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.


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