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Posts Tagged ‘Erie County Almshouse’

northNorth Street runs through the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo, between Symphony Circle and Jefferson Avenue.  A small portion of East North Street exists east of Jefferson, divided by the Kensington Expressway.

North Street was originally known as Guide Board Road.  In front of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension at the corner of Linwood and North is a sign that states “Guide Board Road directing pioneers from the east to the Black Rock Ferry”.  The Guide Board Road was established shortly after Buffalo was settled. Pioneers cut through the woods so that early residents could get from Main Street to the Black Rock Ferry.  The road was used by many covered wagons of pioneers and ox carts of the early farmers.

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

During the War of 1812, when Buffalo was burned Dec 29, 1913, Guide Board Road was bathed in blood.  While retreating, American soldiers from Buffalo and Black Rock used Guide Board Road to get to Main Street to escape to Williamsville or Batavia.  Many of them were overtaken by the Native American allies of the British troops, scalped, tomahawked and robbed of their clothes.  Their bodies were left by the roadside.

northstreet cemeteryThe street was the northern boundary of the City of Buffalo when it was incorporated in 1832, hence the name North Street.  The City founders felt that the North Street boundary would give the City plenty of room to expand.  The road was also known as Lover’s Lane and Cemetery Road.  As cemeteries were being moved to outside the boundary of the City, North Street was bordered by six cemeteries at one time!

The Erie County Almshouse (and associated cemetery) was located near the location of D’Youville College today.   The area around North Street was first settled by residents of Buffalo looking to build houses in the Country.   Additionally, immigrants settling in the Buffalo area bought the land along the road west of Delaware for orchards and truck farms.  This section became known as Shingletown.  Buffalo continued growing and quickly grew to be larger than the Village of Black Rock.  Just 21 years after the City was incorporated, the New York State legislature gave permission to extend its boundaries and absorb Black Rock.

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits Over Time

Plans had been discussed many times over the City’s history to extend North Street.  This was discussed as early as 1884 when a resolution was passed to extend North Street from Jefferson to Genesee Streets, but the idea was protested.  Plans were resubmitted in 1887.  Portions of East North Street east of Jefferson were built.

In the 1920s,  a plan was put forth to widen North Street and extended it to connect to the east with Humboldt Parkway.  The Buffalo City Planning Association proposed this link, which would connect the waterfront to the eastern part of the city to create a crosstown connecting parkway within a short distance of the downtown business district.  The new parkway would connect D’Youville College, Holy Angels Academy(which later moved to North Buffalo), the State Normal School (later Grover Cleveland High School), Masten Park High School(now City Honors), the 106th Regiment Armory, the proposed municipal stadium at the corner of Jefferson and Best Street (which became War Memorial Stadium aka the Rockpile, now John Wiley Sports Complex), and the proposed Natural Science Building to be located in Humboldt Park (today the Science Museum).  The proposed parkway would be a double roadway and was intended to provide relief from congestion currently occurring on streets such as High Street.  The planned width of the street would be 105 feet wide with two 27-foot roadways separated by a wooded park strip.  One unique thing about the proposal was that the road was planned to take North Street over Main and Ellicott Streets, as well as to tunnel Franklin, Linwood, Delaware and Elmwood Avenues under North Street.  The road was designed to separate the crosstown traffic from the north and south traffic. This road was never built.

If you could redesign any street in Buffalo, which would you change?

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

 

 

Sources:

“Urges Action on Widening of North Street”. Buffalo News, July 13, 1923.

“Cross-Town Street Plan is Explained”.  Buffalo Evening News, February 17, 1928.

“War Wealth Park of North Street History”. Courier Express, Feb 9, 1956.

Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  Buffalo Historical Society Publications:  1912.

 

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

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

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

Charles W. Winspear

Charles W. Winspear

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eli B. Northrup

Eli B. Northrup

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

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

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

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

Sources:

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

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