It was not long ago that this house was a candidate for demolition. When the current owner purchased this beauty at the corner of Jersey Street and Fargo Avenue in 1976 it was in terrible shape, probably not far removed from demolition. Neighborhood preservationist and activist Christopher Brown writes in the December 2010 Spree Magazine that this stately house had holes in the roof with waterfalls running down the walls during a rain and that windows were open and missing allowing snow drifts to form inside its once elegant rooms. This desperate condition is clearly visible in the 1986 ‘before’ image shown here which actually depicts the house on its way back up. Today the dramatic corner house built in 1879 is an anchor for a visibly rejuvenating neighborhood.
Mr. Brown reports that the owner who saved this magnificent house toiled for 15 years just to make it habitable with much work still remaining to do to complete the renovation. There are a growing number of people taking the plunge to restore these historically and architecturally significant buildings. They risk a lot money and put in a lot of personal effort in edgy neighborhoods like this because they see the incalculable value of these irreplaceable buildings and the neighborhoods they form. For this reason I was very disappointed with the discussion that followed my earlier post on the house at 268 Jersey Street where a few commenters felt the real story was that the neighborhood was crime ridden. Certainly no one is claiming this is an easy neighborhood. It is not. The real story is that there are people who see its value and potential and they are working hard to save this piece of America before it is eliminated by short sighted neglect and abandonment. Before you comment, find a copy of the December Spree and read Brown’s article. In his article Brown gives kudos to these bold city rebuilders way better than I can. Also, don’t be scared to come down and see just how nice this area of the city is and how much potential it still has. Buffalo is so lucky to have the people that are doing the heavy lifting to save the treasure that is this part of the city.
As an aside, this house stands approximately at the location of the Fargo Mansion. It was the home of William Fargo founder of the Wells Fargo Express (a company still in existence as a major bank headquartered in San Francisco) Fargo was also president of American Express (also now a major financial institution still in existence today). The Fargo mansion was at the time of its construction one of the most lavish residences in the country. Fargo Street is, of course, named after Mr. Fargo as is Fargo North Dakota.
The Vintage image is used by permission from the photographer, David Daruszka.