James Hengst, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ZeptoMetrix, has been researching the history of the Hoyt Mansion his firm is currently renovating at 878 Main Street. With help from local historians and preservation officials, he has assembled a comprehensive timeline of the building’s history.
Dr. Orson Hoyt built the mansion at 878 Main Street. In the 1850’s, Dr. Hoyt purchased a large tract of land where he built two houses; these homes stood on N. Pearl Street immediately behind where 878 Main Street would later be built.
One of the original fireplaces on the first floor.
Dr. Hoyt lived in one of these homes and leased the other. He conducted his medical practice from his home, an ideal location for a medical practice, as it was located within walking distance of the SUNY at Buffalo Medical School and Buffalo General Hospital.
During the 1850’s and 1860’s, Dr. Hoyt invested in real estate, becoming somewhat of a tycoon; he also opened a large dry goods business in downtown Buffalo. He quickly became a prominent Buffalo businessman, who served as a city alderman for two terms. By the mid 1850’s, his real estate and dry goods businesses occupied so much of his time that he discontinued his medical practice. By 1875, he had acquired enough wealth to build the Hoyt Mansion at 878 Main Street as a new home for him and his family.
1894 City of Buffalo Atlas
Dr. Orson Hoyt’s entire family played a prominent role in western New York history. His father, Dr. Jonathan Hoyt, ran a successful medical practice in East Aurora and served two terms there as town supervisor. Both of Orson’s brothers also became medical doctors and one, Dr. Horace Hoyt, went into practice with his father in East Aurora. Horace had a son, William Ballard Hoyt, who started a large law firm and became one of Buffalo’s wealthiest citizens. Later, William Ballard Hoyt II became a New York State assemblyman, serving many years in the state assembly. William was a staunch environmentalist; later, Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park was so named in his honor. His son, William Ballard Hoyt III, known to most as Sam Hoyt, was also elected to the New York State assembly. Today, he serves as our assemblyman in Albany.
The Hoyt Mansion remained in the family until 1920. It was then used as a private residence for a number of years before being converted into an apartment house.
In the early 1980’s the building was once again converted, and used as a halfway house until it was abandoned in the mid 1980’s. 878 Main Street sat vacant for over 20 years until ZeptoMetrix acquired the building late last year (entry image). The company expects to move into its new offices next April after a top-to-bottom restoration (below). Zepto’s labs will remain in their current location next door.