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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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clevelandCleveland Avenue is a street in the Elmwood Village, running between Elmwood Avenue and Delaware Avenue.  Cleveland Avenue is named after one of Buffalo’s most prominent citizens, President Stephen Grover Cleveland!  Today (March 18th) is Grover’s birthday.

Grover Cleveland’s story is a rare one.  He rose to political fame from the position of an unknown lawyer in Buffalo in a period of only three years.  He was not connected via his lineage, but rather worked hard and represented himself with integrity, which led to his success. While much has been written about President Cleveland’s campaigns and White House years, I’m going to focus on his time before he was president.

Grover Cleveland Birthplace, now a museum Source

Grover Cleveland Birthplace, now a museum
Source

Mr. Cleveland’s family came to America in the 1600s, settling in Massachusetts from England. Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837 in Caldwell, New Jersey, the son of a Presbyterian minister.  He was named after the previous pastor at the church where his father now preached – Dr. Stephen Grover.  The first name was dropped; however, and he always went by Grover.  He was educated in public schools in Fayetteville, New York and at the Academy in Clinton, New York.  He served as a grocery clerk in Fayetteville as his first job.  He later became an assistant in the Institution for the Blind, New York City.  

Grover Cleveland as a young attorney

Grover Cleveland as a young attorney

In 1855, Mr. Cleveland came to Buffalo.  He was heading to Ohio to seek fortune, but first came to visit his uncle, Lewis Allen, who lived on a farm.  Mr. Allen convinced Grover to stay in Buffalo, by giving him a place to stay and introducing him to members of a law firm.

Mr. Cleveland studied law with Bowen & Rogers and was admitted to the bar in 1859.  One of the local legends is that when Mr. Cleveland first started at a law firm in Downtown Buffalo, he made such a little impression on the lawyers while he studied, the lawyers forgot he was there, and locked up the office for the day while he was still in the office.  He vowed that “someday, I will be better remembered”.

During the Civil War, Mr. Cleveland was drafted. His two younger brothers enlisted. At the time, the Enrollment Act of 1863 allowed draftees to pay $300 to have a substitute go to war for you.  Grover borrowed money to pay a substitute, so that he could stay in Buffalo and take care of his mother.

In 1866, Mr. Cleveland formed a partnership with I.K. Vanderpool.  The two worked together for 4 years.  He then worked with P. Laning and Oscar Folsom, working with them for two years when Mr. Cleveland was then elected to be Sheriff of Erie County in 1870.

Mr. Cleveland was considered to be just and fair in his term as Sheriff.  He showed a disregard for partisan interests and he was considered a reformer.  He served as Sheriff until 1874, using his down time to continue his studies.  When he returned to the bar after his time as Sheriff, he was more confident and was considered to be a better lawyer.  He never became wealthy as a lawyer but was distinguished among the law community for his hard work and strong ethics.

Statue of Cleveland at Buffalo City Hall

Statue of Cleveland at Buffalo City Hall

In 1881, the City of Buffalo was considered to have a corrupt government that was driving the city towards ruin.  The population was growing quickly; politics and business were intertwined, and there was a demand for reform.  Citizens were looking for a mayoral candidate who could bring about reform.  They found their man in Grover Cleveland.   With some convincing by Peter Doyle, he decided to run.  He was elected with a majority that was the largest ever given to a candidate up until that time.  His main principal for his official life is expressed by one of his messages to the Common Council:  “There is, or there should be, no reason why the affairs of our city should not be managed with the same care and the same economy as private interests”.

Mr. Cleveland clung to and fought for what he thought was right.   He was known as the “Veto Mayor” (and later the “Veto Governor” and “Veto President”).  As Mayor, he was careful with city expenditures.  Mr. Cleveland’s term as Mayor was noticed throughout the state and led to his nomination for Governor.

Mr. Cleveland’s strength in the gubernatorial campaign lay in the fact that he was relatively unknown, and, therefore, not part of the machine that had run New York politics.  He had never met many of the representatives of the Democratic Party until the night of the convention.  He was elected in 1882, defeating Charles Folger by nearly 193,000 votes.

On election night, Grover wrote to his brother William, “But the thought that has troubled me is Can I well perform my duties and in such a manner has to do some good to the people of the State?  I know there is room for it and I know that I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well, but the question is whether I know enough to accomplish what I desire.”

Grover Cleveland as Governor

Grover Cleveland as Governor

His guiding principles while Governor were retrenchment, economy, integrity and reform.  He worked from early morning until late at night, carefully and deliberately undertaking the tasks at hand.  It is said that he did little to attract the attention of the party leaders outside of New York State, but in doing so, his honesty and personal habits set him apart from the pomp, circumstance and parade of importance around which many public servants surround themselves.

When the Democratic National Convention met in Chicago in 1884, Mr. Cleveland was nominated for Presidency.  He won the election by beating James G. Blaine, and became President of the United States.  After being defeated by Benjamin Harrison in 1888, Cleveland returned to New York City to work as a lawyer.  In 1892, Cleveland defeated President Harrison and became the first president to be elected for non-consecutive terms.

President Cleveland's Wedding to Frances Folsom

President Cleveland’s Wedding to Frances Folsom
Source: 1886, Harper’s Weekly

During his first term as president, in 1886, Mr. Cleveland married Buffalonian Frances Folsom.  He is the only president to be married during his term, with the wedding taking place in Blue Room of the White House.  When Oscar Folsom (Cleveland’s business partner and Frances’ father) died, Grover became executor of his estate, but was never the legal guardian of Frances, as many believe.  Frances was the youngest first lady in history, 21 at the time of their wedding.  She was a popular first lady, people purchased souvenirs bearing her likeness and copied her hairstyles and clothing.  Frances was born in Buffalo; her house still stands on Edward Street.  A slice of  the Clevelands’ wedding cake from 1886 is in the collection of the Buffalo History Museum. Frances and Grover had three daughters and two sons.

Grover Cleveland's Grave

Grover Cleveland’s Grave

In 1896, Cleveland declined the nomination for a third term, and retired to his estate, Westland Mansion, in Princeton, New Jersey.  He became a trustee at Princeton University.  He also served as a consultant to President Theodore Roosevelt.  He died of a heart attack in 1908.  His last words were “I have tried so hard to do right”.  He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery.

Other things named after Cleveland in the Buffalo Area:

  • Grover Cleveland Hall at Buffalo State College (Cleveland served on the Board of Directors when it was the Buffalo Normal School)
  • Grover Cleveland High School in Buffalo (the building now houses the International Preparatory School)
  • Grover Cleveland Golf Course
  • Cleveland Hill Neighborhood and School District in Cheektowaga
  • Cleveland Avenue, Niagara Falls
  • Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga
  • Cleveland Avenue, City of Tonawanda

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

Sources:

  • Triplett, Frank.  The Authorized Pictorial Lives of Stephen Grover Cleveland and Thomas Andrews Hendricks.  New York:  E.B. Treat, Publisher.  1884.
  • Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  Volume 1.  New York-Buffalo:  Genealogical Publishing Company, 1906.
  • Peckham, Caroline.  The Pre-Presidential Career of Grover Cleveland.  University of Wisconsin:  1922.
  • “Mr. Cleveland is Dead at 71”.  New York Times:  June 25, 1908.

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koonsaveKoons Avenue is located in the Emerson Neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo.  Koons Avenue was named for the Koons brothers, Henry and Edward, who developed the neighborhood along with Judge Titus and Frank and Henry Goodyear.

The Koons brothers, Edward and Henry, were born into a prominent Buffalo family.  Their father, Jacob Koons, was a merchant, political official and a leader in church and charitable affairs.  Jacob came from Europe in 1828 and became a farm hand outside of Albany, new York.  He came to Buffalo in 1832 and established a store (history books refer to it as an emporium)  for the sale of clocks, dry-goods and groceries at Main Street near Genesee.   The store was successful and branched out to a second store in Paris, Ohio.  Jacob Koons left the business in 1848.  He was then involved in local politics.  He was appointed Superintendent of the Poor in 1856.    Jame Koons, along with his wife and six children, lived at 73 East Huron.  Jacob Koons was a member of St. John’s Lutheran on Hickory Street and was involved in building and improving St. John’s Orphan Home.   You can read more about the Orphan Home here.   Mr. Jacob Koons died on May 9, 1889.

Top: Amelia, Henry, and Elisabeth Center:  Jacob and Elisabeth, nee Dellenbaugh Bottom:  Mary, Edward and Louise

The Koons Family
Top: Amelia, Henry, and Elisabeth
Center: Jacob and Elisabeth, nee Dellenbaugh
Bottom: Mary, Edward and Louise

Henry Koons was born in Buffalo on October 9, 1838 and was educated in the public schools.  He worked for the American Express Company for two years.   Henry then headed West to learn the trade of tanning with G. Pfisler & Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He returned to Buffalo a few years later.  He worked as a search clerk in the County Clerk’s office from 1865 to 1871, engaging in abstracting and tracing titles.  During his time in the clerk’s office, he also started working in the real estate business.   He set up his real estate shop on the 400 block of Main Street.  On June 1, 1884, he formed the firm Henry & Edward Koons, when his brother joined the firm.   Henry boasted that the reason for his success was that his guiding principle was absolute honesty in all business transactions.

Edward Koons was born on October 1, 1861.  He was a schoolmate of Francis Folsom, future wife of President Grover Cleveland.  Edward read law in the office of William Glenney.  His knowledge of law and real estate helped him to become a great success in the real estate business.  He founded and was president of Abstract Title and Mortgage and was director of Buffalo Insurance for more than 50 years.  He was the first Vice President of Buffalo Savings Bank and in 1920 became president of the Chamber of Commerce.

The brothers helped Grover Cleveland become Mayor by managing his campaign.  They were prominent in his campaign for Governor and President as well.  The brothers helped Grover Cleveland become Mayor by managing his campaign.  They were prominent in his campaign for Governor and President as well.

Edward and Henry, along with Judge Titus and Frank and Henry Goodyear, bought a large amount of East Side land and quickly resold it for development.

Sylvanite Gold Mines Kirkland Lake, ONIn 1891, Edward opened the Erie County Guaranteed Search Company, an abstract and title search company.  In 1906, Edward Koons was appointed a member of the commission to revise the City Charter.

The Koons brothers invested their profits in gold mines in Ontario, calling their venture Sylvanite Gold Mines.  Sylvanite is found in the Kirkland Lake Gold District in Canada.  The mine was active until 1961.  Henry Koons never married and died in April 1904 in Buffalo.

Edward married Anna Hengerer, daughter of the founder of Hengerer’s Department Store.  Edward and Anna lived at 1131 Delaware Avenue, which is commonly referred to as the Charles Germain House, after the first resident of the house.

Edward Koons died at eighty-four in the Park Lane Apartments in February 1946.  Edward and Henry are both buried in the Koons plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Koons Plot in Forest Lawn

Koons Plot in Forest Lawn

Learn about other streets in the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. Our County and it’s People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by: Trumen C. White.  The Boston History Company, Published 1898.
  2. Recalling Pioneer Days.  Volume XXVI, Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society.  Edited by Frank H. Severance, 1922.
  3. History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County.  Reinecke & Zesch, Publishers.  Buffalo NY 1898.

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titusgoodyearkoons

Goodyear Avenue is the center of these three streets

Goodyear, Titus, and Koons Avenue are three streets running between Walden and Broadway in the Emerson Neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.

The streets were named after Charles Waterhouse Goodyear, his brother Frank H. Goodyear, Judge Robert Titus, Edward Koons, and his brother Henry Koons.   These men entered into a partnership to subdivide and develop the streets and much of the land surrounding these streets.  This post is going to focus on the Goodyear brothers, entries for the Koons Brothers and Judge Titus will follow shortly.

Note:  Buffalo’s Charles Goodyear is not the same Charles Goodyear that Goodyear tires are named after.  Charles Goodyear of the tire fame invented vulcanized rubber around 1844 in Massachusetts.

charlesgoodyearCharles Waterhouse Goodyear was born in Cortland, New York in 1846.  He attended school in Cortland, Wyoming, and East Aurora, New York.  He came to Buffalo in 1868 to study law and was admitted to the bar in 1871.  He joined Grover Cleveland’s firm of Cleveland, Bissell, and Sicard when Cleveland left to run for president in 1883.

In 1887, Charles gave up law to enter into business with his brother to form F. H. & C. W. Goodyear.   Together, Charles and Frank expanded the railroad and merged it with the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad from Buffalo to Wellsville.  They profited by using the railroad to ship lumber, rather than floating it down streams, as was the practice of the time.

Charles held the office of Trustee of the Buffalo Normal School, now known as Buffalo State College.  He was also was one of the organizers of the Pan American Exposition and was President of the Buffalo Club.  He was a close friend of President Grover Cleveland and Cleveland’s Secretary of State, Daniel Lamont.  Charles and his wife were the first guests of President Cleveland at the White House.

Goodyear Mansion at 888 Delaware

Goodyear Mansion at 888 Delaware

Charles and his wife Ella lived in a mansion at 888 Delaware Avenue, which was built in 1903 and designed by Green & Wicks.  Charles died in 1911 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Following Charles’ death, Ella established the Charles W. Goodyear Fund at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  Charles and Ella’s son Anson Goodyear later served on the board of the Albright Art Gallery (now the Albright-Knox).  Anson was one of the board members who insisted that the gallery begin to acquire modern art, of which the museum is now well-known.

Ella lived in the Delaware Ave mansion until her death in 1940.  At that time, the mansion was sold to the Blue Cross Corporation.  The mansion was then sold to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 1950 when it became Bishop McMahon High School.   It was purchased in 1988 by Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and was used as the Robert B. Adam Education Center.  In 2005, Oracle Charter School purchased the building.

Goodyear Hall on UB South Campus

Goodyear Hall on UB South Campus

In 1960, the family donated $500,000 to the University at Buffalo in Ella Goodyear’s name.   This money was used to build Goodyear Hall on South Campus.  The building of Goodyear Hall was important to the development of UB towards becoming a residential college.  Part of the UB2020 plan involves renovating Goodyear Hall and converting it from dormitory rooms into student apartments.

frankgoodyearFrank Henry Goodyear was born in Groton, Tompkins County, New York on March 17, 1849.  Shortly after he was born, the family moved to Holland, New York.  He attended public and private schools and the East Aurora Academy.  In 1871, he moved to Buffalo to engage in the coal and wood business.  He later entered the lumber business and was one of the largest lumber manufacturers in the United States at the time.  His firm manufactured over 150,000,000 feet of lumber yearly.  In 1884, Frank built the Sinnemahoning Railroad, which connected to the WNY&P Railroad in Keating Summit, Pennsylvania.  In 1887, he entered into business with his brother Charles.

goodyearmansionFrank Goodyear built a mansion at 762 Delaware Avenue, at the northwest corner of Summer Street.  Frank passed away in 1907 of Bright’s Disease shortly after moving into the mansion.    Frank made many donations to Buffalo parks.   Frank’s wife Josephine lived in the house until she died in 1915.  Following Josephine’s death, the house was lived in by Frank and Josephine’s son, Frank Junior. The mansion was demolished in 1938 and is now the site of the parking lot for the Red Cross.

Don’t forget to check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Our County and it’s People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by: Trumen C. White.  The Boston History Company, Published 1898.
  2. Dunn, Edward.  Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue:  Mansions and Families.  Canisius College Press, 2003.
  3. http://wnyheritagepress.org/photos_week_2007/goodyear_mansion/goodyear_mansion.htm

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Doyle Avenue is a street in the Riverside Neighborhood in Buffalo.  The street runs 0.25 miles between Kenmore Avenue and Skillen Street.

Doyle Avenue is named for Major General Peter Cozzens Doyle.  Maj. Doyle was born in Washington County in 1842.  He came to Buffalo with his family via the Erie Canal when he was 4.  He lived in Buffalo until his death.  He attended Public School No. 2 and Old Central High School, but his formal education ended in his teens as was custom in the time, due to the need to earn a living.  He became a telegrapher and became an operator for the Lake Shore Railroad before he was 16.  At 16, he became a bookkeeper for the Buffalo Courier, and worked for the paper from 1858 until the outbreak of the Civil War.  He enlisted and became a lieutenant.  His knowledge of telegraphy was valuable to the army signal corps.  Following the war, he returned to the Courier.  He was associated with the railroads and local wholesale grocers.

Maj. Doyle was elected to his first public office in 1869, when he was elected superintendent of the Buffalo Fire Department.  At the time, firemen were all volunteers, and Superintendent Doyle was a pioneer in advocating the use of horses to draw hose carts and hook and ladder apparatus.  At the time, volunteer firemen and any other men or boys who were nearby would hitch up to the apparatus and run to the scene of action.

In 1870, Doyle became Chief of Police.  During this time, he purchased the right of way for the Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad.  He would drive his buggy along the right of way and buy the land, parcel by parcel.  He became first superintendent of that railroad.

In 1881, Doyle was chairman of the Democratic Committee of Erie County.  That year, they were having a hard time finding a candidate for Mayor, as many democratic candidates had been defeated in previous elections and they found running to be a hopeless cause.   Five people had been asked to run for office, all turning down the offer.  Doyle was instrumental in convincing prominent Buffalo attorney and former Erie County Sheriff Grover Cleveland to run for Mayor.  The rest is political history, as Cleveland rose from Mayor to Governor to President by 1885.

Maj. Doyle was also the Buffalo representative for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Coal Company, president of the Local Merchants Exchange and a vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church.

Maj. Doyle married Annie Kelderhouse (her uncle William Mowry operated the first cotton mill in New YorK State).  Annie and Peter built a brick home at Niagara and Georgia Streets.  Later, they built another house on Mariner Street.  Although he owned a great deal of real estate throughout the City, he owned no land near what would eventually became Doyle Avenue.  However, his brother-in-law, John Kelderhouse owned land in that area, which was instrumental in the choice of the name Doyle Avenue.  Maj. Doyle and his wife had three daughters and two sons.  Sadly, the sons died of diphtheria in their teens, only a year before the discovery of the antitoxin.

During the Spanish-American War Maj. Doyle commanded the troops at Peeksill.  At the war’s close in 1901, he was made Major General.  He died later that same year and is buried in Forest Lawn.

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

Source: “Doyle Avenue Honors Soldier- Civic Leader” Courier Express, Jan 1 1939, sec. 5, p.2

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Curtiss Street
Present Day Alignment

Curtiss Street is runs along the railroad tracks near the Central Terminal.  The street follows the curves of the railroad, which has been there since at least the 1880s.  The streets in the vicinity of the Terminal have changed a bit in the last 100 years.  More information about other streets will be coming in other blog posts.  Since the construction of the Central Terminal, Curtiss Street has run underneath the Terminal at the curve.  (click photos to enlarge for easier reading)

Curtiss Street in 1889

Curtiss Street in 1925

Curtiss Street in 1950

People often believe the street is named after Glenn Curtiss, known for Curtiss Aeroplane Company.  However, Glenn Curtiss wasn’t born until 1878, and the street was named by at least 1889.  While it would have been very interesting if the street had been named in honor of an 11-year-old who ended up being as remarkable as Glenn Curtiss, this was not the case.   I was unable to find any concrete evidence linking Glenn Curtiss to the other Buffalo Curtiss family.  If anyone has any information of their linkage, please let me know in the comments.  But no, Curtiss Street is NOT named for Curtiss-Wright airplanes.

Curtiss Street is named for Charles Gould Curtiss.  Mr. Curtiss was an officer of the Lancaster and Depew Land Company, which developed Curtiss Street and several other streets in its vicinity.

Mr. Charles Gould Curtiss was born in 1827 and grew up in Utica, New York.  He ran the news stand at the Utica Rail Station while he was a boy, and eventually became a produce salesman.  At the age of 23, he formed a connection with a wholesale grocer, which brought him to New York City.  He made many connections while in New York. For a short time, he became an executive of Breckinridge County Coal Oil Company in Louisville Kentucky.  He worked to substitute coal oil for sperm oil. The discovery of petroleum caused the business to fail, as the coal oil was no longer necessary.

In 1857, Mr. Curtiss came to Buffalo to join Levi Willard in the insurance business.  In 1873, he organized a barley and malt firm that continued to operate for nearly half a century.  Charles and his wife Amelia lived in a large stone house at 63 West Huron Street.  He kept his horses at Efner’s Livery Stable at Franklin and Chippewa, and it is said that he rode his horses through Delaware Park on a daily basis.  At the time, the roads were only paved as far as North Street, so riding to the park was a ride out to the country.

In 1882, Charles was a delegate to the Democratic Convention where his friend Grover Cleveland was nominated for Governor.  After his election, Cleveland appointed Mr. Curtiss to the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo State Hospital for the Insane.  The Curtiss family also kept a farm at Delavan and Main Street where he raised chickens and kept a cow.  He felt that “the country was the best place for growing boys”, so he spent a great deal of time on the farm with his sons Harlow and Alexander.   Although his own schooling was limited, Charles felt an education was important, so he sent both sons to college.

Alexander Curtiss House
(currently the Ronald McDonald House)

Alexander studied medicine at the University of Rochester after coursework at Cornell.  Dr. Curtiss (Alexander) was in charge of the first hospital established in Denver, Colorado.  Following the birth of his first son, Colman, Dr. Curtiss returned to Buffalo and became a surgeon for Buffalo State Hospital.  Colman eventually ran his grandfather Charles’ barley and malt firm.  Colman was president of the company when it went under due to prohibition.  Following the closure of the malt firm, Colman worked in insurance for John Hancock Life Insurance Company.  Colman married Sally Cary, daughter of Trumbull Cary (another prominent Buffalonian).  Alexander and his family lived at 780 West Ferry, the house which is better known today as the Ronald McDonald House.

Ethel Mann Curtiss House
(100 Lincoln Parkway)

Harlow was a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and studied law under Grover Cleveland.  Harlow became a lawyer and became an extensive real estate owner throughout the City.  Harlow and his wife Ethel were prominent in Buffalo during the early 1900s.  Ethel was originally Ethel Mann, the daughter of Matthew Mann, the doctor who operated on President William McKinley after he was shot on the Pan-Am grounds in 1901.  Harlow was influential in the development of the Curtiss Building at the corner of Franklin and Huron.  Ethel was considered a community leader as well, she worked with the Buffalo Council of Campfire Girls and conducted programs to develop leadership skills for women.  Ethel and Harlow lived at 100 Lincoln Parkway.

Curtiss Building
Franklin and Huron Streets

The Curtiss Building at Franklin and Huron Streets was designed by Harlow’s brother-in-law, Paul Mann, and was built in 1912.   The building is also known as the King & Eisele Building due to a jewelry firm which located in it during the 20s and 30s.  It was later known as the Hoelscher Building after the Hoelscher Building Corporation which was located there from the 1940s until the 1990s.  Mark Croce currently owns the building and had plans for a boutique hotel about 5 years ago.  However, the project appears to be at a standstill.

COMING SOON:   I became intrigued by the old maps when I saw the land where the Central Terminal now sits was once a park.  Coming later this week:  What was Polonia Park?

Sources:  “Curtiss Street Memorial to Trade Board Head, Developer” Courier Express Oct 22, 1939 sec. 6. p 10.

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