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My Favorite Buildings: Never noticed this one before!

The John W. Bush House at 165 Summer Street in Buffalo, pictured here,  was recently added to the amazing web Site “Buffalo as an Architectural Museum”.  The web site  has become an invaluable archive of Buffalo’s architectural treasures. It continues to grow and become increasingly comprehensive in scope. When I was recently notified by  site curator, Chuck LaChiusa, that the Bush house was now on the site I  was intrigued. I did not recognize it and could not place in on the street, so I had to look up its context on Google.  I thought I knew all the buildings along that block but was drawing a complete blank on this one.

Summer Street is lined with extraordinary houses.  The Bush house is quite extraordinary in its own right, but is has a subtle design that allows it to recede where the others demand attention. I have tens of thousands of pictures showing Buffalo buildings, including pretty much every house on Summer, but 165 Summer never shows up!  Chuck’s post on the house was a welcome call to pay attention to this one as well.

The formerly single family house is now split into two still very elegant residences.  John and Katherine Bush built the house some time around 1873, making it about 140 years old. It is still in great shape.  It is covered in wonderful detail inside and out.  The Tudor half-timber style of the exterior is deceptively simple.  Its proportions and form are nicely expressed by the bold geometric patterns of the half-timber applique  details. The X brace patterns marching across the second floor are probably the most prominent feature.  The rustic romanticism of this architectural styling sets the stage for an amazing surprise upon entry. The interior is not that of the expected dark old English manner-house.  Instead, the interior is densely decorated with multiple classical architectural motifs. Most  prominently, several rooms employ exuberant Greek revival detailing, in direct contrast to the medieval exterior.  The boldly composed pediments and moldings around the windows are quite distinctive. Other rooms are equally covered in various decorative styles including the gorgeous dark wood paneling of the library which does give a nod to the more somber exterior.  Next time I am walking down this street you can bet I will stop and take note of this house.


Images are used by permission form Buffalo as an Architectural Museum  © 2013 Chuck LaChiusa

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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