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Thomas Coatsworth House, Yours For Under $400K

One of Buffalo’s most grand and historic houses was just listed for sale, asking $399,500.  The giant Second Empire style house was built in 1879 in an area that was most likely somewhat rural at the time. It probably sat on a large open estate with a view over to the Fargo estate a few blocks away.  As a matter of fact the house still offers up spectacular views to Canada, Downtown, and Lake Erie from its tower.  Today however, it stands out among the densely built mostly small wooden cottages of the neighborhood.  It is so large that even a relatively big house next door looks small in its shadow.

The listing says the house has a whopping 8,374 square feet of space.  The current owner lives on the first and second floor and rents out two other apartment units in the house for a combined $1,800 revenue stream. Here is the sales pitch:
49 Cottage St Historic Gem in the heart of Allentown! Will you be the next keeper of this stunning property? 360 views from 4flr offer up the Buffalo harbor, Canada, City Hall, Medical Campus. This unique and gracious house offers endless possibility. Grand entry to the 1st and 2nd floors currently occupied by owner. Large spacious kitchen w/ huge windows overlooks back yard. Baths are updated keeping some original detailing. All period trims/hardware/flring intact. Two 3rd floor apartments (occupied) have updated kitchens and baths. 4th floor is the show stopper with views of the entire City and Lake Erie.

The Coatsworths were one of Buffalo’s most prominent early families.  Thomas Coastworth made his fortune after the Civil War running several freight boats on the Great Lakes.  He established one of the first grain elevators on the Buffalo waterfront.  The coat of arms above the entry is noted to be the banner under which the Coatsworth family served in the War of the Roses.

The Coatsworths eventually moved uptown to more fashionable digs some time around the turn of the century, after which the house began its long decline.  It was home for a time to the Brothers of Mercy and Carmelite nuns after which time it likely became a rooming house and then a flop house of sorts.  For many years (decades?) the exterior was a complete wreck.  I didn’t give it much time on this earth. Who is going to care for a giant decrepit rooming house in a declining neighborhood?  Well, that was then. I was amazed and overjoyed to walk by one day a few years back to find it restored.  The interior is serviceable but could use some updates and freshening.  Enough original detail remains to make this a spectacular home.  The ceilings are super high, windows are huge, and there are those views! Much of the damage of time and neglect, such as dropped ceilings, can be easily reversed.  At some point a sprinkler system was added so, pipes run through many rooms. These would be a challenge to integrate better into the house but with some ingenuity it could be done preserving a great safety feature.

The house has 20 total rooms and taxes are $5,826.  The rent will cover most, if not all the mortgage.  With some upgrades I am sure these apartments could command well over $2000 total. It is a lot of house to take on, but the right buyer will reap the benefits of one of Buffalo’s true gems.

See the house up close and personal inside and out that the open house this Thursday August 27 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

Interior images are from the Realtor. Exterior images are via Buffalo as an Architectural Museum

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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