The Michigan Sycamore Historic District could grow a bit. Preservation Buffalo Niagara has submitted documentation to add 78, 80, and 82 Sycamore along with 608 Michigan Avenue to the district. The Preservation Board will review the application on Thursday. Preservation Buffalo Niagara will be moving into the former boarding house at 72 Sycamore after owner Rocco Termini completes renovations.
From PBN’s cover letter:
These structures, together with neighboring Local Landmark at 72 Sycamore Street, provide a unique glimpse into the societal and cultural development of Buffalo as an early Canal town to the present day. As a continuous row of mixed-use structures on a busy and key downtown intersection, these buildings provide a unique glimpse into the people who came to Buffalo looking for opportunities, and the trades or business they provided for the growing Canal town.
78, 80, and 82 Sycamore Street and 608 Michigan Avenue are highly endangered. The buildings have been vacant for over 30 years and have fallen into disrepair due to lack of maintenance.
78 & 80 Sycamore Street (non-contributing)
Built c. 1920s
82 Sycamore Street
Built c.1847 by Theodore Stover
The land at the northwest corner of Sycamore Street and Michigan Avenue was acquired by Theodore Stover through two purchases, one in September 1845 and another in February 1847, for a total cost of $500. Theodore Stover, born c. 1810, and his wife Louisa, born c. 1820, were German immigrants who settled in Buffalo in 1844, where they raised their sons Louis and Albert.
After the second land purchase, Stover built the three-story commercial/residential structure which is now known as 82 Sycamore Street. According to the 1847 City Directory, he operated a grocery store in the first-floor storefront, resided upstairs with his family, and rented out rooms and commercial space to tenants. Three years later the 1850 Census valued the real estate at $10,000; this included the structure at 82 Sycamore Street and approximately one-fifth of an acre of land. The following year Stover sold the western portion of his property, vacant land between his building at 82 Sycamore Street and Eliza Quirk’s building at 72 Sycamore Street, to Henry Nickell, a German born physician. In 1854, the Quackenboss & Kennedy Atlas described 82 Sycamore Street as a “first class brick dwelling” and “part store”.
Throughout his ownership, Stover not only operated a grocery at 82 Sycamore Street, but at one point also had a liquor store and sold coal- both of which were businesses he owned with his son Louis. Like his neighbors at 72 Sycamore Street, Stover’s tenants were primarily skilled tradesman and laborers and often foreign born. As city directories referred to the property with the generic address of “Sycamore corner Michigan,” it can be difficult to identify all the tenants he had but we know they included: Johanna Bersch, a midwife; Hermann and Edward Peckert, German born locksmiths; John Holscher, a laborer; Martin Buchegger, German born butcher; and Bernham Deutschmann, a German born instrument maker.
In 1871 Stover’s heirs sold 82 Sycamore to former tenant Martin Buchegger. He continued to operate this butcher shop and reside with his wife and nine children at 82 Sycamore Street for nearly two decades. He also continued, as the previous owner had, to rent out rooms and commercial space to tenants. During that time city directories used several different addresses, including 82 Sycamore Street, 604 Michigan Avenue, 606 Michigan Avenue, and the general “Sycamore corner Michigan,” in refereeing to Buchegger business, personal residence, and his tenants. Over the years, his many tenants included laborers, horse trainers, actors, musicians, and artificial flower makers.
The property continued to serve both commercial and residential uses through the end of the 19th and into the 20th century. There also continued to be a grocery or meat market in the first-floor storefront, just as the original owner Theodore Stover had when he built 82 Sycamore Street in 1847. By the 1920’s it was known as Baldo Brothers Meat Market, in the 1930’s ownership transferred to the Sansone family, and in the 1940’s through the 1970’s, it was “Russell’s Market” owned and operated by Josephine & Russell Cinque.
In 1980 the property was sold at tax sale by Erie County and purchased by Donald Coyle. During that time, Coyle also purchased the lots directly to the west of 82 Sycamore Street, known as 78 & 80 Sycamore Street. This is the same land that Theodore Stover sold to Henry Nickell in 1851. The frame structure Nickell originally built has been razed and it its place are two, one-story concrete and brick structures. They were likely built in the 1920’s and based on building permit applications, one or both were at one point used as an “auto sales room and public garage.” In 1995 Donald Coyle sold his Sycamore Street properties, and in 2006 they were purchased by Samuel Tedesco.
What is now known as 608 Michigan Avenue, a two-story brick commercial/residential structure was likely built between 1900 and 1913. The lot was originally included in land Theodore Stover sold to Martin Buchegger in 1871. Over his ownership, 608 Michigan Avenue stayed mostly vacant except for some for various auxiliary frame and concrete structures related to his meat market in 82 Sycamore. The 1889 Sanborn updated to 1914 is the first time we see a full structure on the site, a two-story brick building facing Michigan Avenue with two, two-story brick additions at the rear. It is this same building footprint that is listed on the 1925-1951 Sanborn and with the updated label as being an “Auto tops & Glass Shop.”
As the building stands today, the two, two-story additions have been lost and it is just the main block that faces onto Michigan Avenue. In 1973 Rodney Daniel and Marvin Daniel purchased13 the property and then in 1983 it was sold to Donald Coyle. The property then changed hands a few times and in 2006 was purchased by the current owner, Samuel Tedesco.