Bessie Sweet Truscott House - Table of Contents
History - Bessie Sweet Truscott House
An excerpt from
Oakland Place: Gracious Living in Buffalo
By Martin Wachadlo
Published by Buffalo Heritage Unlimited
This is the northern half of a Colonial Revival double house. Bessie Sweet Truscott (1862-1941) purchased the lot early in 1897. This purchase occurred around the same time that Mary Lansing purchased the adjacent lot. Mary Lansing's husband, Williams Lansing, was a principal in the architectural firm of Lansing & Beierl. He designed a single building on both lots containing two residences to maximize the use of available space.
Although the two residences were divided by a thick party wall, 29 and 33 Oakland Place presented a balanced and unified façade. The façades and floor plans of these Colonial Revival residences were originally mirror images. Large bays mark the location of the living rooms and master bedrooms. Although the entrances originally included front porches that were supported by smooth Tuscan columns, the porch on 33 Oakland Place was removed by one of the home's later owners. The windows are nine-over-nine sash and a Palladian window on each side highlights the main staircase. Balustrades originally topped the high hip roof with its flaring eaves and the area between the dormers. The thick party wall is topped by a massive center chimney.
The interior, which originally mirrored the interior of 29, retains the Colonial staircase with its Palladian window. The living room is in the front and the dining room is behind it; all of the openings are framed by pedimented Greek Revival casings. Number 33 was expanded in the early part of the twentieth century. Instead of windows at the east end of the dining room, a short stairway leads down to a rich and inviting library. This room has a beamed ceiling, wood-mantel fireplace, built-in bookcases, and walls covered in oil paper.
When the house was completed, Bessie moved in with her husband, Frederick Truscott (1863-1922). Frederick was a prominent member of Buffalo's social scene and his professional life included work as a grain merchant, officer at a safe deposit company, and electrical contractor. When the Truscotts moved out around 1907, they rented the house to Langdon Albright (1880-1962), the son of prominent industrialist John J. Albright. In 1910, Bessie Truscott sold the house to Norman P. Clement (1885-1951) and his wife, Margaret.
Around 1912, the Albrights moved out and Norman and Margaret Clement moved in. (The Albrights later settled in at 120.) After graduating from Yale in 1907, Norman Clement had begun working for the Marine Bank, where his father, Stephen M. Clement, was president. Norman became the bank's cashier in 1913 and he was one of the incorporators of the Federal Reserve Bank the following year. In addition to their close working relationship, father and son shared a property line: the rear of Norman's property abutted the grounds of his father's grand mansion at 786 Delaware Avenue. One of the benefits of this arrangement for Norman was the use of his father's garage. His father's mansion currently houses Buffalo's American Red Cross.
In 1914, Norman and Margaret purchased 29 Oakland Place with the intention of combining 29 and 33 into one grand residence. They soon discovered that breaching the thick party wall would be a tremendous undertaking so they decided to build an addition onto 33 instead. They completed this work in 1916. Three years later, Norman's brother, Harold T. Clement, and his wife, Constance, purchased both residences and lived in 29. They rented 33 to another brother, Stuart H. Clement. Stuart was the cashier of the McConnell Grain Corp. The three brothers were quite familiar with this area because, in their early years, they had lived at 173 Summer Street, at the end of Oakland Place.
The Clements sold 33 in 1923 to Proctor Carr, who bore the nickname Shorty. Carr was vice-president in charge of sales at Buffalo Bolt Company. He added a garage for his cars in 1923 and further expanded the house with an addition in 1927. After his death in 1936, his wife, Susan Ward Carr, kept the house until 1944. At that time, she sold it to Mrs. Winifred Smith Mathewson. The house has changed hands several times since then and the various owners have made a variety of minor changes, of which the removal of the front porch is the most significant.
Present owner: Dr. Michael Rabice