The Lyth Cottage: Preservation in Progress

The Lyth Cottage on Harwood Place is undergoing an incredible transformation. What was once another beautiful Buffalo home on its way to join others before it in the landfill has been rehabilitated for a new life. Owner, Matt Newton, was beaming about the progress he has made during a recent visit.

It took about six months for Matt to purchase the city-owned property through the Homestead program, but the wait was worth it. The entire ordeal was a fine example of grassroots preservation. David Torke, of fixBuffalo, had been championing for the rehabilitation of the home on his blog for years. He took many prospective buyers through, but none were up to the task.

Matt was a follower of David’s blog and fell in
love with the Lyth Cottage almost instantly. Fast-forward a few months and
through the hard work of all parties involved, Matt was handed a ceremonial key
to the property from Stephanie Barber, the head of the Hamlin Park Taxpayers
Association. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Matt and his family have
been hard at work since last April bringing the home back to a livable
condition.

The original wood windows remained in the house
behind the boarded-up openings and Matt restored each one meticulously rather
than replace them. The temporary roof has been replaced with something more
permanent and water infiltration is finally no longer an issue after years of
neglect. A new steel beam in the basement gives added support for the old home.
One of Matt’s recently completed projects has been the installation of radiant
heat flooring made by local company,
MRT
Heat.

His most recent accomplishment has been the
installation of a signature staircase. The heavy wood planks are refinished oak
from the removal of a wooden ramp at 701 Seneca Street in the Larkin District.

The
home was built for the family maid of Hamlin Park industrialist John Lyth crica
1886. The Lyth mansion is still intact and located at 183 Northland Ave, just
behind the cottage. It was later the home of famed baseball player, Luke
Easter. Historically, the land between the two homes was filled with lush
gardens and several carriage houses for the family’s car collection and horses.

J. Lyth
& Sons Tile Company was a prominent industry begun in 1857 specializing in
ceramic tile and sewer pipe, which was located a few blocks away from the
Cottage. John brought the production process overseas when he immigrated, which
was developed by his brother. The name of the street, Harwood Place, is derived
from the maiden name of John Lyth’s wife, Mary Ann Harwood. The cottage retains
much of its original integrity and was built using many of the products that
the Lyth Tile Company produced, including the hollow tile brick and decorative
pieces above the windows.

The
Lyth Cottage falls within the Hamlin Park local historic district, which is
slated to be a National Register Historic District next year. That means the
work that Matt has completed could potentially qualify for the historic
homeowner tax credit, which is available to all residents in the National
Register district for those with a contributing structure and completing
qualified rehabilitation work.

For
additional photos, check
out my Flickr page here
.

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About the author  ⁄ david steele

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