Williams-Pratt House - Table of Contents

History - Williams-Pratt House / LiRo Group Building
690
Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y.
(in Delaware Preservation District)

OWNERS

Charles Williams


Charles Howard Williams:
In February 1895 Charles Williams, a banker, had contacted McKim, Mead and White. Within four months, he and his younger brother, George, commissioned separate houses on adjoining lots on Delaware Avenue, the best address in Buffalo. (See "The Four Buffalo Houses by McKim, Mead & White.")

Charles Williams was on the board of directors of three banks in the Buffalo/Niagara area, owned extensive real estate holdings in Buffalo and surrounding area.

Married Emma Alice Jewett, daughter of Sherman S. Jewett

See also:

Click on photo for larger size. Source: "A History of the City of Buffalo," published by the The Buffalo Evening News, 1908


The Pratts

Click on photos for larger size.

Charles and Emma Williams both died in 1909, at which time their daughter Jeannie Jewett Williams (who married Frederick L. Pratt in the reception room of the house in 1907) and her husband moved into the mansion. Pratt, the eldest son of civic leader, banker and industrialist Pascal Paoli Pratt, spent his time managing the properties included in his inheritance. From this time until the fateful stock market crash of 1929, the Pratts lavishly entertained many distinguished guests and the reception room became known as the City's "largest and one of the most elegant drawing rooms." One especially noteworthy event was the 1926 Oriental Ball when the mansion was transformed into a lush tropical garden.

Frederick L. Pratt died only a few years before Mrs. Pratt lost her fortune to the Great Depression of the 1930's.

See also:


City of Buffalo

The City of Buffalo acquired the property for back taxes, bought it at public auction for $22,419.54, and filed a deed stating such on December 29, 1938. The building stood vacant for three years, during which time theft and neglect caused damage to the elaborate plumbing and the electrical fixtures (The house included an elevator and ultramodern heating system).


Veterans

In 1940, the Common Council voted to dedicate the mansion to the Veterans of the GAR and to the Spanish War Vets for use as a meeting place and the storage for records. The vets officially moved into the "GAR Memorial hall" April 15, 1941. At this time, $2,000 was allocated by the Common Council to remodel and repair the building.

Nothing eventful happened at the mansion until 1955, when two real estate companies submitted purchase offers (within two weeks of each other) to the Common Council to buy the property with the intentions of razing the mansion to erect a 2-3 story office building. Justifications for the sale were multi-fold and included (1) the light attendance of meetings by veteran groups at the mansion, (2) the numerous alternative meeting sites for the Vets in the city, (3) the money that would be acquired by the sale (approximately $60,000) by having the property once again added to the tax roles, and money saved by no longer having to pay O & M costs of the building, (4) the "suitable improvement" to the area that the newly constructed building would represent, and (5) the incentive offered to business to stay in the city vs. moving to the suburbs if more commercial structures were built on Delaware Avenue. The sale of the mansion was rigorously opposed by the veterans groups, who expressed their opinion at the public hearings via petitions. The Common Council voted down the sale of the property and rededicated the mansion as the "GAR Memorial Hall" on December 27, 1955.


Paul Snyder

In 1978 Buffalo businessman Paul Snyder bought the house from the city to house his Snyder corporation, the Niagara Trading Corp.


The Liro Group

2002 owner: The Liro Group

COMPLETED

1896

ARCHITECTS


Stanford White
Click on photo for larger size

Stanford White (McKim, Mead and White), assisted by Edward York, later of York and Sawyer
Stanford White portrait is on display in the house.

STYLE

Neo-Classicism


Text source of information: The Liro Group


Special thanks for their assistance:


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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