Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site - Table of Contents

History
Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY

Click on photos for larger size

1837
In response to the outbreak of the 1837 Patriots' War in Canada, the citizens of Buffalo asked that the US government provide for their protection in the event of an attack. Many people vividly remembered when their village had been nearly burned to the ground by the British during the
War of 1812.


The federal government leased the highest ground within the city limits from
Ebenezer Walden and established an Army post,

1838
The new post, erected in 1838, was called the Buffalo or Poinsett Barracks (Joel Poinsett was the Secretary of War from 1837 to 1841 and is perhaps better known for giving his name to a popular holiday plant, the poinsettia). Built between 1838-40, the Buffalo Barracks was the largest US military installation at the time. At its height, the barracks housed over 600 men as well as several wives and children. The house was originally built as officers' quarters.

Poinsett Barracks was designed and constructed by the U. S. Army Engineers under the direction of General Winfield Scott.

1839
The Barracks were dedicated by President Martin Van Buren.

1842
General Bennett Riley served as commander of the Buffalo Barracks from 1842 to 1845.

The 1863 oil on canvas portrait was painted by Lars Sellstedt

1845
The army barracks were moved to
Fort Porter.

1846
The Barracks was abandoned and many of the buildings dismantled. The officers' quarters became a private home.

1847
Ebenezer Walden sold a portion of "Walden Hill" to
Joseph Masten, Mayor of Buffalo and judge of the Superior Court. This portion included the Ansley Wilcox House.

Masten resided here from 1847 to 1863. At this time the house still faced west, toward what had been the old parade ground. Sometime in the 1850s or 1860s, the front portico of the house was either moved or rebuilt on he much more fashionable Delaware Avenue side and the
front portico of the house was either moved or rebuilt.

1873
D. Appleton & Co., print captures Delaware Avenue as it looked in

The Wilcox mansion is visible on the left side of the picture.

1878
Dexter Rumsey purchased the house at 675 Delaware Avenue, as a wedding present to his daughter, Cornelia, who married Wilcox in 1878.

After Cornelia died (1880), Wilcox married her younger sister, Mary Grace

1883

Dexter Rumsey
purchased the house and gave the the use of the house as a wedding gift for his daughter, Mary Grace, upon her marriage to Ansley Wilcox. The interior of the house was remodeled by the Wilcoxes.

See also:
The Rumsey Family of Buffalo, NY

Rumsey Monuments in Forest Lawn Cemetery

1878
Ansley Wilcox was born near Augusta, Georgia on January 27, 1856 (d. 1930). Like Theodore Roosevelt, his mother was from the South and his father from the North. His family moved to Connecticut during the Civil War and he later studied law at Yale. He also attended Oxford University and while in England met Cornelia Rumsey, a young woman from Buffalo on holiday with her family.

After leaving Oxford, Wilcox moved to Buffalo, joined a law firm and married Cornelia in 1878.

Her father, Dexter Rumsey, gave them a house at 675 Delaware Avenue as a wedding present. She died in childbirth in 1880, leaving a daughter, Nina.

(After his wife's death three years later, he married Cornelia's younger sister, Mary Grace.)

Wilcox was a founder of the Fitch Creche.

See also:

Rumsey Monuments in Forest Lawn Cemetery

National Park Service: Ansley Wilcox Biography (online April 2013)

1883
Ansley Wilcox married Cornelia’s younger sister, Mary Grace Rumsey. Once again, Dexter Rumsey gave his daughter and son-in-law a house as a wedding present, this one at 641 Delaware Avenue. Their only child, a daughter Frances, was born there in 1884.


The Wilcoxes lived in the house from 1884 to their deaths in the 1930s. Upon Mary Grace's death in 1933, the house reverted to the Rumsey estate.

Ansley and Mary Grace are buried in
Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Rumsey family plot.

Top illustration: Mary Grace Rumsey Wilcox (1855-1933) - Ansley Wilcox's second wife

Middle illustration: Mary Grace Rumsey Wilcox and Cornelia "Nina" Wilcox.

Nina was the daughter of Mary Grace's older sister, Cornelia, who died in childbirth in 1880.

Lower illustration: Nina at age 16

1890s
A large addition was built by the Wilcoxes at the back of the house more than doubling the size of the residence.

C. 1901
Wilcox had further improved the property. A Buffalo architect,
George Cary, rebuilt the addition and remodeled the interior. The remodeling did not affect the interior of the original part, except for the two first-floor parlors, which were made into a large library

1901, September 6
President McKinley was shot in the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition He died on Sept. 14 in John Milburn's home. Later that day, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in the library of the Wilcox House

1901, September 14
Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in the
library in the Ansley Wilcox home in a ceremony at 3:30 PM.

1929
Ansley Wilcox's portrait by Ansley's brother Urquhart, a well-known painter. Now hanging in the
morning room.

1938
Oliver and Kathryn Lawrence moved into the house as tenants of the Rumsey estate

1939
The house was opened as the Kathryn Lawrence Tea Room. When a liquor license was obtained, the name was changed to the Kathryn Lawrence Restaurant.

1947
Oliver and Kathryn Lawrence purchased the property from the Rumsey estate for $62,000

1966

House declared a National Historic Site.

1960
3 thirty-three-year leases were given to Nathan Benderson. The agreement allowed Benderson the right to demolish the house at will with the consent of the owner, 641 Delaware Corporation. Benderson intended to raze the house in order to build a parking lot.

1969
The U. S. Government purchased the property for $250,000

1971
The museum was opened to the public

The building is operated by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society and the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Foundation, Inc., on behalf of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.


For more information, see the following:

See also:


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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