Ziegle/Feine House - Table of Contents

William ZiegleHouse / August Feine House

Partial reprint
Decorators’ Show House 2017

Presented by The Junior League of Buffalo and Buffalo News
By Barry A. Muskat  
Buffalo Spree, June 2017

The beautiful August Feine House may not be the grandest of the mansions that have been transformed as Decorators’ Show Houses, but it may very well prove to be the most lasting and meaningful. Now that crowds have stopped touring the property, the house is closed for further adaptations and reopens as the Russell J. Salvatore Hospitality House, part of the Kevin House Guest Complex. Located on Elliott Street along the fringe of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, it is perfectly sited to benefit and service patients and families traveling to Buffalo for medical care.

The Show House project is a highly successful fundraiser that’s undertaken every other year, and this mansion’s makeover is the nineteenth successful effort. Since 1981, the collaboration between the Junior League of Buffalo and the Buffalo News has raised nearly four million dollars for projects that benefit the community. Nostalgia buffs were able to view a hallway lined with framed renderings of the each of the biannual Show House projects dating from 1981.

The home was designed by George J. Metzger, a successful architect and builder who worked during Buffalo’s late Victorian period.  He designed several residences for Buffalo’s prominent citizens, as well as commercial structures. His more famous designs include the Lancaster Opera House, the Cyclorama Building, several buildings at University of Buffalo South Campus, the 106th Armory State Arsenal (the largest in the country now demolished), and Children's Hospital.

The Victorian structure on Ellicott Street was originally built in 1881 for Albert Ziegler, owner of a long-running brewery on Genesee Street. Ziegler was a prominent citizen who actively supported Grover Cleveland in his run for president in 1884. In 1887, his brewery burned to the ground. When rebuilt on Washington Street, the business was renamed Phoenix after the Egyptian mythological figure that rose from the ashes. (That brewery is now redeveloped as residential units by Sinatra & Company.)

The house was then owned by Civil War veteran Johann Irlbacker, owner of Irlbacker & Sons Plumbing, and by August Feine

Built in Second Empire style, brick with stone sills, concrete lintels, and a prominent corner tower, the structure is capped with a massive mansard roof. Similar to the Italianate style, the house features heavy brackets and richly ornamented windows and doors, projecting a distinctive, almost flamboyant, personality.

August Feine enhanced that personality, embellishing his home with many ornate details. He was a skilled craftsman whose hand-forged iron creations can be see on the Hotel at the Lafayette and the Statler Building. He sculpted pieces for fire escapes, stairs, and trim throughout Buffalo and beyond, and decorated his own home’s exterior with equal detail. His effusive iron decor is the reason the house is still identified by his namesake.

Russell J. Salvatore, a prominent restaurateur and philanthropist, donated $500,000 to the home’s restoration. Approximately half was used on exterior work and  restoration of the ironwork, most visible on windows, porch, and doorway. In addition to work on mechanicals, every window in the house has been replaced, while beautiful landscape enhances the surrounding property and adjacent city-owned land.

in 1906. It changed hands two more times before becoming headquarters for the Buffalo and Erie County Tuberculosis Association (now American Lung Association) in 1955. Kevin Guest House purchased the home in June 2015.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2017
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