Club House . Otowega Club . Buffalo . NY, Green & Wicks, Architects . 1902
The 1901 Buffalo Family Directory shows William S. Wicks as President of the Otowega Club on Linden and Starin Avenue, as well as the Vice President of the Red Jacket Golf Club.
I wondered what the Otowega Club might be, and found the building archived in “Architects’ and Builders Magazine”, Devoted to the interests of Architecture, Building and Engineering, Vol. IV, October, 1902 – September, 1903, as a Green & Wicks designed building and club.
But, what was the club all about, exactly? Long gone and forgotten, there is little to find.
Then, I found Lewis J. Bennett, a toll collector and Erie Canal repairman turned land baron, who had a key role in establishing new guidelines for the neighborhoods of Buffalo. In his biographical information courtesy of the “History of Buffalo” website, I found this information on the Otowega Club:
An integral part of the social life of the neighborhood was the Otowega Club. Located on Starin at Linden (now a vacant triangle) the building contained a bowling alley, billiard hall, card room, dance hall and dining room. Prior to its destruction in the 1940s, it served as the meeting place for residents and for religious bodies organizing congregations in the community.
Here is more information from the site regarding his land acquisition and role as “City Planner”:
Located adjacent to Parkside, Lewis J. Bennett developed the area north of the Belt Line Railroad known as Central Park.
On 200 acres west of Main Street and north of the Belt Line, Bennett began to develop a neighborhood in 1889.
Two principal conditions for the development of the area were the proximity of Olmsted & Vaux-designed Delaware Park and the completion of the 1860-1882 Belt Line Railroad, which enabled Buffalo to boast more train track than any city in world!
On 20 May, 1892, Bennett formally signed the zoning ordinances which would shape the neighborhood. Deed restrictions more stringent than Buffalo’s, e.g., no commercial R3 businesses allowed, and only one dwelling and one barn per lot (with eleven exceptions) were allowed.
Zoning ordinances called for only single family homes being at least two stories in height with barns to be placed in the rear of all residences. He also outlined the minimum costs for all residences and zoned them according to what streets they would be located on. Homes on Depew were to cost a minimum of $4,000, those on Main $3,500 and those on Linden $2,500. To insure that large houses would be built, he provided free (large) foundations on corner lots.
How cities and best laid plans change. Every neighborhood should have a club with a bowling alley, billiard hall, card room, dance hall and dining room, don’t you think?
Remembering Wicks, my Great Grandfather and how cool he must have been.
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