Exterior - Duane Lyman House
History - Duane Lyman House
An excerpt from
Oakland Place: Gracious Living in Buffalo
By Martin Wachadlo
Published by Buffalo Heritage Unlimited
This gem of a residence was designed by one of Buffalo's leading architects as his own residence, and is the second house on the site. The original home, built in 1893 in the Queen Anne style, bore the number 80.
Characterized by a high hip roof and tall corner tower, it had a full-width front porch. There was also a sleeping porch above, between two bays, and the front dormer had its own small balcony. The driveway passed beneath a port cochère before leading to the 1895 stable.
80 Oakland Place was built for William Anderson. A native of Scotland, Anderson moved to Buffalo in 1867 and co-founded the Adam, Meldrum & Anderson department store (AM&A's), which lasted until 1995. Although Anderson's partners did not live on Oakland Place, some of their family members did. James Adam, Robert Adam's brother, lived at 60 Oakland Place and Herbert Meldrum, son of Alexander Meldrum, lived at 88. It is interesting to note that both of these Oakland Place denizens operated competing department stores.
Anderson's time in his new home was short-lived; he succumbed to heart disease in 1897, at age 67. His obituary noted that he lived "quietly, simply, unostentatiously, as was the nature of the man." Two years after his death, his heirs sold the home to George A. Plimpton, a principal in Plimpton, Cowan & Company, wholesale druggists and grocers. When Plimpton died in 1911, ownership of the house passed to his wife, Jenny.
In 1919, Jenny Plimpton sold the home to Trinity Church. The church had received a bequest of a house, located opposite the church on Delaware Avenue. The house was too large for use as a rectory, so church officials decided that 80 Oakland Place might be more suitable. 80 also proved to be too large and in 1924, the rector chose a smaller house: 32 Oakland Place. This transaction was evidently a trade, as the occupant of 32, William A. Griffin, moved into 80. An industrialist, Griffin served as president of the North Buffalo Hardware Foundry and vice-president of the Standard Foundry. He spent most of the rest of his life in the house, but the house was demolished in late 1940, shortly before his death.
The 1895 stable was spared from demolition. In 1949, it was split off from the main property and retained the address of 80 Oakland Place. For several years, it was the home of B. Mason Bowen and his wife, Jean. Bowen was a realtor with Gurney, Overturf & Becker; he and his wife purchased 123 in 1953.
The front portion of the lot stood vacant until 1949. At that time, architect Duane Lyman began construction on his new Georgian style home. It was completed the following year. Lyman had been among the first Buffalonians to move to Amherst; in fact, he built his home there in 1912 and named the street after himself! When the exodus from Buffalo to the suburbs began in earnest after World War II, he bucked the trend by moving back into the city. Lyman built one of the smallest homes on Oakland Place and it is said that he built a small home to forestall the possibility that his children (and their children) could move into the house.
#78 - Exterior
The house is as elegant and well built as the other homes on Oakland Place. The beautifully detailed entrance is the focal point of the three-bay façade of Flemish bond brick. The elegant entrance features twin engaged columns flanking a solid door; it is capped by a fanlight set in a marble arch. The delicately leaded oval windows on either side of the doorway add to the grace and beauty of this entry. The adjacent first floor windows are set in arches, and the second floor is defined by incised limestone belt courses. The house is capped by a flat roof with a brick parapet and open grillwork.
#78 - Interior
Inside, the staircase rises perpendicular to the front door in the tightly structured entry hall. To the left, the paneled living room features a fine colonial fireplace, built-in bookshelves, and corner shelves with rib-arched semi domes. Lyman designed the living room to be the principal interior space and rather than creating a separate dining room, he incorporated a dining alcove in this room. This alcove provides a lovely view of the terrace and yard through a curved bay window. The adjacent kitchen features the original cabinetry.
Duane Lyman was considered the dean of Buffalo architects at the time of his move to Oakland Place. Over the years, he was a principal in Lansing, Bley & Lyman, then Bley & Lyman, and finally Duane Lyman & Associates. His firms had designed many of the finest office buildings, schools, churches, and residences in Western New York. Designs in the neighborhood surrounding his home on Oakland Place included several notable edifices:
- The Saturn Club at 977 Delaware Avenue (1922)
- The Tennis and Squash Club at 314 Elmwood Avenue (1915)
- Buildings for Children's Hospital on Bryant Street (1911-1918)
- Homes in the Goodyear family compound on Bryant Street (1912-1924)
- The Kelsey Building at the southeast corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street (1926)
However, the only new house on Oakland Place with a Lyman design would be Lyman's own home. Hugh Perry was the major force on the street during the postwar period and he and Lyman bore a great dislike for each other; as a result, Perry's architect of choice was Gordon Hayes. In fact, Perry hired Hayes for 88, right next door to Lyman's own house. After Lyman's death in 1966, his wife continued to reside in the house until 1974.
Present owner: Albert B. Wende
See also Exterior - Duane Lyman House