Sunday, July 27, 2014

Deco Delights: Sears Building Awaits a Better Future - or Demolition

Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

Deco Delights: The 1929 Sears Building Awaits a Better Future - or Demolition

Most of my posts so far about Art Deco buildings in Syracuse have shown buildings still in use that contribute much aesthetically and economically to the community.  This post brings attention back to the Sears Building at 1300 South Salina Street, one of the grand Deco buildings of the period, but one that has mostly sat empty since Sear moved to the suburbs in 1975.  The building sits amid mostly vacant land just minutes south of Downtown.  Much of this area has been declared "brownfields" as despite grants awards last year still awaits cleanup and development.  The Sears buildings could be central to any future for the area - though more likely any developer would want to tear it down and start afresh. 

When the store opened it was major news in all the local papers.  And the coverage tells us what was innovative about the store and its location.  From The Syracuse Herald (October 2, 1929):
Officials of the Sears, Roebuck Co. are unusually pleased with the location, because they are eager always to consider it from the viewpoint of the customer and his convenience. S. Salina St. is undoubtedly the main boulevard in the city and is easily accessible from everywhere. The parking facilities are of the very best. The structure was started in the spring of this year.

It is a three-story building of white face brick and all-steel construction. A tower surmounts the building proper. The entire building may be said to be composed of small shops — each a little store in itself, making shopping very convenient.  The lighting system is unusually adequate. The day lamps lend a sunshiny atmosphere to the entire store. No expense has been spared to make the store complete in every way. Every modern convenience and mechanical device has been introduced, including a refrigeration plan to cool the water, lights to illuminate every corner, wide aisles, an excellent restroom and soda fountain,free parking spaces, free tire service station and other facilities.
Some of the history of the building and the issues confronting its survival are provided on the blog/website You Are the Mayor which focused on abandoned buildings.   The Sears buildings was built and opened in 1929, and despite the depression that began just weeks later, it managed to survive as a major retail center until the 1970s, when so much commerce followed (mostly) white customers to the suburbs - and our present-day mall culture began. 

You Are the Mayor links to the October 2, 1929 full-page feature article in the Syracuse Journal announcing the store's grand opening, Sears Roebuck was committed to serving the local community.
"In order to be of real service to the neighborhood in which Sears Roebuck & Co. have opened this new store in Syracuse, the company has made special preparations to provide those necessities and conveniences which will serve to make this retail store a neighborhood center." "It is hoped the store will be used as a meeting place where friends may wait for each other upon appointment. For the convenience of customers, besides the free automobile park for the convenience of store shoppers, there will be places where baby carriages may ample and well appointed rest rooms for women, a soda fountain luncheonette, where either right lunches or well-prepared meals may be had, and other conveniences which will serve to make the store real useful to the entire neighborhood as well as a place where all items usually secured in a department store may be found."

Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

 Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

The new store was the most up-to-date department store imaginable, with event modern convenience.  But most popular of all was its location south of the downtown, with "huge amounts" and "unlimited" free parking to satisfy the new demands of an increasingly automobile-centered consumer base.  The language used to describe the location and free parking this 1929 description is very similar to language used to promote new shopping malls in the post- World War II era, and the large enclosed malls from the 1960s on.    From The Syracuse Herald (October 2, 1929):
Upon interview, J. M. Barker, eastern regional manager, said: "We are more than pleased with the site selected in Syracuse For our new store. It measures up to every requirement of the company and I don*t believe we could-Have chosen more fortunately." "The present day tendency is to establish stores away from the congested district" continued Mr, Barker. "A few years ago, this idea would have been termed absurd but in this modern day of congested traffic and the advent of the automobile age, this plan is the most plausible. Shoppers do not like to drive through a veritable maelstrom to shop. They want to reach their destination as quickly and as easily as possible. That is why we selected the location at S. Salina and W. Raynor Sts." "Too, the site here affords excellent parking facilities. It has always been a firm policy of our company to provide free parking space for the customers. Here we have accommodations for a huge number of cars. Stalls Are marked off and a uniformed attendant will be on duty at all times to assist in the parking of the cars. A Free tire service station is maintained on the grounds as an added feature.
The trend toward moving large retail away from the congested downtown, had in fact already begun in the late 1930s.  It was just starting when the Depression hit, so ti was not until the new building boom of the 1950s that it begun again, this time coordinated with - or at least facilitated by -the massive construction of suburban residential developments hurried into post-war construction to meet pent-up demand, and the newly planned Eisenhower-era highways.  So in many respects it is a direct line from the 1929 Sears on South Salina to the Carousel Mall of 1990.

Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

Today, the Sears Building sits in the middle of what has been dubbed the The South Salina Street Gateway area (brownfields), bounded by Taylor Street on the north, Kennedy Street on the south, State Street on the east, Midland Avenue, Cortland Street, and Oneida Street on the west, and covers approximately 113 acres.  In 2012 Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner Unveiled Brownfield Redevelopment Plans for the area. 

Their announcement stated:
The 113-acre South Salina Street Gateway area is located between downtown and the southern portion of the City, and is ripe for commercial and residential growth. This area is a gateway between Downtown Syracuse and several residential neighborhoods. The completed plan for the South Salina Street Gateway BOA provides a revitalization vision for an area consisting of 17 known brownfield sites and 29 additional vacant or underutilized sites. The South Salina Street Revitalization Plan calls for the creation of an urban core consisting of commercial and residential mixed-use development, including retail and service shops, and a possible expansion of public park space. The plan presents opportunities for job creation, improved urban design, and long-term area-wide revitalization.
I'm not sure if anything has happened since - I have not heard much since of an "urban core consisting of commercial and residential mixed-use development, including retail and service shops, and a possible expansion of public park space" - but would glad to learn what is going on (or not). Time for an update from City Hall?  This area is too critical to the city's future to ignore. When I find out more, I'll update this post.  

Let's not have the very important issues of I-81, the Inner Harbor and (yes) Destiny's hotel plans suck all the air of discussion, planning and real progress in the city's distressed neighborhoods. 

 Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

 Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

Syracuse, NY. Former Sears, Roebuck Co. Store, 1300 S. Salina St (1929).  Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2014

See some posts on other Deco Delights here:

Former First Trust & Deposit Wolf Street Office  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Northside Treasures: Baumer Candle Company (811 N. Alvord Street)

 Syracuse, NY. Baumer Candle Company, 811 N. Alvord St.  Charles Colton, architect, 1887.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Syracuse, NY. Baumer Candle Company, 811 N. Alvord St.  Charles Colton, architect, 1887.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Northside Treasures: Baumer Candle Company (811 N. Alvord Street)
by Samuel D. Gruber

Last summer, my colleague Bruce Harvey and I carried out a Historic Resources Survey for the City of Syracuse of the former village of Salina, the city's oldest neighborhood.  The report consists of an historical overview of the area, a review of historic maps and other documents, and a careful review of all the streets and significant buildings within an area about 10 x 10 blocks, from Lodi Street to Grant Avenue and from Kirkpatrick Street to Hiawatha Boulevard.  The area is centered on Washington Square, and covers all of the grid plan envisions by James Geddes when the village was first laid out in 1798 (not all streets were opened at that time).  The area contains a wealth of old, historic and distinguished buildings including many of finest 19th-century residences in the city, three important 19th-century churches, and a smattering of institutional and comemrcial buildings erected as the neighborhood changed from in the decades after the Civil War. 

The report, Vol. I of which can be found here, also contains in Vol II recommendations for the listing of twenty properties on the National Register of Historic places, though there are strong arguments for the entire area to be designated an Historic District based on the integrity of its original plan, it rich history associated with the salt, brewing and candles industries, and the distinction of many of its buildings.  Much of this value  was noted by local historians and architect in the 1970s, but little was subsequently done to protect this heritage.  It is to the City's credit that now attention is focused on the area's physical maintenance and social revitalization.  Now homes to a diverse population including many new immigrant groups the area deserves stabilization and improvement.   

Last summer I featured a small number of notable buildings in the area on this blog. These include the First Trust & Deposit Wolf Street Office, the H. A. Moyer Automobile Factory, , Zett Brewing Traces on Danforth and Lodi Streets, the Avery-Burton House, and the Catherine Murray House. This summer I will continue to do do.  I encourage my readers to walk, bike and drive in this area.  It is close to Downtown, the Regional Market and ballpark, and (yes!), the Destiny mall.  You'll will be well rewarded.  

One of my favorite buildings in the area if the Baumer Candle Factory built in 1887, a four-story brick factory that dominates the 800 block of North Alvord Street, looming over the neighboring wood-frame residential building.  This is one of the finest and most decorative nineteenth-century industrial buildings in the region.  A newspaper article of February 20, 1887 about new buildings designed by leading architect Charles E. Colton announced that  “An extensive three story brick factory building for Francis Baumer will be begun on March 1st in Alvord street, near Kirkpatrick street. Dawson & Carr are to the mason builders and John Homer, the carpenter. The building will cost $7,000” [ “Lots of Building: Some of the New Structures to be Put Up This Year,” The Sunday Herald (Feb.  20, 1887]

Syracuse, NY. Baumer Candle Company, 811 N. Alvord St.  Charles Colton, architect, 1887.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

 Syracuse, NY. Baumer Candle Company, 811 N. Alvord St.  Charles Colton, architect, 1887.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Colton was one of the city's leading architects at the turn of the 20th century, best known for City Hall, but designer scores of houses, churches and commercial buildings throughout the region. On the North Side he also designed the Grant School on Second North Street. He was educated in the public schools of Syracuse and was engaged in various enterprises before he entered the architectural office of Archimedes Russell in 1873, to whose style Colton owed much. Three years later he established his own architectural offices.  When Colton died in 1914, he was hailed as "the most prominent architect in the city at the time."

Syracuse, NY. Baumer Candle Company, 811 N. Alvord St.  Charles Colton, architect, 1887.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

 A Little Candle History  

After salt and beer, the third prominent industry in the former Village of Salina, was candles
(from Historic Resources Survey: Washington Square Neighborhood):
Like the breweries and the cooperage businesses, the production of candles for religious uses was dominated by German immigrants. Anton Will was an immigrant from Bavaria; in the early 1850s, he developed processes for producing beeswax candles that were of a suitable quality to be used in Catholic masses, and created his candle business in 1855. Anton’s wife, Rosina, carried on the company after Anton’s death by suicide in 1866; in 1875, she married Christian Eckerman, who took part in the leadership of the firm which then changed names to the Eckerman and Will Candle Company.

At the same time that Anton Will was establishing his business, Francis Baumer, another Bavarian immigrant, also started making liturgical candles in the Washington Square area. Will’s business grew to the point that he built this large, four story brick factory building on North Alvord Street, designed by noted Syracuse architect Charles Colton and erected in 1887.

On the Vose map of 1892 the factory is called the Phoenix Candle company, which according to Boyd's Syracuse City Directory of 1894 was managed by Baumer.  By 1924 the factory is labeled as “Will & Baumer Candle Factory.”

In 1896, Baumer merged his candle company with the Eckerman & Will Candle Company to form the Will & Baumer Candle Company. In 1903, Will & Baumer moved its offices to what is now the corner of Park Street and Buckley Road on the Syracuse-Liverpool border, and built its factory complex in 1912; the company remains in business though now located in Tennessee
As described in Historic Resources Survey: Washington Square Neighborhood
The North Alvord Street façade is essentially rectangular, divided into three vertical bays.  The façade is surmounted by a slightly higher attic extension, one bay deep that is covered by a complex hipped roof, with three pyramid hipped roofs joined in one. The end bays are articulated like applied corner towers.  From a distance, the façade and the roof line are suggestive of a church or public building. 

The mass of the building is divided in two unequal horizontal masses.  The ground level is articulated as a base into which is inserted to the east an open passage for loading.  Across the rest of the façade are three bays, now closed, that may also have been for loading and transport directly to the street.  These bays are divided by piers alternating stone and brick – the courses deliberately of different thicknesses for visual effect.  The brick sections are further decorated with applied molded terracotta plaques with floral decoration.  The piers carry metal beams – probably steel - which serve as lintels for the bays, and help carry the weight of the masonry of the other floors.  Similar beams carried on slender metal (iron?) columns extend for the entire depth of the building on the east side, to create an cover passage, open on the side by the colonnade.

The top three stories are articulated as a single block.  Finer brick is used for the façade, which is given a variety of window types and sizes, with more full arches.  The building sides are articulated with even rows of tall rectangular four-over-four sash windows set in slightly arched openings with simple stone sills. Windows diminish in height with each story.  The east side of the main building block has three rows of fourteen windows.  The west side has fewer, with only one window per level in the corner “tower” – which appears to house an interior stair.

The façade center bay projects slightly.  It is emphasized by two large arched windows on the second floor, four rectangular windows with transoms on the third floor, and four smaller arched windows on the fourth floor.  Decorative molded brick or terracotta is used in horizontal bands between each floor.  The side bays have two rectangular windows each on the second floor, two arched windows on the third floor, and three arched windows on the fourth floor.

A second slightly lower brick wing of unknown date is added to the rear of the original building and an even later side wing is added to the east of this, creating a still narrow L-plan for the entire complex.  Main entry to the site is from North Alvord Street. 


“Charles Erastus Colton,” Syracuse Then and Now online at  ( Accessed Sept. 15, 2013) [n.b. the site gives the wrong address for the Baumer factory, listing it on North Salina St instead of North Alvord]

 “Lots of Building: Some of the New Structures to be Put Up This Year,” The Sunday Herald (Feb.  20, 1887].

Samuel D. Gruber and Bruce G. Harvey, Historic Resources Survey: Washington Square Neighborhood Submitted to the City of Syracuse, September, 2013.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Westcott Sunday Walking Tour May 18th: Stately Streets

 Syraciuse, NY. 400 block of Allen Street. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber
Westcott Sunday Walking Tour May 18th: Stately Streets 
by Samuel D. Gruber

Join me this Sunday, May 18th at 1:00 p, for the third of this spring's Westcott Sunday Architecture and History Walking Tours.  The tours are free, and are sponsored by the Westcott Neighborhood Association with support form UNSAAC.

This week we will explore: Stately Streets: Allen St., Cambridge St. and Harvard Place
  Startpoint: Recess Café, 110 Harvard Place (off Westcott), 1:00 pm

            (Parking: on street and at free community lot on Harvard Place, across from Cafe)

 Syracuse, NY.  557 Allen St. (at Harvard Pl.).  Originally the Morecroft House ca, 1900.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 

Harvard Place

Phelps Street, now Harvard Place,  was already attracting residents by the early 1890s.  Houses are shown as built on the 1892 Sanborn insurance maps, and that same year we read a notice in the Evening Herald of June 25, 1894 “To  Rent—NEW  QUEEN ANNE HOUSE on Phelps street. Fourteenth ward with bath, furnace, gas,. Etc.  Rent reasonable: new electric railway. F. A. Knoblach ….” The name of Phelps Street was changed to Harvard Place in 1912 as a result of a petition from residents.  (Syracuse Herald July 2, 1912)  Apparently there was less red tape one hundred years ago, since the change went through by July 9, 1912.  At the Northeast corner of Harvard Place and Allen Street is a fine late example of the Queen Anne style.  It was built ca. 1900 and occupied for many decades by cement-maker Frederick Morecroft and his family.  At the corner of Harvard Place and Fellows Avenue is the T. Aaron Levy School, designed by Albert Brockway and opened as the Nottingham Junior High School in 1924 (soon changed to High School).

 Syracuse, NY. 420 Allen St.  Gaggin & Gaggin, Architects  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber

 Syracuse, NY. 420 Allen St.  Gaggin & Gaggin, Architects, Post-Standard, 1905

 Allen Street (400, 500 blocks)

Allen Street between Harvard Place and East Genesee Street was developed by in the late 19th century by James Pennock (1842-1929), these blocks have some of the biggest houses in the Westcott neighborhood, and today after several decades of repair, renovation and revival this is one of the lovliest streets in the city.    

We'll explore the history of the street's development, and the architecture of many of its early 20th century houses.  

James Pennock was born in Yorkshire and came to America with his family in 1854.  He was in the shoe business for many years in Boston and Kansas City, where he began to deal in real estate. He moved to Rochester in 1888, and soon thereafter bought eight acres on East Genesee Street in Syracuse and laid out Allen Street following the most modern principles.  He developed and built impressive houses designed by the prominent architectural firm of Archimedes Russell.  He sold these new houses ready-built beginning around 1902 .

Pennock himself built two homes in 1910-12 at the intersection of Allen and East Genesee. For his own residence he built the large gray brick house on the comer designed by noted local Albert Brockway.  On Allen Street he built what newspapers at the time called an "English cottage" for his daughter, Mrs. Charles B. Gould.   Previously, Mrs. Gould lived at what is now 470 Allen Street, a house with unusual Gothic detailing.  Pennock's house  built in the American Renaissance style, now serves, much altered after a fire, as the offices of Dr. Philip Falcone.  It was described at the time of its erection as “an American home." 

Cambridge Street 

The land of what is now Cambridge Street was developed a decade after Allen Street.  A large parcel was owned by Palmer Curtis and passed on to his daughters Harriet and Helen.  Already on the 1892 map of the area street on the Curtis parcel is delineated and called Curtis Street, but the development of the street only came later, and we do not learn of construction on the tract until 1904, when a newspaper notice of Jan. 17, 1904 announced that:

Miss Harriet S. Curtis has broken ground for  a  modern House in Cambridge street, Seventeenth ward,  which she will build at a  cost, of $7.000 for investment. It is to be a twelve-room house- with hardwood finish and all improvements. Miss Curtis will direct the construction and it is the plan of Miss Curtis to build several houses in this section of the city.

These houses, which still exist are similar in form to those built by Pennock on Allen Street, and judging from information on Sanborn insurance maps it seems that Curtis built at least five houses before 1910.  At the corner of Cambridge and East Genesee, where the firehouse is today, the Bastable family also had an impressive house. 

 Syracuse, NY. 245 Cambridge St.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber

Most of the lots on Cambridge were purchased and built upon after World War I.  Colonial Revival houses were popular in the 1920s.   There are a few examples of bungalows with arts and Crafts details of different types.  Already in the 1920s, but especially after World War II, Cambridge was popular street for middle class Jewish professionals.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Syracuse Architect: Justus Moak Scrafford (1878-1947)

 Syracuse, NY. 726 Lancaster Ave. (formerly 114 Lancaster). Justus Moak Scrafford, architect (1910).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Syracuse Architect: Justus Moak Scrafford (1878-1947)
by Samuel D. Gruber

Last Sunday we took our second of this spring's Westcott Sunday walking tours and explored the few blocks west of Westcott Street and north of Euclid Avenue that climb the Clarendon Street hill.  The walk began on Euclid Ave. where the former Engine House 10 (now Westcott Street Community Center) and the grand Queen Anne style Loomis House are among the oldest in the neighborhood.  But this year we especially looked at the role of local architect Justus Moak Scrafford (1878-1947) who, together with Clarence S. Congdon, especially helped shape the area with a series of fine colonial style houses built on Clarendon Street and Lancaster Avenue between 1909 and 1914.  

Justus Moak Scrafford ca. 1902.  Syracuse University yearbook photo courtesy of SU Archives website

Who was Justus Scrafford?  Despite his affiliation with Syracuse University, the location of Scrafford's papers is not known, so information on his work comes mostly from newspaper references. Thanks to some research by Travis M. Bowman, and some addition sleuthing on my own for the Westcott tours, we now know that Scrafford attended Syracuse University where was an editor The Onondagan, the junior yearbook for which made many illustrations,  and he was also on the track team and in 1900 competed in the 800 meters in the summer Olympics in Paris. After graduation Scrafford worked at the New York City architecture firm of Trowbridge & Livingston until he was accepted at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts)  in Paris  After graduation from the Ecole, he returned to Trowbridge & Livingston for a year, until he was hired as an Associate Professor of Architecture at Syracuse; where he was made full professor in 1913. 

In addition to teaching at Syracuse he was especially active as a local architect between 1910 and 1920.  He designed many houses, mostly it seems in the English Colonial style, but also was the architect of the Bellevue Country Club, of which he was a member, and several churches including Erwin Methodist Church on Euclid Avenue near Westcott Street, not far from his house on Lancaster Avenue.  He also designed the Parish House at Grace Episcopal Church on Madison Street at University Avenue in 1913 and St. Philip's Episcopal Church which opened in January 1922 and closed in 1957, when the congregation merged with Grace Episcopal Church.  Scrafford's building was later torn down along with much else in the 15th Ward.  Scrafford's religious buildings were built in varied styles, but never employing predictable historicism.  They combine Arts & Crafts and more exotic elements. 

Syracuse, NY. Erwin Methodist Church on Euclid Avenue near Westcott Street.  Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1911). Historic photo. 

Syracuse, NY. Erwin Methodist Church on Euclid Avenue near Westcott Street, surviving part of 1911 building.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012

Syracuse, NY.  Grace Episcopal Church, Parish House.  Madison St. at University Ave. Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1913).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2009

 Syracuse, NY.  St. Philip's Episcopal Church (demolished). Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1921-22). Photo: Amazing Grace: The Legacy of St. Philip’s Church and Syracuse’s 15th Ward

Until recently, only Scrafford's own house at 726 Lancaster Ave. was identified.  The house, now owned by Grace and Michael Flusche, was featured in the Real Estate section of The Post-Standard with a picture on Aug. 26, 1910.  In 2010, the Flusches celebrated the centennial of the house with a neighborhood party.   The front porch has wide, fluted Doric columns with two sets of French doors that open to the living room. The foyer features an open oak staircase with a spiral-shaped newel post, and an archway with a keystone. The 14-by-15-foot dining room has a quarter-sawn oak floor and a coffered ceiling. It opens to a screened-in porch with 10-foot-high columns, beadboard ceiling and bluestone slate floor. The porch has a pass-through into the kitchen to make serving easy.  The house also has a wing on the back, which Scrafford designed as a self-contained living area with a butler's pantry, full bath, bedroom and sitting room.

Paul and Elizabeth Paine House, 1911

 Syracuse, NY. 721 Lancaster Ave.  Justus Moak Scrafford, architect (1911).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Scrafford's presence in the neighborhood, and his teaching at Syracuse University brought new commissions.  The next year (1911),  he began a fine large brick house across the street at 721 Lancaster Avenue for his University Colleague, librarian Paul Paine and wife Elizabeth.  The three-story house has a symmetric facade with a modest projecting aedicule type entrance porch in front of a neo-Federal style doorway, with sidelights.  The third floor is the attic level, but it has a high roof with three large dormers, providing a well-lit living space.  The Paines moved into the house in 1912.  Paine was a librarian and lecturer at SU and from 1915 to 1942 he was Director of the Syracuse Public Library. The public library in Eastwood opened its present building on March 19, 1958 with ceremonies and was named the Paul Mayo Paine Branch. 

Edward L.  and Daisy Torbert House, 1912

Syracuse, NY. 317 Clarendon St. Justus Moak Scrafford, architect(1912). Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
In 1912, Scrafford built a simliar, but even more impressive house atop the hill at Clarendon and Ackerman Avenue for the Edward and Daisy Torbert Family.  This large well-sited house was one of several homes of prominent Syracusans erected in a second phase of building at the crest of Clarendon Street. One reason these houses are so much more impressive than their neighbors is that they sit on wide lots, allowing full facades, and these are set fairly close to the edge of the hill and are thus fully visible from the street below. This colonial Revival house is notable for its full four-column Doric porch with a decorative balcony rail above, and its three bold projecting third floor dormers, set into a hipped roof, with a fourth dormer facing east. The siting of the house provided impressive views to the south form all the upper floor windows. The big lot behind opens all the way to Thornden Park, and include a large garage in the same style as the house.  It has an upstairs apartment, and is equal in size to many nearby residences. 

Edward L.  Torbert (1877(?)-1966) was an officer and later Director of the Onondaga Pottery Company, which later became Syracuse China, for 62 years. He was born in Davenport, Iowa. Named assistant manger of Onondaga Pottery in 1910, he filled many administrative posts with the company until his retirement in 1961. At different times Torbert as president of the United States Potters Association and the American vitrified China Association. Involved in civic life, he served as Chairman of the Onondaga County Parks Board from 1929 to 1960, and on the boards of numerous pother civic organizations. Daisy was active member of the Asa Danforth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other civic groups and hosted meetings at the house beginning from 1925.  The house was sold after Daisy Torbert's death in 1952.  Now owned by Trinity Fellowship congregation, has supported the large family of Jeremy and Lucinda Jackson since 1979.  Jeremy Jackson has co-pastored Trinity Fellowship since its foundation in 1978. 

F.M. Featherly House, 1913

Syracuse, NY. 701-703 Euclid Ave. , Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1913).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

In 1913, a newspaper notices suggest that Scrafford built a house for F.M. Featherly at 701 Euclid Ave., on the northeast corner of Lancaster and Euclid.  Featherly was also dealt in china at his business F.M Featherly, China at 209 West Fayette St.. Featherly's is a house of flats - two stories of separate but probably equal apartments. This type of house was becoming common in the neighborhood at this time.  Owners often live in one unit and either rented the other, or it was used by a family member.  The house is well proportioned, and when new would have looked simple, though handsome.  There is nothing, however, in the design of the that distinguishes it from many others of the type.  

 W.A. Schuyler House, 1914

Syracuse, NY.  1928 East Genesee St,, Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1914).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014

In 1914, Scrafford teamed with builder W. A. Schuyler, and is mentioned as the architect of a house "at East Genesee Street and Columbus avenue, overlooking Columbia Park," (Pot-Standard, July 11, 1914).  This is almost certainly the house at 1928 East Genesee St.
"Justus A. Scrafford. architect, la getting out plans for an English house to be built at East Genesee street and Columbus avenue, overlooking Columbia Park, by Mr. Schuyler. This will be covered with wide clapboards painted white and the entrance will be on the side- The living and dining rooms will occupy the major part of the first floor and there will be three rooms and bath on the second floor. Across the front there Is to be a spacious porch. The entire Interior will be finished In white enamel. Ground will be broken Monday and the house will be completed September 1 at a cost of $6,000."
J. W. Breads House, 1916

 Syracuse, NY 314 Lennox ave.  Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1916).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014

  Syracuse, NY 314 Lennox ave.  Justus Moak Scrafford, arch. (1916). Plan: Syracuse Herald (June 18, 1916)

Scrafford and Schuyler worked together again in 1916, on a house for J. W. Breads, at 314 Lenox avenue.  This house was feature with photos and a plan in the Syracuse Herald (June 18, 1916) as a "striking example of the economy of space in a semi-bungalow." The house stands in good condition - it was among t he first in the Westcott Tract when it was built, but now is surround by other houses - many of them semi-bungalows not too different in exterior appearance.  of course, in 1916, the semi-bungalow in many variations was a staple of house plan and house material handbooks and catalogs.

Hugh P. Baker House, 1915
Syracuse, NY.  Hugh P. Baker House.  Justus M. Scrafford, arch., (1915).  Photo: Syracuse Post-Standard, May 15, 1915. 

I'll end this incomplete list of Scrafford's work with mention of a house designed In 1915 for Hugh P. Baker (1878-1950) the second and fourth Dean of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University (now SUNY-ESF) from 1912–20 and 1930–33.  Baker put his stamp on the school and promoted its specialization in the study and application of wood resources.  He later served as president of Massachusetts State College  from 1933–47, now  the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

For most of his first tenure as Dean in Syracuse he lived on in the house Scrafford designed on Salt Spring Road near Seeley Rd., and still relatively undeveloped part of the city, close the recently extended city line.  A notice about the house appeared in the Syracuse Post-Standard on May 15, 1915:
The property in the new part of Syracuse opens on East Genesee Street, the Salt Springs Road and Ferris Avenue and there is already started a considerable amount of building. Before the annexation several attractive homes were built in that section which is served by the Syracuse and Suburban Railroad. One of the most recent of these is the year round home of Dr. Hugh P. Baker dean of the New York State College of Forestry, Syracuse University. It is a large house with many attractive features and is surrounded by rolling country of a picturesque character. From Dr. Baker's sitting porch it has a view across country as far as Fayetteville. He is busy landscaping the grounds and planting trees and shrubs. Justus M. Scrafford was the architect of the residence.
I've tried to locate this house without success. When built it had no street address, but it seems to have stood on the south side of Salt Spring Road between Seeley Rd.and Gorland Ave..  No houses there match the newspaper photo.  Baker left the house in 1920, and it may have been torn down for the construction of the Charles Andrews School in 1923.  When Baker returned as College Dean in the early 1930s, he lived at 113 Berkeley Drive, now the home of Chabad Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport. 


This essay is just an introduction to a forgotten Syracuse architect.  We still know little to nothing about Scrafford as a person or as a teacher, and his approach to architecture needs to be more fully considered. Along with several contemporaries such as Clarence S. Congdon, Gordon Wright and Ward Wellington Ward he helped shape Syracuse's Eastside, and also played an important role in the shift away from 19th-century ornamental styles in middle-class house design.  His work was contemporary but separate from Arts and Crafts practitioner Ward.  His English Colonial style offered an establishment alternative architecture well-to-do professionals.    

From now on, we'll keep an eye open to identify more of Scrafford's work, and perhaps to find his papers or other documentary evidence of his work.