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hamlin2

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.

I recently realized that we’ve discussed 200 streets on the blog!  Can you believe it?  We’re technically at 206 streets.  There are 1544 street names in the City of Buffalo, so we’ve covered around 13% of streets so far.  The 200th street was Eggert Road, which was pretty cool since it was an important street to me growing up, and I also lived on Eggert for 5 years during college!

Here’s a map of all of the streets I’ve written about so far:

streets

I have begun to think about making some upgrades to the site sometime soon.  One of things I’d love to be able to make an interactive map for the site.  My vision is that you could zoom into a street and be able to access the post about that street when you clicked on the street name.  Are any of my readers more tech-savvy than me and know how to make this happen?  Please email me at buffalostreets@gmail.com if you are interested in helping me figure out how to do that!

What’s your favorite street I’ve written about?  What streets do you wish I’d write about?  As many of you know, historic research can be hard at times and I’m sure we’ll never know everything about every street.  Sometimes it feels like you hit a lot of dead ends but then you’ll find some info that takes you on a different path entirely.  That’s the frustration and also the beauty of historic research! I plan to continue writing as long as I keep finding information! 

I feel like I’ve become better at research in the more than a decade I’ve been doing this, so I may revisit some earlier posts to bring additional information about those people.  Is that something you would be interested in? 

The Erie County University Express schedule for this semester just came out – I’ll be speaking in July at West Side Community Services.  Find more information, along with all the other wonderful courses presented through University Express here:  https://www4.erie.gov/universityexpress/classes

I have some fun posts coming up, so stay tuned!  Hope everyone is starting to enjoy the warmer weather as we start to hopefully get back to normal and come out of COVID!  

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

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Approximate Former Location of Burt Ave

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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David Burt. Source: Ancestry.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Central High School, 1908. Source: Buffalo Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

normalNormal Avenue runs between Hudson Street and Hampshire Street on the West Side of Buffalo.  The street  was originally named 13th Street.  It is one of the original streets laid out in Black Rock by Peter Porter.   Last post, we talked about General Hayes, who was important to the University of Buffalo.  Today, we’re gonna talk about Buff State!  What does Buff State have to do with Normal Ave?  Read on!

In 1871, the Buffalo Normal School opened in a Victorian building at Jersey and 13th Streets (now Normal).   A Normal School is a school for teachers.  The Normal School movement was an effort to standardize what students were learning and improve schools.  The first State Normal School was in Massachusetts in the 1830s.  A bill to establish a State Normal School began circulation in Albany in early 1844.  The bill was signed into law later that year by Governor Bouck.  Beginning with the Albany Normal School, Normal Schools began to be established throughout New York State.  Albany was followed by Oswego, Potsdam, and Cortland.  By 1930, there were two New York State Colleges for Teachers and nine State Normal Schools throughout New York State.

Buffalo and Erie County looked towards establishing a Normal School here in 1866.  The State opted to move forward with the schools at Brockport and Fredonia first.  Buffalo continued to fight for a Normal School. the Buffalo Normal School was approved by the State Legislature in April 1867.  The City was responsible for providing a site and building for the school.  The State provided $12,000 ($226,055 in 2022 dollars) per year to run the school.  Jesse Ketchum provided a 5-acre lot to the City for educational purposes.  The lot was valued at $20,000 ($376759 in 2022 dollars).  The Board of Supervisors approved $45,000 ($847,708 in 2022 dollars) to erect a building and appointed Oliver G. Steele, Albert T Chester, Dennis Bowen to the Normal School Building Committee.

normal school 1872

1872 Atlas of Buffalo showing Blocks 105 with the State Normal School and Block 88 with the Black Rock Burying Ground.

The City and County debated the site for the school.  Because Mr. Ketchum died in September 1867 before the deed was finalized, there was some back and forth regarding the site.  The site donated by Jesse Ketchum was known as Block 105.   Across Jersey Street was Block 88 – bounded by Jersey, Rogers (now Richmond), Porter and 14th Street.  Block 88 was the site of the Black Rock Burying Grounds.  The Black Rock Burial Grounds had been established by William A. Bird on behalf of the Village of Black Rock in 1818.   This burial ground was used for the residents of Black Rock, as well as for paupers who died at the Poor House, which was located to the west of the property, near where D’Youville College is today.  When Forest Lawn Cemetery opened in 1850, the Black Rock Burial Ground was discontinued and  many of the bodies were moved to Forest Lawn by their friends and family. In October 1864, the City of Buffalo had donated the Black Rock Burying Grounds property to the Charity Foundation of the Protestant Episcopal Church with the agreement that the Charity Foundation would move the remains.   The Charity Foundation is the organization that ran the Episcopal Church Home for aged women and for orphans, which opened in 1866 on Rhode Island Street.  At the time, the Charity Foundation was interested in Block 105.  The Charity Foundation argued that the Block 105 site was better suited for them, as the existing buildings there could be used by the Charity Foundation, whereas they were useless to the school.  The Normal School ended up moving forward with their original plans on Block 105.  Beginning in 1875, the Charity Foundation began selling off Block 88 for residential development.

Construction of the Normal School began and a Ceremony was held to lay the cornerstone of the Normal School in April 1869.  More than 3,000 people came out to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone.  A large parade marched from St. James Hall (at Main and Eagle Street downtown) to the West Side, led by city and county officials.  A poem by Mary Ripley was read at the ceremony.

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Original 1871 State Normal School. Source: Buffalo State College

The building was inspected by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of New York and the State Comptroller in August of 1870.  They approved the building and the City then transferred the property to the State to establish the school.  The first local Board of Managers of the school were appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and included:  John B. Skinner, Francis H. Root, Grover Cleveland, William H Greene, Albert H. Tracy, Thomas F. Rochester, Joseph Warren, Allan Potter, Henry Lapp.  The first Principal of the School was Henry B. Buckham, coming from Vermont.  The Buffalo Normal School opened on September 13, 1871.

The Normal School had three departments:  Normal, Collegiate and Scientific.  The Normal Department was set up for the education of teachers and had three courses of study:  Elementary, Advance English and Classical.  Students had a three year program of study.  Students were required to sign a pledge that they intend to devote a reasonable time to teaching following their education.  The first year was devoted to elementary study, the second year to more advanced English course.  The first term of the third year, the students took Philosophy of Education, School Economy and Methods of Teaching.  The second term involved teaching in the School for Practice.  The School for Practice was established with a class of 20 pupils from each of the 10 grades of the public schools set up within the Normal School.  During the term, Normal School students were given experience as temporary teachers in each grade of children.  Permanent teachers in these classrooms served as teaching critics and helped the Normal School students learn to teach.  Tuition into the Normal Department of the school was free if the pledge was signed.  Without the pledge, tuition was $60 per year.  Graduates of the school received a diploma which gave them a license to teach in New York State.

The Collegiate Department was organized to allow Normal School students to pursue an extended course of study and receive a typical four year degree, similar to other Colleges.  This was one of the first Normal Schools to offer such a department.  The four year program included:  the study of Language, English, Mathematics, History, Philosophy, Elocution, Drawing, and Composition.

The Scientific Department was established to prepare students for employment as a practical Chemist, Engineer, Surveyor, etc.  The courses were taken over three years and consisted of:  higher Mathematics, History or Language, Practical work, Surveying, Mechanics, Field Engineering, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Drawing, and Laboratory work in Chemistry.  Tuition for the Collegiate and Scientific Departments was $60 ($1,130 in 2022 dollars) per term.

At the time, each Normal School was entitled to twice as many pupils as it had Assemblymen.  Candidates had to receive a recommendation from a County Commissioner of Schools or a City Superintendent in order to apply for admission.

The school opened with 86 students – 75 women and 11 men, and 15 faculty members.  There were 195 children taught in the School of Practice.  They were all located in the three-story building at Jersey and 13th Streets.  There was some talk about creating a boarding hall as part of the Normal School, however I don’t believe it was ever built.  Students who required boarding typically found it with private families near the school.  The first school year was divided into two terms of 20 weeks each – one starting September 13th and the second beginning February 14th.

1894

1894 Map of the State Normal School. The Science Annex can be seen behind the school. The other building on the site was the Principal’s Residence, located at 110 14th Street. York Street is at the top of this image, Jersey at the bottom, with Porter running diagonally across the bottom left.

In 1888, the Buffalo Normal School was renamed the State Normal and Training School.   Because of growing enrollment, a science building was added behind the school and connected via a 2nd floor bridge.

In the early 1890s, residents of the street wanted the name changed.  A petition was distributed and signed by the majority of the taxpayers on the street.  There were originally many street named after numbers in this area.  Thirteenth was one of the streets in the area that hadn’t yet been changed:  Six Street had become Front Avenue,  Ninth Street had become Prospect Avenue, Tenth Street had become Faro Avenue, Eleventh Street had become West Avenue and Twelfth Street became Plymouth Avenue.  The Taxpayers suggested Normal Avenue for the name, in honor of the Normal School.  At the time, some people took offense with the name, writing editorials stating that if a street was “normal” would that imply that other streets were abnormal?

On January 16, 1894, the matter of the street name was taken up by the City of Buffalo Committee on Streets.  The City Assessors had found that the petition was not signed by the majority of owners with property fronting on the street and therefore the name was not able to be changed.  By February, 6 1894, the Board of Public Works was again looking at changing the street name.  The name was officially changed in August 1894.  The residents reportedly were happy to feel that they no longer lived on unlucky 13th street!

1915

1915 Map showing the Buffalo State Normal School. This building is still standing today. Again, York Street is at the top of this map, with Jersey Street on the bottom and Porter Avenue running diagonally across the lower left. Note the small building along the York Street side of the site, this was the same Principal’s Residence shown on the earlier map. The house was moved during the construction of the 1914 structure. The residence was demolished when the school was expanded in the 1950s.

By 1901, the school enrolled 828 students.  As the school continued to grow, they began making plans to build an expanded school.  In 1914, the school moved into the larger facility that is there today.   The building was designed to be similar in style to Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

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1914 Buffalo State Normal School. The original 1871 Building had been in front of this building, where the lawn is now.  Source: Buffalo State College

When the 1914 building was constructed, it was anticipated it would meet the school’s needs until the 1960s.  The school grew more quickly than anticipated.  By 1920, the school had outgrown their Lower West Side Facility and began plans to move up to Elmwood Avenue.  They planned to move to property the State owned that was affiliated with the State Insane Asylum.  In 1928, the school became the State Teacher’s College at Buffalo.

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Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Avenue..

In 1931, the Elmwood Avenue campus opened, the centerpiece of the building being the Main Building at 1300 Elmwood Avenue (now Rockwell Hall).  The building contained the college’s library, cafeteria, administrative and faculty offices and an auditorium.  Rockwell Hall has a similar style reminiscent of Independence Hall and the original 1914 State Normal School.  The State architects must have liked the Federal Style!  Today, Rockwell Hall is still one of the most prominent buildings on the campus, home to classrooms, computer labs, dance studios, and performance spaces.

In 1945, the school became the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo.  In 1950, they became SUNY, New York State College for Teachers and in 1951 the State University College for Teachers at Buffalo.  In 1960, they became the State University College of Education at Buffalo.  In 1961, they became State University College at Buffalo, known colloquially as Buff State.  A lot of names for a school that’s only had two locations!

In 1951, the Main Building was renamed Rockwell Hall in honor of Harry Westcott Rockwell, principal of the Buffalo State Normal School beginning in 1919.  He served as the first President of the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo in 1926.  Rockwell helped guide the school through their move from the Lower West Side to Elmwood Avenue and worked to get the college State approval as a teacher’s college, becoming the first state-operated college to offer a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. Under Mr. Rockwell’s guidance, the school grew from 275 students on a 3.5 acre campus to 2,022 students on a 55 acre campus.  Rockwell retired in 1951 after issuing 10,000 diplomas and awarding more than 5,000 degrees over 32 years at the college.

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The 1914 Normal School Building. The original 1871 building was on the lawn in front of the school.

After the Normal School moved uptown, the building on Normal Avenue became Grover Cleveland High School in 1931.  The school was named after Grover Cleveland, who had served on the Board of Managers of the Normal School when it first opened in 1871!  The school was renovated in 1959 when an addition was built on the north end for additional classrooms, a swimming pool and a gymnasium.  In 2011, the final class of Grover Cleveland High School graduated.  The building was renovated from 2011 to 2013, when it was reopened as the International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland High School.  In 2017, Architectural Digest named the school the Most Beautiful Public High School in New York State.

The next time you drive down Normal Ave or pass by Buff State, think of the State Normal School and quest for education of teachers here in Buffalo…and all of the teachers that have influenced students of Buffalo over the years.  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Sources:

  • “Wanted – A Name.”  Buffalo Evening News.  July 13, 1891, p5.
  • Buffalo Courier.  July 14, 1891, p4.
  • Minutes.  Corporation Proceedings, Board of Alderman, Buffalo.  Monday January 15, 1894.
  • “The Name Will Remain.”  Buffalo Enquirer.  January 16, 1894, p2.
  • “All Around Town.”  Buffalo Courier.  August 15, 1894, p5.
  • Lee, Richard J.  “The Campus School at SUNY Buffalo State, 1871 -1991”.  A Selection of Works on the History of Buffalo State College. Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State.  https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/buffstate-history/5
  • Buffalo State College – Our History.  https://suny.buffalostate.edu/history
  • “Normal School.”  Buffalo Daily Gazette June 8, 1844, p1.
  • “Normal Schools – A Proposition for Buffalo”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  January 7, 1867, p4.
  • “A Normal School in Buffalo.”  Buffalo Courier.  April 26, 1867, p8.
  • “The Normal School Question Decided.”  Buffalo Commercial.  June 27, 1867, p3.
  • “The Normal School”.  Buffalo Courier.  July 9, 1867, p8.
  • “The Church Foundation and the Normal School”.  Buffalo Commercial.  April 21, 1868, p1.
  • “The State Normal School and College”.  Buffalo Courier.  July 26, 1871, p2.
  • Waldek, Stefanie.  “The Most Beautiful Public High School in Every State In America”.  Architectural Digest.  September 12, 2017.
  • The President Harry W. Rockwell Digital Collection.  Digital Commons at Buffalo State. https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/rockwell_buffalostate/  (online January 2022)
  • “Notice”.  Buffalo Weekly Express. October 25, 1864, p4.
  • “Proposed Change in the Location of the Normal School”.  Buffalo Express.  April 2, 1868, p2.
  • Smith, Henry Perry.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Company, 1884.

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/

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.

eggertsville subdivisions

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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House at 672 Delaware Avenue. Source: Buffaloah.com

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

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

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

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Metcalfe Marker in Forest Lawn

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

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Metcalf Room in Rockwell Hall at SUNY Buffalo State College.

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

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.
hutchinson ave

Hutchinson Avenue

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

hutchinson property BNHV

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

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

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

hutchinson child

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

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

sheppard house

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

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

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

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

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

hutchinson house

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

 

hutchinson gardens

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

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

hutchinson - Buffalo Sunday Morning News

Edward Howard Hutchinson     Source: Buffalo Sunday Morning News

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

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

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Central High School on Court Street. Source: WNY Heritage

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

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

hutchinson property

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

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

  • the Jewett Property on Delaware Avenue, extending from Chippewa Street to the Hotel Touraine (backing right up to the Hutchinson Property), amount unknown
  • The Buffalo Orphan Asylum Property, for $60,000
  • The George S. Metcalfe property on Cottage Street from Maryland to College Street, for $129,500
homes on johnson park

Houses on Johnson Park that were demolished when Hutch Tech was built. Source: Buffalo Historical Society Publications

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

Beautiful Buffalo Homes

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

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

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

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Hutchinson Memorial Chapel. Source: Buffalo News.

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

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

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

hutchinson grave

Hutchinson Plot, Forest Lawn.

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

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

Sources:

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

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