Christopher Brown - LINKS

Designs of C.D. Swan, 19th century society architect, still delight
By Christopher N. Brown

Click on illustrations for larger size and additional information

636 Delaware Avenue

"A Cottge at Buffalo"

"A Residence at Buffalo, N. Y."

George L. Lewis House, 197 Summer St.

McFarland House, 409 Linwood Ave

PS # 59

290 Jersey Street, where C. D. Swan grew up

290 Jersey Street, where C. D. Swan grew up

Buffalo has many fine buildings designed by America's most influential late 19th century and early 20th century architects. Other architecturally pleasing buildings骳hurches, schools, and houses體ere designed by a cadre of home-grown architects. Their names resound through now dusty building periodicals from the Victorian era. Now, as their designs continue to give pleasure 100 years and more after construction, and many of them are being rehabilitated in ways that celebrate their heritage, these local names are emerging from the obscurity that befell them over the years.

One such man is Charles Day Swan, who spent most of his life in the city's Allentown section and designed many of its buildings and those in nearby upper class neighborhoods.

Swan's grandfather Adin came to Buffalo in the 1840s to find fortune in Buffalo's burgeoning shipping trade as a commission merchant. Swan was born in 1855. In the late 1860s, Swan's family moved to a fancy Italianate house in Buffalo's then-northern neighborhood, on Jersey Street near Plymouth.

In the 1870s, a young architect and west side neighbor of Swan's,
Richard Waite, who lived on Pennsylvania Street near Symphony Circle, took Swan on as a draftsman. In the era before formal architectural education, this was the first step in learning the craft. Stanford White, for example, was a draftsman in H.H. Richardson's office and worked on drawings of the Buffalo State Hospital.

In 1880 Swan got married Helen Maud Woehnert and set up his own practice. Swan tested his skills designing a large store on Main Street for his wife's grandfather, Dr. Frederick Dellenbaugh.

Swan & Falkner
Swan soon became a very successful, designing a number of houses and buildings by himself or with a partner, John F. Falkner. Swan & Falkner designed houses, churches, and other buildings on prestigious streets like North St., Oakland Place, Symphony Circle, and Delaware and Linwood avenues.

Scientific American Architect's and Builder's Edition
Swan achieved a measure of honor among Buffalo architects by having two residential designs published, with color plates, in the March and April, 1890 editions of Scientific American Architect's and Builder's Edition, a national building magazine, which published more house plans than any other periodical of its day. Swan was particularly adept in the
Shingle Style, the distinctively American residential style that was at its apex in the 1880s. Swan's later houses of the 1890s followed national popular tastes in moving toward historical styles like the Colonial Revival.

Throughout his life, until he moved to be near his son attending Harvard, Swan lived on Jersey Street, Elmwood at Summer, Days Park, Pennsylvania Street, and College Street: he never left his old Allentown haunts. After 1910, Swan moved to Cambridge to be close to his son Harold. Swan died in there in 1914.

Swan's work can be seen on the Linwood Avenue, Dream House, and Summer Morning on Summer Street tours.

Text ?2001Chris Brown

See also:

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