Williams-Butler House - Table of Contents

Garden - Jacobs Executive Development Center, UB Downtown
672 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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.

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/parking lot, and constructed the lighted fountain located in the center's granite courtyard. They also renovated the mansion.

The English Garden and Grounds were designed and and installed in 1990-91 by the English Gardener at the request of Victor Rice. Much of the parking was removed to install the fountain, entrance, and fish pond.

The concept was for an English-style garden of bulbs, shrubs, and perennials blooming continuously throughout the growing season and with year-round color and texture in the garden. The Rice family, and Victor in particular, were very involved with the plans, choice of plants and plantings.

A company owned by Peter Levin did all the work on the fountain. The gazebo is a memorial for Peter, who died in 1997.

The English Gardener landscaping company maintains the grounds (in August 2011).


Varity was acquired by a Cleveland Co., and in 1999 the house and garden was again acquired by Delaware North Companies, whose CEO, Jeremy M Jacobs Sr., then deeded the property to SUNY at Buffalo, with a new name: Jacobs Executive Development Center.

Special thanks to Mary L. Magnan, Director of Gift Planning at UB, for her assistance

Photos and their arrangement 2011 Chuck LaChiusa
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