Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
By: CWGC Blog
Buffalo’s rich and famous built fabulous homes on Millionaires Row
In an earlier post, we took a look at some of the most historically significant houses on Delaware Avenue. Known as Millionaires Row, Delaware Avenue was one of the pre-eminent addresses in America between 1880 and 1930. One of these homes, the Wilcox Mansion at 641 Delaware Ave., was the site of President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1901 inauguration following the assassination of President William McKinley. Several other mansions along the street were linked to the tragic events that took place during the Pan-American Exposition.
The graceful, interesting buildings on Millionaires Row sport a wide variety of architectural styles, but what’s most interesting about them are the people who built and lived there. Here are some more of their stories.
The Clement House, 786 Delaware Ave. By the time the Clement House was built in 1914, some of the earlier mansions had been torn down, replaced by even larger and more luxurious homes. Carolyn Jewett Tripp Clement and Stephen M. Clement’s home was built on the site of three previous buildings. The palatial Tudor Revival-style mansion, designed by architect Edward Green to resemble an English manor house, was a magnet for social functions and a gathering place for Buffalo’s most prominent citizens. Part of that no doubt had to do with its magnificence. Constructed at a cost of $300,000, its exterior featured gray sandstone blocks. Inside, guests delighted in limestone walls and marble floors featuring a diamond pattern. Visitors enjoyed concerts in a one-and-a-half story music room with an organ.
Carolyn Tripp grew up as the daughter of a prominent businessman, Augustus Tripp, a partner in a metal working firm that later became the Republic Metalware Company. After graduating from the State Normal School, she traveled and studied piano for a year in Europe. Carolyn also played the harp and organ and loved gardening. In 1884, she married Yale graduate Stephen Clement, who became president of the Marine Bank in 1895.
Both the Clements were devoted to civic and religious activities. She was a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, a block away from her gracious home, and donated land for the church’s parish house. They had six children.
The Clements moved into his father’s former home at 737 Delaware in 1892. They commissioned Green to build a new home for them after the death of Carolyn’s father. Carolyn had inherited her father’s home at 786 Delaware; that building was demolished in 1911 to make way for the grand new structure.
Stephen Clement did not live to see the completion of the home. He suffered a heart attack in 1911 and passed away in 1913.
After Stephen’s death, Carolyn devoted herself to religious and community affairs. She served on the University Council from 1920 until 1941 and contributed generously to many community causes. She donated $80,000 to the University of Buffalo, which honored her by naming a residence hall after her.
Two years before her death in 1943, Carolyn Clement donated her home to the American Red Cross. The Western New York Chapter of the Red Cross is still housed there.
Knox House, 800 Delaware Ave. When Grace Millard Knox decided to build a home next to the Clement House, she hired New York City architect Charles Gilbert to design a structure that would rival the Tudor mansion. The result was a lavish, two-story, French Renaissance mansion. Set back from the street, the U-shaped home is set among park-like lawns and trees, evoking a country retreat. The house cost a million dollars to build—a gigantic fortune in those days. Like the Clement House, the Knox mansion had a music room, which opened through French doors onto a terrace.
Grace was the widow of Seymour Horace Knox, who made a fortune in five-and-dime stores and later partnered with his first cousins, Frank W. Woolworth and Charles Woolworth, to form the F.W. Woolworth Company. He also bought Clement’s holdings in the Marine Bank after Clement died. He married Grace in 1890, and they had four children.
Knox died in 1915, the same year the home was built. Members of the Knox family remained prominent and accomplished members of Buffalo society. A generous contribution from the Knox family enabled the Albright Art Gallery to expand its building in 1962 that contained a lovely auditorium. The institution was formally renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in honor of the family’s donation. Knox’s grandsons, Seymour J. Knox III and Northrup Knox co-founded the Buffalo Sabres.
The Computer Task Group bought the Knox mansion in 1978 to serve as its headquarters and successfully petitioned to have the original address, 806 Delaware Ave., changed to 800 Delaware Ave.
George B. Mathews House, 830 Delaware Ave. Mathews, a partner in a milling company, and his wife Jenny lived for 20 years in a brownstone cottage on Delaware Avenue that, though small, was the former home of a former Buffalo mayor, Jonathan Scoville. In 1901, they moved into a 16-room home they constructed on the site. The home, though not as large as those of many of their Delaware Avenue neighbors, was still impressive, featuring bricks laid in a Flemish bond pattern, limestone window surrounds and an imposing portico with Elizabethan Revival-style banded columns. Inside, the library, which occupied the front of the first floor, sported walls covered with green brocaded velvet and a dark green marble fireplace. A spacious solarium with marble mosaic floors overlooked the garden.
Like the Clements and the Knoxes, the Mathewses were generous philanthropists. George donated $1 million to the Y.M.C.A. for construction of the Michigan Avenue Y, and also contributed to the Booker T. Washington Foundation. After Jenny’s death in 1950, the house was sold to the Children’s Aid Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It housed children ages 6 to 12 with emotional problems.
Himalayan Institute, 841 Delaware Ave. Folks who attend yoga classes here are practicing their downward dogs and warrior poses in the oldest house on Delaware Avenue. The home was built in 1854 by Thomas Stocking, one of Buffalo’s early supervisors. According to the Institute’s website, subsequent residents included Noyes Darrow, who built the first luxury apartments in Buffalo, located on Washington Street. Darrow bought the house in 1868. In 1895, it was sold to William Hoyt, a Buffalo district attorney whose clients included the Vanderbilts.
Edwin Thomas, manufacturer of the first limousine, called the Thomas Flyer, bought the mansion in 1912, and just two years later, Charles Sears, a justice on the New York Supreme Court, became its owner. Daniel Kenefick, another Supreme Court Justice and president of the New York State Bar Association, was the home’s last private owner. He bought the mansion in 1950, and after his death in 1950, the property passed to the Archdiocese of Buffalo. The church built an addition at the rear of the building to house priests and brothers who taught at Bishop Fallon High School.
After being vacant for several years, it was purchased in 1979 by the Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, a nonprofit organization that teaches yoga, meditation and holistic health. Although the building was modified by both the church and the Himalayan Institute, it still contains 10 of the original gas fireplaces that heated each room.
Canterbury Woods Gates Circle is rising on the site of another historic Buffalo property, the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital. When it’s completed this fall, Canterbury Woods Gates Circle will be home to a group of residents who are as vital and interesting as the city itself. The community offers both cutting-edge style and services, and proximity to the historic charm and amenities of Elmwood Village and Millionaire’s Row.
For more information about this unique retirement community, please contact us at (716) 929-5817 or send us a message.