Buffalo’s oldest house has new owners. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Coit House’s future looks secure and bright. Up until the time that they purchased the wonderful piece of Buffalo history, owners Tim Boylan and Sue-Jolie Rioux Boylan were living in Naples, Florida. Tim, who is originally from Chicago, and Sue, who hails from Newfoundland, told me that they were looking to relocate to a “bigger small city”, and first visited back in 2013 after Buffalo came up on their radar. Buffalo popped up after conducting a search on Sperling’s Best Places.
Shortly thereafter, they flew into Buffalo in January and walked the city for four days. “Within the first two hours we were hooked,” the couple told me. “It was when we were standing in front of the old Roxy’s on Main Street, that a woman (out of the blue) walked up to us and started telling us about the building – the bar had just closed. It was her and others’ excitement and pride in this city that drew us. Looking around further, we saw the opportunities and we loved the people, the culture, and the buildings.”
When Sue and Tim headed back to Naples, they began to get their ducks in a row, in preparation for a move to Buffalo. Both were in the home design business and felt that Buffalo had a lot to offer in the field. So they closed their Miami office, slowed down their Naples office, put their house on the market, and came back to Buffalo in August of 2014. With Tim’s focus being historic preservation, they soon found themselves eyeing up a house on Linwood Avenue. Unfortunately, their house in Naples had not sold, which presented a minor issue with their initial realtor who suggested that they hold off. “Incredibly, we lost the house,” Tim said. “So we enlisted the help of a friend who was also a realtor. It didn’t take long before she called us and said, ‘I’m standing in your new house.’ Ten minutes later we were standing in the oldest house in the city.”
Not only did the couple fall in love with the house – Tim immediately, and Sue a short time later – they were smitten with the neighborhood. “We love walking everywhere,” they chimed in together. “We discovered Founding Fathers, and Betty’s and Allen Burger Venture. The house had been through a lot over the years, but we knew that we wanted to bring it back to its original state. There’s a wonderful history here. Incredibly, the house was moved a mile and half to this location, which was once considered the suburbs of Buffalo at the time. The corner of Pearl and Swan had become too commercialized, and the owners wanted to save the house. It was rolled on tree trunks, and pulled by horse, to this location on Virginia Street.”
Now that the couple has purchased the city’s oldest house, they are intent on not only restoration efforts, they are planning a residential/business venture. “We have an interior design business called Tres Jolie Maison,” said Tim. “Our clients will come to the Coit House, our home, where we can work with them, to help them with their own home interior design spaces, or office for that matter.”
No sooner had the couple moved to Buffalo, did they dive straight into the interior design sub-culture of the city. First, they created a room for the Junior League of Buffalo’s Decorators’ Show House (see inset). Then, they joined Design Block, and began to network with local architects and designers. Before long, they landed a significant office interior design job within the Electric Tower, which they are currently working on. Ironically, they also retained a residential commission for a house in ‘Boca’, owned by a Buffalo family.
Since purchasing the Coit House, Sue has become close to the Coit family, via a friendship with the great, great granddaughter of the house’s original owner. Sue also managed to attract another relative to Buffalo – her sister, Grace Hulan, who recently opened up Lavender & Sage on Elmwood. They have also made a number of friends in Buffalo, which they told me would never have happened to this extent in Naples. Their son, who is now in Buffalo (one of four kids), has come to love Buffalo in no time. “It’s very easy to meet people here, and everyone is very accepting of us,” Sue shared with me. “We want to be on the Garden Walk next year. I love Buffalo’s seasons – my daughter’s name happens to be Winter. There is so much that we have found in this city that speaks to us – the house, the people, our new neighborhood. We are looking forward to restoring the Coit House to its original time frame, thus giving back to Buffalo what it has already given us. On more than one occasion, this city has moved us to tears.”
Stay tuned, as BRO follows Sue and Tim’s Coit House architectural undertakings moving forward.