Explore Buffalo’s walking tours have included several on Delaware Avenue including Delaware Avenue Midway and Estates Along the Avenue. Many of the homes there have been readapted for use by a diverse group of organizations. Explore Buffalo docent Gail Proctor highlights one of the many elegant houses on Delaware, the Clement House, now the offices of both the American Red Cross and the Buffalo Philharmonic.
In the early 1900’s, Buffalo’s wealthiest and most influential families lived on Delaware Avenue, the most prestigious address in the city. The street was called Millionaire’s row and the Clement House was one of the most outstanding mansions on the Avenue. The home was simply called “786,” referring to its house number.
The firm of Green and Wicks, which started in 1881 and lasted until Wick’s retirement in 1917, were the architects. The firm was headed by architect E.B. Green, and also designed the Albright-Knox Art gallery, the Buffalo Savings Bank (Gold Dome), the Buffalo Athletic Club, Mayfair Lane, and other mansions and buildings in Buffalo and other areas.
Green is noted for the high quality of his work and the variety of styles he used in creating these grand homes. On Delaware Avenue there is the French Chateauesque Goodyear home at 888 Delaware, built in 1903; the Renaissance Revival home of George Forman at 824 Delaware, built in 1892; and the striking home of George B. Mathews at 830 Delaware, built in 1901, a combination of many styles and features, all coming together to create an elegant home. The affluent people of Buffalo respected Green’s talent and taste. E.B. Green said of the Clement house: “Next to the Albright home, the Clement house is the most extravagant home I ever built.”
This Tudor Revival building was built by Stephen and Carolyn Clement as a family home. The cost of $300,000 is over 7 million in today’s dollars. Stephen was president of Marine National Bank as well as having interests in the lumber and shipping businesses. At the time, they wanted their home to be truly unique, resembling a Tudor castle.
The style of the house is described as English Tudor and Tudor Revival. Features of this style include tall, multi-paned windows, slender columns, towering spires, and stone chimneys with decorative chimney caps that stretch far above the roof of the house.
Many of the mansion’s exterior architectural highlights can be seen from the street. Note the parapet on the front of the building. The parapet is the low guarding wall at the point of the sudden drop of the roof. The impressive stone chimneys feature chimney caps that allow the fumes to escape but protect from rain and snow. The front of the home showcases typical Tudor arches in the balustrade (railing).
The interior of the house continues to showcase exceptional features. There are 20 rooms in the mansion including a music room, a library, a reception room, and a wardrobe room. The sleeping areas are on the second floor and the rooms on the third floor were used as the servants’ quarters.
The music room, a family favorite, took up the entire left portion of the house. It is now being used as a conference room. When the Clement family lived there, two Steinway grand pianos, a harp, and a full-scale pipe organ were in the music room. There is still a sculpted marble fireplace, German silver chandeliers and sconces, and oak paneling in this 1,040 square foot room.
During the holidays, this room typically features a huge decorated Christmas tree that can be seen from the street. It is said at the time she donated the mansion, Mrs. Clement requested that the tree always be decorated with only white lights.
A secret door is concealed in the wood panels from the music room to the library which was designed for Mr. Clement. Unfortunately, he never lived in this home. Mr. Clement died in 1913 before the house was completed in 1915. After the house was finished, it was occupied by his widow and their six children.
The master bedroom on the second floor features a beautiful mantle and fireplace. Stephen Clement and Carolyn Tripp were married in front of this fireplace in 1884. The home that they were married in was set to be demolished so they chose to bring this special piece of their history into their new home.
Another interesting feature is the copper lined elevator. It was the first elevator of its kind in a Buffalo residence and is still being used today.
Carolyn Clement donated the building to the Red Cross in 1941. Major renovations and restorations were made in 1999. As well as being a beautiful historical building and a working office building, the Clement House has served as shelter for people during disasters including Hurricane Katrina and the October Surprise Storm of 2006.
In 2017 developer John Yurtchuk, a past board member of the WNY Chapter of the American Red Cross, bought the property enabling the Red Cross and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to co-exist in this beautiful building. We urge you to continue admiring this amazing mansion as it carries on the tradition of the Clement family in service to our area.
Photo Credits: Chuck LaChiusa/BuffaloAH.com
Fireplace Photo: Sharon Cramer for BPO
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