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Wende Cottage

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April 2016

June 2017
Photo credit: Christina Lincoln, Tony James

Location

2256 Bailey Avenue, Buffalo NY 14211

Owner

  • Harmac Medical Products
  • The demolition application at the Preservation Board lists Harmac Medical Products as the owner.
  • County database indicates Bailey Green LLC as the current owner. That LLC is believed to be owned by Harmac.

Physical Description

  • 1 1/2 story red brick house on large lot.

Current Condition

  • Vacant, sometimes boarded.

History

  • Per Julie Reiss: "It looks like the house also played a role in the naming of Wende St. after one of its residents who was very active in the neighborhood- attorney & NY State Senator, Godfrey [Gottfried] H. Wende according to this detailed article from the [1940] Courier-Express) [1MB PDF]." The Courier-Express story states that Godfrey Wende lived in this house with his family. The building appears on an 1894 Sanborn map.
  • Local landmark application:
TO: City of Buffalo Preservation Board
FROM: Christina Lincoln, Christopher Puchalski, Monica Rzepka
DATE: May 15, 2015
SUBJ: SECTION 337.5 CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION OF 2256 BAILEY AVENUE ALSO KNOWN AS THE WENDE HOUSE
The following information is submitted for your review:
A review of the attached documents and information asserts the Wende House at 2256 Bailey Avenue meets 2 of the 9 criteria for designation as a local landmark by the City of Buffalo.
1. The property located at the address of 2256 Bailey Avenue is a modest 1 ½ story, front-gabled brick structure, most likely a farmhouse (early construction for this part of the city, as evidenced by window size and arrangement, as well as setback from Bailey Avenue). It most closely resembles the Italianate style, popular well into the 1880s. The house boasts original full arch upper windows and floor-to-ceiling windows on the piano nobile. The front door also has a transom light and dual sidelights, which have been covered.
2. Wende Street, located immediately to the west of Bailey Avenue (between E. Ferry and Scajaquada Streets) is named for judge, lawyer, lawmaker, State Assemblyman and a Senator Gottfried (Godfrey) Wende. The Hamlet of Wende in the Town of Alden in northeastern Erie County, along with Wende Correctional Facility, is named for Senator Wende’s father, Herman A. Wende. The family name is spelled out in tile on the entry step to the home at 2256 Bailey.
3. Criteria 4: The property is identified with Gottfried (Godfrey) Wende. Wende was born in 1852 in Wende Station in the Town of Alden, named for his father Herman A. Wende. Gottfried Wende was admitted to the bar in 1877 after being graduating from the first-ever law class of Cornell University in 1876. His office was located in the Erie County Bank Building at Shelton Square. In 1908 he was nominated to the NY Assembly and in 1912 elected to the Senate, in which he served a single term.
He was instrumental in the passage of the Lackawanna City charter and also a member of the Court of Impeachment for Governor William Sulzer. He was good friends with Grover Cleveland, and became close friends with the future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Buffalo Courier Express, August 23, 1933) while serving in the NY Legislature.
He was an in-demand public speaker, surveyor, and German interpreter during World War I. He sponsored a bill abolishing tolls on Broadway and Genesee Streets (Buffalo Courier Express, March 24, 1940). He was influential and beloved in his immediate community, so much so that the street located to the west of Bailey Avenue behind the Wende home was renamed Wende Street in his honor. Wende was an ardent and outspoken champion for the repeal of prohibition.
He practiced law until the day he died (dictating letters from his deathbed even in his final hours), at 2256 Bailey Avenue in 1933 (aged 81 years, just a few days before the repeal of prohibition). He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
4. Criteria 9: The home is in a unique location or contains singular physical characteristics that make it an established or familiar visual feature within the City. The small brick home on Bailey is one of the oldest in that part of Buffalo. Located east of the Beltline at the junction of Scajaquada Creek and the Delaware, Lackawanna and West Railroad, multiple owners held the property until the Wende family occupied it. The structure is outside the city core, so Erie County Atlases were used to track the property (not Sanborn maps). Visual examination of the style and materials used leads us to an approximate build date circa 1870s.
Wende rose to prominence in a "golden age" of the Queen City. In the years following the American Civil War, the German-identified population made up over a third of Erie County residents. The area east of the Beltline was largely settled by people like Wende, first- and second-generation Germans.
In the period Wende occupied the home, the neighborhood evolved from agricultural to industrial/residential use. As the character of the area changed, the Wende home continued to anchor an earlier identity, providing inspiration and a welcome sense of continuity. On August 23, 1933 the Buffalo Courier Express published a poem titled "Verses to the Wende House", written by B. Helen M'Donald:
"So bravely quiet you seem to stand, defying the turmoil on every hand"
Undoubtedly, local people would have known that the house pre-dated numerous structures, witnessed improvements to the Delaware, Lackawanna and West Railroad, and the covering-over of Scajaquada Creek. The poem’s clunky charm is testament to the endearing character of the house at 2256 Bailey, which endures to this day. The structure contributes to a “genius loci” or “spirit of place” which may continue to define and inspire the Ferry/Bailey community, given a breath of stewardship.
According to permits published in the Buffalo Evening News on August 9, 1913, the home appears to have undergone an addition. The article said the “Buffalo Building Company is enlarging a frame dwelling.” A satellite view of the property and photographs (see attachments) shows the rear addition.
Thank you for your consideration.

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • May 14, 2015 - On the Preservation Board Agenda: "DEMOLITION: homeowner would like to beautify the land. Application received 4/23/2015. (Albert Steele to tentatively appear @ 5/14/2015 05:05 PM 901 City Hall)."
    • Paul McDonnell: "Preservation Board Unanimously DENIED demolition. We will vote to recommend landmarking at the next meeting."
  • May 15, 2015 - Local volunteers prepare an application for local landmark designation - read it on this page under "History".
  • May 19, 2015 - Chrissy Lincoln: "Landmark nomination is complete and will be turned in today or tomorrow."
  • May 28, 2015 - Chrissy Lincoln: Update- the owner of the property says they'd be willing to talk about a public reuse. The public hearing for the landmark designation will be Thursday June 25th at 3pm, Room 901 at City Hall."
  • June 25, 2015 - Chrissy Lincoln: "The Preservation Board has unanimously approved landmark status and it will be sent to Common Council. The owners, Harmac, have withdrawn their demo request and did so within 1 DAY of its scheduled demolition!"
  • July 28, 2015 - Eric Lander, Preservation Board member, on Facebook: "Recently a demolition permit request came before the Preservation Board for the Wende House at 2256 Bailey Avenue. We tabled the application and the next day I contacted the owner who agreed to pull the demolition permit application. I, along with two other members of the board, met with the owner and toured the building. The owners were receptive to the idea of saving the building and a landmark application was drafted and filed. Today [7/27/15] the Buffalo Common Council's Legislative Committee approved the Landmark application for the Wende House, which now goes to the full Council. This is a major preservation victory. Thanks to Councilperson David A Franczyk for his support as well as those that assisted with the Landmark application. Now it is my plan to educate the owner to the benefits of historic tax credits and devise a plan for adaptive re-use of the property."
  • February 2016 - Buffalo News: "Between now and the end of 2017, the house will serve as the East Side headquarters of an ambitious effort to recruit and train underemployed Buffalo residents to become high-end carpenters and craftspeople."

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Added 2015-05-10 • Last changed 2017-07-02