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Buffalo Illustrated, Frame by Frame

In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that a couple of homeowners have taken it upon themselves to visually document their houses for passersby. They have done this by framing historic photos of their homes, to help tell the tale of their respective streets. The frames are then adhered to a tree in the yard, close to a sidewalk. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have seen people standing in front of these houses, pondering their histories.

For years, I have passed by 24 Ashland Avenue and observed the single historic photograph of the house tacked to this tree.

24 Ashland Avenue, over the years – notice the missing porch?

A couple of weeks ago, an updated triptych replaced the sole photo, which gives an even more in-depth appreciation for the narrative of the house. I love the third historic image that shows the house in the context of the neighborhood. There are even a few handwritten notes pertaining to the circa 1890 image that point out a horse and buggy, as well as (possibly) the sapling that grew into the enormous tree that flanks the property.

24 Ashland Avenue

More recently, a homeowner at 89 Norwood posted a historic image of their house, circa 1905 (lead image). Similar to the Ashland home, it’s interesting to see how the house has evolved over the years. In this case, there are so many changes, including the porch entranceway arch and spindles, and even the window placements.

89 Norwood Avenue, circa 1905

In both cases, the current homeowners have done a great job at keeping up their houses, despite suffering some setbacks over time. Their pride in their properties is clearly shown via this timeline project that offers some valuable insight into the history of their homes, for anyone who is willing to take the time to pay attention.

Back in 2018, during a trip to Providence, RI, I was struck by how many of the historic homes featured plaques, fashioned directly onto the structures. Each of the simple plaques told a story about a house, including the date built, and the house’s ‘family name.’ It was fascinating to walk along and ponder the formations of the neighborhood. I always thought that it would be great to see something similar in Buffalo. Perhaps this pictorial framing project is the start of a fun grassroots initiative that would serve a similar purpose? It would be great to see the Buffalo History Museum involved in such an undertaking.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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