The 1880s were boom times for Buffalo real estate. Nowhere in the KCA boundaries was the 1880s boom more apparent than on St. John’s and Orton Places. In the 1870s, the land making up Orton and St. John’s Places was used for traveling circuses. Well known Victorian‑era circus men all pitched their big top here including W. W. Cole, Adam Forepaugh and P. T. Barnum. Even Jumbo the elephant visited this site. In the 1880s, the street car lines were extended to this vicinity and land prices skyrocketed because Buffalonians wished to build homes in this desirable residential section. Wise investors realized that the circus lot was more valuable as a location for houses, so the land was subdivided and sold in 1884. All the homes on St. John’s and Orton Places were built between 1884 and 1888.
At number 50 Orton Place is a house built in 1887 for Erie Ontario Van Brocklin. It was designed by the architectural firm of Swan and Falkner. Van Brocklin was a Civil War veteran and worked for the Buffalo Fire Department. In the 1890s, he was involved in a scandal when it was discovered that he embezzled approximately $60,000 from the city. The home is a fine example of the Queen Anne style of architecture and has a carved face in the gable of the home.
The picturesque one story cottage at 49 Orton Place is best known for being the home of Jas. J. Fleury after 1927. Fleury was known as the “Poet Tailor.” He built a basement entrance to his tailor shop which he operated out of this home and was well remembered for his poetry writing which was published in local newspapers. The home has recently been purchased by Joyce DiChristina who has renovated the house and installed a new roof, new kitchen and new custom stained glass window in the front door.
44 Orton Place, a Queen Anne style home built in 1886 by architect/builder Richard A. Caudell is the home of Joyce Berg, former Kleinhans Community Association president.
42 Orton Place is a beautiful home built in 1886 for Clarissa and Schuyler Aldrich in the Queen Anne style. The Aldrich, Ray Manufacturing Company was a brass works at 1489 Niagara St. that sold its hardware worldwide. Aldrich was also a pastor of the First Free Baptist Church on Hudson Street and Fargo Ave. In the 1980s, John and Sharon Carmesano returned the residence back to a single family home after it had been used as a rooming house for many years. They also started a backyard shade and herb garden. The home’s current owners, Dinah Gamin and Lynn James, undertook a Victorian paint restoration and along with Ulbrich’s Nursery, designed the front garden beds. The driveway and backyard were incorporated into the garden as a patio area, making the most of a small space. The home’s picturesque board and batten barn was restored in 1999.
Two homes on Orton Place have the distinction of being published in an 1890 edition of a building periodical called Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition. The home at 38 Orton was the first to be published and was built in 1886 for Dr. Thomas Callahan. Sadly, in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the tower was sheared off the home. Carl Schade, who purchased this home in the early 1990s, was determined to restore it to its original glory.
Despite high costs, Carl restored the tower and carefully selected a restoration company, which rebuilt the tower on Carl’s home in such a way as to replicate 1885 Victorian craftsmanship. The results are simply amazing and were complete just in time to impress visitors to the KCA area for the 5th Annual Garden Walk at the end of July, 1999. Carl’s efforts were recognized when he won an Allentown Association, Inc.’s 2000 Beautification Award and 2001 Buffalo Landmark and Preservation Board Award, presented to Carl by Mayor Anthony Masiello. The Preservation Board noted that Carl had “gone the extra mile to restore so very accurately all the fine details of a late Victorian home.”
One of the first houses to be erected on the street, the handsome dwelling at 36 Orton Place was built early in 1885 by James W. Byers for coal dealer Henry E. Smith. As was popular in its day, Eastlake styling details are evident throughout the home’s exterior: in the verge board; the incised decorations found on the flat headed front windows and pilasters; and the diamond design used in the frieze. For nearly the past 50 years, it was the home of Denton Dodd and his family until Mr. Dodd passed away in the mid‑1990s. Mr. Dodd was an artisan and operated a business, Buffalo Manikin Repair, from the barn for many years. The house was able to attract new owners Paul Lachacz and Michael Rooney who began to restor the home soon after moving in. While much renovation work has been done, such as the reconstruction of the 2‑story front porch, the new owners exclaim that there is still a lot of restoration work left to do, a work in progress.
The new owners have incorporated lovely landscaping design into the home, which was started in the fall of 1998. The long shady driveway which leads to the home’s barn is an inviting gateway to the side and rear gardens which they have created. Gray creek stones used in the front flower beds were chosen to create an old and worn look appropriate to the house. The home still has its original board‑and‑batten barn, of which only a few remain in Buffalo today. The barn was restored in 2001 and the house received a beautiful paint job in 2005.
The Queen Anne style house at 34 Orton Place was built in 1885 for Allen Lee Schryver, a boot merchant who moved to Buffalo in 1836. In 1997 period iron fencing was installed in the front garden to enhance the streetscape. The fencing is original to the Orton Place site (although used in a rear yard) and is notable for its pineapple finials that say through their symbolism, “welcome.” 34 Orton Place, with its authentic Victorian color scheme, was featured in 2004’s Secrets of Allentown interior historic house tour.
Number 28 Orton Place is the second home published in Scientific American. The uniquely styled home with its interesting angles was designed by architect Charles R. Percival in 1885. Percival is notable for being the architect who designed Darwin Martin’s first home on Summit Avenue in 1888 before Martin commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design his next dwelling on Jewett Parkway at the turn of the 20th century. The current owners, John and Cyndy Allen, have done a remarkable job restoring the home to its original appearance, including the removal of asbestos siding which obscured much of the home’s detail. Cyndy is Treasurer of the KCA.
At 26 Orton Place the Queen Anne facade of the house was revealed in 1998 by a recent owner, Joan Diana, after she removed the asphalt siding that obscured much of the home’s detail. Joan’s family have been Orton Place residents since 1927. Joan sold her home in 2001, but not before Joan took the opportunity to share that Orton Place will be “where our hearts are and will always be, for it was our home for over half a century! It is now with a heavy heart we are leaving all of our friends who meant so much to us ‑ but it is time to move on. Thank you KCA for making our neighborhood safer and friendly again. Orton Place will be our family legend. Many, many memories here. I doubt that there are few places that can boast of the teamwork, respect and involvement that the folks in our little corner of the world possess.”
Joan continued to recall Orton Place anecdotes: “I know a friend of a friend whose parents owned the little grocery store that stood on Wadsworth. If memory serves me correctly it was right about where the [Grace Manor] nursing home’s parking lot ends.”
“On the corner of Pennsylvania and Plymouth (where Chuck’s barber shop is now, 321 Penn.) there was a little Mom and Pop grocery store that sold penny candy etc. Right across the street there was Gullo’s drug store (315 Pennsylvania).”
“The Scioli family, who lived downstairs at 34 Orton Place, had many political connections and entertained big time at 34 Orton. Frannie Scioli had a maid named Willa Mae. Willa Mae was very nice and kept us kids in line. Frannie also would employ the help of another maid when she had dinner parties.”
“Lots of fun memories of the neighborhood: I remember the popcorn man coming down Orton Place on warm Sunday afternoons to peddle his wares, as well as the
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