History of Cold Springs
Centers on Michigan Avenue close to the intersection of Main Street and East Utica Avenue
By James Napora
The text below is reprinted with permission from
"Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York," by James Napora. Pp. 214-215. Master of Architecture Thesis. Found at Buffalo Central Library NA5235 B8 N37 1995
The designation Cold Springs recalls one of the first settlements in the area. During the early 1800s, this section of the city existed as an isolated hamlet surrounded by forests.
Click on map for larger view
Cold Spring Tavern: Connected to Buffalo by the Central Trail (Main Street), the primary road to Albany, the area was home to a tavern as early as 1808. Operated by Major Frederick Miller, the Cold Spring Tavern was located on the what is today the southeast corner of Main and East Ferry Street.
Jubilee Spring: In the basement of the tavern, a branch of the Jubilee Spring further west, provided a source of fresh water. A second branch of the spring existed on Purdy Street.Attracted by the availability of fresh drinking water, a small group of people settled in the area.
The spring constituted an important strategic point during theWar of 1812, serving as a command post. Later it served travelers carrying goods between Buffalo and Albany as well as the scattered residents of the area. By 1830, a German brewery was operating in the area, taking advantage of the fresh water provided by the spring.
The spring operated unchanged until 1890 when the construction of the Bird Avenue sewers permanently altered the course of the water.
Three Germans originally owned the majority of the property in the area.
- Alvin Leonard Dodge, whose family arrived in Buffalo in 1811 when he was three, attended the Cold Springs school as a student of Millard Fillmore. He farmed the land bounded by Main and Jefferson, and East Ferry and Best Streets. Prior to the1880s, he had developed the majority of his land except for asmall portion of it with exceptionally fertile soil. After hisdeath in 1881, the last of his holdings were developed forresidential use.
- John Roehrer, whose father John George operated a brewery on Best Street, organized the Best Street Land Company in 1880. Initially operated as a savings and loan, he became interested in real estate in the area, eventually buying, subdividing and developing the land bounded by Jefferson and Humboldt Parkway, and East Ferry and Best Streets. He built his substantial home on the corner of East Utica and Roehrer Streets.
- John Welker, a Prussian immigrant, arrived in Buffalo in 1856. He originally operated a general store on Sycamore at Ash later relocating his operations to Jefferson and Genesee. He developed the land through which Welker Street was cut. His property, initially part of an old horse track, was developed for residential use after the opening of the Hamlin Driving Park.
By 1870, the area became home to a large population of working class people. Although predominantly German, the area was oncehome to a the city's Norwegian, Swedish and Danish population.They built their frame homes along the streets of the area.
Further south, along northern Ellicott, Northampton and Southampton Streets, wealthy German businessmen constructed more substantial homes, many of which still remain. As the populationof the city increased in the 1890s, the original German settlers were joined by a large number of Irish who were moving from their original First ward neighborhood.