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Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo Museum of Science’

fillmoreFillmore Avenue runs north-south through the East Side of the City of Buffalo, between Seneca Street in the south to Main Street in the north.  The street is named after President Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States.

Millard Fillmore was born in Locke, Cayuga County, New York on January 7th, 1800.  His parents, Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe Millard were among the pioneer settlers of the so-called Military Tract.  Nathaniel was a farmer and built a log cabin for his family.  Millard worked on his father’s farm and attended local schools until he was 15 years old.

Millard Fillmore portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

Millard Fillmore portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

In 1815, Millard served as an apprentice in a carder and cloth-dressers business in Newhope, New York (carding is the process of preparing wool for use as textile).  While working for the shop, he began to self educate himself, reading everything he could get his hands on.  When Millard was 18, he taught school for the Town Of Scott for a term.  He decided that he wanted to study law, and entered into the law-office of Judge Walter Wood at Martville.  In 1821, he arrived in Aurora to teach a winter school in East Aurora.  In 1822, he came to Buffalo and taught at a district school while also studying law under Asa Rice and Joseph Clary.  While in Buffalo, one of his students was  Alvan Dodge.

In Spring 1823, Mr. Fillmore was admitted to practice in the Court of Common Please, and opened his office in East Aurora.   The Fillmore house in East Aurora is now the Millard Fillmore Museum.  In 1827, he was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court and became counselor in 1829.  In 1830, he moved to Buffalo to form a law partnership with Joseph Clary.

Fillmore House on Franklin Street

Fillmore House on Franklin Street

He lived at 180 Franklin Street in Buffalo (near Franklin and Huron…the house has been demolished).  He practiced law until 1848, when his duties as a politician forced him to give up his private practice.  The firm he was a part of still practices in Buffalo today as Hodgson Russ, LLP, one of Buffalo’s oldest law firms.

Mr. Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1828.  He served in the Assembly until 1832, when he was elected to Congress.  He served in Congress until 1842, when he declined renomination.  In 1847, he was elected New York State Comptroller, and in 1848, he was elected Vice President of the United States.  When President Taylor died in July 1850, Millard Fillmore became President of the United States.

President Fillmore came into his presidency at a critical period of national affairs.  He took great pains to complete his presidential duties with what has been described as unswerving conscientiousness, purity and patriotism.  In 1856, Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the National American Convention, but he did not win the election.

Millard Fillmore House on Niagara Square

Millard Fillmore House on Niagara Square

President Fillmore retired from public life after his presidency.  He passed his days at home in Buffalo advancing scholarly activities.  After his presidency, he and his new wife, Carolyn decided that the Franklin Street house was not fit for a former president.  He purchased a large mansion on Niagara Square in 1858.  His house was located where the Statler Hotel is today.

Millard Fillmore contributed significantly to Buffalo’s growth and development.  He helped to frame the charter that established the Village of Buffalo into the City of Buffalo.  He was one of the founders of the University at Buffalo in 1846, and served as the school’s first Chancellor, a position he served until his death.   While Fillmore was a Unitarian and is often criticized for being “anti-catholic”, he contributed substantial money to the construction of St. Joseph’s Cathedral.   During his time in Congress, he secured funding to enlarge the Buffalo Harbor and to expand the Erie Canal.  He helped to found the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo History Museum) in 1862 and served as its first president.  He served as Chairman of the Buffalo Committee of Public Defense and helped incorporate the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (now the Albright Knox Art Gallery).   He spearheaded a campaign to raise money for Buffalo’s Society of Natural Sciences (now the Buffalo Museum of Science).  In 1867, he helped to found the Buffalo Club, the city’s first exclusive social club, and served as its first president.  He contributed financially to the construction of the Buffalo General Hospital, which opened in 1858.  In 1870, he served as President of the Buffalo General Hospital.  From 1870 until 1874, he served as a trustee of the Grosvenor Library, one of the predecessors of the Buffalo Public Library and one of the nation’s most comprehensive reference libraries.  He founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and served as its vice president.

Millard Fillmore as Captain of the Union Continentals

Millard Fillmore as Captain of the Union Continentals

During the Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and supported the Union War efforts.  He commanded the Union Continentals, a corps of men over the age of 45 from Upstate New York.  The Continentals trained to defend Buffalo in the event of a Confederate attack.  The corps performed military drill and ceremonial functions at parades, funerals and events.  The Union Continentals guarded Lincoln’s funeral train when it came through Buffalo, and continued operations following the war.  Fillmore remained involved with them until his death.

Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Since 1937, a celebration to honor Fillmore’s legacy in Buffalo occurs every year at the Fillmore grave on his birthday.   His home in East Aurora is a National Historic Landmark and operates as the Millard Fillmore House Museum.

Fillmore Grave Plot

Fillmore Grave Plot

When Frederick Law Olmsted designed Buffalo’s park and parkway system for Buffalo, Fillmore Avenue was extended to Abbott Road and upgraded south of Best Street as a parkway.  In Olmsted’s plans, the Avenues (such as Fillmore) were designed with a single drive lane with a double row of trees on either side.   The thoroughfare was linked by Abbott Road (now South Park Avenue) to Heacock Park, an existing park in South Buffalo.  Heacock Park forms the start of the South Buffalo park system.  The difficulties in creating a parkway connection were complicated by the Buffalo River and numerous railroads.  Buffalo City Engineers argued that if there was an at grade railroad-crossing, the road could not be considered a parkway.  Alternatives included a bridge which would have carried Fillmore Avenue over the railroads and the Buffalo River into South Buffalo.  The design of Fillmore Avenue was never fully realized and Fillmore Avenue was opened to commercial traffic in 1906.

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

Sources:

  1. Hillman, Jordan.  “Millard Fillmore:  Buffalo’s Good Samaritan”.  National Portrait Gallery.   May 5, 2011.
  2. Smith, Lester, editor.  Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Millard Fillmore Papers.  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.  1974.
  3.  White, Truman, Editor.  Our County and Its People:  A Descriptive Work.  The Boston History Company.  1898.
  4. Buffalo Park Commission.  The Projected Park and Parkways on the South Side of Buffalo. 1888.

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Richmond Avenue

Richmond Avenue

Richmond Avenue runs north-south through the West Side of Buffalo, running between Forest Avenue and North Street.  The road was originally known as Rogers Road and served as a trail from Buffalo to what was known as a Shingletown area in the north.  Even when the City reached to North Street, Shingletown was still mainly open fields used for grazing animals and raising vegetables.  The most prominent building on the street was a tavern located on a terrace within a fruit orchard at the corner of Rodgers (now Richmond) and Utica Avenues.  The tavern allowed travelers heading between Buffalo and Black Rock a place to rest.  Residential development of the area increased in the 1880s and by 1900 the area resembled its current appearance.  The street was named in 1879 in honor of Jewett Richmond, who was involved in the salt and grain industries.

jewett richmondJewett Richmond was born in Syracuse in 1831.  He entered the salt business at a young age and began shipping salt to Buffalo and Chicago.  On his trips to Buffalo, he saw Buffalo’s potential to become a grain center.  He moved to Buffalo in 1854 and entered the grain business, building a grain elevator and establishing a company on the lakeshore.  He built the Buffalo and Jamestown railroad.  He was president of the Marine Bank, the Mutual Gas Light Company and the Buffalo Board of Trade.  He also served on the City Council.

At one point, in 1881, a delegation of prominent citizens wanted him to run for Mayor.  Mr. Richmond was among 5 people they asked to run for Mayor that year (Major Doyle was another).  Mr. Richmond suggested that they ask Grover Cleveland first.  Grover Cleveland accepted, and was elected to his first important political post.

Mr. Richmond was involved in many organizations.  He was a member of the Young Men’s Association, which established the Buffalo Public Library.  He was a trustee of the Charity Organization Society and the Forest Lawn Cemetery Association.  He was a charter member of the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo History Museum), the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences (now the Buffalo Museum of Science) and the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts (now the Albright-Knox Art Gallery).   He was a founder of the Buffalo Club and the Country Club of Buffalo.

The Richmond family lived at 844 Delaware Avenue.  The property originally encompassed all of the land between Delaware Avenue and Richmond Avenue and was landscaped with gardens and some of the oldest trees in Buffalo.  In 1879, a petition was submitted to City Council to rename Rogers Road to Richmond Avenue in Mr. Richmond’s honor.

844 Delaware Avenue

844 Delaware Avenue

In January 1887, the Richmond house was destroyed by a fire.  In 1888, a new home was built at 844 Delaware Avenue.  The house is often referred to as the Lockwood house, as the 2nd owner of the house was Thomas B. Lockwood.  The house is currently owned by Child and Family Services.

Mr. Richmond died in 1899.  In addition to the street, two stained glass windows are also dedicated to his memory – one in Westminster Church and one in the Richmond Chapel in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Richmond Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Richmond Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery

1920s version of the Richmond Avenue Extension

1920s version of the Richmond Avenue Extension

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, there was a proposal to extend Richmond Avenue further south of North Street.  During the late 1930s, residents of Richmond Avenue petitioned to have the city change the name from Richmond Avenue to Richmond Parkway in order to preserve the residential nature of the street.  In Olmsted’s plan, the “Avenues” were single drive lanes with double rows of trees on either side, while the “Parkways” were the double drive lanes with a carriage path in the center.  The residents were determined to keep the street as only a street of “homes and churches”.  Another proposal to extend Richmond Ave came to life after the construction of the Skyway in the 1950s.  This proposal would have connected Richmond Avenue to the Skyway.  None of these proposed extensions were built.

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Times, Oct 26, 1929, “Days of Auld Lang Syne” Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, vol 2
  2. Richmond Ave may extend to downtown Courier Express July 10 1935, p 13
  3. Named after Jewett Richmond “Richmond Avenue Perpetuates Memory of Cleveland Sponsor” Courier Express Oct 16, 1938 sec 5 p 3
  4. “Name Change Asked:  Richmond Would become Parkway” Courier Express December 2, 1938.  Found in Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, Vol 2 p 134

 

 

 

 

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