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Archive for the ‘East Side’ Category

sprenger

Sprenger Avenue shown in red.

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

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

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Leopold Warner. Source: Buffalo Evening News.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Louis and Josephine’s graves in Forest Lawn.

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

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

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

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Current Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware

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

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

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

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Warner Grave in Forest Lawn.

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

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Laney Warner’s Grave in Forest Lawn.

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

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

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

 

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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roehrer

Roehrer Avenue

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

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John Roehrer.  Source:  Buffalo and the German Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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Greene Street in Lovejoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Joseph C. Greene gravestone in Forest Lawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamlin Driving Park in 1870. Source: Buffalo News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamlin House on Franklin Street. Source: Hamlin House Restaurant

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

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

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

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Chauncey J. Hamlin

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

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

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Stone House on Harlem Road, Snyder. Source: NYSHPO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the next time you drive through Hamlin Park in Buffalo, go to Hamlin Park in East Aurora, stop at the Science Museum, or watch a moving starring Harry Hamlin, think of the Hamlin family.  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Sources:

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

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hayesplace

Hayes Place

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

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Hayes Road at University of Buffalo

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Edmund B. Hayes. Source: Ancestry.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hayes Grave

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

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

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

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

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

Erie County Hospital, 1896.  Source:  University Archives

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Hayes Hall, UB. Photo by Author

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

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

Sources:

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

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eggertroad

Eggert Road

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

eggertsville

Approximate boundary of Eggertsville

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

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

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Christian Eggert III.  Source:  Town of Amherst

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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lyth

Lyth Avenue on the left, Harwood Place on the right.

Today we are going to talk about two streets on the East Side. Lyth Avenue runs between Purdy Street and Jefferson Avenue in the Cold Spring neighborhood of Buffalo. Harwood Place runs a short distance off, across Jefferson Avenue, near Lyth Ave. Harwood Place is a dead-end street, though historically, it ran through to Lonsdale Road at times. The road was initially a driveway leading to the stables of the Lyth homes at Northland and Jefferson. The horses for the Lyth Tile Company were housed there. The street was deeded to the city around 1886. The family also built two houses and a place of business on the street.

john lyth 3John Lyth was born in Stockton-Upon-Tees in England in September 1820. Mary Ann Harwood Lyth was born in England in 1817. At age 13, Mr. Lyth learned the trade of earthenware manufacturer. John and Mary Ann were married in 1843. They had three children while living in England – Alfred, John, and Mary. They emigrated to Buffalo in 1850 and had two more children – William and Francis- born here in Buffalo.
In Buffalo, John Lyth worked for P.A. Balcom, a local brickmaker. He later worked with W. H. Glenny in the crockery business. In 1851, Mr. Lyth’s brother, Francis, invented and introduced the hollow tile arch in York, England. In 1857, Mr. Lyth purchased a plot of land nearly a half-mile square and began to manufacture farm drain-tile. In his first year, he only sold $50 worth of tile. Then, in 1864, he went into business with Mr. Balcom, a partnership that lasted for ten years. They manufactured salt-glazed, citrified sewer pipe and terra cotta goods. Their factory was located at 83 -163 Puffer Street (now Northland Avenue), between Purdy and Jefferson. Lyth Avenue was a driveway to the factory.

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Lyth Factory. Source: Buffaloah.com

The Lyth family were pioneer residents in the Northland section of the city. Northland Avenue at the time was known as Puffer Street. John Lyth chose the location for the factory because of the abundance of clay in the soil. This clay was the best type for making tiles. The Lyth factory was a landmark of the early neighborhood.

The Lyth home was located at 169 Puffer Street. The house was considered suburban when it was built. In later years, family members would say that they were so far out of town they couldn’t even get a doctor to come, except in gravest illnesses. The large house was surrounded by extensive lawns, gardens, and orchards. The family had a cow, chickens, and vegetable gardens to provide for the family. Mary Ann was devoted to her family. Twice, she refused to return to England on trips b/c she did not want to leave her children.

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire happened. The demand in construction for fireproof hollow tile and bricks for construction leapt after the fire. In the 80s and 90s, the Lyth Tile Company was the largest of its kind in the country.

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Lyth Family Plot in Forest Lawn

The Lyth Family were members of the Unitarian Church. They were strong advocates of temperance. John Lyth was a member of the Royal Templars of Temperance, serving as Supreme Treasurer of the Order. John Lyth died at his home at 169 Puffer Street in 1889. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Alfred Lyth was born in 1844. One of his earliest memories was traveling from New York to Buffalo along the Erie Canal when the family arrived here. In 1862, Alfred enlisted in the 100th Regiment, New York Volunteers. He served at Fort Sumter, Gloucester Point, the James River Expedition, and Drury’s Bluff. During his time in the regiment, he suffered from typhoid fever and was wounded in action three times. He was also captured by Confederates and held as a prisoner at Andersonville Prison for a year.  After the war, Alfred joined his father’s tile business with his brothers John and William. They formed the firm J. Lyth & Sons.

183 Northland Spree

183 Northland.  Source  Buffalo Spree.  

In 1872, the Lyth Mansion at 183 Puffer (now Northland) was built by Alfred Lyth. This house is sometimes listed as being lived in by John Lyth; however, city directory records show that John and Mary Ann lived at 169 Puffer. Son Albert and his wife Kate lived at 183 Puffer.

After his father’s death, Alfred headed the business. He also joined Company F of the 74th Regiment, National Guard, and attained the rank of Major. When the Grand Army of the Republic formed, Major Lyth became a prominent member. For 25 years, he attended every state and national GAR convention as a delegate. In 1897, when the GAR National Encampment was held in Buffalo, Major Lyth was Vice-Commander-In-Chief of the convention.

lyth tile angola

Postcard view of the Tile Works in Angola

In 1872, Major Lyth was Supervisor of the Seventh Ward, and in 1873, he was Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. In 1874, Lyth Avenue was opened and named in Major Lyth’s honor.  In the 1890s, the Lyth Tile Company plant moved to Angola, New York. By 1894, the former factory site was developed for residential purposes.

In 1897, residents of Puffer Street asked for the name to be changed to Northland Avenue. The residents felt that people were getting confused between Puffer Street and Tupper Street, and their mail was getting sent to Tupper Street. Picture the old-timey cursive handwritten envelopes, and it’s easy to imagine the confusion! The name change was granted by Common Council in May 1897 and signed by Mayor Jewett on May 23, 1897.

Alfred’s brother William Lyth inherited the house at 169 Northland after Mr. Lyth’s death. In her later years, mother Mary Ann lived with Alfred at 183 Northland. Sometime between 1916 and 1950, the house at 169 Northland was replaced with a retail store.

Major Alfred Lyth died in 1925 at age 81. Major Lyth’s son, Alfred Lyon Lyth, took over the business. Alfred Lyon had been involved in the industry from a young age. His father had insisted on teaching him all aspects of the company before he retired. Alfred Lyon had been known as the “champion quarterback of Western New York and was offered a scholarship to Syracuse University to play football. Times were hard, so his father convinced him to stay in Buffalo for one year to help with the business before entering college. Alfred Lyon became interested in the work and didn’t leave for college.

In 1922, Alfred Lyon Lyth opened Lyth Chevrolet at 1159 Jefferson Avenue, the first Chevrolet agency in Buffalo. He sold J. Lyth & Sons to Globe Plaster Company three years later. Alfred Lyon Lyth was elected as Erie County Supervisor for the 13th Ward in 1908, 1913 and 1927.

royster northland ave

Royster Family in front of 183 Northland Avenue, 1973.  Source:  Buffalo Courier Express.

Lyth Family members continued living at 183 Northland until the 1950s. From 1956 to 1958, Luke Easter lived in the house. Luke Easter was the first African American to play for the Buffalo Bisons in modern times. As a result, the house is often called “the Luke Easter House.” After Mr. Easter, the house was owned by Clifford Royster, who owned the house until 2002.  The house is within the Hamlin Park Historic District, established in the late 1990s.

Next time you drive by Lyth Ave or Harwood Place, think about the Lyth Family and remember a time when Northland was known as Puffer Street!  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.

PS.  I hope you are all having a lovely holiday season and have a very Happy New Year!

Sources:

  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Harwood Place Memorial to Wife of Area Pioneer.” Buffalo Courier-Express.  December 21, 1941, p7.
  • “Mr. John Lyth”.  Buffalo Commercial.  April 28, 1889, p3.
  • “It is now Northland Avenue.”  Buffalo Courier.  May 23, 1897, p6.
  • “J. Lyh & Sons of Buffalo Coming Here.”  Evans Journal.  September 26, 1957, p4.
  • The Clay Worker, Volume 27-28.  National Brick Manufacturer’s Association of the United States of America:  T.A. Randall & Company, 1897.
  • Nyhuis, Philip.  “Finding Happiness in Hamlin Park.”  Buffalo Spree.  May 15, 2019.
  • Brady, Karen. “Bus Tour of City’s East Side Provides a Trip into the Past”. Buffalo News. August 17, 1992.
  • “Alfred Lyth Will Bequests Total $22,900.”  Buffalo Courier-Express.  May 15, 1953, p19.
  • “It’s Not All Blight”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  July 12, 1973, p18.
  • Smith, Katherine.  Lyth Avenue Honors Family Which Headed First US Tile Plant”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  September 24, 1939, pL2.

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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.

235 Delaware

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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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.

aaron rumsey

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.

71198471_130867945578

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.

Metcalfe_House,_Buffalo,_NY,_c._1895

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.”

jedc3-01009041_1_1

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.

c1905_loc

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.

Parlor_Stairhall_from_the_Metcalfe_House,_Buffalo_MET_ADA2882

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

Parlor_Stairhall_from_the_Metcalfe_House,_Buffalo_MET_ADA2881

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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box-ave.png

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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