800 West Ferry, Buffalo, NY - Table of Contents

800 West Ferry Street - An Elegant Address
By Alison Fleischmann

An elegant life style was definitely in the minds of architect Duane Lyman and developer Darwin R. Martin in 1929 when construction started at 800 West Ferry Street.

Other great Buffalo apartment buildings such as the Park Lane and the Campanile were also under construction at that time. The difference is that 800 was built as 21 duplex rental units except for the four first floor "simplex" units which today are the only ones that remain as built.

Darwin R. Martin, whose father built the National Historic Landmark house on Jewett Parkway, lived in the top two floors - 10 and 11. Even today, when you get off the elevator on the 10th floor, you are in his entrance hall. Apartment 11A at the top of the stairs is totally built out of Darwin Rís bedroom suite, complete with his original bathroom. If you glance up at the upper terrace, you see a manís head protruding like a gargoyle from the corners of the building. The face is that of Darwin R. Martin.

When built the back yard was a real green space and had been planned for an eventual tennis court. Modern times have forced the paving of a part of it to accommodate automobiles as the underground garage wasn't adequate for today's needs. The building originally had a doorman. Mail and keys were kept in the front hall behind the two mirrored cupboards on each side. There was a small grocery store in the garage; it didnít sell much - just milk, butter, bread, eggs, but enough to make a meal on the maid's night out if necessary.

There is an ad for a duplex unit that appeared in the Erlanger Theatre program in December 1932 when Lucrece was performed starring Katherine Cornell. The copy reads ..."Includes [on 2 Floors] 6 Bedrooms, 5 Baths, Living Room, Dining Room, Library, Large Kitchen, Separate Pantry, 2 Dressing Rooms, Lavatory, Light, Heat, Gas, Refrigeration, Garage Space for $450 per month - 40% less than regular rate."

As the depression wore on, it became necessary to divide up the large duplex apartments; in 1940, the building was emptied and these apartments were each subdivided into two or four units. Thus the units on the even floors were constructed out of the living rooms, dining rooms, libraries of the original apartments while the units on the odd floors were reconfigured from bedrooms.

The first floor remains unchanged as they were built as one floor units.

Josephine Hoyt Gilbert lived in 4C from 1946 until her death in 1980 and her sister Albertine Hoyt Glenny lived in 1A and later 1C from 1950 until her death in 1980. These two wonderful women were Aunts of Assemblyman William B Hoyt (1937-1992) [great-aunts of our present Assemblyman Sam Hoyt]. When their nephew first ran for Delaware District Councilman in 1969, these staunch Republican ladies hosted a "coffee hour" to meet their nephew during that campaign. Thus did Bill Hoyt become the first Democrat ever to represent the Delaware District in the Common Council.

Artist Martha Visser't Hooft moved from her house over the back fence on Cleveland Avenue to Apt 6B in 1982 and lived here until her death in 1994.

The building was converted to a condominium association in 1980. Surprisingly many of the individuals who bought in at that time are still residents in the building. People like to live here and many stay for 30+ years; others move within the building for one reason or another.

Today, 75 years later, it remains the same elegant address and a wonderful place to live.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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