Wicks House - Table of Contents

William Sydney Wicks House
124 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY

Click on photos for larger size -- and additional information

Summer scene





Front entrance

Sidelights with tracery

Medina sandstone ... Front porch


Bay window

Medina sandstone

Gabled roof back entrance

56 Summit Ave. - also designed by Wicks

60 Summit Ave.. - also designed by Wicks

This imposing half-timber dwelling was the home of William Sydney Wicks (1854-1919), partner of Edward B. Green (1855-1950) in the firm of Green and Wicks, Buffalo's foremost architectural office at the turn of the century. The firm was in business from 1880-1917 when Wicks retired.

Wicks, who was born in Oneida Country in central New York in 1854, trained at MIT and Cornell, where he later designed several campus buildings. In 1881 he went into partnership with Green at Auburn, New York; two years later they both moved to Buffalo, where the firm endured until 1917 when Wicks retired.

In Buffalo, Wicks served as park commissioner from 1897 to 1900 and did much to promote the Parkside community, where he lived for thirty years.

For more information, see William Sydney Wicks Biography

The House

Wicks built his majestic home in 1890. It features decorative half-timbering, derived primarily from English Renaissance buildings of the 16th and early 17th centuries, including those of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.

Half-timbering was characteristic of Medieval buildings when the exposed wood beams held the buildings up and the spaces between them were filled with plaster. In the U.S. however, half-timbering is only a decorative -- albeit distinctive -- covering of frame construction. In the United States, harsh winters made half-timbered construction impractical. The plaster and masonry filling between the timbers could not keep out cold drafts. Builders began to cover exterior walls with wood or masonry.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, it became fashionable to imitate Medieval building techniques. Many Queen Anne and Stick style houses were also given false half-timbering. Timbers were applied to wall surfaces as decoration.

Famous for his fireplaces and mantels, Wicks' home includes many fine examples.

With leaded glass windows throughout, the house contains a wine cellar, a third floor ballroom, and an open stairway leading to the second floor.

His fondness for rustic style log cabins is evident in his use of wood in the house. In 1899, William Wicks had published a small book entitled "Log Cabins and Cottages: How To Build and Furnish Them." Evidently it was quite popular because it was reprinted five times and led to a number of design commissions for "cabins" and "cottages" in the Adirondacks and Muskoka Lakes regions. These structures were, in fact, quite large log summer homes with huge living and dining halls on the first level and up to twelve bedrooms on the second level.


Wicks and Green designed the carriage house at 60 Summit, next door to the Wicks house in 1890 -- the same year Wicks built his own house on Summit.

In 1904, Wicks and Green designed the house at
56 Summit, next to 60 Summit for the Black family. Both houses are clearly evocative of rustic style log cabins. When The Black family found the home too small for entertaining, they commissioned Wicks to design another house, located at 43 Summit. All of these homes contain fine examples of the unique Wicks style.

Wick's home on the southwest side of Jewett and Summit complements nicely the Richardsonian Romanesque-styled Good Shepherd Church built in 1888 across the street (southeast corner).

Wick's house displayed the eclectic's love of history, as well as the verticality and boxiness of late nineteenth-century design, qualities that Frank Lloyd Wright emphatically rejected in 1903 in the Prairie style Darwin Martin House across the street on the northwest corner.

Apart from his own house, Wicks is probably best remembered for the 1897 Parkside Unitarian Church that he designed at 1659 Amherst Street now the Fairfield Library.

See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1890

Special thanks to owners Donna and Henrik Borgstrom for their cooperation
First four photos on the page by Henrik Borgstrom
Other photos and their arrangement © 2003 Chuck LaChiusa

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