Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The White Mansion

By Jason Wilson

Located at 173 North Street within the local and national Allentown Historic Preservation District sits The White Mansion. Built in 1895, The White Mansion is an excellent example of Beaux-Arts Classicism, an architectural style typically used in the design of large residents during this time period. The structure exhibits several classical ornaments applied for theatre-like effects including a fa├žade made of buff-toned brick, light-gray marble which highlights decorative window dressings, a series of columns and a front terrace.

According to City of Buffalo permit, a J. P. White applied and received permission to construct a 3 story, brick, terrace, cottage dwelling on the “north side of North Street, 288 feet east of Elmwood” on July 13, 1895. The White Mansion was the family home of Mary Anna White, widow of late James Penfield White, and her two sons, Seymour Penfield and James Platt White. James Penfield White was the nephew and adopted son of James Platt White, M.D., a medical pioneer in the fields of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. White was a very influential force in the local and national medical community; some accomplishments included being a founding member and president of the Buffalo Medical Association, President of the Buffalo State Hospital, founding member of the Buffalo General Hospital, and a Government Medical Inspector of Military Hospitals in the West and Southwest during the Civil War. Dr. White was also a founding member of the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine as well as the Buffalo Historical Society.

James Penfield White cared for his father’s estate until his death in 1894, a year before construction began on the White Mansion. The name on the building permit refers to that of White’s son, James Platt White who was only 18 years old at the time of construction. The Mansion would stay within the White Family until James Platt White’s death in 1937. Within two months of White’s death the home was sold to a Lilla Derriel who converted the property into a rooming house; the White Mansion on North Street remains an apartment building to this day.

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