|History of the Hedstrom Gate House
By Caroline Duax
TEXT ADDED to Ink drawing by Julia Skop
The Gatehouse was built to house the
caretakers of the Arthur Hedstrom estate. Originally, there were two gate houses
and two barns. One gate house was dismantled in the 1890s. One barn burned
The site includes the west house which was built circa 1820, the east house circa
1850, a pre-existing shed, and the former toll gate which stood directly in front
of the west house. In 1904, all were wrapped in stucco, and the pre-existing
barn was stylistically altered and used as a carriage house.
In 1904, when Hedstrom bought the property, there were:
- 2 old farm houses (became ends of Hedstrom gate house)
- 1 tollgate in front of the west old farm house (dismantled in 1890's and
incorporated into Hedstom gate house. Became the archway section)
- 1 barn behind the east house (was stylistically altered and used as carriage
- 1 shed behind the houses (was moved and incorporated into center section of Hedstrom
gate house between east house and former tollgate)
- 1 large building behind the west house (became site of new Hedstrom barn which
burned in 1968.
We surmise the gate house is called the gate house for two reasons:
was the gateway to the Hedstom estate, and
2. it was behind the former tollgate.
The grandson (87 years old) of the caretaker (caretaker with his family in the east
house) said the house was always referred to as the gate house by its inhabitants.
The west house was intended as housing for farmers. Hedstrom's unmarried sister-in-law
Mabel Wilcox lived there for many years. Our guess: from 1919 because
of the 1919 newspapers in the altered walls.
The estate was called Four Winds Farm.
The estate, bounded by Main Street and Getzville Road, was reported to be 200
acres and nearly reached Sheridan Drive. Presently (February 2002) the Gate House
property is a 1.6 acre corner lot on the north side of Main St. and the west side
of Getzville Rd.
Arthur Hedstrom died in 1946; three years later, his widow Katherine Wilcox Hedstrom
sold the remaining 35 acres of the estate to Genrich Builders, and the Gate House
was converted to apartment use. Most of the 35 acres has been developed; the Gate
House and the Estate House properties are now separated by High Court. The Gate House
has not been used as apartments for some years. The property was sold in 2006; the
new owners [Caroline and William Duax] are restoring and protecting the buildings. The interior of the
house has been gutted revealing the earlier structures.
The architect who designed the new building from the old in 1904 was Frederic Loverin who
also designed the Lenox Hotel. Loverin included Tudor Revival details
in his alterations: highly pitched roof, laticed windows, dormer windows.
The Gate House property is significant
- for its association with Arthur E. Hedstrom and his estate
- the early history of suburban development in Amherst
- the last operating tollgate from Buffalo to Albany
- as a superb example of Tudor English cottages
Arthur E. Hedstrom
Eric L. Hedstrom founded the coal firm E. L. Hedstrom & Company in the late
19th century. He was also the Director of the Buffalo Bank of Commerce.
His son, Arthur E. Hedstrom born in 1869, inherited the company, merged with
Spaulding in 1927, and was the president of the Hedstrom-Spaulding Company until
his death, nineteen years later. The company was one of Buffalo's largest coal dealers.
Arthur Hedstrom was a philanthropist and, in 1915, a co-organizer of the Amherst
Community Church; he was also a trustee of the church. Amherst Community Church was
founded by Hedstrom and others for the purpose of conducting interdenominational
worship services and Sunday school classes for the children of the entire community.
The Amherst Community Church continues today as an institution which serves the community
and stands as a landmark.
Hedstrom was also an active leader of the Buffalo YMCA. He was a member of the board
of directors from 1900-1926 and of the board of trustees from 1920-1932. Following
World War I, Hedstrom was chairman of the committee which remodeled the adjoining
building at Pearl and Genesee Sts.
In addition to his involvement with the establishment of the Amherst Community Church,
Hedstrom was also an active member of the Delaware Ave. Baptist Church. He supported
other Baptist churches in the area including the Memorial Baptist Church at Summer
Place and Walden Avenue. Hedstrom was a life member of the Albright
Art Gallery and the Buffalo Public Library.
Suburban development in Amherst
Arthur Hedstrom and his wife Katherine Wilcox, the youngest of the ten Wilcox children,
were considered "pioneer suburban residents" when they settled in Amherst.
In a Buffalo Courier Express article concerning the sale of the then 35 acre
estate to Genrich Builders (July, 10, 1949), A. E. Hedstrom's widow is quoted: "When
we purchased the property, it was merely run-down farm land, although we saw in the
layout of land something very pretty." The article also said Mrs. Hedstrom was
"happy to hear of the Genrich firm's plans to preserve the beauty of the home
Hedstrom had built a large stone mansion, now accessed off Getzville Rd., where he
and his wife lived for 43 years; they had three children. "Also located on the
‘showpiece’ estate were a row of caretakers cottages, a riding stable, a pool and
pool house, and an orchard."
The building of estates and horse farms which began to emerge in the 1890s along
Main Street in Eggertsville-Snyder, was at the forefront of residential expansion
in Amherst. In addition to Arthur Hedstrom, estates were built by Sattler, Farber,
Wm. Crosby, Pomeroy, and Rosa Coplon’s two sons. Prior to this time, Williamsville
was the focus of population, commerce, and industry in the town because of its strategic
location on old Buffalo Rd. (Main St.) at the falls of Ellicott Creek.
residential expansion took off after the estate period growing from a marginal agricultural
community to a wealthy suburb. Amherst's population growth during this time, 1900-1910,
was 10%. From 1910-1920, it was 36%, and 110% between 1920-1930. (Bain 1974, 147-150)
Last operating tollgate from Buffalo to Albany
This site is also significant as the site of the last tollgate along Main Street
in Amherst. To quote from Joseph Grande's recent pictorial history of Amherst: "The
Buffalo and Williamsville Macadam Company erected the Tollgate in 1839 along with
one at Main Street and Humbolt Parkway in Buffalo when the macadam toll road was
laid. The Williamsville Tollgate, located on Main Street in Snyder, 300 feet west
of Getzville Road, was one of fifty to sixty erected between Buffalo and Albany.
It was the last one to cease operation, closing its door on October 13, 1899."
According to the July 10, 1949, newspaper article announcing the purchase of the
property, "The smaller gate house was remodeled during the last century from
a log cabin used as a toll gate house. On the site of what was then known as the
Buffalo Rd., the cabin housed tax collectors who stopped all horse drawn vehicles
for payment of tolls for use of the road."
In the Intensive Level Survey of Historic Resources by Bero Associates Architects
of Rochester and commissioned by the Town of Amherst, the section on the Gate House
states that "as part of the the original Hedstrom estate the Gate House property
represents the best collection of historic resources associated with an early 20th
century suburban estate in Amherst."
Style of Architecture: Tudor Revival
The Gate House and barn are superb examples of Tudor English cottages and embody
the distinctive characteristics of the eclectic Tudor
Revival architectural style. Although constructed for caretakers and as work
buildings, the Gate House and barn retain a relatively high level of integrity of
design, materials, and craftsmanship.
The Tudor-Revival style first appeared in late 19th century in architect-designed homes
patterned after late 16th to early 17th century English architecture: an eclectic
mix of Late Medieval prototypes. It was the dominant style of domestic building for
a large proportion of early 20th century suburban homes throughout the country. Examples
of the style before the 1920s & 1930s are relatively rare and are uncommon before
The features of the Tudor-revival style are clearly evident in the Gate House despite
the fact that it was built for caretakers and not as an estate house or private residence:
- The method of constructing exterior walls changed during the Tudor Revival period
as a function of technology. In a small percentage of buildings, walls were stucco
clad and were most common on modest houses such as the Gate House built before
the widespread adoption of brick and stone veneering techniques in the 1920’s. Walls
were both with and without false half-timbering.
- Another distinctive feature of the Tudor Revival style is steeply pitched gabled roofs and dormers.
The roofs are usually side-gabled with a steeply pitched cross
gable such as the far right section of the Gate House. Overlapping gables with
eaves lines of varying heights is also common. As well, upper stories and gables
may overhang lower stories.
- The doors and entryways of the style are often arched
such as the high entry to the courtyard within the Gate House building. The original
address of the mansion was 4200 Main St. and was accessed by horse-drawn buggy and
then by automobile through this arched entrance. Decorative half-timbering over doors
is also common although the half timbering over two of the Gate House doors may have
been added later..
- Windows in Tudor-revival buildings were either casement
or wood double-hung sash, commonly and functionally in groups. Such groupings are
often seen in bays. Multi-pane glazing in diamonds (lattice
windows) or rectangles is also common.
- Side Porches are frequent and are
often under main roof of house. The Gate House sun porch is an example.
- The rustically attractive and well built quarry stone wall [Onondaga limestone] which extends along
the entire lengths of the Main St. and Getzville Rd. property lines has survived
nearly 100 Buffalo winters. It completes and defines the Gate House property even
though the original Estate acreage is no longer intact.
- Another distinctive feature of the Tudor-revival architectural style is asymmetrical
massing or construction design which results in a rambling building of distinct parts.
The Gate House is a superb example of this.
- "A Field Guide to American Houses," Virginia
& Lee McAlester
- "Great American Houses & Their Architectural Styles,"
Virginia & Lee McAlester
- Reconnaissance Level Survey/Intensive Level Survey of Historic
Resources Town of Amherst, Erie County, New York. Prepared for Town of Amherst by
Bero Associates Architects, 32 Winthrop St., Rochester, NY 14607
- Town of Amherst Assessor & Planning Dept.
- Buffalo Courier Express, February 26, 1949, Editorial on
- Buffalo Evening News, July 9, 1949, "Hedstrom Estate,
Area Showplace, Bought by Genrich"
- Buffalo Currier Express, July 10, 1949, "Palatial
Amherst Home to Become Apartments"
- Joseph A. Grande, "Glancing Back: A Pictorial History
of Amherst, New York." The Donning Company Publishers, 2000. (Includes photographs
from Amherst Museum)