Heman B. Potter House
Southwest corner of Delaware and
Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY

Architects: Ithiel Town and Alexander J. Davis

Illustration source: "The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo," Severance, Frank H., ed. Buffalo Historical Society, Vol. 16, 1912 (

Judge Heman B. Potter came to Buffalo in 1810. As the region's first district attorney, he conducted the trial of the three Thayers in 1825.

His daughter married George R. Babcock, an attorney and member of the Assembly in 1842.

In 1836, he moved into a splendid house on Niagara Square for which the prominent New York City firm of Ithiel Town and Alexander J. Davis furnished designs. The late Federal-style dwelling (so like others of the time in Buffalo in its cubic mass, end chimneys, and roof line
balustrade) faced the south side of the square from where it was entered through a Greek Revival columned porch raised several feet above street level. (The east elevation looked onto Delaware Avenue.)

"I intend to have no carved or filigree work about my house, outside or inside; plain but very neat," Potter admonished his architects, whom he also asked to model his entrance on doorways he had seen on Waverly Place in New York City. Why Potter engaged Town and Davis is not known, hut his choice illuminated the strong economic and cultural ties that bound Buffalo to New York with the development of the Erie Canal (of which Potter was a prime supporter). "The Buffalonians," stated a local newspaper the year Potter moved to Niagara Square, "are determined not to be behind New York in any particulars."

Heman Potter's fine house, which later descended to his son-in-law, attorney George Babcock, was the first building in Buffalo known to have been designed by a nationally prominent architectural firm. In future years, out-of-town firms would furnish plans for many of the houses along Delaware Avenue.

Demolished for the
Women's Educational and Industrial Union Building.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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