Bemis / Ransom House - Table of Contents

Exterior - Bemis / Ransom House

267 North Street, Buffalo, NY

TEXT Beneath illustrations

2019 photographs

Special thanks to  Collins & Collins for their cooperation in 2019 in photographing their building


Historic photo courtesy of
Collins & Collins

Queen Anne style house by
Silsbee and Marling in 1886(?)   ...   Details from the top down:

  Dual Catamounts (mountain lions) finials

Running bond brick pattern with terra cotta ornamentation   ...   Roundel

Catamount (mountain lion) finial

"Hi, I know a little of Henry Plasschaert. He was a terra cotta sculptor. My church building, which used to be a vaudeville theatre, and was built in 1914, bears much of his handiwork on the facade. That building is in Hagerstown, MD. I did a lot of research and discovered a group called "Friends of Terra Cotta" in NYC that know of his work also. He is the only terra cotta artist that is known to have signed his work on the facade of any building in NYC. He did so at the German American Shooting Club building in the St. Mark's district of NYC. I do also have some other information about him, but not much. His daughter became a famous violinist of her time."    ...   "He also did the monumental terra cotta frieze at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Ct. (completed 1893). He also signed this work. It's an impressive American history told in terra cotta relief panels, starting from Native American to Industrial Revolution in Bridgeport."   - Two comments on (online April 2019)


Chimney with spiral chimney brace (note anchor)    ...    
Terra cotta roof tiles   ...   Two details below:

Large, Victorian chimney with decorative brickwork

Terra cotta roof tiles    ...    Spiral chimney brace (note anchor at right)

  Roundel   ...   Banded/ ribbon windows with hoodmolds and fluted keystones   ...   Parapeted bay window

Historic photo courtesy of Collins & Collins

Terra cotta ornamentation topped by ball finial, and including  acanthus leaves and Flemish scrolls

Keystone   ...  Terra cotta panels   ...     Wrought iron railings   ...   Medina sandstone steps

Terra cotta panel

Wrought iron railing   ...   Medina sandstone steps

Guilloche pattern

Medina sandstone  patio

West elevation

Dutch gable    ...   False front    ...   Catamount (mountain lion) sculpture (three details below:)

Arcaded porch

Wrought iron railing features center baluster with scrolling acanthus leaves  rising from a fleur-de-lis

Arch with keystone enclosing a Palladian window

East elevation

Facade (left) and east elevation

Terra cotta roof tiles   ...   Art Nouveau terra cotta  window surrounds   ...   Note feathered volute at  right (detailed below:)

Terra cotta  feathered volute

Bay window

Back yard

Historic photo courtesy of Collins & Collins   ...   In 2019 this is a large commercial parking lot behind an Elmwood Avenue store


Joseph Lyman Silsbee and  James Marling

Silsbee's second house commission for Buffalo. $25,000.
The first commission was next door at 291 North St., the Noyes/Naylon House. The cost for each house was $25,000.

In 1882 Silsbee opened an office in Buffalo with Buffalonian James H. Marling (1857-1895) who also had worked in Silsbee's Syracuse office before coming to Buffalo. (Silsbee continued his office and residence in Syracuse.) All of the commissions that Silsbee had in Buffalo (21 houses, plus some commercial buildings) were the result of the contacts he made when he designed the Falconwood clubhouse in Grand Island and the Hamlin Park Driving Club. Silsbee designed several houses for the Hamlin family.


1885 or 1886

Bemis lived on the property in another building and is listed at the address in '83 but building citations and research of Silsbee's work of the period proves that the home was built a few years later.

See also:
Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1885


Queen Anne....... Flemish Renaissance


The home was designed for John Muzzy Bemis and his wife, Mary. Mr. Bemis owned a wholesale lumber company in downtown Buffalo until 1891 when the family moved to Pennsylvania. The company was then consolidated with Taylor and Crate.

Silsbee met Bemis when he was designing the Falconwood Club. Bemis was a lumber baron who accumulated great wealth selling the abundant timber from area forests. The exquisite interior woodwork reflects Bemis's career success.

Mr. and Mrs. Philip W. Ransom lived in the house from 1955 to 1981. . Mr. Ransom's career centered on real estate and investments. He was a descendant of Asa Ransom, an early settler of Western New York.

The house was the
Decorators' Show House in 1983.

Main source of information:

Additional sources:

See also: Joseph Lyman Silsbee in Buffalo Bemis House architect

Special thanks to the  Collins & Collins Attorneys, and especially Amanda Renzi, for their cooperation in 2019

Photos and their arrangement 2019 Chuck LaChiusa
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