E. B. Green House - Table of Contents

History - E. B. Green House
180 Summer Street, Buffalo, New York

Written when the Fishers placed the house on the market for sale

The residence at 188 Summer Street was designed in 1900 by E.B. Green, a prominent Buffalo architect of the era. Other Green designs include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Genesee Building (now the Hyatt Hotel), 230 North Street, and Mayfair Lane.

Green built this home for himself and his new wife, a daughter of Josiah Letchworth. The Letchworth family home graced North Street where Mayfair Lane (photo) now stands. Mr. Letchworth gave his daughter and son-in-law title to the land for this house towards the back of his very extensive property, which at the time stretched from North to Summer with several hundred feet of frontage on each street. Additional Letchworth houses, including 178 Summer directly in front of 188, were built on the Summer Street frontage in the late nineteenth century for various grandmothers and aunts.

Green did not live in the house long, selling the residence to his wife's sister-in-law when either his wife's poor health necessitated other quarters, or she deserted him for greener pastures in California. This Mrs. Letchworth lived at 188 Summer Street (at this time, the property was listed on the tax rolls at 176 Summer) until her death after World War II.


Owner - Darwin R. Martin

Darwin R. Martin [son of Darwin D. Martin] acquired the property in 1947. At that time, the only entrance to the house was by means of tile narrow carriageway running between No. 172 and 178 Summer. Darwin Martin acquired the l00'x400' vacant lot between 178 and 200 Summer, put in the present driveway, and changed the postal address to 180 Summer Street. Martin also owned the Stuyvesant Hotel Apartments and developed Stuyvesant Plaza on Elmwood Avenue as well as the 191 North Medical Suites.

Martin also built the garage and greenhouse and made other significant alterations. He removed partitions which had obscured the bottom part of the main staircase, allowing it to be seen again in its original and beautiful form. He completed the oval shape of the entrance hall. At that same time, he closed off a door from the entrance hall to the study or small library and had this library repanelled and the built-in wet bar constructed.    We've been told that this mahogany paneling was moved from Martin's penthouse apartment at 800 West Ferry, another Martin development.

The large library was also repanelled at this time with woodwork from the Frank Goodyear house at Porter and Niagara Streets. Apparently, there had been a fire in that area of the house late in Mrs.  Letchworth's    residency.

Mrs. Letchworth had enclosed the porch some time in the '20's, and Martin replaced many paned windows with the large panels of thermopane some time in the late '50's. Martin also filled in the two outer doorways to this porch with bookcases.

Upstairs, Martin enlarged a bedroom and added bathrooms.


Owner - Max and Madelaine Clarkson

Max and Madelaine Clarkson bought the house in 1967 and replumbed, rewired the house, and completely renovated the two smaller bathrooms. They also rebuilt the kitchen with new cabinetry to match the old, installed a Garland restaurant stove, and added a first-floor laundry room.

Clarkson also added two air-handling and humidification systems. He used these ventilation systems for heating/humidification in winter, and cooling in summer. Because of allergies, Clarkson needed a year-round supply of fresh filtered air. The present owners prefer the original hot water system and have only used the air-filtering systems during large parties.

Clarkson installed burglar alarm systems and two new gas furnaces (one for house and the other for the garage) in the early '70's.


Owner - John and Judith Fisher
 
John and Judith Fisher bought the house from the Clarksons in 1976. Working with the original Green plans, they have restored some of E.B. Green's design, including the coat room and the opening of tile house to the sun porch by removing bookcases in the two outer doorways. In the mid-'80's, the exterior of the house was repainted to enhance the brick detail which had been lost to the eye when the house was entirely white.

The Fishers also removed all the wall-to-wall carpeting and refinished all the quarter-sawn oak floors.    .

Other Fisher improvements include:
There are architect's plans for new steel-framed sunroom windows. Cracks have recently appeared in two panes. We've been informed that early thermopane was poorly engineered.   


Garden

The garden is in bloom from late-winter, when winter aconite and snowdrops break through the snow, until early-November, with the last of chrysanthemums.  Although nothing is blooming in winter, all the evergreen adds interest and privacy.

A number of garden "rooms" have been developcd: a crack garden, a water garden with dwarf evergreen border, "Ed's" garden by the grape arbor, a wild flower and fern garden under the yellowwood tree, a patio garden, and an Italian pot garden in the front courtyard.

Thousands of daffodils, tulips, and other small bulbs have been planted over the years. Many varieties of siberian iris, daylillies, hostas, peonies, old-fashioned roses, and boxwood have been Ěpropagated and/or planted, as is a collection of Exbury azaleas and hardy magnolias.

Rhubarb, blueberries, and asparagus grow in the vegetable garden. Red and yellow raspberries arc growing in the compost area and near the garage. Nanking cherries and Juneberries arc harvested by the birds or made into jam.

The current owner and gardeners have made every effort to avoid chemical fertilizers and weed-killers. Consequently, bird life is abundant. Before Delaware-North developed adjacent property, two families of pheasants inhabited the grounds. Sparrow hawks arc frequently seen hunting their prey. And flickers denote changes of season as they migrate either south or north. Many mourning doves live and nest on the property. Recently, humming birds have been present in large numbers.

The pond is inhabited by a variety of fish, tadpoles, toads, and a big bullfrog.  There are no snakes at present, but the yard is home to John Alvarez's collection of exotic tortoises for a good part of the year.  On occasion, one escapes and is rounded up by passer-bys as it's trying to cross Summer Street. Another escaped from the vegetable garden, burrowed in for the winter and on the next fine spring day was spotted ambling across the yard! Although the suburban deer population has only made it as far south as Casa di Pizza, an opossum was sighted hanging in one of the yews this winter.


Special thanks to Alison Fleischmann for making this history available

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2012
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