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Emerson Place Row

Buffalo City, Erie County, NY

The Emerson Place Row (17-21 Emerson Place) is part of the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the Masten Neighborhood Rows Thematic Resources, 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copies of the original nomination documents. [1,2]


The row at #17-21 Emerson Place occupies a three-quarter acre lot on the south side of the street in the Masten Neighborhood of north central Buffalo. Built in 1900, the row contains two buildings: one with four-units (#17-19) and one with two-units (21). The neighborhood is composed of much altered turn-of-the-century (c.1900) single-family dwellings, vacant lots due to demolition, and parking lots. Directly to the east is the row at #33-61 Emerson Place, also included in the thematic resource area. Since several intrusions (vacant lots and a detached dwelling) are located between the two rows, the street's potential historic district quality is compromised. The boundaries of the row were drawn to exclude the surrounding detached houses and vacant land. The row was declared a local landmark by the city of Buffalo in 1981. There are no outbuildings associated with the row. There are two contributing buildings.

The two buildings which compose the row were built in an Eclectic style in 1900. Identical in design, the rowhouses feature mansard style roofs with decorative slate shingles, projecting eaves, clapboard sheathing, and fluted corner pilasters. The buildings rest on stone foundations. The buildings have flat-roofed dormers with fluted pilaster surrounds which are missing paired one-over-one double-hung sash. The fenestration consists of slightly projecting tripartite windows with one-over-one double-hung sash and a central transom. The entrances have denticulated cornice surrounds, sidelights, and fluted pilasters. The building at #17-19 retains the two original flat-roofed entrance porches which span the facade. The porches have Colonial Revival style denticulated cornices and paired fluted squared columns on brick bases which were rebuilt in the 1970s. The original spindle balustrades and lattice foundations were demolished c.1983. Each building has a two-story, shed-roof porch with simple posts and balustrade spanning the rear elevation. The rear entrances on both buildings are boarded-over. The original floor plan remains relatively intact in each unit and consists of, from front to rear: living room, dining room, kitchen with sidehall entrance and stairway. The second floor contains bedrooms and a bath; the third floor has bedrooms. The only surviving original interior decorative features include stairways, woodwork and some period hardware. The row is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair although it retains the majority of its original exterior architectural details.

The Row at #17-21 Emerson Place is architecturally and historically significant as one of a rare surviving group of 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 remaining in the Masten Neighborhood of north central Buffalo, the only area in the city where frame multi-unit rows were built in any concentration. The Emerson Place Row is one of only two surviving documented rows built by the Rice family, land dealers and developers largely responsible for the construction of rows in the Masten Neighborhood from 1880 to 1910. Built in 1900 by George C. Rice, the row is one of two remaining along the south side of the street, forming the most intact surviving period streetscape in the neighborhood. The row is architecturally significant as an example of turn-of-the-century eclectic style architecture incorporating Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style details. The Emerson Place Row remains as one of the most intact examples of its type and period; it illustrates a distinctive architectural response to the issue of designing standardized urban housing in Buffalo and recalls an important aspect of the late nineteenth century residential growth and development of the city of Buffalo.

The row exhibits many of the simple, refined, classically inspired details associated with the Colonial Revival style of architecture. Distinguished by an unusually high level of craftsmanship and design, the two buildings feature fluted corner pilasters, dormers with pilaster surrounds, and full classical entrances. Although the row is in a state of disrepair, it retains enough of its original form, plan and detailing to warrant inclusion in the thematic resource.

The street known as Emerson Place was laid out by the Rice family c.1891 and in 1893, Benjamin B. Rice, the patriarch of the family, built the row to the east at #33-61 Emerson Place, also included in the resource. In 1900, George C. Rice, a son of Benjamin, built the row at #17-21 Emerson Place. The building permit for the unit at #17-19 lists the cost of construction as $5,400 approximately twice that for the unit at #21 Emerson Place. With two of the original four buildings still standing, Emerson Place survives as a unique example of a late nineteenth century streetscape in the city of Buffalo. The row at #17-21 Emerson Place remains architecturally and historically significant as one of the four surviving groups of frame rows built in the Masten Neighborhood during the late nineteenth century.

  1. Willis, Barbara, Emerson Place Row, nomination documentation, 1983, N. Y. State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation
  2. Ross, Claire L., N. Y. State Office of Historic Preservation, Masten Neighborhood Rows, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Emerson Place