Inspired by a reporter who recently paid a visit to Buffalo, and commented on how flabbergasted she was as she took in the colorful splendor of the city’s housing stock, I have decided to create a photo journal of a series of streets.
Reminiscent of the old “Steel” house montages that appeared on BRO back in the early days, this series is mostly taken from a casual observation standpoint, and not a historic critique of the respective neighborhood. I am hoping to cover a different street each week, taking photos of the houses, the gardens, and other objects of interest that tie a street together. The shots might depict the way the sun hits a particular home, a city flag flying from a facade, or a paint job underway.
These might not necessarily be the best houses according to how pricey or intact the structures look at the time. The image could reflect my mood, the weather, or the way an old tree accents the home. There will even be some ‘bookend’ structures highlighted that don’t actually front the street in question, but add to the strength of the street as a whole. The purpose of the exercise is to show the diversity of the structures, and the way they collectively tell a story of the city.
Now onto Orton Place. The reason that I chose this street is that a couple of BRO readers emailed us asking what the deal was with a large seemingly abandoned house at the corner of Orton and Saint John’s Place (lead image and first three images below). Upon arrival, I spoke to an immediate neighbor who told me that the house had been picked up by Allentown advocate Noel Sutton, and the plan was to gut the interior and rebuild from the inside out. The guy that I spoke to said that he had given up on the house, and it had been so troublesome for so long that he had completely put it out of his mind. Now it’s going to become one of the premiere residences of the street (probably a singe). The neighbor, who purchased his own house in 1982, when people told him that he was nuts, reported that Orton Place is now a beehive of activity. “All you hear is hammering and buzz saws,” he said. “That was a crack house over there,” he said [pointing]. “And that was a halfway house over there… and another there…”
Today Orton Place is not only a pillar of the community, it’s also one of the most colorful, eye-catching streets in the city. It’s also a very short street (a Place) that is crammed with architectural bounty. I can’t wait to see the final result of Sutton’s work. I also can’t wait until the day that the restaurant (originally C0da), which sits at the corner of Pennsylvania (behind Kleinhans Music Hall) is once again occupied and operational.
The hardest part of conducting a photo shoot of Orton Place is the self control of stopping at either corner. Orton is bounded by numerous streets that all boast historic charm. A walk through this neighborhood is both fascinating and inspiring.
Ashland Avenue (between Summer and Bryant)