Charles Germain House - Table of Contents

Charles Germain House
1131 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY




Silsbee and Marling



TEXT by Christopher Payne Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

Joseph Lyman Silsbee

Photo hanging in an office of Delaware Pediatrics Associates, LLP

2003 photo

North and west elevations

Shingle style

"Silsbee's signature band of foliate decoration surrounds the second level." - Christopher Payne

Medina sandstone sidewalk


Front porch oriel

Saw tooth shingles on second floor



West and south elevations

Foliate decoration (plaster?) in tympanum

Foliate decoration (plaster?)

Foliate decoration (plaster?)

Bamboo columns

Excerpts from
"The Buffalo Architectural Legacy of J. L. Silsbee," by Christopher Payne, in Western New Heritage, Winter 2002, pp. 8-20

One of the more intriguing aspects of Silsbee's career is that from 1882 to the end of 1884, he had three simultaneously operating offices. These included his own office in Syracuse, a partnership with Edward Kent in Chicago, and a partnership with James Marling in Buffalo.

Residential work dominated Silsbee's practice, particularly in Buffalo. His proficiency in domestic architecture was carried on by several of his employees. Frank Lloyd Wright and George Washington Maher, who both worked in Silsbee's Chicago office, were pioneers in the development of inventive and carefully designed residential architecture. Former partners Edward Kent and James Marling followed suit by setting up offices in Buffalo and creating artistic residential designs here. By the time Silsbee closed his Buffalo office, he had completed twenty-six known designs in the city. Twenty-one of these were domestic in nature.

By 1883, Silsbee had begun work on several other buildings in Buffalo; he set up an officer in the White Building on Main Street and took on James Marling as a partner. Marling, a native of Canada, had worked for several years in Silsbee's Syracuse office. He was in Buffalo by 1882, most likely to supervise the construction of Silsbee's buildings here.

Silsbee & Marling's final Buffalo commission was announced in early 1887. The Charles Germain Home is similar to many of the homes the firm built after 1886. Silsbee's signature band of foliate decoration surrounds the second level. Unfortunately, the home's most striking feature, a series of recessed and protruding porches at the north and west of the structure, has been removed. Except for this alteration, the remarkable shingled home remains intact.

Soon after the completion of the Germain Residence, the firm dissolved. The
break seemed to have little effect on Marling's career, as he continued the work begun by the partnership.

Later that year, James Marling announced his first commission with a new firm, Marling & Burdett. This was a fortunate coupling with Herbert Burdett, a notable former employee of Buffalo Psychiatric Center architect H. H. Richardson. Marling's new office seamlessly completed works begun by Silsbee & Marling earlier that year.

Color photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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