Williams-Butler House - Table of Contents

History - Williams-Butler House / Jacobs Executive Development Center
AKA The Butler Mansion


TEXT Beneath Illustrations


An early lithograph of the Aaron Rumsey mansion which was razed and replaced by the Williams mansion.


George L. Williams built his house on the Delaware-North location, the most prestigious corner in the city



690 Delaware next door on Delaware. Built by George's older brother, Charles.


Architect Stanford White (McKim, Mead and White).
One of the last houses Stanford White designed before he was assassinated by jealous Harry K. Thaw.



Edward Butler bought the house when George Williams left Buffalo in disgrace


The previous Butler House was located at 429 Linwood Ave.


Edward Butler Mausoleum in Forest Lawn Cemetery




Metcalfe House was razed for a parking lot for Delaware North Companies in 1979. Presently (2013) a garden/parking lot (photo)



Reprint
Buffalo: Lake City in Niagara Land
By Richard C. Brown and Bob Watson.
USA: Windsor Publications, 1981, p. 275




BUILT:

1896-1899
Lake Erie was visible from the house.

See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1898

SIZE:

16,000 square feet in the main house and an additional 8,000 square feet in the carriage house

ARCHITECTS:

Stanford White (McKim, Mead and White).
One of the last houses Stanford White built before he was assassinated by jealous Harry K. Thaw.

Stanford White's first contribution to Buffalo architecture was as associate architect to H.H. Richardson when he designed the Buffalo State Hospital in 1870. White's second Buffalo work involved the James F. Metcalfe House, designed three years after White had joined McKim and Mead to form their avant-garde architectural firm.

OWNERS:

George L. Williams and his wife Annie built this house on the Delaware-North location, the most prestigious corner in the city. His brother, Charles, built the house next door (the Williams-Pratt House /LiRo Group Building).

"They [George and Charles] were sons of Gibson T. Williams, a banker and industrialist. They once owned what was reputedly the largest tannery in the United States in Salamanca but sold it and concentrated on investing." - Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families, by Edward T. Dunn. Pub. by Canisius College Press, 2003

Williams, a successful banker with the Erie County Savings Bank, promoted the Pan-American Exposition. On the day that President McKinley was scheduled to have a brilliant state dinner hosted by George and his wife, Annie, at the home, he was assassinated. Because of rainy weather and other factors, the Exposition lost money. Before the sheriff could seize the cash at the Exposition, Williams had the money removed and brought to his home, and the initial bond holders (his friends and business acquaintances) were paid off.

See also: Williams Family - Table of Contents

Williams left six years after the house was built and, in 1905, sold the mansion to Edward H. Butler, publisher of The Buffalo Evening News.

Edward Hubert Butler, proprietor of The Buffalo Evening News and Buffalo Sunday News, was born in LeRoy, Genesee County, New York, in 1850. He attended public schools and also studied under private instructors in acquiring his education. He gained his first newspaper experience on the staff of the LeRoy Gazette. Afterwards, he became connected with the Scranton Times, as City Editor, and still later was city editor, with a financial interest, in the Scranton Free Press.

In 1873, he came to Buffalo and established the Sunday News. That paper was enlarged twice before the establishment of the daily News.

In 1879, Mr. Butler established the Bradford Sunday News, which he continued to own and to publish for four years, when he sold it to be able to give more time to the Buffalo Evening News, which he established in October, 1880.

Mr. Butler was elector-at-large on the Republican ticket in 1896, and again in 1900. In the latter year, he was chairman of the Board of Electors of the State. He was a delegate-at-large in 1908 to the Republican National Convention at Chicago.

Mr. Butler married Miss Mary E. Barber of West Pittston, daughter of Major William D. Barber. Mr. and Mrs. Butler were the parents of four children.

Edward H. Butler died in 1914. Mrs. Butler died in 1893.

In August 2001, Kate Butler Wickham, the granddaughter of Edward H. Butler, reported the following:

The house was bought by my grandfather in 1905. He died in 1914. The paper and the house were inherited by my father, Edward H. Butler, Jr., who took over operation of the Buffalo Evening News and the mansion when his father, Edward H. Butler, Sr. my grandfather, died. My father and mother and I lived in the house until 1943.

When my father died in 1956, both [the paper and the house] were inherited by my mother,
Kate Robinson Butler. She died in 1974.

The house was sold to the William C. Baird Foundation, which subsequently gave it to the Roswell Park Hospital.

The newspaper was sold to Warren Buffett in 1976.

See the Business First article entitled "Butler Kin Recalls Mansion's Heyday.

Edward Hubert Butler I is listed in the City of Buffalo Directory as living at the following addresses:

See also: Butler Family - Table of Contents

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In 1979, Delaware North Companies (Website) bought the house and the adjoining property on North Street, the Metcalfe House.  After a fierce preservation battle, Delaware North demolished the Metcalfe mansion next door (also designed by McKim, Mead and White) for use as a parking lot.

Fortunately, the American Wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has the complete entryway of the Metcalfe house on display. In addition, the Burchfield/Penny Art Center at Buffalo State College has rebuilt the dining room from this house. Prof. Frank Kowsky was in charge of that project.

Delaware North renovated the house over an eight-year period at a cost of $6 million.

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In 1990, Delaware North sold the building to Varity Corp. to serve as its world headquarters.

From 1980 until 1996, Victor A. Rice was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Varity Corporation.

Varity removed the parking lot, installed a lush garden, and constructed the lighted fountain located in the center's granite courtyard. They also renovated the mansion.

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Varity was acquired by a Cleveland Co., and in 1999 the center was again acquired by Delaware North Companies, whose CEO, Jeremy M Jacobs Sr., then deeded the property to SUNY at Buffalo. Now named the Jacobs Executive Development Center.

STYLE:

Beaux Arts Classical / Georgian Revival

Built on a grand scale and costing nearly $175,000-- a breathtaking sum in those days

Three stories: 16,000 sq. ft.; carriage house has 8,000 sq. ft.

Speakeasy in basement from the 1920s.

BUILDING MATERIAL:

Roman brick, limestone; granite foundation.


Sources:



Special thanks to Jacobs Executive Development Center Site Coordinator Bonnie Pritchard for her cooperation in 2003


Page created by Chuck LaChiusa
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