Richard and William Caudell - LINKS ............... Christopher Brown - LINKS

Biography of Richard W. Caudell
By Christopher Brown
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations to enlarge

Rev. William Caudell, Richard's father who immigrated to Buffalo in 1850


William, Richard's son and partner

Richard Caudell, wife , and daughter


Ann, Richard's wife

Frederick & Caudell ad

Richard Caudell's model ship. On display at Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

Richard Caudell's walking cane. On display at Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society




Violin case






Caudell-built houses

. . .

86 Tenth St.

92 Tenth St.

1320 Fourteenth St.

157 Fifteenth St.

478 Connecticut St.

164 Fargo St.

314b Hudson St.

248 Lexington Ave.

252 Lexington Ave.

44 Orton St.
Built for Sidney Lake, a leader of the
Plymouth Methodist Church

154 Fargo St.
The home of Richard and Ann.

322 Pennsylvania St.

Richard Caudell (12/22/1833 - 6/30/1898)) was born in Henley near Reading, Berkshire, England. His wife, Ann, was also born in England.

Richard emigrated to the United States with his father Rev. William Caudell (5/22/1802 - 1/22/1893) and the rest of their family in 1850. Originally they were planning to move to Racine, Wisconsin, but stopped in Buffalo to visit John Caudell, brother of Rev. William Caudell.

John Caudell, who was born in England in 1805, became a Christian at age 16. He was interested in joining the ministry and first became a Sabbath school teacher, then a class leader, next he became a local preacher and then finally he became a pastor on a Reservation Charge.

Rev. John Caudell was the first of the Caudell family to move to the City of Buffalo and in about 1855 became known as "ecolporter," or the official seller of Christian books in Buffalo. While in Buffalo, he was a member of the Grace Methodist Church.

Settlement in Buffalo: John Caudell introduced his brother Rev. William Caudell to Jesse Ketchum, a wealthy Buffalonian and well-known philanthropist, who lived on North Street near what is now Elmwood Avenue. Ketchum developed a warm friendship with Rev. William Caudell and convinced Caudell that his talents would be better suited to Western New York than Wisconsin.

Rev. William took Ketchum's advice and purchased a farm in Bennington, east of Buffalo, in 1852. The Caudell family lived a farmer's life until John Caudell died in 1863.

Rev. William Caudell and his family permanently moved to Buffalo in 1863.

For more illustrations and information about Richard and William Caudell, see
11 Plymouth Avenue
also by Christopher Brown

Richard's Training: Rev. William Caudell took over his brother John's Christian Bookstore (and home) at 362 Pennsylvania Street, while Richard had a simultaneous career as builder and piano and melodeon tuner with Prince & Co., a manufacturer of organs and melodeons, at the corner of Niagara, Maryland and 7th. Undoubtedly, Caudell also made melodeon cabinets for Prince & Co., the largest melodeon manufactory in the world at the time. Caudell's skill can be attributed to his employment at Prince, as the factory was noted for having 75-100 of the best cabinetmakers in the U.S. A Prince "piano style" melodeon is located in the 19th century musical instrument collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Rev. William Caudell's Christian book business became even more successful than when his brother John was the owner and William became widely known in Buffalo's home and church circles. In addition to being a bookseller, he was a minister at the Plymouth Methodist Church located nearby at the intersection of Jersey Street and Plymouth Avenue. It has been noted that he was "highly honored" at the church and was a regular contributor to the Buffalo Christian Advocate, a local periodical.

House building: Because of Rev. William Caudell's relationship with the Plymouth Methodist Church, Richard received housing construction clients through the Rev. William's congregational contacts. Evidence of this can be observed by the home built at 44 Orton Place (photo above) for Sidney Lake, a leader of the Plymouth Methodist Church. Another example is the home built for Rev. A. P. Ripley of 158 Fargo Ave.

It should also be noted that Rev. William Caudell's home and Christian Bookstore was located directly across the street from the home of Richard A. Waite at 361 Pennsylvania Street who was a famous architect of some of Buffalo and Toronto's greatest buildings constructed in the 1870s and 1880s.

Frederick & Caudell: By 1875 Richard had opened his own business in partnership with P. C. Frederick called Frederick & Caudell, manufacturers and dealers of doors, sash, blinds, flooring, siding, moldings, brackets and lumber. They were also dealers in hard and soft coal, with their office, mill and yard at 141 Perry Street.

Caudell lived at 497 Porter Avenue. (In the mid-19th Century known as 382 North Street.) The Caudell family homestead at 497 Porter Ave. has been demolished.

Caudell began building houses in the late 1860s and in the 1880 U.S. census he described himself as a carpenter by trade.

By 1880, Richard moved to a house he built at 154 Fargo Ave. (extant, photo above) and a few years later, his son William moved to the original Caudell homestead at 497 Porter Ave.

Richard Caudell was not among Buffalo's most voluminous house builders, yet he built for both his personal investment and for his clients, providing design and construction services. In his contributions to Buffalo, Caudell called himself a "public benefactor" and believed that by building homes, he "contributed to the growth of the city." Between 1864 and 1884, he had built over 100 houses on Buffalo's west side. Caudell also built homes in Brocton, Chautauqua County, New York.

William as architect: Richard's son, William Mitchell Caudell (12/30/1859 - 10/2/1920) , became his partner in the construction of homes by 1881. Caudell himself stated that the homes he built gave "evidence of execution by a master hand; much of it being architecturally ornamented, and, at the same time, luxuriously and artistically finished." William was recognized as "one of the most perfect mechanics" in Buffalo.

William married Annie Fontaine and the service was performed by his grandfather, the Rev. William Caudell and Rev. A. P. Ripley of 158 Fargo Ave.

After his father Richard's death in 1898, William continued the family construction business. From approximately 1895 until his own death in 1920, William called himself an "architect" or "architect and builder" in the City of Buffalo directories.

Ann as businesswoman: Richard's wife Ann (1837 -1903) was also involved in the building business. Often Ann initiated property transactions, obtained permits for construction and took title to many parcels of property which were later resold to Buffalo homeowners. Women often engaged in property transactions in the 19th Century, such as the selling and buying of property and obtaining necessary building permits in their own name.

Richard Caudell held many mortgages on the properties he built, making homes accessible to Buffalonians in the days before banks offered 30-year mortgages.

Myrtle Viola as teacher: Richard and Ann's daughter Myrtle Viola Caudell (1878-1963) was born in the Porter Avenue Caudell family homestead across from the State Normal School on Porter and Normal (now Buffalo State College, although now removed). She attended school there, became a teacher and later became director of Buffalo State College's home economics department for nearly 20 years. During Miss Caudell's tenure at the college, the home economics course was increased from 3 to 4 years and students were given more courses in the liberal arts. In 1963, Caudell Hall at Buffalo State College's Elmwood Avenue campus was named in her honor.

Richard as businessman: While perhaps not an architectural innovator, Richard Caudell constructed handsome houses and by granting mortgages, provided a way for which Buffalonians to buy a home in the days before 30-year mortgages, making homes affordable to many.

Caudell's homes contained identifiable signature architectural features such as stylized windows, paneled verge board and incised decorations.

Richard Caudell has left a great legacy in Buffalo and the homes he built up to 140 years ago continue to provide artistic shelter for Buffalonians.

Artifacts: In addition, some of his other art has survived the decades.

Final resting place: In 1898 Richard Caudell died in his Fargo Avenue home and his funeral occurred there on 7/2/1898. Richard Caudell along with most of the Caudell family have been interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

Special thanks to Janet Morgan for permission to use photographs of her artifacts previously owned by Richard and/or William Caudell.
Special thanks to
Christopher Brown for his assistance.
Photos by Christopher Brown and Chuck LaChiusa
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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