Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Commonly referred to as University Heights, the neighborhood on upper Main Street at the city line was originally known as Elysville. Named after Samuel Ely, a farmer and owner of much of the land in the area, the German-and French immigrants who originally settled here were attracted by its higher, drier land.
1851 County Almshouse: Amongst the farms and scattered homes of Buffalo Plains, the county established the Erie County Almshouse in 1851. The first large development in the area, the almshouse and hospital constituted an early attempt by the county at dealing with the poor and the less capable of society.
University at Buffalo: The almshouse and its surrounding farm operated for over fifty years until 1909 when the county decided to vacate its 150 acre site. At that time, Charles P. Norton, Chancellor of the University at Buffalo, proposed that the land be acquired as the site for an arts college. In buildings which were once a part of the county almshouse and hospital, the roots of the present university were sown.
Ross's failed attempt: Prior to this occurrence, the area had retained a relatively rural appearance. Alexander P. Ross had made an early attempt at developing a residential area in the 1880s on land he purchased at Main and Englewood. As the street cars traveled as far as Cold Springs at that time, he would bring people to the area by carriage in an attempt to woo them into settling there. This attempt met with failure.
Winspear and Northrup Streets: With the establishment of the university, a new level of interest in the area arose. Knowing the potential for growth, in 1909 Charles W. Winspear, former keeper of the county almshouse, formed a partnership with Eli Northrup. Together they purchased the land and developed the streets which bear their names.
University Park: Five years-later, Anthony J. Huck, owner of farmland on the west side of Main Street developed the University Park area. On land his family had originally purchased from the Holland Land Company, he constructed homes priced from $3500 to $7000.
Summit Park: Together with the J. Walter Gage Realty Company's development of Summit Park, the area between Bailey and Main, the area obtained the character it has to this day.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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