Charles W. Goodyear House - Table of Contents
Girls Study in a Home Royalty
By Katherine Smith
Reprinted from January 16, 1952 Courier Express
The late Charles W. Goodyear, builder of the large brick mansion at 888 Delaware Avenue. hardly would be surprised to see his home where royalty had been guests, converted into a high school [Bishop McMahon High School]. Back in 1890, years before completion of his house, Mr. Goodyear who made a fortune in lumber wrote in a letter to his wife: "A better division of the comforts and luxuries of life will be made. This is sure to come about though none of us will live to see it."
CONTINUED BENEATH PHOTOS
Mantel by noted Sculptor
The late Edward B. Green, architect designed the mansion. In the large reception hall is a marble mantel ornamented with an elaborate Italian market scene. It is the work of no less an artist than Karl Bitter, sculptor of the lions at the base of ourMcKinley Monument [Note: The sculptor of the lions was A. Philmister Proctor]. The walls of the living-room were covered with fine, figured damask in which red was the predominating color. The furniture, of French Renaissance design, was custom made. Sofas and tables were exceptionally large, suited to the spacious rooms for for which they were created.
The mansion combined Old World artistry with up-to-the-minute American comfort. It was equipped with an elevator, and each of the eleven bedrooms had a bath adjoining. Back in 1903, when the worth of a dollar was many times today's value, the Goodyear home cost $225,000. Among distinguished guests it sheltered were the late King Albert of Belgium with his Queen Elizabeth and their son, Prince Leopold.
The late Charles W. Goodyear built his house in the section of the Delaware extending from North to Bryant St., long known as Millionaires' Row. Every phase of his family's living was as luxurious as their home. They would go to New York expressly to hear Melba in an opera, or see Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, or Lillian Russell in a play. On frequent trips in this country and Canada, they traveled in a private car. In the '90s and early years of this century, when a long trip by water deemed and adventure, they visited Europe and Alaska. Their favorite Summer resort was the exclusive Wianno Colony of Cape Cod.
In addition to extensive business interests, activities of the late Mr. Goodyear included holding such offices as those of trustee of the Buffalo Normal School, now State Teachers College; organizing director of the Pan-American Exposition and president of the Buffalo Club. Among his close friends were the late President Grover Cleveland, Daniel S. Lamont, secretary of state in Cleveland's cabinet, and Postmaster-General Wilson S. Bissell.
A Festive Wedding - Esther Goodyear and Arnold Brooks Watson
The spacious reception hall of the Goodyear mansion never was more festive or beautiful than when decorated for the wedding of Esther Goodyear, daughter of the late Charles W. and Ella, to Arnold Brooks Watson. According to a contemporary writer's description, the marriage took place in the doorway between reception hall and library. That doorway, hung with crimson curtains, was festooned with ropes of laurel. From a laurel wreath in the center hung clusters of Richmond roses. On either side of the prie-dieu were lighted candles in tall candlesticks. The enclosed front veranda was draped with colorful Turkish rugs. The bridal table was laid in the library.
In addition to the two mentioned, first floor rooms included a den, living room, solarium, billiard room, dining room, breakfast room, and kitchen. The tall palms and blooming plants in the solarium added greatly to the beauty and luxury of living in the fine residence.
Today, all those rooms, except the breakfast rooms, are classrooms of a commercial high school, Bishop McMahon School. The one-time kitchen now is the senior class-room. The 11 bedrooms upstairs are large enough to accommodate classes. Adjoining bathrooms have been converted into locker rooms for students.
"The house is exceptionally well adapted to use as a school," said Mother Angelice, head of Bishop McMahon High School.
490 Girls Are Students
In the house where once outstanding socialites of this city and of the nation were received, today, 490 girls are taught such practical accomplishments as typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping, and educated in the fundamentals of business and business law. High school English and social studies also are taught.
The terrace and extensive garden are remembered for the late Mrs. Goodyear's annual garden party at which world famous concert artists and dancers entertained guests. Today, these lend themselves to outdoor recreation and afford a picturesque background for class day exercises and other school functions.
When the house was built, a large stable was erected to shelter the high-stepping hackneys that drew the Goodyear coach. In addition to the coachman, Mrs. Goodyear was attended on afternoon outings of former days by a footman riding in the rumbleseat. Her coach gave place to one of the earliest two-cylinder motor cars.
When the old stable was torn down, an exquisite sunken garden was created on this site.
Changes in Ownership
Charles W. Goodyear died in 1911. After his death, Mrs. Goodyear continued to occupy the mansion until her death in 1940. Many Buffalonians gathered there to attend the Bible classes Mrs. Goodyear conducted for several years. She was the author of a book, The Journey of Jesus.
Shortly after her death, the house was sold to the Blue Cross Corp., which made slight alterations and occupied the mansion until its sale to the Western New York Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950. Since the Fall of that year, the Bishop McMahon High School has occupied it.
On a Sunday, a decade ago, 25 or more members of the Goodyear family would gather for dinner in the great house. The staff of 15 servants would prepare a meal and attend to the comfort of those present.
Several descendants of the late Charles W. and Ella Conger Goodyear continue to live in this city and suburbs. They are a son, Charles W. Goodyear of Williamsville, the author of the published book, Bogalossa Story, relating, informally, the story of the family and a daughter, Mrs. Arnold B. Watson of Buffalo. Grandchildren living here are Laurence Goodyear, Mrs. Hardin H. Litell, Mrs. S. V. R. Spaulding, Jr., and Mrs. David B. Crane.
See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1952
Research by Greg Lodinsky
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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