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Annual Tour of Homes shows North Buffalo's eclectic architecture

Another sure sign of the weather gradually turning from spring to summer is the 18th Parkside Tour of Homes in North Buffalo. It's a chance for the neighborhood to show off its varied housing on the edge of Delaware Park, with much of that housing surrounding the landmark Darwin Martin House on Jewett Parkway.

Parkside Community Association Historian Steve Cichon said people drive through Parkside each day, but this a chance to walk through.

"It's really a great way to bring people into the City of Buffalo, into our neighborhood to be able to show off these beautiful homes that we have," Cichon said. "So many people drive through our neighborhood on their way to somewhere else, on their way to downtown. It's nice to have them put on the brakes, come in and take a walk through our homes as our guests."

While some sought remodeling ideas, others expressed interest in the neighborhood's wide span of architectural styles. One of those homes is owned by Marion Reslow, who has been working on it for 40 years.

"I like the style of it. It's somewhat Queen Anne-style, they tell me. I call it Victorian," said Reslow. "I like the lines of it. It's a little different. I like the grounds."

Reslow can sit in her backyard or look out her back windows and see the Darwin Martin House. It is the centerpiece of the neighborhood, the national landmark on Jewett Parkway designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Reslow also can look down the street and see another Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.

Since the housing in Parkside was not built by a particular developer, it is varied in look and construction materials and interiors. Alan and Judy Duchan received a lot of interior questions.

"Where the art came from," said Judy." They see our mask collection and ask where we have traveled."

"Same thing with some of the, I don't want to call them tchotkes, but the pottery," said Alan, "the other pieces that are around or some of the paintings."

Other residents on the tour route said they were asked about what repairs had been done on on often century-old houses.

"For 18 years, we have been doing the Tour of Homes. It's just great to see more interest building in the neighborhood," said Cichon. "The people who live here have always loved it. But now, more and more outsiders want to see what's going on and what makes this place special."

The event was supplied by a string of food trucks. Beverly Fortner was in her home neighborhood selling hot and cold tea as Tuk & Tea on a warm day.
"Great for business, absolutely. We've been in business for three weeks. So, we're very new," she said. "This is a great opportunity for us to be out here doing Parkside Tour of Homes."

Both visitors and event sponsors from the Parkside Community Association were excited by the warm weather and the blue sky with some occasional stringy clouds. The association reported that hundreds attended Sunday's tour. 

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.