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Preservation Award Winner: Hedstrom Caretaker’s Cottages

Preservation Buffalo Niagara is recognizing outstanding preservation projects and those contributing to preservation efforts at its annual awards ceremony May 30, 11:30 AM in the Statler’s Golden Ballroom.  Award categories were established to acknowledge distinguished contributions to our community through preservation activity. Recipients will be recognized in several areas including: preservation craft; rehabilitation/adaptive use; stewardship; neighborhood conservation; planning/reconstruction; and preservation journalism.  Buffalo Rising will profile this year’s winners leading up to the May event.
Hedstrom Caretaker’s Cottages are being recognized in the ‘Rehabilitation/Adaptive Reuse’ category.  


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The complex consists of a two-unit house (Hedstrom caretaker’s cottages), former barn, perimeter stone wall, two concrete garden walls and a ¾-acre woods.  Known locally as the Gate House due to the tollgate that existed in front of the property in the 1800s, the caretaker’s cottages is a combination of several separate buildings, circa 1820-1840s.  The barn became a carriage house in 1904.  Located at 4196 Main Street in Amherst, the house, stone wall and property are seen by thousands daily and are owned by Caroline and William Duax.
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In 1904, the Hedstroms of Buffalo purchased a large track of land including this property.  Hedstrom was a coal dealer and philanthropist contributing to churches, the library system and the Albright Art Gallery.  At the time, Main Street in Amherst was being settle by wealthy Buffalonians who built large mansions.  This marketed the beginning of residential development in Amherst, further expanded by the advent of a trolley line on Main Street.
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The Gate House and barn were in extreme disrepair after years of neglect.  To preserve the buildings, the current owners re-roofed the buildings with cedar shakes (1904 roofs) including copper gutters.  It could not be determined how long the previous gutters had been missing.  Extensive basement and drainage work were also completed in 2007.
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The lathing/plaster inside the house were gutted due to severe mold.  Through consultation with preservation architect Andrea Rebeck, the earlier dates and separate buildings became apparent.  Currently, there are two living units: the West House (WH) and East House (EH).  In addition to the roof and drainage work and with 1904 elevation drawings and photos from the early 1900s, projects completed to date includes:
  • Exterior front section of house returned to 1904 appearance;
  • WH back second floor dormer enlarges for aesthetic purposes and to increase us of interior space;
  • Unearthed brick/mortar cistern; dug out in layers by archeologist;
  • Back wall of former barn removed to do extensive water damage and rebuilt;
  • Skylights installed on dormer roofs of barn to create more natural light in second floor;
  • Four house and one barn chimney re-stucco’d;
  • New sewer system, water and gas lines;
  • All electric and telephone lines removed from buildings and under grounded;
  • Back section of WH excavated to rebuild crumbling foundation.  Old foundation stones preserved for future use;
  • One room, first-floor addition added to back of WH with crawl space for mechanicals;
  • Windows restored or custom-built where necessary.  Storm windows are flush with window frames; and,
  • The WH interior design focused on preserving as much old wood (posts, beams, chimneys, hand hewn ceiling joists, wide plank floors, wide plank dividing walls) as insulation would permit.  The original wood and chimneys are accentuated by their contrast with an uncomplicated modern design.
The buildings sit at the far west end of the wide property.  The east half (.75 acre) is wooded and wild; it is “forever green” in the deed.  Behind the house, there is a courtyard with a large white ash in the center.  The archway over the driveway connects the west and east sections of the house and includes a WH bedroom.
Caroline and William Duax currently live in the completed West House.  Four of the barn windows have been restored.  The lower floor of the barn will have a new concrete floor and doors within the year.  A structural assessment of the EH and barn have been completes and there are preliminary floor plans for both.  Three EH windows have been restored; four more are being worked on.  More extensive landscaping will not be undertaken until the barn and EH living unit are complete.
Amherst designated the entire 1.62 acre property as historic on March 4, 2002. 
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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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