Historic Black Rock building designed by W.F. Zawadzki Threatened—Campaign on Case

Lansing & Beierl gem is site of Campaign's 2019 Solstice Party on Dec. 21

Hewitt House
Buffalo architectural masters Williams Lansing and Max Beierl designed 619 Lafayette Avenue for rubber and brass baron Herbert Hewitt, who moved in in 1898. It will host the 2019 Solstice Party of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo on December 21. The Campaign is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launching of the legal battle to save the Canal District and its 2019 campaigns and victories.

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo and Executive Director Tim Tielman are hosting their annual holiday party for preservationists and friends on Saturday, December 21, 2019 from 4:44pm—sundown on the shortest day of the year—to 7:44pm at a magnificent pile of the Queen Anne style, the Herbert Hewitt House. Donations, new memberships, and renewals will be gratefully accepted. Gift certificates for The Campaign's inimitable tours on its very own Open-Air Autobus will be available. Those wishing to attend can call or text 716-854-3749 for more information or to RSVP.

The house, a preservation work-in-progress, is now owned and operated by Joe and Ellen Letteri as Inn Buffalo, a bed & breakfast. Herbert Hewitt was one of those titans who seemed to have a finger in every pie. He founded the Hewitt Rubber Company and a brass foundry, and, before he even came to Buffalo, he had invented the railroad car coupler that became standard. He decided to build a house on Lafayette Avenue, he picked a firm that was at its creative peak.

Lansing & Beierl had designed the Lafayette Presbyterian Church across the street, and the mammoth 74th Regimental (Connecticut Street) Armory, both in the robust Richardsonian Romanesque style. Lansing & Beierl were keen followers of Richardson, and had just completed a copy of one of Richardson's great houses for William Coatsworth on Soldiers' Circle.

The Hewitt house harkens further back, to Richardson's Watts Sherman House of Newport, RI, of 1874: massive chimney stacks, sweeping roofs with flared eaves, enveloping porte-cochere, Tudor detailing. Added is a an arched piazza similar to that of First Presbyterian church (both Lansing and Beierl worked for Green & Wicks at the time the latter firm designed First Presbyterian), but rendered in wood. The interiors— heavy oak, coved ceilings, custom tile, beaten iron strapping and fixturing—are a match for the exterior. The basement billiards room is a gentlemen's lair nonpareil and alone worth a visit to the house, with custom Flemish tiles, a rustic spring with hot and cold running water, and a massive leather-pocketed billiards table.

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The Hewitt House billiards room is in the Flemish Revival style, and features tile mosaics of seven different Dutch villages. Courtesy InnBuffalo
 
 
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The Hewitt House is organized around a large central hall, which gives onto the parlor (near left) and dining room. Courtesy InnBuffalo
 
 

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