Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site - Table of Contents
Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY
Click on photos for larger size
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,
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.
The Barracks were dedicated by President Martin Van Buren.
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
The army barracks were moved to Fort Porter.
The Barracks was abandoned and many of the buildings dismantled. The officers' quarters became a private home.
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.
D. Appleton & Co., print captures Delaware Avenue as it looked in
The Wilcox mansion is visible on the left side of the picture.
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
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.
The Rumsey Family of Buffalo, NY
Rumsey Monuments in Forest Lawn Cemetery
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.
Rumsey Monuments in Forest Lawn Cemetery
National Park Service: Ansley Wilcox Biography (online April 2013)
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
A large addition was built by the Wilcoxes at the back of the house more than doubling the size of the residence.
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.
Ansley Wilcox's portrait by Ansley's brother Urquhart, a well-known painter. Now hanging in the morning room.
Oliver and Kathryn Lawrence moved into the house as tenants of the Rumsey estate
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.
Oliver and Kathryn Lawrence purchased the property from the Rumsey estate for $62,000
House declared a National Historic Site.
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.
The U. S. Government purchased the property for $250,000
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: