Frank E. Sickels House - Table of Contents
History - Frank E. Sickels House
An excerpt from
Oakland Place: Gracious Living in Buffalo
By Martin Wachadlo
Published by Buffalo Heritage Unlimited
This large cross gable Queen Anne style home is one of a pair built for two brothers shortly after Oakland Place was created. This house was constructed for lawyer Frank E. Sickels and his wife, Annie, in 1891. Frank's brother, George, was having his house built next door, at 115 Oakland Place, at the same time.
The houses are similar in massing and plan, but different in many of the details. This home rises from a Medina sandstone foundation and has clapboard siding on the first two stories; 115, in contrast, has shingles on the second story. This home's chimney is brick interspersed with stone for picturesque effect, while the chimney at 115 is solid brick. The massive shingled gable is the most dramatic exterior feature of this home; the beautiful foliate pediment was carved on individual boards that were then set in place in the gable. This detail was obscured for many years when the house was remodeled during the late 1920s because the exterior was covered in stucco, an alteration that also included the removal of the front porch.
The layout is comparable to that of 115 and typical of the period: all of the principal rooms on the first floor can be accessed through the main hall. The present interior reflects both the 1891 design and the remodeling of 1927. The entrance vestibule, with its wainscoting and paneled ceiling, is original. In the main hall, the staircase, which features an iron railing, was altered and a colored glass window installed at the landing during the remodeling. The living room's arched openings and simple stone fireplace are characteristic of 1920s design, while the adjacent den retains the original beamed ceiling and unusual triple window.
The dining room, which has tall wainscoting and a crossbeam ceiling, is the finest space in the house. Some of the woodwork throughout the house is now painted white; it would originally have been done in a natural stain.
Frank and Annie Sickels lived here until 1902, when the house was sold to another lawyer, James E. Ford (1838-1905). A native of Buffalo and a partner in Ford & Ferguson, James specialized in real estate and settling estates. Ford was not able to enjoy his home for very long; he died just three years after moving in. His wife, Caroline, lived in the house until her death in 1924. The house passed to her children; in 1927, they sold it to Laura Clark, wife of Dr. Alfred H. Clark, a prominent surgeon. The Clarks immediately remodeled portions of the interior. Laura worked on behalf of Buffalo's poor; during the 1930s, she was president of the board of the College Creche, a daycare center for working mothers.
Laura's father was hardware merchant Harry Walbridge, who died soon after the completion of the new Walbridge Building at the corner of Court and Franklin Streets, in 1924. (Bley & Lyman served as architects on the project.) Her mother died in this home in 1932. Interestingly, Laura's Uncle Charles had built 120 across the street long before the Clarks took up residence here, so Laura's connection with Oakland Place was quite long. The Clarks lived in the house for the rest of their lives; he died in 1966 and she passed away in 1972.
The Clarks removed the porch and covered the house in stucco in 1927; they also made interior modifications in line with the styles of that time. The subsequent owners removed the stucco from the front section of the house and added a new front porch in 2002, restoring the original appearance to a great extent.
[Robert and Peggy Moriarty owned the house from 1972-2006]
See also Frank E. Sickels House - Table of Contents