Thomas J. McKinney House - Table of Contents

Thomas J. McKinney House
35 Lincoln Parkway, Buffalo, NY
Received an award for "Restoration" from  Preservation Buffalo Niagara in 2011


Designed by Esenwein and Johnson in 1926, and commissioned by Thomas J. McKinney, the Renaissance Revival style mansion at 35 Lincoln Parkway was built between 1927 and 1929.

McKinney's fortune came from his father's Pennsylvania oil business. The original 1927 construction costs exceeded $800,000 and was furnished for another $200,000. The house was extensively decorated with custom heavily-carved woodwork, stained-glass windows, carpets, tile, and masonry. Some reports suggest that Buffalo-area contractor E. M. Hager and Sons provided the woodwork (E. M. Hager and Sons supplied the woodwork for City Hall). E. M. Hager and Sons purportedly brought a crew of twenty craftsman from Germany, Switzerland, and Italy to complete the carved work. The original sod was reported to have been imported from a Belgian Chateau. Pennsylvania Iron Works fabricated the wrought and cast iron fencing and gates.

Only four years after completing the estate here in Buffalo Mr. McKinney and his wife were killed in an automobile accident near their Orlando Florida home. They were survived by their 9 year old son who was also in the accident.

The house then sold to Kirke R. Wilson in 1934 for $110,000 for his second wife but they never moved in and the house sat empty until the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo purchased it after Wilson's death in 1949 for $35,000. Although the Diocese did not significantly alter the interior of the house they did remove significant exterior historic features they considered too pagan in motif. Significant ornamental elements were sandblasted and chiseled off and stained glass windows were removed. Several free-standing statues were sold.

The Diocese owned the property until 1985 when it was purchased by antique dealer Jeffery Thayer in 1985.

2014-11 Restoration

Clem and Karen Arrison purchased the property in 2001 and began an extensive historic restoration of the property in 2004.

Qualified preservation architects and conservators were retained and completed a comprehensive
survey and developed a restoration plan at the beginning of the project.

The restoration was extensive and included:

The Arrisons preserved as much of the original material and appearance as possible and followed the Secretary of Interior's standards for rehabilitation of Historic Properties (historic features were repaired rather than replaced when possible, appropriate materials were used for replacing features when repair was not possible.

Second only to the Martin house in residential preservation scale - this was Buffalo's most extensive, privately funded, residential restoration.

Special thanks to owners Clement Arrison for his cooperation and Karen Arrison for her patience and assistance in 2009 and in 2011.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2011
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