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Mark Twain's house

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Photo credit: WNY Heritage Press, Peter J. Fiorella, Jr., Buffalo Rising, Mark Paradowski

Location

472 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202
SBL: 111.22-2-5
Fillmore Council District
Google Bird's Eye View
Erie County Property Info
County Tax Map (loads GIS page)
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Next to: 468 Delaware Avenue
Across from: MidwayRowHouses

Owner

DELVIR, LLC per City of Buffalo Property Information
Search NYS Corporation Database for DELVIR

Physical Description

Current Condition

History

  • 1864 - House constructed by Henry M. Kinne, a prominent local developer who had built stores on Main Street, grain elevators and a number of homes. He lived there with his wife, Elizabeth, for nearly six years.
  • 1870 - Olivia Langdon's father purchased it as a wedding gift for his daughter and her new husband, Samuel Clemens. They were married February 2, 1870 and made their way home to Buffalo where Clemens worked as editor for the Buffalo Express newspaper.
  • 1871 - The house sold to J. Condit and Mary L. Smith for $19,000.
  • 1875 - The house again became a wedding gift, this time from Elbridge Gerry Spaulding, prominent lawyer and nationally known as the "father of the greenback," to his son, Samuel Strong Spaulding and wife Annie Watson Spaulding. Samuel Spaulding would become president of M&T Trust Company and eventually also president of the Buffalo Street Railway.
  • 1905 - Sold around 1905 to Alfred Bayliss, M.D. Bayliss remodeled the first floor of the home into medical facilities for his electro-therapy and radiology practice and turned the upstairs into an apartment for himself.
  • 1950s - The building became offices and apartments. The brick exterior was painted white.
  • 1956 - Owners Dr. Isadore Swerdloff and Dr. Nathan Safron wanted to raze the house and build a 6,000 square foot office building for $150,000. Local attorney Roland R. Benzow wanted to raise the funds to buy it as a museum for Twain. He was unable to find sufficient investors.
  • 1960 - Developer James D. DiLapo bought the house from the Western Savings Bank, intending to resell it or raze it to provide parking for his real estate business at 505 Delaware. That year, the Buffalo Mark Twain Society, headed by Delaware District Coucilman Benzow tried to raise the $100,000 necessary to buy and restore the house; he was unsuccessful.
  • February 7, 1961 - A fire of undetermined origin started in the rear of the house, but was extinguished with $6,000 damage. James D. DiLapo had been on the verge of signing a contract of sale when the fire broke out.
    • With the house still largely intact, the Buffalo Craftsmen, headed by Professor Harold Lofgren and Lester Goodchild, held a meeting in the house to discuss purchasing it. Their plan was to create a Twain museum on the first floor, use the second floor for handicraft classrooms, and set up a crafts store in the rear. They optioned to buy the house, but were unable to raise the purchase price.
  • July 2, 1963 - Owner James D. DiLapo demolished the house, leaving the carriage house standing.
  • June 1964 - The carriage house was turned into the Cloister restaurant.
  • April 6, 1988 - The Cloister closes as its owners retire.

1989-2001 - Business First and the Buffalo Law Journal leased the building

History courtesy WNY Heritage Press

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • 2004 - sold to a developer in 2004; plans were announced in 2006 that a child care center would purchase the building, but that did not occur.
  • 2007 - Attorney Peter J. Fiorella, Jr. announced plans to restore The Cloister to its former appearance, complete to the last detail, and reopen it as a restaurant. This plan did not materialize.
  • 2009 - Dr. Scott Croce, a chiropractor, purchased the building for $460,000 with plans to demolish it and construct an office building.
  • March 2012 - Demolition of Cloister add-ons to the original carriage house, and announcement of a $3 million mixed-use project with plans for a 20,000 sq.ft. office building and 3 three-story townhouses.
  • July 2012 - Plans revised with a new design incorporating office space in the three levels fronting Delaware and nine apartments along Virgina Street. The exterior will be clad in red brick and adobe-colored terra cotta.
  • July 2013 - The historic brick carriage house on the Holloway Alley side of the property will be converted into three additional apartments.

Other Pertinent Facts

  • Part of the Allentown Historic District

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Added 2014-03-14 • Last changed 2014-07-11