Autumn Tour of Homes
One of the featured residences in the Autumn Tour of Homes
Photo courtesy of Explore Buffalo
Fall means a cooling down, but definitely not a slowing down! While kids are heading back to school, we still have plenty of exploring to do. Kayak, bike, and tours by foot are still in full swing in September with over two hundred tours on the calendar. With so many options to highlight, we’ll turn our attention to an exciting tour event, the Autumn Tour of Homes: Lafayette Avenue, coming up on Saturday, September 22, 2018, from noon to 4 p.m.
Every fall, we work with a unique neighborhood, village, or historic district to highlight its residential architecture from the inside out. Past autumn tour of homes locations included Central Park and the Village of Hamburg. One of the greatest takeaways for us is having the chance to work with residents, community leaders, and local businesses to tell the story of the area. This year, we are thrilled to be along Lafayette Avenue in the heart of the Elmwood Village with over half a dozen homes open to tour.
These incredible homes of the Elmwood Village represent Buffalo’s expanding territory around the turn of the twentieth century. Residents began moving north thanks to factors like Fredrick Law Olmsted’s park and parkway system and the streetcar connecting what became known in 1890 as “The Elmwood District,” with Buffalo’s downtown center. Although there are varying architectural styles, a common thread can be seen in the large lots and set back homes. With the residential development boom came the commercial properties, and soon businesses popped up along this streetcar line to serve the growing middle- and upper-middle-class population.
Lafayette Avenue is an interesting street in the Elmwood Village, as it was carried over from the Village of Black Rock’s street plan after the annexation of 1854. The name changed from Batavia Street to Bouck Street, after William C. Bouck who was part of the Erie Canal Commission and served as the thirteenth Governor of New York State from 1843 to 1844. The name changed once again to Lafayette Avenue in 1898 to celebrate the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, which relocated to the area from Lafayette Square.
If you’ve never been on a home tour before, here’s the way it works: These generous homeowners have agreed to open up their homes to the public for a full day and, with the price of admission, you can see inside as many houses as you would like on the tour. This special self-guided tour begins at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at 875 Elmwood Avenue where you receive the official home tour guidebook with a map of the street and short bios for all of the homes. As you walk through each unique residence, some of our Autumn Tour of Homes volunteers will be available room to room to greet you and share some fun tidbits they have learned about the house.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the neighborhood and its architecture, join us for a lecture before the event at 11 a.m. at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Presented by Explore Buffalo Master Docent and creator of the website buffaloah.com, you will walk away with a whole new sense of the architectural make-up of the neighborhood! Tickets for the Autumn Tour of Homes: Lafayette Avenue can be found online at explorebuffalo.org or by calling 245-3032.
Explore Buffalo is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Buffalo’s history, architecture, and neighborhoods through quality education to learners of all ages.
Olivia Wood McCarthy is deputy director of Explore Buffalo.