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Archive for the ‘North Buffalo’ Category

(Note from Angela:  Today I am pleased to share a guest post from Dr. Caitlin  Moriarty.  Dr. Caitlin Moriarty specializes in historical and cultural analysis of the built environment. She is the Director of Architectural History for Preservation Studios, a historic preservation consulting firm. Caitlin moved to Buffalo in 2011 and lives in North Buffalo with her husband and two sons.  Enjoy!)

If Lewis J. Bennett read the Buffalo Express Morning on September 7, 1911, he may have protested the verbiage of an article about “Revere place, the pretty new street in the Central Park district.” Bennett, the visionary behind the Central Park area bounded by Main Street, Woodbridge Avenue, Parkside Avenue, and Amherst Street, intended for that neighborhood to be an exclusive enclave of large homes on expansive lots. With the strike of a pen, however, the newspaper associated several new streets north of Huntington Avenue with Bennett’s prestigious residential development.

Willam Suor

Brothers William C.T. (1873-1959) and Arthur Suor (1874-1936) developed several streets just beyond Central Park as the frontier of residential development in Buffalo pushed northward. Between roughly 1908 and 1912, the brothers developed a handful of one-block streets near some of the main thoroughfares of Central Park, including Starin and Vorhees Avenues. Unlike Central Park streets such as Depew, Morris, and Wesley Avenues, however, Revere Place, Taft Place, and Sagamore Terrace featured speculatively built homes on modest lots (see map).

At the time, Arthur Suor worked for Thorne & Angell, one of Buffalo’s largest and most successful real estate development firms at the turn of the twentieth century.* Pursuing the opportunity to lead their own development projects, the Suors capitalized on their connection to Thorne & Angell: “When this company took over a big section of land to develop, the Suor boys would buy a little slice, working nights and holidays to sell it.” For instance, in 1910, the Suors created Revere Place through the middle of block “H” (bounded by Wallace, Huntington, Starin and Hertel Avenues) of the Fairmount Park tract. They appealed to the Common Council in March of that year for permission to lay water pipes on the new street, and by May, construction was underway on ten Revere Place homes.**

The Suor & Suor Building Company constructed homes and led a marketing campaign that offered modern amenities expected of new houses in this growing area of town to a middle class consumer that could not afford to live in Central Park proper. This business model started at the foundational level of how they created streets and parcels. Revere Place, Taft Place, and Sagamore Terrace are one-block streets that bisect three consecutive city blocks located between Wallace and Parker Avenues on the west and east, and Huntington Avenue and Hertel Avenues on the south and north. Revere Place cuts a curvilinear path between Wallace and Huntington Avenues, and Taft runs straight through the middle of the block between Starin and Vorhees Avenues. Sagamore Terrace extends a block and a half south from Hertel Avenue, reaching into the adjacent block below Huntington Avenue. As a result of cutting new streets though larger, more traditional city blocks, the Suors created more street frontage, more lots, and ultimately, more houses to sell.

The lots on these streets were significantly smaller than those in Central Park. On Revere Place, lots averaged 49×56 feet, while narrower and deeper lots—measuring approximately 36×80 feet—lined Taft Place. Sagamore Terrace featured the largest lots, with frontage averaging 45 feet and depths ranging from 80 to 130 feet. Compared with representative lot sizes of 60×157 feet on Woodbridge and 70×180 feet on Depew, the Suors’ homes clearly targeted a different consumer.

The Suors appealed to an upwardly mobile middle class by highlighting both the modernity and affordability of their homes. Descriptions of their “high-grade single-family houses of up-to-date design,” filled the real estate pages of Buffalo’s newspapers. The promise of “no flats being allowed” on their streets bolstered an air exclusivity that resonated with the high status of Central Park.*** Modern features of the new, “artistic homes,” included steam heating, electricity, and mission oak and white enamel finishes. The homes did not, however, include garages, although advertisements indicated that there was room to erect a garage on the lot. The lack of garages both kept costs down and reflected the likelihood that residents of Suor & Suor’s homes used public transportation.****

The company offered prices and payment options for their modern homes that catered to middle class consumers. While regulations stipulated that homes on Central Park lots exceed $5,000, not including the price of the land, most surpassed $6,000 and several reached over $20,000. By comparison, the “Central Park bargains” on Taft Place, Revere Place, and Sagamore Terrace started at $4,350, all-inclusive. Sagamore Terrace, with the largest lots, featured the most expensive homes, reaching up to $7,500. In addition to lower prices, the Suors boasted an attractive payment plan intended to turn renters into homeowners: “Don’t sign another lease,” their advertisements appealed. While some homes sold in cash transactions, the “very practical plan of easy payments [made] it possible for the man with a limited income to buy an up-to-date home on about the same as a rental basis.” The prices and payment plan made it accessible for members of the middle class to buy a new house in an up and coming area of the city.

While it is hard to imagine today how remote this area felt in 1910, North Buffalo was mostly farmland. Years later, longtime residents of Taft Place explained, “When they moved there they could look across Hertel and see the cows placidly chewing in the pastures.” In fact, without homes on Starin, early residents on Revere Place and Taft Place could probably see one another through their yards. Yet, the Suors’ new streets signaled the growing momentum of development in what is now North Buffalo.

1916 Map of Streets (click to enlarge)

By 1930, two decades after the Suor brothers opened these three streets, continued residential and commercial development in the area transformed the surrounding blocks.  No longer the edge of the city, Revere Place, Taft Place, and Sagamore Terrace faded into the pattern of residence-lined streets. Looking back in that year, Buffalo Times reporter Sybil Reppert conveyed the sense of community and seclusion from the city that early residents of Sagamore Terrace and Taft Place prized. As more people moved onto nearby streets, however, some residents lamented the area’s character, “getting more and more metropolitan.”

By contrast, as a current Revere Place resident, I find the “metropolitan” location of these streets between Hertel Avenue and Central Park part of their appeal. I relish both the privacy of my one-way street and easy access to the commercial offerings on Hertel Avenue and the picturesque streetscapes of Central Park. The Suors quickly moved on to new developments after opening Taft Place, Revere Place, and Sagamore Terrace; yet, their “Central Park bargains,” remain charming urban streets that connect residents with the contemporary city while also embodying its past.

Notes:

*Thorne & Angell is responsible for developing streets including Richmond, Elmwood, Lafayette and Plymouth.

**Numbers 41, 43, 44, 45, 49, 50, 53, 54, 60, and 61 were under construction in May.

***Despite this rhetoric, it appears that Suor & Suor constructed several flats on Huntington and Vorhees Avenues.

****According to the City Council minutes, several Revere Place residents erected garages in 1917, 1918, and 1921.

 

Sources:

  1. “Main Street Homesteads Sold,” Buffalo Express Morning, September 7, 1911.
  2. “Real Estate Dealer 60-Year Veteran Here,” The Buffalo Courier-Express, September 30, 1951, 18-D.
  3. Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Buffalo. Buffalo: Common Council, 1910.
  4. “Central Park—New Houses,” The Buffalo Courier, September 27, 1911, 11.
  5. “Central Park,” Commercial September 20, 1907, Buffalo Library, Streets Clippings, 97.
  6. “Main Street Homesteads Sold,” Buffalo Express Morning, September 7, 1911.
  7. Sybil Reppert, “Taft Place—They Dwell Together in Unity,” Buffalo Times, September 30, 1930. Streets Scrapbook pg. 73-74.
  8. Sanborn Fire Insurance Company, Buffalo, New York, 1916, Sheet 511.
  9. Sybil Reppert, “‘Home Folks’ Live on Sagamore Terrace,” Buffalo Times, August 30, 1930. Streets Scrapbook pg. 44-45.

 

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Rumsey Road and Rumsey Woods

Rumsey Road and Rumsey Woods

Rumsey Road is located along the southern edge of Delaware Park.  The road is named after the Rumsey family, a prominent Buffalo family, one of the leading families during the early development and growth of Buffalo.  The portion of Delaware Park near there is called Rumsey Woods.

The parents were Aaron and Sophia Rumsey.  They had three children – Bronson, Dexter, and Eleanor.   The family moved to Buffalo while the children were still young.  Aaron Rumsey established a tannery located on the south side of the Main and Hamburg Streets canal, near Alabama Street.  The sons joined the company as they grew to adulthood.  Aaron Rumsey died in 1864, and the business was handed down to them.  They turned A. Rumsey & Company into one of the leading leather firms in the United States.  The business was eventually absorbed by the United States Leather Company in 1893.

The brothers believed in the future of Buffalo, and showed it by investing much of their fortune into real estate in the City.  It is said that at one point, they owned 22 of the 43 square miles that comprised Buffalo.

bronsonBronson Case Rumsey was born in Warsaw, Wyoming County, NY on August 1, 1823. Bronson was the first president of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad, a director of the Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Bank from its inception and a member of the Park Commission when it was first formed in 1869.  Even after Bronson retired, he was still involved in financial, industrial and civic matters of the city.  He remained on the Park Board until his death.  He was a successful banker, merchant, and capitalist.

Bronson married Eveline Hall.  They had four children – Laurence Dana, Mary Lovering, Bronson II, and Evelyn.  Bronson built Rumsey Park in 1865.  Rumsey Park comprised the land bordered by Delaware Avenue and Carolina Street, Tupper and Tracy Streets.  The land had been previously used as a lumber yard owned by Mr. Hodge.

Sanborn Map showing Rumsey Park in 1889

Sanborn Map showing Rumsey Park in 1889 (click to view larger)

The Bronson C. Rumsey house at 330 Delaware Avenue was likely the first French Second Empire (mansard roof) house built in Buffalo.  The house overlooked a spring-fed lake with a Swiss chalet boathouse, a Greek temple pavilion, terraced gardens, fountains and wooded paths.   Bronson’s children also lived at Rumsey Park:  Mary Lovering Rumsey and her husband Edward Movius lived at 334 Delaware Avenue, Evelyn Rumsey married Charles Cary and lived at 340 Delaware Avenue, and Bronson II lived at 132 West Tupper Street.  The eldest son, Laurence, lived at 1 Park Place, in the house the family had lived in prior to construction of Rumsey Park.

The rear of 330 Delaware Ave. Source: WNY Heritage

The rear of 330 Delaware Ave. Source: WNY Heritage

Bronson Case Rumsey's name in the Rumsey Family Plot

Bronson Case Rumsey’s name on the Rumsey Family Marker

Bronson Rumsey died in 1902 and is buried in the Rumsey Family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.The expansion of Elmwood Avenue south to connect with Morgan Street, cut through the center of Rumsey Park. The lake was filled in and the property was subdivided.  Development of the property into lots began around 1912, as the Rumsey family sold the off the properties.

The second Rumsey son, Dexter Phelps Rumsey, was born in Westfield, Chautauqua County on April 27, 1827.   Dexter donated greatly to charities, particularly those committed to children, his favorite charity was the Fresh Air Mission.  Dexter served as Director of Erie County Savings Bank and was President of the Buffalo Club.  He was also an original trustee of the Buffalo City Cemetery, which established and operates Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Dexter Rumsey

Dexter Phelps Rumsey

Dexter was married three times: first to Mary Coburn who died in 1859, to Mary Bissell who died in 1886 and to Susan Fiske. Dexter had four children.  Cornelia married Ainsley Wilcox, who passed away two years later. Mary Grace then married Ainsley Wilcox in 1883.  The Wilcox Mansion (now known as the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site) was a wedding gift from Dexter to Mary Grace and Ainsley.  Ruth married William “Wild Bill” Donovan.  Dexter P. Rumsey, Jr was friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald during his time in Buffalo.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings referred to Dexter as among his “fascinating army” of childhood friends.

dexter-house

Dexter Rumsey House, 742 Delaware Ave

Dexter and his family lived at 742 Delaware Avenue, at the southwest corner of Delaware and Summer Street.  The house was owned by the Rumsey family from 1857 until 1945.  The house was one of the oldest in the City, first portions of it were erected in the 1830s.  The house was still located in the countryside when Dexter moved in and he kept cows on the property through the 1860s.  Mr. Rumsey is said that to have bought the house where he did because he was confident of Buffalo’s northward expansion.  Dexter’s stables remain near the grounds of his old Delaware Ave mansion, and are used by Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Dexter’s confidence in Buffalo’s growth was also said to be why he purchased the large tracts of woodland in the vicinity north of today’s Delaware Park, sometimes referred to as the Rumsey Farm.

A portion (approximately 350 acres) of Rumsey Farm in North Buffalo was used for the Pan American Exposition in 1901.  The land was flat, treeless and landlocked.  A great deal of deliberation was made in regards to if the site represented enough of Buffalo, without a waterfront or hills.  The site had the benefit of being undeveloped and the lack of hills made it easy to build upon, therefore the site was selected.  The lack of trees was made up for by connecting the exposition grounds to Delaware Park.  After the Exposition, the leased lands were returned to their original state and the properties were subdivided for residential development.

Spirit of Niagara Poster

Many members of the Rumsey family and their in-laws were involved in the Pan-American Exposition.  Bronson’s grandson Charles Cary Rumsey was an artist who created several of the sculptures for the exposition.  The Centaur in front of the Buffalo History Museum is an example of one of Charles’ sculptures.  Charles’ uncle George Cary was the architect who designed the Buffalo History Museum.  Bronson’s daughter Evelyn created the Spirit of Niagara painting that was used for much of the Pan American advertising (one of my all-time favorite paintings!)  Most infamously, Dexter’s daughter and son-in-law Mary Grace and Ainsley Wilcox, were the owners of the house where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated following President McKinley’s death.

Dexter died on April 5, 1906 and is buried in the Rumsey family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  When Dexter passed away, his wife and daughter Grace donated to the City Park Department the block of land adjacent to Delaware Park to add to the grove of trees to the park. The grounds are still known as Rumsey Woods to this day.

Rumsey Woods in Delaware Park

Rumsey Woods in Delaware Park

Bronson and Dexter’s sister, Eleanor, married William Crocker.  Eleanor had two children, William and Nellie.  She passed away in 1863 at the age of 36.  After Eleanor’s death, the Crockers relocated from Buffalo to Pennsylvania.  William Junior became a prominent lawyer in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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

Sources:

  1. Named for Bronson C and Dexter P Rumsey.  Courier Express April 28, 1940 sec 5 p 12
  2. A History of the City of Buffalo:  It’s Men and Institutions
  3. Buffalo architecture:  A Guide
  4. Larned, J.N.A History of Buffalo:  Delineating the Evolution of the City.  Published by Progress of the Empire State Company.  New York, 1911.
  5. Buffalo Times, Jan 22 1927

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loveringLovering Avenue is a street in North Buffalo, running between Hertel Avenue and Taunton Place.  The street is named after Sarah Lovering Truscott as well as her niece and daughter.  The three Lovering women were  influential women of their time in Buffalo.

Sarah Mitchell Lovering Truscott was born in September 1828 and came to Buffalo as a young child with her family from Boston, Massachusetts.  The family traveled to Buffalo via the Erie Canal and lived at 37 Eagle Street, which was one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the City at the time.  In 1851, Sarah married George Truscott, a banker with Manufactures & Traders Bank (now M&T) who also served as water commissioner.

Mrs. Truscott was considered to be an efficient executive and was very involved in leading numerous charitable causes.  She was a member of the women’s board of Buffalo General Hospital and promoted the nursing school, which was Buffalo’s first training school for nurses.  She helped to organize and was president of the board of Children’s Hospital.

Former Unitarian Church, Eagle and Franklin Streets

Former Unitarian Church, Eagle and Franklin Streets

The Truscott family lived at 340 Delaware Avenue until 1918, when they moved to 335 Delaware Avenue.  The family was active in First Unitarian Church, which was located at the corner of Franklin and Eagle Streets.  The building was remodeled to add a third floor after it ceased to be used for church purposes and still stands, one of the oldest buildings in Buffalo.   The church congregation still exists, having merged with the Universalist Church, worshiping on Elmwood Avenue.  Sarah passed away in 1918 at the age of 90.

Sarah’s niece, Mary Lovering, was considered to be one of the first local gentlewomen to earn her living outside the house – she conducted a dancing school.

Sarah’s daughter, also named Sarah Lovering Truscott, was born in 1857.  Sarah Lovering Truscott was one of the city’s pioneer women in the real estate business.  Sarah was often see riding her bicycle to make a sale.  At the time, bicycles were just coming into fashion, mostly for men.  Many women began to ride bicycles as well, which many men scoffed at.  However, bicycles allowed women a greater freedom and mobility  to travel outside their homes and outside their neighborhoods.  Sarah was involved in many causes including:  assistant treasurer of Woman Suffrage headquarters, member of Buffalo Political Equality Club,  member of the Equal Franchise League, president of Woman’s Civil Service Reform Association of Buffalo, member of the Executive Committee of the Neighborhood House ( a settlement house), and member of the Peace and arbitration Society of Buffalo.  She was also a member of the Twentieth Century Club.  Sarah Lovering Truscott died in November 1943 at age 88.

To learn about other streets, check out the street index.

Sources:

  1. “Few Streets Named by City Government”  Courier Express, February 26, 1954.
  2. “Lovering Avenue Memorial Early Woman Philanthropist”.  Courier-Express, June 23, 1940, p. 3.

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Hertel Avenue is a major east-west thoroughfare in North Buffalo running from Main Street to the Niagara River. The street was previously known as Cornelius Creek Road, named after the creek, which ran near the street. Hertel Avenue was named for John Stephen Hertel, former County Supervisor.

Hertel Avenue and others Named After Black Rock Land Company Associates

Hertel Avenue and other streets named after Black Rock Land Company associates

Mr. Hertel was one of three owners of the land that is now Riverside Park and was a founder of the Black Rock Land Company, the first land development company in Buffalo. The Black Rock Land Company was founded in 1888 and consisted of John Hertel, John Esser, Frank Argus, Louis Roesch and Frederick Ullman. You’ll notice that several other streets in the Black Rock/Riverside neighborhoods are named after these men.

John Stephen Hertel came to Black Rock with his parents at the age of two, immigrating from Edesheim Germany. Mr. Hertel attended St. Francis School and learned the cooper trade, making barrels for brewers and distillers. He then became involved in the hotel business. He opened a hotel at the corner of what would become Hertel Avenue and Niagara Street. Before the 1890s, the Riverside area was primarily rural countryside. At the time, the street that would become Hertel Avenue only extended from Niagara Street to Military Road. When the Niagara Horse Car Line was extended to Hertel Avenue, the legend says that Mr. Hertel was so excited, he ran out of the hotel without a coat to be the first to ride on the first horse-car to pass the hotel.

John S. Hertel, 1899

John S. Hertel, 1899

Mr. Hertel was also the director of the Erie Fire Insurance Company and had extensive real estate holdings. The Black Rock Land Company was formed in 1888 and was one of the first development companyies in the City of Buffalo. The Land Company included Mr. Hertel, Mr. Esser, Mr. Argus, Mr. Roesch and Mr. Ullman. Mr. Hertel’s property included most of the land occupied by Peoria Street and Hartman Place. He subdivided the streets and named the latter for the family of his wife, the former Anna S. Hartman of Rochester. The hotel was successful for Mr. Hertel. He then went into business with John J. Esser and Frank Argus to purchase what was known as Germania Park, which at the time was a private picnic grounds with a boat launch. They built a hotel at Germania Park. The City of Buffalo offered to purchase their property.  The City of Buffalo used this site to create Riverside Park.

Rvierside Park, about 1910

Riverside Park, about 1910

At the time, there was great support for the City to buy Germania Park, to give the public a place to enjoy the river “where any resident of Buffalo could go with his whole family and be free from beer saloons and drunken men”. Riverside Park was the final park designed for Buffalo by the Olmsted Architecture Firm, following Frederick Law Olmsted’s retirement. The park was designed in 1898, at the time the Erie Canal traversed the park, separating the shoreline from the main part of the park. The original 22-acre park included a boat dock and canal overpass. The New York State Thruway I-190 currently runs along the Erie Canal alignment. The park was expanded in 1912 to include an additional 17 acres on the south side of the park. The original southern boundary was a line extending from Esser Avenue to the Niagara River.

After selling Germania Park, Mr. Hertel and Mr. Esser left the hotel business. They entered into the coal and wood business, establishing the business near the corner of Niagara and Farmer Streets. They also established the Tonawanda Street Planing Mill at Tonawanda and Arthur Streets.

John Hertel and his wife Anna lived with their family at 362 Dearborn Street. The Hertel family lived in the house for several generations, his son John Stephen Hertel II, his daughter Mrs. Franscis Healy and his grandson John Hertel Healy all lived in the Dearborn house.

hertel grave

John Stephen Hertel was a life long democrat and was active in local politics. He was unsuccessful in a campaign for congress. For 27 years, he was a lieutenant colonel of the Knights of St. John. He was a member of St. Mary’s Commandery and an organizer of the commendary at St. Francis Church.  St. Francis Church is now the Buffalo Religious Arts Center. He was active in the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Men’s Benevolent Association, the Foresters of America and the Black Rock Businessmen’s Association. He died in 1917 and is buried at the United German and French Cemetery in Cheektowaga

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

Sources:

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winspearWinspear Avenue and Northrup Place are located in the University Heights neighborhood of North Buffalo.    Winspear Avenue runs between the former Erie Railroad corridor across Main Street to Bailey Avenue.  Northrup place runs parallel to W. Winspear, meeting up with Winspear just across Main Street.

The streets were named after business partners who developed the streets in the vicinity of  the streets that were named after them and what is now the University of Buffalo – Charles Winspear and Eli Northrup.  Charles and Eli both grew up in Elma, New York, sons of two of the first settlers in Elma.

Three members of the Winspear family have held important public positions.  William Winspear settled in Elma prior to the Civil War and served on the Erie County Board of Supervisors.   William owned a mill on the south side of Big Buffalo Creek.  Winspear Road in Elma is named after William Winspear.  Captain Robert Winspear, William’s nephew served on the Buffalo police department for more than 30 years.

Charles W. Winspear

Charles W. Winspear

William’s son and Robert’s cousin, Charles, was born in 1854 in Elma and began his education in the rural schools.  Charles came to Buffalo as a young man.   At the age of 23, he was appointed clerk of the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum, which later became what are now Crosby and Hayes Halls on the University of Buffalo South Campus.

The original Almshouse had been built around 1850.  The first Almshouse burned in 1854 and its replacement burned in 1862.  The almshouse was located where Crosby Hall is today.  The Insane Asylum building was constructed in 11874 to replace the outdated structure and is now Hayes Hall.  By 1900, the Insane Asylum had become the County Hospital.  Hayes Annex D and Wende Hall were also a part of the County Hospital Complex and have been around since at least 1900.

Winspear Avenue was laid out around 1880.  Around this time, development of the neighborhood was attempted by Alexander Ross. This attempt failed because transportation to this northern corner of the City of Buffalo was difficult.  The street car only went to Cold Spring (around Ferry Street and Main Street).  The City boundary did not include the area that became University Heights at this time.  Buffalo’s growing population and improved transportation spurred successful development further away from the downtown core.  The Buffalo and Williamsville Electric Railway trolley opened in 1893 and ran along Main Street.  In 1898, the City boundary had expanded to include this area.

Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum (source:  http://www.poorhousestory.com/ERIE.htm)

Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum
(source: http://www.poorhousestory.com/ERIE.htm)

In 1893, Charles became superintendent of the New York State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-minded Women in Newark, New York (in Wayne County_.  Although he lived in Newark until his death in 1916, he retained many connections in Buffalo.  Charles Winspear is buried in Newark Cemetery in Newark, NY.

Eli B. Northrup

Eli B. Northrup

While working in Newark Institution in 1909, Charles formed a partnership with Eli Northrup in the real estate business.  They bought large tract of land south of Englewood Avenue and developed several streets, including Winspear Avenue and Northrup Place.   West Northrup Place was originally called Morton Street, Northrup Place was originally Hillary Place and Winspear was known as Wilmer Avenue.

It is likely that Charles and Eli sensed that there was potential for growth as the University of Buffalo purchased the almshouse and farm from the County following its closure in 1909.  This was a unique location because you were close to the streetcar to take you into Downtown Buffalo via Main Street and also close to the Train Station to take you to Niagara Falls (it was located at Main Street and LaSalle Avenue).

Eli Baker Northrup was born in January 1836 in Holland, NY and raised in Elma.  His father, Lewis Northrup, had built the first house in the Spring Brook hamlet of Elma in 1843.  Northrup Road in Elma is named after Lewis.  Lewis Northrup built a saw mill on Cazenovia Creek in 1844 and a grist mill ten years later.  Eli Northrup inherited the saw mill and grist mill in 1866.  Eli remodeled the mills and built a stone dam in 1873.    Eli died in January 1912. and is buried in Union Cemetery in Elma, New York.

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. Winspear Avenue Memorial to State Charities Agent – Courier Express, Jan 29, 1939, Buffalo Streets Vol 2, pg. 167
  2. “University at Buffalo – Draft GEIS:  University at Buffalo Comprehensive Physical Plan”, SUNY at Buffalo, October 2011
  3. Jackman, Warren.  History of the Town of Elma, Erie County, 1620-1900.   Printed by G.M. Hasauer & Son, 1902.

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knox street

Today’s post was inspired by my trip this past week to the Knox Farm for the Junior League’s Decorator’s Showhouse.  The house is open until May 19th.  The Aurora Historical Society is also doing walking tours of the Village of East Aurora that includes Millard Fillmore’s House and the Elbert Hubbard Museum.  I highly recommend heading out to East Aurora to do both these things!   Knox Street is a small street in North Buffalo, just north of Delaware Park.  The street is named after Seymour H. Knox I.  The Knox family has been an important family in Buffalo since the early 1900s.

Seymour H. Knox I

Seymour H. Knox I

Seymour Horace Knox I was born in Russel, New York in April 1861.  His great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution after coming to Massachusetts from Belfast, Ireland in 1737.  Seymour attended local schools.  At 17, he moved to Hart, Michigan, where he worked as a sales clerk.  He then moved to Reading, Pennsylvania where he entered into a partnership with his cousins.  The Woolworth & Knox store opened on September 20, 1884.  Seymour used his entire life savings to enter into the partnership.  The second store opened in Newark, New Jersey and the third store opened in Erie, Pennsylvania.   The first Buffalo Store opened in Buffalo on October 13, 1888 at 409 Main Street.  In 1889, he bought out his cousins, but kept a business relationship with his cousins after the buyout.

Seymour opened S.H. Knox Co 5 and 10 Cent Store in 1890, partnering with Earle Perry Charlton.  The first store was in the 409 Main Street location.  He second store opened at 549 William Street on June 20, 1891.  In 1893, the Main Street store moved to 519 Main Street after the first store was destroyed by a fire.  In 1895, the store moved to 395 Main Street.

S. H. Knox & Co. 5 & 10c store, 115-117 West National Ave., BrazAt the time of the 1911 incorporation of F.W. Woolworth Company, Knox operated 98 US and 13 Canadian locations.  In 1912, he received $12 Million of the merger proceeds and was appointed Director and Senior Vice President of the Corporation.

In 1913, Seymour purchased Stephen Clement’s interests in Marine National.  At his death, Seymour was Vice President of the Woolworth Co. and Chairman of the Board of the Marine Trust Co.  He was the first of three generations of the family to serve as Chairman.

knox house porter avenueSeymour married Grace Millard in 1890.  Seymour and Grace first lived at 414 Porter Avenue.   They then moved to 467 Linwood Avenue.

Seymour then built the house at 1035 Delaware Avenue in 1903.   The Knox family lived in the 1035 Delaware House until 1918.  They had three children:  Seymour II, Marjorie and Dorothy.  Grace established the University of Buffalo’s first endowment fund in 1916 when she donated $250,000.

1035 Delaware

Following Seymour I’s death, Grace Millard Knox began construction on the 806 Delaware Ave Mansion following her husband’s death.  The Grace Millard Knox house is now known as 800 Delaware Avenue and is now owned by Computer Task Group.

800 Delaware Avenue - The Grace Mallard Knox House

800 Delaware Avenue – The Grace Mallard Knox House

Seymour’s sister Dorothy Knox married Frank Goodyear.  Dorothy and Frank built the Knox Farm House in 1916 as a summer home.  She later sold the house to her brother, Seymour II.  Following Seymour II’s death, Seymour III and his wife lived in the Knox Farm house.  New York State acquired the 633-acre farm in 2000 to create the Knox Farm  Park.  The house is currently on display through the end of May as the Junior League’s Decorator’s Showhouse.

Knox Summer House on the Knox Farm in East Aurora

Knox Summer House on the Knox Farm in East Aurora

Seymour Knox I died on May 17, 1915.  He is buried in Forest Lawn at the Knox Mausoleum.

Knox Mausoleum at Forest Lawn

Knox Mausoleum at Forest Lawn

Seymour II and his wife Helen

Seymour II and his wife Helen

Seymour II was born on September 1, 1898 and was known as Shorty due to his height.  Shorty attended Hotchkiss Preparatory School and graduated from Yale in 1920.  His interest in art began with his parents, who were active in the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.   He joined the Board of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1925.  In 1939, he and his family donated money to establish a room of contemporary art in memory of Grace Millard Knox.  The gallery used this money to purchase works by Picasso, Matisse, Mir, Mondrian, Beckmann and Braque.

During the 1950s, the director of the gallery allowed Shorty to buy pieces by abstract expressionist painters.  The Albright was the first museum in the world to buy works by Clyfford Still.  The artist gifted 31 paintings to the gallery.

Andy Warhol Portrait of Seymour Knox II

Andy Warhol Portrait of Seymour Knox II

Shorty served as chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts from 1960 to 1975.  In 1986, he was awarded a National Medal of Art at the White House by President Reagan for his contributions to the arts in Buffalo and the Nation.

Shorty married Helen Northrup Knox.  Helen and Shorty lived at 57 Oakland Place, in a house on the estate of Grace Millard Knox’s 806 Delaware Avenue mansion.  They had two children, Seymour III and Northrup Rand Knox.  Shorty died in 1990.

Seymour Knox III dropping the puck at the First Sabres Game, 1970

Seymour Knox III dropping the puck at the First Sabres Game, 1970

Seymour III was born in March 1926.  Seymour III was educated at Yale and Columbia before becoming a Corporal in the United States Army Field Artillery in World War II.  He then embarked in a successful banking career.

Northrup Knox was born 1928.  Northrup served as Chairman of Marine Midland Bank, Director of the Seymour Knox Foundation, and Vice President and Director of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.

KnoxNNorthrup was closely associated with the University at Buffalo, following in the family connection with UB that started with his grandmother’s endowment fund.  Northrup served as director of the UB Foundation.  Northrup received the UB President’s Medal in 1994.

Northrup and Seymour III are best known in Buffalo for bringing major league hockey to Buffalo with the Buffalo Sabres in 1970.  The Sabres colors of blue and gold were chosen because those were the colors of the Knox family Polo team. The Knox brothers first applied for a NHL franchise in 1965, but were unsuccessful.  In 1969, their efforts to bring a team to Buffalo were successful.  They assembled what was considered to be a top-rated operation.  The Sabres qualified for playoffs in only their third season and reached the Stanley Cup Finals within the first five seasons.

In 1975, Seymour III was named the Hockey News Executive of the Year.  Seymour III served on the NHL’s Board of Governor’s for 25 years and was director of the US hockey Hall of Fame.  The Knox brothers were also behind the establishment of the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse and Buffalo Blizzard soccer teams.  Seymour III was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.   Northrup and Seymour III were both inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 1996. The brothers owned the Sabres until their deaths in 1996 and 1998.

The Knox family is still an important family in Buffalo today.  Seymour IV is on the board of several local organizations.

Be sure to check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

You can also check out Discovering Buffalo…One Street at a Time on Facebook.!

Sources:

  1. “Knox Street Named for Seymour H. Knox” Courier Express July 13, 1941, sec 7 p 6
  2. http://www.friendsofknoxpark.org/pdfs/Preservation_Plus_Tour_%20Knox.pdf
  3. Glueck, Grace.  “Seymour H. Knox Is Dead at 92;  Buffalo Banker Was Art Patron”.  New York Times Obituaries.  September 28, 1990.  http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/28/obituaries/seymour-h-knox-is-dead-at-92-buffalo-banker-was-art-patron.html
  4. “Northrup R. Knox, 69, banker sportsman, community leader”.  UB Reporter Obituary.  Volume 30, Number 1.  August 27, 1998.
  5. http://www.legendsofhockey.net/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?type=Builder&mem=B199301&list=ByName

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