1901, 1906 and 1907.  The station was the starting point from where most people entering the City of Buffalo.  For 58 years, the station was the arrival point of most people coming to Buffalo.  Exchange Street was the first thing most people saw when they arrived.

In 1929, New York Central transferred its base of operations to the Curtiss Street Terminal (what we refer to today as Central Terminal) in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood of Buffalo.   They all closed their doors after the new terminal was built.  The Exchange Street station was still used by some commuters but they did not provide the neighborhood with enough spending to support businesses, as they rushed from their train to their office for work. The majority of the station was boarded up and only the western entrance was open.  The station restaurant and newsstand closed, and only one door was opened for coming and going.  Only two ticket windows remained open.  The offices over the station closed because most of the personnel went to Curtiss Street.

Central Terminal Under Construction

Curtiss Street Terminal (Central Terminal) Under Construction

Before the station closed, the Exchange Street corridor was one of the most important thoroughfares.  The street was busy with manufacturing, railroad terminals, hotels, and stores.  The Courier-Express said of the street’s heyday, “Exchange Street took off its hat to none of its rivals.”  There were shops for souvenirs and postcards, neighborhood restaurants and lunch counters, and cafes.  Trains arrived at all times of the day and night, so there was a constant flurry of mail trucks, express trucks, delivery vehicles, and people.  One hundred trains a day stopped at the old station.  A story goes that while Grover Cleveland was President, he was on a train heading to a funeral and a friend was staying at the European Hotel at the northwest corner of Washington and Exchange.  President Cleveland asked the train to stop so he could visit with his friend.  The hotel was then renamed the Washington Hotel in order to capitalize on its presidential connection.  The Exchange Street depot was the starting point of the Buffalo Belt Line railroad in 1883, which circled the city and allowed development of the City of Buffalo outside of the downtown core.

Once the NY Central train station closed, Exchange Street was left “looking something like Goldsmith’s deserted village.”  The popular Mansion House hotel, with its roots stretching back to Crow’s original tavern, closed after the train station left.  Between Michigan Avenue and Main Street, there had been a dozen barber shops which all closed.

eriedepot.jpg

Erie Railroad Depot

In addition to the NY Central station, there was also the Erie Station at Michigan and Exchange Street, and the Lehigh Valley Station was nearby on Washington Street.  In 1935, the NY Central Exchange Street Depot was torn down.  Also that year, the Erie Railroad Station was abandoned, when they moved their facilities into the DL&W Terminal on the Waterfront.   This was considered by some to be the end of Exchange Street as a bustling corridor.

The Lehigh Valley station and the right-of-way was purchased in 1954 by New York State to build the Niagara Section of the New York State Thruway.  In 1955, the Buffalo News purchased some of the surplus lands from the State to build their current building (1 News Plaza). The Thruway was built through this section of Downtown Buffalo and opened in 1960.  The six-mile-long Downtown Buffalo part of the Niagara Section was the last portion to be completed of the 559 miles of the New York State Thruway System.

The Exchange Street Terminal continues to serve trains today.  A new, significantly smaller Exchange Street station was built on Exchange Street in 1952.  This station served 21 trains a day and the station used two platforms that were connected via a walkway.  Passenger railroad traffic continued to decline and the station closed in 1962 when service to Niagara Falls was suspended.  Buffalo Central Terminal closed on October 28, 1979 and Amtrak service switched that morning back to Exchange Street where a new station was being built, which opened in 1980.  The Amtrak station currently serves eight trains a day at Exchange Street.

For more than 150 years, railroads were a huge part of the life of the Exchange Street corridor.  There is current talk (2016) about building a new train station in Buffalo.  The One Seneca Tower, with its one million square feet of vacant commercial space, sits ready for redevelopment at the end of Exchange Street at Main Street.  At the other end of Exchange Street, recent developments in the Larkin District are rejuvenating that area.  What’s next for Exchange Street?  It’s yet to be seen.  What would you like to see there?

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index!

Sources:

  1. “Rebirth Awaited”. Buffalo Courier Express.  August 6, 1935
  2. Ketchum, William.  An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo, Vol. II.Rockwell, Baker & Hill, Printers, Buffalo NY, 1865.
  3. “Old Railroad Station Once City’s Busiest Spot”.  Buffalo Times, October 25, 1931.
  4. New York State Thruway Authority Records
  5. “As Silence Reigns in Old Exchange Street” Frank L. Blake.  Buffalo Times, Sept 1, 1929
  6. “Terrace Program Revives Memories of Exchange Street’s Famous Days” Buffalo News. Feb 25, 1950.  Streets Scrapbook Vol 1 pg 43

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cary-streetCary Street is a two block street on the western side of Downtown Buffalo, running from Delaware Avenue to just past Elmwood Avenue.  The land upon which Cary Street sits was originally a wedding gift from Trumbull Cary to his son, Dr. Walter Cary.  The property included the Genesee Hotel (now the Hyatt), and the site of the Cary Home at 184 Delaware Avenue.  The Cary family played a role in Buffalo and Western New York’s development for generations.  Trumbull Cary established the first bank west of Albany, the Bank of Genesee, in Batavia in 1829.  His son, Dr. Walter Cary was a leader in Buffalo’s cultural and social life.  Three of Walter’s sons, Thomas, Charles and George made important contributions to Buffalo.

The first of the Cary family to arrive in the Americas was John Cary, who sailed arrived in Massachusetts from England in 1634.  When Joseph Ellicott came into the wilderness of Western New York during the early 1800s as the agent for the Holland Land Company, he brought with him as his right hand man, a surveyor named Ebeneezer Cary.  Ebeneezer Cary stayed in Batavia and in 1805, he hired his brother Trumbull, who had been living in Mansfield, Connecticut, to fill the position.

Trumbell Cary

Trumbell Cary

Trumbull Cary became postmaster, banker and a leading merchant in Batavia.  He founded the Bank of Genesee, served as adjutant in the War of 1812, and was elected to serve in both the State Assembly and Senate.  Trumbull Cary was married to Margaret Eleanor Brisbane.  Their large mansion, built in 1817, was a center of hospitality and culture in Batavia.  Trumbull Cary died in 1869.  The mansion was demolished in the 1960s.

Trumbull Cary and his family traveled often to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC in days when stagecoach trips were tiring and often hazardous.  The Carys had one son, Walter.  Trumbull Cary died in 1869 and is buried in Batavia Cemetery.  The Bank of Genesee became the Genesee Trust Company and in 1956, the Genesee Trust Company merged with Manufacturers& Traders Trust Company to become the Batavia branch of M&T.

Dr. Walter Cary and Julia Love Cary

Dr. Walter Cary and Julia Love Cary

Walter Cary was born in Batavia in 1818.  He graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1839, and then studied medicine at University of Pennsylvania.  He also studied at many leading European Universities and hospitals, at a time when the trip across the Atlantic meant six to seven weeks on a sailing ship.  Dr. Cary entered into the practice of Dr. Charles Winne in 1845.  Dr. Cary was well respected for the zeal and skill he executed during Buffalo’s second cholera epidemic.

Dr. Cary married Julia Love, daughter of Thomas Love, judge and congressman.  The Loves lived on the site of the YMCA prior to its construction (at Mohawk and Genesee Streets, now the Olympic Towers).   Judge Love named many of Buffalo’s streets – Edward for his friend Judge Edward Walden, Niagara for the River, Batavia Street (now Broadway) for the village, Genesee for Genesee County, North and South Division because they divided the business section of the city from the residential section, and Exchange Street, for the barter with the Indians conducted there.

Dr. Cary and his wife lived in the American Hotel, which was located where the Main Place Mall is currently located.  The apartment was considered one of the most beautiful apartments in town, modeled from the apartments Dr. Cary had visited in Paris.  Their first son was born there.  The apartment was  destroyed, along with much of the Carys belongings in the historic American Hotel fire.

Undated Photo of Cary House at 184 Delaware

Undated Photo of Cary House at 184 Delaware

After the fire, Dr. Cary built a home at Delaware Avenue and Huron Street.  A potato patch had been growing there, in honor of the potatoes, Mrs. Cary planted Japanese yam vines that grew over the house and bloomed with purple flowers each spring.  After ten years, Dr. Cary decided to stop practicing medicine to spend more time with his wife, daughter and six sons.  During the Franco-Prussian War, he took them all to Europe.  He had a coach built to order and they toured from Brussels to Naples.  The coach is in the collection of the Buffalo History Museum.  During President Grant’s presidency, Dr. Cary brought his family to Washington for the winter.  They were guests at many White House functions during this time.

Julia Cary’s sister, Maria Love, lived with the family and accompanied them on their trips.  Maria Love founded the Fitch Creche, Buffalo’s first day nursery.  She was the last member of the family to reside in the old Cary home, living there until her death in 1931.  The Maria Love Fund still exists today, continuing Ms. Love’s work in the community.

Walter and Julia had seven children – Trumbull – who followed in his namesake’s footsteps and became a bank president, Thomas – a lawyer, Charles- a physician, Walter – a journalist, Seward – a sculptor, George – an architect, and one daughter Jennie who became Mrs. Laurence Rumsey.  The Cary family were active polo players, the brothers began the first polo leagues in Buffalo, one of the first two leagues in the country.  Seward Cary is credited with bringing polo to Harvard during the 1880s.  A joke around town was that once when the boys were playing polo, one was injured and the game stopped.  When Mrs. Cary asked why the game had stopped, when she was told that her son was hurt, she replied they should just use one of the other sons to replace him.

Spirit of Niagara

Spirit of Niagara

The Cary family was also very involved in the Pan American Exposition.  The Cary family’s in-laws, the Rumseys, owned much of the land the Exposition was located on.  George Cary sat on the Board of the Exposition and designed the New York State Building for the Exposition (currently the Buffalo History Museum).   Charles Cary’s wife, Evelyn Rumsey Cary painted “the Spirit of Niagara” one of the popular paintings for the Pan American Exposition.

Thomas Cary was instrumental in founding the Charity Organization Society, one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the country.  Charles Cary, M.D., was Dean of the Medical School at University of Buffalo.

George Cary

George Cary

George Cary was a nationally renowned architect.  He apprenticed with McKim, Mead & White in New York City, and studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.  Major buildings he designed included the medical school and dental college at UB, the Buffalo Historical Society, the Gratwick Laboratory (built for UB, part of the original Roswell Park Cancer Institute), the Pierce Arrow administration building, the first Buffalo General Hospital, Forest Lawn’s Delaware Avenue Gate and Administration Building, and many houses in the City of Buffalo.

Walter and Julia Grave

Walter and Julia Grave

The Cary siblings built the first crematory in Buffalo, the Buffalo Crematory, in memory of their father after his death in France in 1881.  The Cary family owned the house at 184 Delaware until the 1960s.  The house was used for a few years as a restaurant, which suffered a fire and the house was demolished in 1966 when the land was purchased by the federal government.  The Dulski Federal Building was built on the site, which was recently rehabbed into the Avant Building, at 200 Delaware Avenue.

184 Delaware in the 1960s

184 Delaware in the 1960s

 

Source:

  1. “Cary Street is Memorial to Leaders in Area Development”, Buffalo Courier-Express, May 13, 1940.
  2. “Obituary:  Death of HO. Trumbull Cary of Batavia”.  The New York Times, June 26, 1869.  
  3. “Cary House, 184 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, Erie County, NY”.  Historic American Building Survey.  HABS NY, 15-BUF, 1-
  4. Editors.  Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal.  Vol. XXI.  August 1881 to July 1882, Buffalo.
  5. “Last of the Cary Boys”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  Sept 9, 1948.

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tupperTupper Street is an east-west road in downtown Buffalo that runs between Maryland Street and the Elm-Oak arterials.  Tupper Street was one of the first streets added to Buffalo after the original plan for the Village of Buffalo was laid out by Joseph Ellicott.

Samuel Tupper first came to Western New York in 1789 as a young surveyor.  He came from Connecticut and served for many years as a surveyor.  He worked on the Phelps and Gorman lands (between Lake Ontario and the PA State line, in the vicinity of Seneca Lake and the Genesee River), the Holland Purchase and as chief surveyor for the Connecticut Land Company on the “Western Reserve” in Ohio.  Mr. Tupper worked for Moses Cleaveland and laid out the City of Cleveland.  He also gave the city its name, deciding to name the city he was laying out after his boss.

Map of Buffalo Outer Lots - Samuel Tupper purchased lot 17, north of Chippewa Street in 1808

Map of Buffalo Outer Lots – Samuel Tupper purchased lot 17, north of Chippewa Street in 1808

In 1804, when New Amsterdam was laid out by Joseph Ellicott, there were only 14 landowners here in Buffalo.  In 1805, five more land owners were added, and Samuel Tupper was among them.  He came to Buffalo to run a contractor’s store, which were the stores that took care of purchasing and dispatching supplies to American military posts in the West.  He purchased inner lot 7 in 1805, which was at the northeast corner of Seneca Street and Willink Avenue (which became Main Street).  In 1808, he purchased outer lot 17.  He gave his name to the street north of his property on the outer lot and built his house at the corner of Main and Tupper.  Judge Tupper’s house was the 2nd house burned during the War of 1812.  Following the war, Judge Tupper built a large mansion on the site and served on a committee to investigate losses in Buffalo.

In 1808, Buffalo was made the county seat of what was then Niagara County (breaking off from Genesee County).  The first Judge was Augustus Porter, with Samuel Tupper and Erastus Granger working as his associates.  Mr. Tupper was not trained as a judge, but was known to have capabilities and qualities that were required of society at the time.  It was possible at the time to serve on the bench without legal training.  His title was Associate Judge of the Common Pleas.  He served as a judge until his death in December 1817.

Judge Tupper had no children.  An adopted daughter of his became the wife of Manly Colton, the Erie County Clerk.  The Colton family occupied the Tupper house for many years following Judge Tupper’s death.

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Two Streets Perpetuate Names of Early Jurists”.  Courier Express Nov 2, 1941 sec 6 p 3
  2. Smith, Perry H.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Co., publishers.  Syracuse, NY:  1884.

 

 

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streetPerry Street was originally named Beaver Street by Joseph Ellicott in the original 1804 Plan of New Amsterdam/Buffalo.  In 1907, Alderman Hendrick Callahan suggested new names for a bunch of streets.  The streets that he renamed were Liberty, Erie, Columbia, and Perry.  He also suggested renaming Main Street to Iroquois Avenue; however, this was not approved.  Liberty Street was later renamed Baltimore Street.  Perry also lends his name to the Commodore Perry projects, located near Perry Street.

Additionally, Perry Boulevard used to be located along the former route of the Erie Canal where the I-190 Thruway is currently located.  The road led from Main Street up to Porter Avenue, and was constructed when the canal was filled in during the construction of the Lakeview Housing Project.  At the time, the unused canal bed was considered a health hazard, so it was filled in to protect the residents of the public housing.  A short portion of the roadway under the Thruway is still called Perry Boulevard.

OliverHazardPerryEngraving

Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry was born in 1785 in Rhode Island.  His younger brother Matthew Calbraith Perry was involved in the opening of Japan. Matthew Perry also served under his brother during the Battle of Lake Erie.

Perry served in the West Indies, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean, but he is best known as the “Hero of Lake Erie” for his role during the War of 1812.   At the start of the War of 1812, the British Navy controlled the Great Lakes, except for Lake Huron.  The American Navy controlled Lake Champlain.  The American Navy had only a small force, which allowed the British to make advances on the Great Lakes and northern New York waterways.

Perry was named Chief Naval Officer in Erie, P.A., and built a fleet on Presque Isle Bay.   On September 10, 1813, Perry fought a successful action during the Battle of Lake Erie.  During the battle, Perry’s ship, the USS Lawrence, was severely disabled.  the British Commander, Robert Barclay, thought Perry would surrender.  Commander Barclay sent over a small boat to request that the Americans pull down the flag.

1911 Painting of the Battle of Lake Erie by Edward Percy Moran.  Perry is standing in front of the boat

1911 Painting of the Battle of Lake Erie by Edward Percy Moran. Perry is standing in front of the boat

Perry remained faithful to the phrase “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP”, which were paraphrased from the dying words of Captain Lawrence, Perry’s friend and the ship’s namesake.  The men rowed through heavy gunfire to transfer to the USS Niagara.  Perry’s forces continued until Barclay’s ships surrendered.  Although Perry was aboard the Niagara during the fighting of the battle, he had the British surrender on the deck of the Lawrence to allow the British to see the price his men had paid.  Perry’s report following the battle was brief but became famous:  “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop”.  This was the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron had surrendered.

Perry's Congressional Gold Medal

Perry’s Congressional Gold Medal

He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and for his role during the Battle of Buffalo.  He also helped completed successful outcomes at all nine Lake Erie military campaigns, which was a turning point during the War of 1812.

The Perry statue in Front Park was erected by the State of New York Perry Victory Centennial Committee.  The statue was dedicated at the 100th annual reunion of the New York Veterans Association.  The statue has recently been restored and returned to the park, along with cannons that were originally located in the park due to the park’s connection to Fort Porter, which was located near where the Peace Bridge plaza is currently located.

statue

Perry Statue, Front Park

Commodore Perry did not live to old age.  He died in 1819, on his 34th birthday, of yellow fever while at sea.  He was buried at Port of Spain, Trinidad with full military honors.  In 1826, his remains were moved to Newport, Rhode Island.

Learn about the origins of other street names by checking out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “What Think You Of These Names” Buffalo Express May 31, 1907
  2. News May 6 1937 (clipping in local street scrapbook vol 2)

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