H.H. Richardson - Table of Contents

William Dorsheimer House
434-438 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York


H. H. Richardson




National Register of Historic Places

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size -- and additional information

Style: Louis XIII
2002 photo

Note large dormers. All windows have stone sills and lintels. 2002 photo

Mansard roof covered by fish-scale (imitation?) slates. 2002 photo

Mansard roof covered by fish-scale (imitation?) slates. 2002 photo

2002 photo

The north entrance. Paired, chamfered wooden columns support the roof.
2002 photo

Asphalt shingled roof topped by ornate cast iron cresting above bay window over porch. 2002 photo

A second floor bay window located in the north facade. Bracketed eaves. 2002 photo

2003 photo. Note that the tri-colored fish-scale (imitation?) slate roof is now monochromatic

2003 photo. The chimney has decorative brickwork

Gray sandstone across the ochre brick. 2003 photo

Mansard roof with dormers. 2003 photo

Mansard roof with pedimented dormers. 2003 photo

North side main entrance. 2003 photo

North side main entrance. 2003 photo

Sandstone; patera. 2003 photo

Historical plaque

William Dorsheimer

H. H. Richardson

Typical voguish Louis XIII style that Dorsheimer saw in Paris suburbs

William Dorsheimer was born on February 5, 1832 in Lyons, New York. When he was 5 his parents moved to Buffalo. When he reached school age he attended the public schools. He wanted to study jurisprudence so he attended Harvard University. After he finished his studies he was admitted to the Bar.

During the Civil War he served on the staff of General J.C. Fremont.

In 1869 he was appointed Federal Prosecutor of the Northern Districts of New York by Andrew Johnson. He stayed at this post until 1871. In 1874 he was elected with Samuel J. Tilden to the office of Lieutenant Governor. He was Lieutenant Governor a second time, this time running on the ticket with Lucius Robinson in 1879.

After his second term he settled in New York and established a law partnership with David Dudley Field. In 1884 he took over the editorship of the New York Star.

He died on March 26, 1888 in Savannah, Georgia.

Dorsheimer, Olmsted and Richardson

As chief promoter of the park movement in Buffalo, Dorsheimer had invited Frederick Law Olmsted to come to the city in August 1868 to inspect a site for a large public park. Shortly before that time, Olmsted had met Richardson, for both men were members of the circle of progressive Victorian architects in New York City. Olmsted recommended his friend and next-door Staten Island neighbor, H. H. Richardson, to design Dorsheimer's house.

In October 1868 Dorsheimer asked H. H. Richardson to design a house. This was three years after the architect had returned to America from Paris, where he had studied at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

The Dorsheimer commission was a notable event in Richardson's career, for it led to an enduring and productive friendship. In 1877, when Dorsheimer was lieutenant-governor of New York, he succeeded in having Richardson, together with Olmsted and Leopold Eidlitz, named to complete the capitol at Albany.

The Dorsheimer residence also proved to be the first of several projects in Buffalo with which Richardson became involved. In addition to the Buffalo State Hospital, first designed in 1870, and the William Gratwick house (1886-1888), which stood a few blocks north of the Dorsheimer property, at the northwest corner of Delaware and Summer, Richardson prepared designs for a number of works that were never constructed:

Dorsheimer's name was associated with more than one of these undertakings.

The House

The Dorsheimer house closely resembles middle class dwellings of the style known as Louis XIII (Example) , many of which were erected in the suburbs of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s.

The building's simplicity and planarity, as well as the incised decoration recalling rosettes and triglyphs, undoubtedly reflect the influence of the French Neo-Grec movement.

The house has horizontal bands of gray sandstone across the ochre brick facade and vertical stone courses at the building corners. Windows on the three-story structure are also framed by vertical bands of sandstone and are stacked in orderly perpendicular rows. The slate mansard roof has large dormers lending a picturesque quality to an otherwise relatively plain house.

It was in this house that Dorsheimer, Pratt, and other Buffalo parks commissioners first met with the great American landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, to plan a park system for the city.

Dorsheimer was closely associated with former U.S. President Millard Fillmore, former New York State Governor Samuel T. Tilden, and U.S. President-to-be Grover Cleveland. The house must have been visited by each of those men.

In the late 1950s, the house was converted into a small office building by the George R. Bennett Co, food brokers. The company added the glass enclosed extension on the south side.


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Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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