Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier

Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York
By James Napora
Table of Contents

Allentown / Main / Linwood /Delaware

For a number of years after the founding of the city, the land north of the commercial center remained as either farmland or wooded forests. With the majority of business transacted on the docks or in the immediate vicinity of them, very few people had reason to venture north of the city.

In 1822, Louis Allen arrived in Buffalo from Westfield, Massachusetts. While living above the Eagle Tavern on Main Street, he worked as an agent of the Western Insurance Company. His fondness of the country resulted in his spending summers on Grand Island raising cattle. Against the general wishes of his family, in 1829 he sold that property and purchased twenty-nine acres of land between Main and Hudson Streets at a cost of $2,500. Here, on the outskirts of the city, he raised cattle. Allen Street, which ran through the center of this property, functioned as his cow path. By 1832, the city began to encroach upon his land and after selling it, it became the city's FifthWard.

Initially, development occurred quite slowly. Streets were cut through the farm in the 1830s, meshing with the grid of those of Black Rock on the western edge of property. The southwest corner of Delaware and North became a burial grounds while the land across the street served as the Poinsett Army Barracks.

Plans for the establishment of the University of Western New York on the land bordered by Delaware, College, Allen and North Streets, along with virtually all residential development of the neighborhood, were abandoned after the Crash of 1837. The area remained dormant for the following ten years until approximately 1850 when development once again commenced and the neighborhood became home to predominantly white collar workers.

The area north of Guide Board Road, present day North Street,originally was a hamlet in Black Rock. The road served as a wagon trial to the docks at the black rock. In 1804, Erastus Granger constructed a log home in the vicinity on Main Street, becoming the first white settler tin the area. In 1806 he moved north to Flint Hill, present day Forest Lawn Cemetery.

The earliest permanent settlers arrived in the area around 1810. They clustered near Cold Springs, at Main and Ferry Streets, as the spring provided a source of fresh drinking water. Main Street or Vanstaphorst Avenue as it was originally named, was nothing more than a winding trail to the northern wilderness and Ferry Street was no more than a path in the deep woods leading to the Village of Black Rock.

Delaware and Linwood Avenues

While Main Street experienced a heightened level of commercial activity, after crossing North Street, both Delaware and Linwood served as a residential district. Part of Ellicott's original plan for the city, Delaware Road ran from the Terrace to Guide Board Road. On 18 August, 1821 the extension of the street was mapped out on paper. After serving a number of years as a cow path, on 19 June, 1826 it was declared a public highway and a series of improvements were made to the road.

At that time,while traveling north from the city, after crossing North street the nature of the area changed to open pasture land dotted by brooks and ponds. An early landmark along the road, the Jubilee Spring House at the corner of Auburn Street was established in 1827. It provided fresh drinking water via log pipes to both Buffalo and Black Rock. Although the original building has long since been destroyed, an outlet of the spring still flows into Jubilee Lake along West Delavan at Horton in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Bryant Avenue

The bucolic nature of the both Delaware and Linwood began to change in the 1850s. In 1854, Bryant Street was opened along side the Bryant Estate. Arriving here in the 1830s, Bryant established one of the earliest greenhouses in the city. He and Major Frederick Miller, of the Cold Springs Tavern were the largest early landholders in the area. Bryant owned land through to Elmwood while Miller owned fifty-nine acres of land north of his tavern. Their original homes, constructed during this time were modest frame structures.

With the population of the city increasing in the 1870s, the area began to change. As affluent business people began to construct lavish homes along the streets, Linwood and Delaware began to take an appearance similar to that today. Building in the popular styles of the Victorian Era, architects such as Joseph Lyman Silsbee, Franklin W. Caulkins and George Cary designed magnificent Victorian, Eastlake, Shingle and Queen Anne styled homes. Riding on the crest of their new found wealth, the pillars of the local business community began to construct even more lavish homes along fashionable Delaware Avenue during the 1890s and 1900s.

Heading north on Delaware, Millionaire's Row ends at the former Chapin Circle. Named after Colonel E. P. Chapin, a captain in the Civil War, the circle gained its present appearance in 1902. Designed by local architects Green and Wicks, the park in the circle is a gift of Mrs. Charles W. Pardee. Intended as a resting place, she donated the funding for it as a memorial to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George B. Gates.

The last tract of land to be developed was the former Albright Estate. Bordered by Delaware and Elmwood, and West Ferry and Cleveland, in 1921 the estate was subdivided and the resulting homes constructed.

© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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