Monday, May 24, 2010

49 Buffum - Restoration Underway

Saturday was a dreary day, so of course I decided to take pictures of the restoration project at 49 Buffum which was underway.  The main house, which is sandwiched in between two additions, is said to be the oldest existing such structure in South Buffalo.

It dates back to the 1850's, with first an addition built along Parkview, and then in the 1920's another addition (labeled 53) was added which brought it closer to Buffum. An original photo, along with one taken after a fire a few years ago are posted on Buffalo Rising. The older photo is also reproduced on the sign in front of the house.

People were busy replacing the roof when I was there, and earlier a bunch of enthusiastic teens were painting the fence.  Landscaping is also in the process of being added. More was in the Buffalo News yesterday.

I spoke with Harvey Garrett (walking down the stairs in the picture below) and he said that the cost to restore the house are comparable to tearing it down, but with the benefit of saving a bit of history and leaving a solid, usable structure in place. This should be done more often. Excellent!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Parkside Tour

The 12th annual tour of Parkside area homes was slightly different than than the Linwood one, mostly in that we were restricted to the first floor in all but the rectory of the Church of the Good Shepard, and that was being remodeled.  A bit disappointing, but after 11 years I imagine they opted for more control over the masses.

Speaking of the masses of people, they contributed to the decision to skip over a few places.

Waited in one line on Crescent and that was enough.  And in that home I spent more time admiring the artwork than marveling over woodwork and original wallpapering.  Not that it wasn't worthy, because it was! It's just rare I see stuff that I like on every wall, so that's a plus :)

We were gone for over 3 hours and wandered everywhere, not always on purpose.  Beautiful homes! Some that were not on this year's tour merited a picture, but usually were on the shady side of the street. You'll get the idea anyway.  The top two were on the tour, by the way.

An added bonus was finally seeing some Frank Lloyd Weight up close.  The Barton House (not pictured), Conservatory, and Gardener's Cottage were semi-open. The back part of the cottage was actually done within the last 20 years and was so seamless that the architect won an award and the conservacy decided to keep it.

 Also the Frank Lloyd Wright house on Tillinghast was on the tour. The last two, cottage and Tillinghast, were especially, how to say...comfortable...that is, "liked best" I guess.

Graycliff and Falling Waters might become short road trips this summer...never thought I'd say that.  And the main house at the Darwin Martin house will reopen "soon" too.

As always, it's interesting to see the different things that people have decided to do with their space. Glad we went - time well spent!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

12th Annual Parkside Tour of Homes

Today from 11am to 4:30pm  is the 12th Annual Parkside Tour of Homes.  Tickets and maps are available at the starting point, the historic Church of the Good Shepard at Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue,diagonally across from the Frank Lloyd Wright / Darwin Martin complex. FYI, Jewett Parkway intersects with Parkside right near the Zoo.

Steve Cichon will be in front of the church selling copies of his book The History of Parkside. It is a very good, very interesting labor of love by Cichon. He covers Parkside through the years, as far back as its founding years through the present. He was able to interview many people who lived through changing times and it adds warmth to the book.

He also has a few juicy tidbits, like when the Darwin Martin house was occupied by a bigshot of UB who liked to throw posh parties, and the radical hippie college professor who lived across the street who also liked to throw parties, preferably at the same time.

I'm not sure which houses will be featured on the tour besides the Martin complex, but here are a few more that caught my eye this past February.

More to come, and taken on a much sunnier day :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bristol Home

The Bristol Home, currently an assisted living facility, was part of the Historic Linwood Tour. Located at 1500 Main Street, it was built in the 1840's as a private residence in an Italianate style with various outbuildings.

It was to go through various changes of use until it was bought in 1886 and transformed into the Home for the Friendless. From the booklet that was handed out on the tour:
"It was organized in 1868 with the backing of 21 Protestant churches by Edward Bristol, a concerned Buffalo businessman...However, throughout its history until 1980, the Home was operated and managed by women and overseen by a board comprised only of women. To this day it is run as a not-for-profit facility..."

"The early residents were destitute and friendless women who were helped to find work, then to working and professional women, alone for a time or for life, and now to the aging-well."
Life was especially hard for a women on their own back then. Even if married they were considered "property" and were not able to vote.  If alone, they were unable to be hired for most jobs. Many took to the streets doing whatever it took, and many also fell into the bottle.  Bristol Home was a second chance place, offering training and a safe haven.  Some had a hard time adjusting to polite society, thus the rules and regulations (click to enlarge, not that it helps much):

Many of the early social reformers were women, such as Maria Love, who was born in Clarence NY in 1840. There were also a lot of church run facilities. They saw a need and stepped up.

And to this day Bristol Home is still helping low-income and elderly women. They will be holding a fundraiser September 24, 2010 "An Affair to Remember".  Call Jennifer at 716-884-4371 for details on how you or your business can help, or email jblackchief (at) bristolhome (dot) org.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

St. Mary's on the Hill - Pt. 4: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Wednesday evening a large chunk of bell tower of St. Mary's on the Hill, corner of Niagara and Vermont, came tumbling down. Shortly after City workers and news crews were on the scene.

Word last night was that they are going to remove part of the tower, level it down, but will save the bell. The negligent owner better not be the recipient. She might sell it for scrap. Historical Society would be the best place perhaps. We'll see.

And as the rain poured down with thunder and lightening rippling across the darkened sky the workers pried open the doors and rang the bell, one last time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Delaware Avenue Baptist Church

The Delaware Ave Baptist Church, which was founded in 1882, is located within the Linwood Historic Preservation District and consented to allow tour participants in after services to revel in the splendor within its doors.  Built 1894-95, the style is considered Richardsonian Romanesque-Byzantine as designed by John Hopper Coxhead.

An information sheet was handed out as we entered the church, and it is quotes from it that I will attempt to tie in with my photos in the following:

"Five Roman arches supported by Corinthian columns form the entrance...

Inside, notice the antique-white mosaic floor inlaid with green, blue, rose, and yellow cubes both at the Delaware Avenue entrance and at the front rostrum. One million mosaics are contained in the front platform (and) drop like an unrolled rug over over the front side and come to rest near the front row of pews...

On the platform stands an Ionic pedestaled marble lectern and 2 white marble chairs...Overhead the ceiling is domed...10 angels painted by Charles and Walter Greene carry a message from Psalm 91...The organ was built by Johnson and Sin in 1895...framed by an impressive Roman arch...The instrument is the last tonally unaltered three-manual Johnson organ in WNY..."

People were on hand to answer questions and point out details, including the custodian, who also does restoration work as well as play the piano. It is evident that large,old buildings require much work, and priority has been given to the spaces most often occupied while the rest, mainly the large balcony area which circles half the church, is being renewed as time and funds permit.

The interior was designed by J & R Lamb of NYC who were principal competitors of Tiffany in this field. A few examples of the stained glass, including the overhead skylight:

The beautiful church also serves as an example of how a congregation can preserve not only its message but also the building, if the will is there.

(top photo, full view of exterior, by Shes History which I found on flickr; the rest are mine)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Historic Linwood Avenue Homes Tour

The historic Linwood Avenue tour of homes was last Sunday, and I was able to catch a lot of the places on the list.  The tour guide book alone was worth the price of admission! It was a day of intermittent rain and drizzle, so the pictures didn't turn out well, and I wasn't able to go back on a sunny day, so it is what it is.

Speaking of the weather, it had the effect of putting a few homeowners on edge, while others were more laid back.  This was also reflected in their inner sanctums. Some were set for maximum show with possible professional assistance, and others were more lived in, while still others were a combination of the two.

There was so much to see that I'll break this down into 3 separate posts. First of all. the district is very old and is still very beautiful, even though slumlords tried their best to drag it down.  This house here was my first stop.  It was built in 1893 for the Schaefer family.  The style is known as Queen Anne. Many of the homes featured turrets.

Across the street at134 is a beauty built in 1894 for the Muenschauers. The 3rd floor ballroom (!) has been converted to a separate living space.  The servants quarters were directly across the hallway.

Further down Linwood at 549 was another in like fashion, however the 3rd floor was a master bedroom - absolutely gorgeous (no pictures allowed).  The first floor was magnificently decorated, while the second was more homey and featured the original iceboxes in the 2nd floor kitchen.  This house also had a memorable whole room devoted to shoes :)

Then there was the duplex at 531-533, built in 1920.  The furnishings consisted mainly of an antique collection left largely in the "found" state, warts and all.  Only one side was open, but it had a lot of living space.

Another home at 293 Linwood, built in 1894, shingle style, was originally owned by Wilhem Willink, a name familiar to Clarence history buffs. Later on it became a tuberculosis treatment center. The current owners have converted part of the downstairs to an area for performance arts.

A few more houses (not on the tour this year) caught my eye, especially the top one - that one looks haunted to me.  One note on that - many of the owners said that there ghosts were friendly, while one flat out denied having any extra residents.  Maybe they just haven't shown themselves yet...

All seem to be in various stages of restoration, and all are proudly presented by their current owners, and rightfully so.