Biographer Floyd Miller credits Buffalo hotelier and Statler friend, Duncan McLeod, with giving Ellsworth Statler the idea of
building a house for his wife and adopted infant son, Milton. They had been living at the Buffalo Statler on the top floor. And so
Esenwein & Johnson were once again hired to design for Statler, this time with orders to create a "California-type bungalow."
The estate cost $100,000 to construct ($2,164,576 in 2006 dollars) and was complete around 1910. Its style was Arts & Crafts
with Art Nouveau details. Its most unusual feature was its rolled-edge roof that was intended to resemble a thatched roof. The
roof shingles, called Creo-Dipt, were likely manufactured by a local Tonawanda company, and could be steam-bent to curve over
roof edges. There was an outdoor swimming pool ( the first in Buffalo), a lagoon with fish and swans, a gymnasium in the basement,
and an underground passageway from the house to the garage.
By the time of his estate's construction, Statler had been
wooed by Cleveland civic leaders to design their Statler Hotel and became
acquainted with Cleveland interior designer Louis Rorimer. He hired Rorimer to decorate his new estate in Buffalo. The main house
had three stories: childrens' and servants' quarters on the third floor; six bedrooms and six baths on the second floor; a grand
entrance hall on the ground floor that opened into a ballroom, two dining rooms, sunrooms and parlors. Inside the front hall was
installed an organ for which Statler retained a full-time organist. To his friends who teased their frugal friend about such an
indulgence, Statler replied that the man had other minor duties but was on hand whenever Statler wanted music.
At his 50th birthday party in 1913, he gave each of his relatives $10,000. With two successful hotels and a thriving
restaurant, Ellsworth Statler was a wealthy man.
To keep the estate functioning required a housekeeper, governess, assistant governess, upstairs maid, parlor maid,
butler, two cooks, a gardener and chauffeur. The Statlers continued to adopt children until they had four: Milton, Marian,
Elva, and Ellwsorth Jr.
2007 Detail of the wall along Bird Avenue.
In 1936, the Statler Company sold real estate unrelated to the company's hotel mission. It
may be the reason the Statler Estate came to be owned by the Marine Trust Company. Until
1938, the estate had been rented to Harold C. Bickford. But that year, in the midst of the
Depression, the estate was demolished in order to save on taxes and the land left vacant
until better times. By 1950, one home had been constructed on the Windsor Avenue
side of the estate, and at some time after that, another on Windsor and the brick ranch home
which faces Soldiers Place.
Most of the original Art Nouveau fence remains to remind passersby of the Statler Estate.
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