The Maytham Houses
(Also known as the Millonzi House)
71 Symphony Circle / 26 Richmond Avenue, Buffalo, NY

1892
Architectural Style: Queen Anne

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


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Richmond Ave., from "The Circle," North.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.

71 Symphony Cir.
First floor newel post and balusters

71 Symphony Cir.
Second floor newel post and stairway

71 Symphony Cir.
First floor

71 Symphony Cir.
Dining room.

71 Symphony Cir.
First floor

71 Symphony Cir.
Dining room

71 Symphony Cir.
Dining room

71 Symphony Cir.
Stained glass windows on landing between first and second floors

71 Symphony Cir.

The Circle - Junction of North, Wadsworth, Fourteenth and Pennsylvania Streets and Porter and Richmond Avenues.

Scene on Richmond Avenue.

26 Richmond Ave.

26 Richmond Ave.

26 Richmond Ave.
Palladian window and patterned shingles

26 Richmond Ave.

26 Richmond Ave.
Oriel window

26 Richmond Ave.
Medina sandstone columns

26 Richmond Ave.
Cushion capital with floral design

26 Richmond Ave.
Medina sandstone steps

26 Richmond Ave.
Fire escape

Edward L. Hengerer

Birge Mansion

Kleinhans Music Hall

First Presbyterian Church

Capt. Thomas and Edward C. Maytham, brothers and partners in the Maytham Tug Line, built adjoining homes at Richmond and The Circle (now Symphony Circle) . Thomas owned 26 Richmond and Edward owned 71 Symphony Circle. The houses were separated by double walls with the exception of the tower rooms on the third story. There, the dividing line was single.

A 1952 newspaper article reported that Lilian, Mrs. Roy G. Strong of Medina, O., daughter of Edward Maytham, used to throw a book at that wall to call her cousins to the window for conversations.

The architect of the home is not known, but Thomas Maytham purchased the property from Kate Swell on February 16, 1891. Maytham paid $10,000 for the property which included the G. H. Dunston house. Maytham promptly demolished it to build the more impressive house we see today, a fairly common practice among the wealthy at that time. The present house has two primary facades, a great improvement over the previous house, which acted like the Circle wasn't there, if the early photo is any guide. This home was the last to be built on this quadrant of The Circle.

In the interior such rare woods as sycamore and California redwood were used. The dining rooms are paneled in redwood.

The brothers kept their horses at White's Livery Stable on neighboring Jersey Street. Edward's horse made a name for itself in the well-remembered races on Richmond Ave. in which prominent Buffalonians used to participate.

See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1892

Edward C. Maytham

Prior to living at 71 Symphony Circle, Edward lived with his family on College Street, living at 137 College Street and 143 College Street in the 1880s.

E. C. Maytham died in 1922 and the following obituary gives even greater information regarding the Maytham brothers:

When the news of the death of Capt. E. C. Maytham, former prominent Buffalo tug operator and vessel man in Ohio was published in last Sunday's Courier, several of the newcomers and younger men engaged in maritime or waterfront business at this port did not appear to know much about the deceased. As a matter of fact the Maythams were about the best known family of marine men in this vicinity and consequently the younger generation were not familiar with his activities hereabout.

E. C. Maytham and his brother, Capt. Thomas Maytham, dissolved partnership with George R. Hand and established the Maytham tug line of Buffalo, the marine editor of The Courier was informed yesterday by a veteran waterfront business man. The new line was a big success from its advent and had so grown by 1891 that it was determined to incorporate with a capital stock of $35,000.

The first officers of the company were: President, Thomas Maytham; superintendent, E. C. Maytham; secretary, G. W. Maytham; assistant superintendent, E. C. Maytham. During its existence the Maytham Tug line built more than forty tugs, and the wrecks of some of them can be found in the boneyards all along the lakes, for they were sold broadcast. Some of them went to eastern ports, such as New York, Boston, Baltimore. Some are still afloat."

The Maythams also owned the Niagara river ferry steamers Hope, Union and Niagara. They ran between Buffalo and Fort Erie, each having a capacity of
600. The company also owned the steel steamers Thomas Maytham, Brazil and America and the schooner H. W. Sage, which the Messrs. Maytham purchased as a wreck in 1890 in the Straits of Mackinac. They also had the lighters Niagara, British Lion and two Worthington wrecking pumps.

Capt. Thomas Maytham was also interested in these craft: The Araxes, lost on Lake Huron in 1888; Nevada, lost about the same time; Queen of the West, built in Bay City, Mich., in 1881; Oregon, built in West Bay City in 1882; Newburg, lost in a blinding snowstorm off Long Point Lake Erie, 1890; Northerner, burned on Lake Superior, 1891; Gilcher, lost with all hands on Lake Superior; the Waverly, R.
A. Packer and Periwinkle."

The Maytham tug line continued in business at the port of Buffalo until absorbed by the Great Lakes Towing company a couple of decades ago. Thomas Maytham's namesake the steamer Thomas Maytham lived well on into the 20th century, although it wrecked on November 30, 1926 near Eagle Harbor.


Capt. Thomas Maytham

Capt. Thomas Maytham arrived in Buffalo in 1862 penniless. Misfortune struck when two of his early vessels, the schooner Nonpareil and the Lily Pratt, sank to the bottom of the lakes and the bay of Biscay, both total losses. Yet he and his brothers accumulated large fortunes through their Tug Line and their extensive shipping interests, which included sailing vessels and steamers.

The home at 364 Hudson Street (extant) was built in 1880 for Captain James J. H. Brown. In the 1860s and 1870s Brown was the Captain of several of the largest lake steamers. In the late 1870s and 1880s he formed a vessel agency. One of Brown's daughters married one of Thomas Maytham's sons, Edward H. Maytham. Thomas Maytham purchased 364 Hudson Street from Brown in 1888 and lived there until he built his palatial home on The Circle at 26 Richmond Avenue.

Thomas Maytham died in 1893, shortly after his home was completed and his son George (an 1888 graduate of Buffalo High School) lived in the home and took over his father's interests in the tug line, working with his uncle, Edward.

Ann Elizabeth Green, who was married to Thomas Maytham, lived in this home until her death on March 14, 1900. She was 56 years old at the time of her death. Her obituary revealed that she was born in Connecticut and married Captain Thomas Maytham in Cleveland, Ohio. She was a member of the Plymouth Avenue Methodist Church. Her children included a daughter , Minnie (who became Mrs. William Barton), and four sons, William, Edward, Walter (who was an executive at Portland Cement), and Frank (who went west and was an assistant attorney general of California). Mrs. Maytham was well known for her work among the poor of the city.

Subsequent Owners

A
fter Thomas Mayhem's death, two other men of exceptional ability occupied the home he built. They were Herbert D. White, whose lumber interests in North Tonawanda were extensive, and Edward L. Hengerer, son of the founder of William Hengerer Co. and former executive of that merchandising firm.

Beginning in 1921, the Richmond Avenue house became a refuge for aged and helpless women. The house was named El Nathan (gift of God).

In the late 1960's, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the BPO Women's Committee rented the houses for offices. In the early 1980's Robert and Eleanor Millonzi purchased the houses and donated them to the Orchestra. The houses are connected and function as one office building. Some now know the building as the Millonzi House.

In 2001, the BPO acquired the Birge Mansion across the Circle at Richmond Ave. and plans to renovate that building for offices. The exact future for the Maytham houses, as of August 2001, is uncertain.

The Circle and Richmond Avenue

In the mid-1850s the area was the point where the limits of the old city of Buffalo ("North" Street) touched those of the South Village of Black Rock - the Black Rock Burying Ground. When Forest Lawn was opened in 1850, many families moved their dead there. Later, when Rogers Street - now Richmond Avenue, named after Jewett Richmond - was graded, many graves were uncovered and the remains moved. (More graves were uncovered, in the early 1870s, when the grading and beautification of The Circle area began.)

For three decades beginning in 1868,
Frederick Law Olmsted and his partners and successors created for Buffalo a series of parks and parkways that attracted national and international attention. Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux implemented a comprehensive series of parks and parkways that pioneered the concept of the metropolitan recreational system. 1nitially conceived between 1868 and 1870 and substantially constructed by 1876, Olmsted and Vaux's Buffalo park system carefully modified the city's original plan, framed in 1804 by Joseph Ellicott, and introduced progressive design features inspired by the example of the Second Empire in Paris.

Olmsted and Vaux created three major parks:

Of equal importance to the new public grounds were the parkways that Olmsted and Vaux planned to connect them to one another. The parkways:

In addition to the new parkways that formed the monumental approaches to The Park, several existing city streets assumed new importance as residential avenues leading to the parkways. These streets were enlarged to 100 feet in width and planted with American elms, as were the parkways:

Part of the avenue system included circles:

Olmsted convincingly argued that the parkways and avenues would attract the wealthy who would build there. He proved correct, as evidenced by the Maytham houses.


Special thanks to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the BPO Women's Committee for their cooperation.(716-885-0331; Home Page)


Sources:



Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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