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Mansion at 1260 Delaware asking $1.5M

One of Buffalo’s finest mansions has recently come on the market.  The house, located at the corner of Delaware and Auburn in the Elmwood Village neighborhood, was designed by Buffalo’s master architect E.B. Greene in 1915.  The real estate listing notes that the house contains 27 rooms including 18 bedrooms, 5 full and 5 half bathrooms, a bank vault, and a speak-easy spread over 11,229 square feet. It is filled with gorgeous original detail inside and out, including plaster moldings, bronze doors, wood paneling,and a marble stair.

I featured the house several years ago as one of my “Favorite Buildings”. Here is what I wrote back then:

This subtle Delaware mansion presents a very urban face to the city. It is actually a complex of three buildings pulled into a refined composition by a walled garden. The elegantly simple buildings include the main house, a gate house, and a carriage house forming a compound that fills its site. The main entrance opens directly on to Cleveland Avenue in a very European gesture. The entry is four steps up from street level providing a sense of separation from the public way that is just enough to say that this is a special place to pass through. Its paired glass doors are framed with delicate bronze styles and rails revealing rich wood paneling in the vestibule. Looking closely at the roof you will notice that the slate shingles gradually change size from largest at the eves to smallest at the ridge. This is a visual trick designed to make the roof appear more monumental. Though the house is monumental in many respects it retains a friendliness with the street. Its stucco surfaces have the beautiful patina of time having gathered a richness from accumulated soot and climbing vines. Great buildings like this are designed to get better with time.

As a kid my friends and I would play in the gardens. For several years, back in the seventies, it had no occupants (as far as we could tell). The enclosed compound is actually a series of walled spaces in an almost maze like configuration. Back then these spaces were filled with old stone fountains and the remnants of a once elegant garden. It had a spookiness and mystery that was perfect for a child’s imagination. There was always that bit hesitation along with an adrenaline jolt as we climbed over the wall to begin our exploration of the grounds. One time we tried filming a horror movie only to find out the super 8 camera had no film. The day usually ended with 5 or 6 kids sitting atop one of the 7 foot walls waiting for the inevitable dinner bells that were commonly used by the parents in our neighborhood.
Since that time the building has been occupied by offices (most likely law offices). It is in top-notch condition these days but sadly one of those courtyard gardens has been turned into a parking lot with a hole cut in one of the walls for access. The building still fascinates me to this day. Next time I walk by I just might get up enough nerve to peek inside the remaining garden and get that child like feeling of wonder again.

Currently the space is leased as office space to the Kaleida Health Foundation.  They reportedly pay $14,500 a month in rent.  Their lease ends in August next year.  The gate house and carriage house have been split off as separate properties but I am told that the owner of those out buildings may be willing to sell.

The interior images don’t tell the true story of how wonderful the inside really is. Kaleida has a beautiful space to work in but you can see from the pictures that they don’t quite have an appreciation for how to use the space to its full advantage. It would be interesting to see a deep pocket family take it back to its original residential use.  This is not such an outrageous proposition.  There is at least one other Delaware Avenue mansion that has gone back to single family use (or I should say residential use since most of these big houses provided living quarters for multiple families when you include the servants) This house is big but is not ostentatious and is woven into the fabric of the surrounding houses more closely than the typical Delaware mansion. This is a great piece of Buffalo to own for the right person with a big wallet.




Images are from the real estate listing

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.

View All Articles by David Steele
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