Finding Buffalo Orphanage Records

Illustration of St. John’s Protectory and St. Joseph’s Asylum, better known today as Father Baker’s, from the F.W. Beers Atlas of Erie County, 1880, courtesy of the New York Public Library. At the time, Lackawanna, NY had not yet been established as a city, so this institution was in West Seneca.


Cholera and other epidemics, maternal mortality, military service, dangerous factory conditions, fires and floods, diseases that are curable today: there are many reasons why children lost one or both parents in 19th century Buffalo.

In response, men, women, and religious congregations and orders established asylums to house and care for orphaned infants and children.

Here is what we’ve been able to find about orphanages that existed in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y and their records. We focused on institutions that were authorized to place children in new families with new identities. We omitted residential facilities who served children but preserved their family relationships.

The era of residential orphan homes ended around World War II, to be replaced by the foster care system.

This Google Doc shows what we know about orphan homes and their records. Did we omit one? Are there records that we missed? Names or nicknames that these institutions were also known as? Other errors? Please let us know!


Related links:

Finding Buffalo House Plans

First Floor of Buffalo City Hall courtesy of Buffalo City Hall


You may be looking at this page because you are not one of the lucky home buyers who found a set of plans & drawings stashed in your attic. Or acquired them from the previous owner when you bought the property.

When seeking plans and drawings, it helps to know that the the three parties most likely to have them are:

  • The architect’s own office
  • The original client or current owner
  • The government office that approved the plans and issued the building permit. In the city of Buffalo, that is the Permits & Inspections office.

The three parties most likely to have plans & drawings are the architect’s own office; the client/owner; and the government office that approved the plans and issued the building permit.

If the firm is defunct and the original client long deceased, your local government may have something. Dates vary as to when cities, towns, and villages required you to submit plans & drawings in order to get a building permit, but today, they all do. Some have required it for over a century. The newer the building, the greater the chance that the municipality has plans for it. And, frustratingly, sometimes a government office just doesn’t have certain records.

One important category of drawings that governments invariably retain are the plans for their own buildings: schools, libraries, fire houses, police stations, town halls, courthouses, etc. If you are researching a public building, reach out to the public works office in the government that built it.

Some of you have plan book houses. For over two centuries, Americans have been able to purchase pre-made plans for houses, barns, churches, and other buildings. Almost 250 of those plan book catalogs are online at Google Books.

You can learn more about plan book houses from this book by Dr. Daniel D. Reiff, retired professor of architectural history from SUNY/Fredonia. It is illustrated with examples from around Western New York. The link shows you libraries who have it in hard copy.

If you did not inherit your house plans from a previous owner or find them at city hall and you don’t have a plan book house, now what? First, the bad news: your chances of finding plans are low. There are two reasons why.

  1. There is no guarantee that plans & drawings survive. Architects are under no obligation to give their papers to libraries, universities, archives, or museums. And these repositories are not required to accept everything they are offered.
  2. When plans & drawings do survive, they may not represent 100% of the office’s output. Stuff gets destroyed in fires & floods. Stuff gets lost or damaged when people move. Stuff gets discarded when people retire or pass away.

The good news is that some architectural plans & drawings do end up in repositories such as universities, libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums. The purpose of this page is to help you locate those surviving collections.

This Google Doc shows what we know about surviving plans & drawings for Buffalo buildings:

I Can’t Find A Book Online, Now What?

You Googled every which way to Sunday and you can’t find an online copy of a book you need. You tried Amazon and your book is either unavailable or priced beyond your reach. We’re assuming that you already searched your local public library. If you’re a student, you checked with your campus library, right?

Millions of books are now online. But not every book in the world has been digitized or will be. You may need to track it down in hard copy. Here are 8 suggestions.

Where else to tryWhy
1. WorldCat WorldCat is a free searchable database of a billion distinct items (books, audiobooks, videos, newspapers, periodicals, etc.) in the libraries of the world. If you find your book, contact the library and ask if they can produce a PDF. Or bring the link/record to your public or campus library. Ask if they can borrow a copy for you via ILL.
2. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)What’s ILL, you say? Libraries have been borrowing stuff from each other since before you were born. Your public or campus library will handle the logistics. You may pay a nominal service fee or none at all.
3. Archive.orgMillions of books are online here either in full text, or borrowable as e-books if you sign up for a free account. Why you need an Archive.org account.
4. Google BooksMillions of online books & periodicals here. Lots in full text, some in preview (only certain pages), some in snippet (the relevant paragraph) or not at all (placeholder for future full text).
5. HathiTrustMillions of books online here either in full text, or borrowable as e-books if you are affiliated with a participating institution.
6. AddAll
Bookgilt
BookFinder
BookFinder4U
ViaLibri
Maybe there’s a used copy on the market. These metasearch tools search across multiple bookselling sites for you, including Amazon & eBay.
7. Bookshop.orgHad to include this site because the proceeds support independent booksellers
8. The publisher’s websiteBooks go out of print and publishers go out of business. But if you can figure out who published a book, see if they have a website. I have often beaten Amazon’s price by going right to the source.

Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia.

Why You Need an Archive.org Account

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Archive.org beyond than having a free account and being acquainted with one of their employees.


Most of my readers already know about Archive.org, also known as the Internet Archive, as a place to find cool old stuff online. While I spend my time with their full-text, online books, Archive.org also offers audio and video, including TV, films, and concert tapes. Patents. Podcasts. Census microfilms. Outdated software. Plus the magnificent Wayback Machine, which has been crawling the web and saving websites for 25 years.

Here’s another service they offer: community uploading. Anyone may register for a free account and start contributing their stuff. From their Help screen:

Having an Archive.org account allows you to:
Upload files to the site
Have collections for your uploads (50 items minimum required)
Borrow books from the lending library
Leave reviews
Participate in forums
View and use some items that are restricted
Receive monthly newsletters and event notices

excerpt From: Accounts – A Basic Guide

Why is this important? A lot of individuals and groups — now that we all create and accumulate digital property without even trying, let’s call ourselves collectors — are turning to libraries, educational institutions, historical organizations, and museums, asking them to put the collector’s stuff online. It might be photos, letters, or home movies that have or have not been digitized. It might be original essays or artwork by the collector. It might be by-laws, minutes, spreadsheets. It might be articles and downloads that are still protected by copyright.

Some large and well-funded organizations might store or host your digital assets. Smaller organizations, though, rarely have enough server space to digitize collections they already own and have title to. Under the circumstances, they may be simply unable to commit the time and server space to additional stuff.

While server space is definitely cheaper than bricks and mortar storage space, it is not free. Neither is the labor, software, and hardware needed to do all of the processing that makes digital files findable and usable online. Whether it is tangible objects in boxes or digital files on hard drives, we all simply own more stuff than our institutions can possibly house and care for in perpetuity.

Here’s where Archive.org comes in. You or your organization can take out an account and scan and upload. Here’s why I recommend Archive.org:

  • Archive.org is a non-profit, so your stuff won’t get monetized for stockholder benefit
  • No ads or paywalls
  • No intrusive and unnerving suggested content pop-ups
  • Superb access options for those with vision limitations
  • Accepts files in almost any format
  • Your stuff joins an international community of individuals and organizations who have already shared bazillions* of collections for public access and benefit

If you join and start contributing, please donate what you can to offset their server, software and labor costs. Here’s where to sign up.


*A technical term that roughly translates as More than I can count

The Truth About Snow in Buffalo


The first iteration of this page went online in 1999. I knew it had changed the discourse around snow in Buffalo when I started hearing elected officials using arguments that I first presented here.

Some Top Ten US Weather Facts

10 Snowiest Cities
1. Blue Canyon, CA
2. Marquette, MI
3. Sault Ste. Marie, MI
4. Syracuse, NY
5. Caribou, ME
6. Mount Shasta, CA
7. Lander, WY
8. Flagstaff, AZ
9. Sexton Summit, OR
10. Muskegon, MI
10 Coldest Cities
1. International Falls, MN
2. Duluth, MN
3. Caribou, ME
4. Marquette, MI
5. Sault Ste. Marie, MI
6. Fargo, ND
7. Williston, ND
8. Alamosa, CO
9. Bismarck, ND
10. St. Cloud, MN
10 Windiest Cities
1. Blue Hill, MA
2. Dodge City, KA
3. Amarillo, TX
4. Rochester, MN
5. Casper, WY and 6. Cheyenne, WY [tie]
7. Great Falls, MT
8. Goodland, KA
9. Boston, MA
10. Lubbock, MA
Source: Williams, Jack. The USA Today Weather Almanac. New York: Vintage Books, c1994, p.125

Okay, Listen Up, Class

What supposedly synonymous-with-Siberia city is entirely absent from these lists? Did anyone notice that the only place in New York (Syracuse) to make a Top Ten is almost 200 miles east of Buffalo? We used to get a lake-effect blizzard every year, but winters in the new century have failed to live up to reputation. The annual Winterfest in February has been canceled more than once due to lack of snow.

Yes, we had a truly spectacular storm in 1977, although it wasn’t fierce enough to make the Top Ten Storms of the Century. The famous Blizzard of 1977 didn’t begin in Buffalo and end at the city line, it crippled the entire northeastern US and southeastern Ontario, Canada.

Here’s the big secret: blizzards are kind of fun.

Here’s the big secret: blizzards are kind of fun. We go home and relax. We shovel each other out. We make cookies and hot cocoa. Heavy snow is the only weather extreme that is so benign it can be used for recreation. I refer, of course, to skiing, ice skating, hockey, and snow sculpture.

But, hey, if these aren’t your cup of tea, then by all means kick back, pop open your beverage of choice, and enjoy your tidal waves, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires, heat waves, volcanic eruptions, acid rain, droughts, floods, and insect plagues.

Okay, you’re thinking, blizzards still tie up a city, don’t they?

Okay, you’re thinking, blizzards still tie up a city, don’t they?

They didn’t used to. I am indebted to the late George Kunz for the following insight. In his posthumously published Buffalo Memories, Kunz wrote about the streetcar era and the heavy-duty trolley plows used to clear routes in the winter:

“I do not remember any protracted urban paralysis following those storms of half a century ago. The reason lies partially in the fact that transit ridership was high, and streets were free of disabled cars. [Trolley] plows were unhampered. Today most workers rely on motor cars for commuting to jobs. Many live outside the reach of mass transit in the country or in the suburbs. Many others shun public transit, seized by a jejune reliance on the personal car. Given these facts, modern storm paralysis is understandable. Workers drive cars, cars get stuck and are abandoned, snow plows cannot get through to do their job. Result: traffic bans, closing of businesses and ultimately loss of future commercial contracts. The city bleeds.” (p.52)

This is quite logical. If you have to clear only two dozen streetcar routes, your chances of success are much greater than if you have to clear every one of an estimated 800 miles of streets (in the City of Buffalo alone) for, say, 300,000 vehicles. In other words, snowstorms don’t necessarily paralyze cities, but automobile dependence certainly does.  

Metro Rail, our short light-rail line, works fine in any weather. Service has been curtailed or canceled due to snow only three times since Metro Rail opened in 1985.

Consider Johnstown, PA, which once had a spectacular flood. Buffalo has something in common with Johnstown, in that we do not spend our winter under six feet of drifts any more than Johnstown residents spend their summer under six feet of water. Thus it is that the atypical event stands out, attracting widespread notice, thereby obscuring the fact that it is, in fact, not typical. There must be a name for this well-understood media distortion effect.

In 1901, before the advent of down parkas, Polarfleece, snowproof boots, central heat, warm vehicles with snow tires, mechanized snow plows, home insulation, weather sealing, and snowblowers, this author thought that our climate was “delightful.”  Other 19th century sources chide us not for snow but for high winds.

“The climate of Buffalo, with the exception of high winds during certain portions of the winter, is probably as delightful as that enjoyed by any city on the globe. In summer, the temperature is nearly always moderate, and when other cities suffer from extreme heat, the people of Buffalo are blessed with the conditions common to late summer in other regions.”
–Powell, Lyman, ed. Historic Towns of the Middle States. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1901, p. 387.  [Emphasis added.]

My favorite weather proverb, of unknown Scandinavian origin, is, There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.


The Real Story: The Best Summers in the Northeast

Percent of Sunshine
June through August

1. Buffalo: 67
2. Boston: 65
3. New York City: 64
4. Baltimore: 63
5. Washington, DC: 63
6. Philadelphia: 62
7. Albany: 61
8. Pittsburgh: 58
Average Rainfall, Inches
June through August

1. Buffalo: 8.69
2. Albany: 8.99
3. Boston: 9.39
4. Pittsburgh: 10.47
5. New York City, 10.65
6. Philadelphia: 11.90
7. Baltimore: 12.05
8. Washington, DC: 12.27
Average Temperature
July afternoon

1. Buffalo: 80F
2. Boston: 81F
3. Pittsburgh: 83F
4. Albany: 84F
5. New York City: 85F
6. Philadelphia: 87F
7. Baltimore: 87F
8. Washington, DC: 88F
Source: Vogel, Mike. “Buffalo is Sunshine Capital of Northeast.” Buffalo News, May 18, 1989, p.A-1

The Bottom Line

Buffalo has more days per year in which the temperature is above 60F than days with snow on the ground. Now, will smug out-of-towners please start aiming your climatological condescension at other targets?


Weather map at top courtesy of: Wood, Jefferson. “Creating a Climatological Snowfall Map for the National Weather Service Buffalo County Warning Area Using an Ordinary Least Squares Regression of PRISM Data with Residual Correction Scheme. Eastern Region Technical Attachment No. 2018-01, January 2018


The Old Curiosity Shop: McDonnell and Sons Monument Company

McDonnell & Sons Quarry Owners

Parks officials were mortified at the malfeasance. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Lafayette Square was cracking and crumbling only six years after its erection in 1882 during the city’s semi-centennial year. A structural review was undertaken, revealing careless workmanship throughout the foundation of the monument. The core of rubble and mortar was inadequate to the task of supporting the granite shaft and statuary, which topped out at 85′. A copper box meant to serve as a time capsule was not found in its intended chamber, but three feet lower, embedded like just another foundation stone. It had been cracked under the pressure and its contents destroyed by water seepage.

The Parks Department annual report for 1890 was candid:

The plans, the specifications, the superintendence, and the masonry — all exhibit, or imply, gross ignorance or carelessness. It is really a disgrace to our civilization that so prominent a structure, designed to stand as a memento of our patriotism to all generations, should be built so insecurely that it must be taken down within six years of its erection.

The monument was designed by George Keller, a Hartford, Connecticut architect. It was erected by the Mount Waldo Granite Company of Bangor, Maine.

McDonnell and Sons

When a contract was let to repair the foundation, however, it went to a local mortuary monument company, McDonnell & Sons. In rebuilding the foundation, McDonnell & Sons altered the open stepped base of the monument, creating a tight walkway around the shaft by eliminating some of the base and walling in what remained, forming stairs at each point of the compass, an arrangement which survives today.

In 1889, when McDonnell and Sons rescued the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, it was a relative newcomer to the Buffalo scene, having opened their Buffalo office only five years earlier.

McDonnell & Sons was founded in 1857 in granite-rich Quincy, Massachusetts by Patrick McDonnell, an Irish immigrant once employed as a stonecutter in the local quarries. Patrick retired in 1881, handing the reins to his son John Quincy McDonnell. In 1884 John moved with his wife and seven children to Buffalo in order to open a branch office, which came to be located at 858 Main Street, between Allen and Virginia streets Another son stayed in Quincy to manage the family’s business there.

The old McDonnell office still stands. The structure’s elaborate granite facade served as a promotion for the company’s products. An arched pediment is surmounted by finials in the shape of funerary urns. Supporting it are polished pilasters with rough-faced florets. An early company advertisement describes the façade as being “the handsomest in the United States — a recognized work of art that attracts the attention of every passer-by and excites admiring comment from all.”

As originally built only 16′ on a side and one-story tall, the showroom quickly proved inadequate for the growing company. A second story was added, and the building was extended in stages to fill the entire length of the 100′ deep lot, assuming its final elongated form by World War I. Window openings puncture the north wall at frequent intervals, washing the interior with shadowless, even light.

Significantly, the later expansion of the building — and the company as a whole — was overseen by John McDonnell’s widow Emily, John having died prematurely in 1894. After her husband’s death, Emily did something bold for a middle class, middle-aged Victorian widow with dependent children: She bought out her brother-in-law Thomas’s interest in the company.

By 1900, McDonnell & Sons had two additional local branches, another two in central New York, one in Connecticut, and one in Indianapolis. Emily served as company president until her death in 1926. In a circa 1926 company brochure, McDonnell & Sons claimed to be the largest granite firm, by sales, in the country. Emily’s obituary in the Courier-Express described her as a nationally-known businesswoman.

While tiny as a building, when read as a grave marker — itself a sign — the granite façade must have struck many as grand indeed. (In simultaneously serving as shelter and sign, McDonnell & Sons predated Robert Venturi’s building-as-sign, “Decorated Shed” coinage by 80 years).

Wealthy shoe merchant John Blocher went to McDonnell & Sons with his plans for an extravagant memorial to his son Nelson, who died shortly after the Main Street showroom opened. Other notable Forest Lawn commissions include the Philip Becker monument, the Volunteer Firemen’s monument, and the imposing Main Street entrance arch.

Other area projects include the Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry monument in Front Park, soldiers’ monuments in Springville and LeRoy, Hamburg’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the Father Hennepin Memorial in Niagara Falls, NY, and the Laura Secord Memorial in Queenston. Company brochures also boasted of commissions for public memorials throughout the U.S. and Canada.


At some point in the 1940s, with Emily’s son James in charge, McDonnell & Sons moved out of 858 Main and into a comparatively plain brick building further north on Main Street. James died in 1951, the last family member to head the operation. In 1968, after 84 years in Buffalo and 111 years after its founding in Quincy, McDonnell & Sons vanished from the Buffalo Polk Directory, the annual “City Directory” of households and businesses.

The old headquarters building was continuously occupied until 1978. It is now vacant. The city acquired the building last year in a tax forfeiture. The building is structurally sound, but needs new mechanical systems, roof work, and windows to bring it up to current city codes — work estimated at $150,000.

This monument of a building — some neighbors call it the Mausoleum Building — is more than a pretty face, as finely cut and polished as the day it opened 112 years ago. It represents a telling slice of Buffalo’s architectural, social, and women’s history.


©Cynthia Van Ness. Originally published in the Buffalo Preservation Report, June 1996.  Advertisement courtesy of 1891 Buffalo city directory. The building has since been remodeled as The Granite Works.  A sales brochure from the company is online at Archive.org.

In Search of Buffalo’s First Professional African-American Architect

John E. Brent

Some Preliminary Findings by Cynthia Van Ness, ©2001-2013


In the New York State census of 1925, John E. Brent reported his age as 33, making his year of birth around 1892. According to a biographical profile of him in the Buffalo American, which does not reveal his age, Brent was born and raised in Washington, D.C. He entered Tuskegee Institute in 1904, graduating with an architecture degree in 1907. After two years as a schoolteacher in Washington, he entered the School of Architecture at Drexel Institute and graduated in 1912 at the ripe age of 20. Brent then moved to Buffalo, NY. Further research is needed to confirm this apparent precocity.

The unsigned article in Buffalo American goes on to list the architectural firms which employed Brent between 1912 and 1926: Max G. Beierl; H. Osgood Holland; Waterbury & Mann; Julius E. Schultz; North Shelgren & Swift; Oakley & Schallmore. While in the employ of Holland, Brent worked on the Hutchinson High School plans. While in the employ of Waterbury & Mann, he worked on plans for the Wanakah Country Club.

Michigan Avenue YMCA

In 1926, John E. Brent became the second African-American to design a “colored” YMCA, Buffalo’s Michigan Avenue YMCA. It opened in April 1928 and became the cultural center of Buffalo’s African-American community. It cost $200,000 to build, half of which was donated by Buffalonian George Matthews. It boasted a cafeteria, gymnasium, swimming pool, barber shop, tailor shop, library; and classrooms, locker rooms, dormitory rooms, and billiard tables. It was demolished in April 1977.

Lillian Serece Williams wrote extensively about the significance of the Michigan Avenue YMCA in Buffalo’s African American community in her book, Strangers in the Land of Paradise  (1999).

Eva Noles, in Talking Proud: Buffalo’s Blacks  (1986), attributes another building to Brent: Dr. Myron McGuire’s dentist office. Post-war city directories for Buffalo show a Dr. Myron McGuire at 482 Jefferson Avenue.  This address is now the site of recently-built infill housing.

Upon winning the commission for the Michigan Avenue YMCA, Brent opened his own practice, and may have been self-employed from 1926 into the 1950s, when Buffalo City Directories list him as an architect with the Buffalo Parks Department. 

Brent remained involved with the Michigan Ave. YMCA, serving as a board member and fundraiser. He was also a founding member of the Buffalo chapter of the NAACP, serving as its first president. Later he served on the Local Council of the State Commission Against Discrimination.

Brent lived at 219 Glenwood Avenue with his wife Neeton, and was active in St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, earning the Bishop’s Medal for meritorious service. He died on October 27, 1962, and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Section 37, Lot 94.

Update, June 3, 2013: Brent’s gates for the Buffalo Zoo have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Sources Consulted

  • Online Sources, Which Turned Up Nothing

Brief Biographies of American Architects
http://www.sah.org/aame/bioint.html

Buffalo News Archives, 1989 to present
http://www.buffalonews.com

Circle Association’s African-American History of Western New York State
http://www.math.edu/~sww/0history/1900-1935.html

Cyburbia.org
http://www.cyburbia.org

Digital Schomburg
http://www.schomburg.org

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
http://www.naacp.org

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections
http://www.lcweb.loc.gov/

New Deal Network
http://www.newdeal.feri.org/

U.S. Social Security Death Index
http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi

Western New York Index, 1983-1996
http://www.wnyindex.com/

World Biographical Index
http://www.biblio.tu-bs.de/

  • Proprietary Databases

Dialog@Carl Architecture Database

Ethnic Newswatch

Galenet Biography Resource Center

  • Monographs & Pamphlets

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals. Boston, MA : G.K. Hall, 1963.

Avery Obituary Index to Architects & Artists. Boston, MA : G.K. Hall, 1963.

Hasauer, Kenneth. The Second Fifty Years: A History of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Buffalo and Erie County, 1902-1952. Buffalo, NY: YMCA, [1952].

Noles, Eva. Buffalo’s Blacks: Talking Proud. Buffalo, NY: Eva M. Noles, 1986.

Twenty Years in the Service of Youth: The Michigan Avenue YMCA. Buffalo, NY: Young Men’s Christian Association, 1943

Who’s Who in Colored America. New York: [various publishers], 1927-1944, 1950.

Who’s Who of the Colored Race. Chicago, IL: Frank Lincoln Mather, 1915.

Williams, Lillian Serece. Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African-American Community, Buffalo, New York 1900-1940. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, ©1999.

  • Articles & Serials

Buffalo City Directories. Buffalo, NY: [various publishers], 1926-1965.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Detroit, MI: Gale [various years].

“John E. Brent, Second Negro Architect of the United States to Have Charge of Building ‘Y’ for Colored Men.” Buffalo American, May 4, 1926: page unknown. Preserved in Local Biographies scrapbook,” v.4, p. 165, Grosvenor Room in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (BECPL).

Locke, Henry. “Blacks Should Mourn Michigan Ave. ‘Y’ Loss. Buffalo Courier-Express, April 17, 1977: F-9.

“Michigan Ave. ‘Y’ Has Vital Role in City.” Buffalo Courier-Express, July 19, 1953: 20-A.

Young Men’s Christian Association. Annual Report. Buffalo, NY: Young Men’s Christian Association, 1920-1930.

  • Unpublished Sources

Local History File, a card file to periodicals &  newspapers in Buffalo, compiled 1930 to present

BECPL Prominent Black Buffalonians File [card file compiled 1980s]

New York State Population Census, 1925, Ward 17, City of Buffalo, Erie County, New York State

  • Picture Credits

Brent portrait:
Twenty Years in the Service of Youth. Buffalo, NY : Young Men’s Christian Association, ©1943: 5

Michigan Avenue Branch:
Hausauer, Kenneth C. The Second Fifty Years … 1902-1952. Buffalo, NY : Artcraft Printers, [1952?]: 29

Special thanks to Sharon Holley for supplying Brent’s date of death and burial place.


This article is fully protected by copyright and may not be copied and pasted anywhere without written permission. Last updated  3 June 2013.

Top Ten Urban Legends in Buffalo

In the old David Letterman format, these are the ten most bogus urban legends about Buffalo & its history:

10.  Buffalo has the longest, coldest, snowiest, harshest, worst winters in America.

9.   Every house in Buffalo was photographed during the Pan-American Exposition and the Buffalo History Museum has the pictures.

8.  The “Historical Society” or the “Preservation Society” won’t let me demolish/remodel/alter my building.

7.   The stone farmhouse at 60 Hedley Place was built as slave quarters.

6.   My title abstract dates back to 1804, so that is when my house was built.

5.  The City of Buffalo Property database says my house was built in 1900 so that is how old it is.

4.  The towers at the Richardson Complex (Buffalo State Hospital) were used to chain up mental patients.

3.  Grover Cleveland lived at 51 Johnson Park.

2.  The Niagara Movement (1905) met in Fort Erie because of racial discrimination at Buffalo hotels.

1. My house was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  [Alternate version: my house was a speakeasy during Prohibition.]

New addition: City Hall had a fire and all of the records were lost.