The following email was sent to BRO by Samuel M. Prince who currently resides in Plano, TX. He wrote to us shortly after we posted an update on the Puritan Building in Allentown:
Thank you for writing about this building, which was owned by my family from 1931 until 1968-70 when my father and uncle sold it.
Please forgive the ramblings of an old man (well older – I’m only 60 – a kid by today’s standards – I hope). I saw your article about this building online. I had noticed months ago that someone was redeveloping it and wondered what would happen to it.
I am a Buffalo native, having lived in Buffalo from birth until age 25 (1978). My grandfather, Jacob Prince, bought that building for $10,000 in 1931. My father and my uncle sold it sometime between 1968-70 for $5,000. The whole area was redlined, and my father held the mortgage for a few years. There was a second building which my grandfather also bought at the same time across the street (where the parking lot next to Mulligan’s is now) for the same price. That building (The New Allen Apartments at 225 Allen) was sold at the same time The Puritan was for $5,000 – presumably to the same person. There were two retail stores in 225 also. My grandfather used one of them (227 Allen Street) to operate the Allen Fruit Market – a wholesale – retail produce business. That business ran successfully from 1931 until my father closed it in September 1966.
From the age of 7 (1960) until 2 months before my 13th birthday, I spent every Saturday and most of my summer days at “The Store.” I would frequently go with my father when he had minor repairs, maintenance, or cleaning to do at The Puritan. I can vividly remember spending a couple of hours one day while he repaired the plumbing in one of the six apartments – 3rd or 4th floor on the east side of the building. There was a wooden backboard on the wall over the toilet. My father told me that that was where the overhead water tank was for the toilets when the building was first built at the turn of the century.
Starting when I first went down there, every Monday night during the summer and then every Monday night from age 12 until they sold the two buildings when I was 16, was spent with my father. Tuesday was garbage day on Allen Street. So Monday night I would go with as he walked up and down the back porches of both buildings one trash can at a time, four cans on each back porch. I swept the halls and the stairs while he carried them down and straightened up around each porch floor. When John Boehner spoke about sweeping out his father’s bar, I remembered sweeping those halls and the ones across the street using a sheet of newspaper for a dust pan.
I can also vividly remember a distinct odor of dust, must, beer, and urine that was common in the halls of both buildings, although much less so in The Puritan – possibly because there was much less floor space in the halls than there was across the street at 225 Allen. To this day, whenever I find myself in impoverished areas, I occasionally smell that same odor.
I do not remember tenants in the retail space of The Puritan. Until I was 13, the other retail space in the 225 Allen building was occupied by the Mihara Family radio and TV repair shop. They were a Japanese American family. Mrs. Mihara also sold a small variety of imported Asian foods – rice, and some canned goods from what I remember. They closed their store around the same time my father closed the Fruit Market – Sept 1966.
I remember those apartments were exceptionally large – with 3 or 4 bedrooms each – only one bath – a large kitchen, large dining room opened to the living room which was in front where those windows are. By today’s standards they should still be good for a family. Although, I wonder if the new development has added extra bathroom space.
It is nice to see that, after 50 years, that building is returning to where it was when it first opened 100 or more years ago. Thanks for the update.