College Street was the western boundary of a huge tract of acreage donated by Judge Ebenezer Walden, from his substantial Buffalo and Black Rock holdings, to the newly chartered University of Western New York, an undertaking which was temporarily halted by the financial panic of 1837.
At No. 20 College a fine two-storey Gothic Revival structure generously laced with Eastlake fancy work is being restored. At the corner of College and Maryland, a compactly built stick-style residence is a delicate, diminutive instruction in the best elements of the genre.
Like its immediate neighbors, College Street was settled early and modestly. The worker’s cottage at No. 45 College, built in 1870 along typical lines, reflects Buffalo’s turn-of-the-century infatuation with 18th century styling in the Georgian-style.’additions The symmetrically placed side entrance, the exposed stone chimney stack with its quarter-circle flanking lights and the gabled dormers are all late additions to the original structure. At No, 62 College, an L-shaped Italianate asks your admiration for its beautifully pedimented second-storey window caps, the dentil and trefoil eave-mouldings supporting its gabled roof, its pilastered and cornice-capped first floor windows, and the uncompromising proportions of its stick-balustrated porch.
On College just south of Allen Street stands a building that appears to have been constructed for warehouse or light industrial use. In fact, the structure is one of the City’s first “parking ramps.” Built to store horse-drawn carriages, the garage became home to assembly-line Fords and expensive limousines during the Roaring Twenties, when the upper storey served the community as a full-scale den of iniquity, incorporating an immensely entertaining gambling-casino-cumspeakeasy where a taste of the high life could be had in exchange for the correct password. During the 1930’s the building was leased by Brink’s Security Company and it was here that a daring armed robbery netted a tidy $1.2 million in cash, Today, bulletholes still lace the thick plate glass partitions inside.
Continuing north, the house at No.130 College built in 1888, is a fine Queen Anne structure boasting a rare two-storey porch featuring segmental and rounded arches and paneled balustrades. The pediment-like gable is distinguished by wave shingling and stick styling, the whole creating an unusual massing and distinguished appearance.
Its nearest neighbor, at No. 132, is a gambrel-roofed Queen Anne with significant Tudor-era detailing. Originally constructed for the membership of the Buffalo Bicycle Club in 1887, the three-storey club became the place for the smart set to be seen, and tea-dances became more common than bike races in short shrift. In 1905 the building became the salon of one Mme. Eggert, who specialized in Chinese silks and European elan. Her small, select clientele often clogged the narrow streets, double-parking chautfered Pierce-Arrow and Cadillac limousines during a quick peek at the very latest.
At No. 136 College stands one of the most starkly beautiful houses anywhere in Buffalo, a Gothic Revival cottage built in 1878, The building is distinguished by the cathedral-steep pitch of its gable. The clapboard facade is broken by a flat-roofed bay lit by three gothic-arched windows. Centered overhead is a paired-lancet window, framed and pedimented, marked by a trefoil light in the tympanum. A similar residence, once at No. 138 College has since been moved to the rear of this cottage.
On the eastern corner of North and College Streets is a large brick structure that was the home of John Lord O’Brian, famed attorney and public servant who was an author and historian, serving six presidents during the course of his life. The Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence of the State University of New York at Buffalo has named its classroom building in O’Brian’s honor.