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Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row


The Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row (1335-1345 Michigan Avenue) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group. Note: Subsequent to entry onto the National Register, these homes were demolished.

Description

The Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row at #1335-1345 Laurel and Michigan Avenues occupies a half-acre lot at the southeast corner of Laurel and Michigan Avenues in the Masten Neighborhood of north central Buffalo. Built c.1880, the row originally contained nine two-story, single-family units; however, eight of these were divided in the mid-twentieth century and now contain one apartment per floor. The surrounding neighborhood is composed of altered turn-of-the-century (c.1900) single-family dwellings, vacant lots due to demolition, and parking lots. The boundaries of the row were drawn to exclude the surrounding detached houses and vacant land. There are no outbuildings associated with the row, which was designated a local landmark by the city of Buffalo in 1981.

Built c.1880, the two-story Italianate style row has a flat roof, clapboard sheathing, projecting cornice supported by paired brackets, and a hexagonal paneled frieze. The building is L-shaped and rests on a stone foundation. The north (Laurel Avenue) and west (Michigan Avenue) facades feature two-story bay windows with paneled aprons and pilaster surrounds. The bay windows flank single one-over-one double-hung sash with pedimented label moldings on the west elevation and similar paired windows on the north elevation. The paired central entrances retain their original paneled doors, transoms, and label surrounds. The east elevation has four one-over-one double-hung sash with plain surrounds. On the first floor of the northwest corner of the building is a single entrance flanked by two one-over-one double-hung sash with pedimented label moldings. The rear elevation has a continuous, L-shaped two-story, shed roof porch with simple balustrade and posts. The original floor plan was altered c.1960 when the interior units were divided to form apartments. Surviving original interior features are stairways, woodwork, and some period hardware.

Although the Laurel and Michigan Avenues row was aluminum-sided c.1970, the building retains most of its original exterior architectural features. The Laurel Avenue facade (north) retains two original porches with bracketed cornices, turned posts, spindle balustrades, and wooden steps. The two original entrance porches on the Michigan Avenue facade (west) were removed c. 1970 and replaced with canopies supported by kneebraces and concrete stoops with wrought-iron railings. A modern tripartite window was added c.1970 to the second floor of the northwest corner of the building.

Significance

The Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row is architecturally and historically significant as one of a rare surviving group of speculative multi-unit frame residences designed to resemble rowhouses in the city of Buffalo. The row is one of only four intact groups of similar housing found in the Masten Neighborhood of north central Buffalo, the only area in the city where frame multi-unit rows were built in any concentration. Built c.1880 at the start of the extensive building boom which lasted in the neighborhood until 1910, this row is the oldest of its type to survive and possibly one of the first to be built in the neighborhood. Because it was constructed before building permits were required, the builder of the row is not known; however, it is highly likely that it was built by the speculative developers or land associations who were responsible for the multi-unit row phenomenon within the neighborhood. The row is architecturally significant for its distinctive Italianate style of architectural treatment featuring bracketed eaves, a paneled frieze, pedimented window and door labels, and bay windows with pilaster surrounds. The row is also important as the only remaining example of the "L-shape" or corner lot plan, a form of row construction once common to the area. The unusual L-shape plan provides two main facades and distinguishes the building within the neighborhood. Although the building has been aluminum-sided, the row retains enough of its original plan, form and detailing to satisfy the National Register criteria. The Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row remains as the earliest intact example of its type and period; it illustrates a distinctive architectural response to the issue of designing standardized urban housing and recalls an important aspect in the late nineteenth century residential growth and development of the Masten Park area.

  1. Willis, Barbara H., Laurel and Michigan Avenue Rows, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Laurel and Michigan Avenues Row Map

Street Names
Michigan Avenue

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