In 1916 The Farrar house was sold to the Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus, and converted for use as their main clubhouse with a large addition on the south matching the style of the main house. Interestingly, at about the same time the Catholic Church also built their magnificent new Cathedral (since demolished) on Delaware Avenue making a bold intrusion onto a street that was, until that time, a WASP bastion. In the 1960's the Knights expanded again with a large nondescript addition to the rear. They sold the building to Joseph Deck in the mid 1980's but remained in residence while much of the club was converted to office space. During this tenure the building lost much of its luster. Like an old dowager, its elegance lingered but no longer sparkled.
At some point the brick was painted. Earlier images show a cream color with gray accents that does not look too bad. Later it received a grim, almost monolithic coat of battleship gray. Even the slate roof was painted over. Paint jobs in poor taste like this (pictured) are usually warning signs that a building is in for hard times. It is very common to find buildings with monolithic coatings of gray or even wacky tones like orange or green or bright blue which are inevitably underused and under maintained. This one never declined to a desperate state but it was clearly on a downward trajectory. The tacky hotel butted up to its north side did not help the affect either. Thankfully Jim Jerdeis and his 506 Delaware Avenue Associates LLC purchased the building in 2003. Jerde rehabbed the mansion including facade work that removed the paint and exposed the natural brickwork for an amazing turn around. The Knights of Columbus still runs an athletic club out of the basement of the building which is open to all. It is known as both the Catholic Club and the Downtown Athletic Club.
Today the building looks great but suffers from some pretty bad landscaping and a rally tacky metal and brick fence out front. A bit of attention to that would go a long way to adding a lot more sophistication to the building. However, this is nitpicking when compared to where this building came from not too long ago. Mark this as a big win for the good guys.
More on the Farrar House:
Buffalo Rising on the Farrar House: