Starting Point: Hertel and Parkside

Friend, fellow blogger, and ad community all-star, Katie Krawczyk, recently started a series focusing on various Buffalo neighborhoods.

To my great delight, Hertel was one of the first!

Check it out at 43North’s website. And if you don’t know about 43North, be sure to surf around their site as well. Some pretty great stuff going on over there…

Cheers,

Charlie

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House: Beyond The Architecture

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The drive to Parkside, Buffalo’s first suburb designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a hop, skip and a jump away from Hertel, is bound to leave you astounded. And rightly so, because the sight is one of magnificent opulence. Pardon me, “organic” magnificent opulence.

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For it is in this historic neighborhood, at the conjuncture of Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue that Frank Lloyd Wright’s celebrated Darwin D. Martin house stands in all its glory.

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Completed in 1907 (yes, nineteen-o-seven), the six historic structures spread over a sprawling 29,000 square feet exemplify Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy about organic architecture, and his now-famous quote “form and function are one.”

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But there is more to the Darwin Martin House than meets the eye. Behind this perfect-prairie facade lies the dedication and hard work of volunteers – almost 400 of them. They could be serving as your docents or chaperones, helping you pick out a souvenir from the beautifully curated pieces of the museum gift store, or simply fluffing the cushions in the main living room (Frank Lloyd Wright cushions, pretty big deal!).

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As a new volunteer at Darwin-Martin House myself, I can first-handedly vouch for the appreciation that the board and the staff has towards all of their volunteers. Be it the Director of Volunteers agreeing to chat with me for the blog, proudly beaming when telling me that her volunteers are the face of this organization and the most rewarding aspect of her job; or the Director of Retail Operations giving me a tour of the gift shop, narrating the story of every single art piece or souvenir that he offers in the store – it does not take long for one to realize why 400 people devote their time to this Buffalo monument (after all we do have a lot of options).

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So next time when you are on the tour, look beyond the architecture. Stop by the museum store to chat with the retail-store volunteers, ask your chaperones and docents for their stories. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Special thanks to Angela Laviano-Hamister and Joseph Incao for their precious time and cooperation.

Pictures: DarwinMartinHouse.org

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House is currently in Phase V of an expansive restoration project estimated to cost $50 million, out of which $40 million has already been raised.

Hello Old Friend

I hate goodbyes. I hate goodbyes in the airport. I hate goodbyes at parties. I hate goodbyes at the doorstep of your family or friend’s house that you don’t want to leave. Goodbyes are the worst.

I said goodbye to my friend Beth over seven years ago. Beth was looking for a fresh start so she packed up and headed to the West Coast. A goodbye like that is never fun because you never know when you’re going to see them again. Beth and I did stay in touch over the years thanks to modern technology and we managed to squeeze in a few face-to-face visits.

Fast forward seven years and three cities later on Beth’s U.S. tour, I now get to say hello. Hello Old Friend. In fact I could yell “HELLO!” out my kitchen window and as of today, Beth could probably hear me and shout it right back (or maybe “Hello Hertel!”). My old friend is back in Buffalo, North Buffalo to be exact. Beth is back in Buffalo for a variety of reasons but I’m sure she’d tell you that family, a good job and the buzz about Buffalo on the rise is what actually made her pull the trigger.

What made her choose North Buffalo? I’ll let her weigh in on that:

  • Hertel has a hip/fun vibe.
  • Great access to Delaware Park so I can get my run on.
  • Short commute to work.
  • My bestie lives there and she’s a reliable source on the cool places to live.
  • I want to have direct access to Kostas every day.

Hello Old Friend. Welcome Home.

Congratulations North Buffalo. We got another good one! Who’s next?

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Italian Fest Hangover

I just completed the Grand Slam – conquering the Italian Fest all four days.

Yes, I have it easy being just a one block stroll away. But that didn’t appear to stop those that needed to bike or drive their way in. Nor did the weather on Saturday, which still drew a good crowd despite the rain.

As an Italian-American who grew up on so many of the foods and traditions shared at the fest, it’s a great source of pride for me to have the Italian Festival located in North Buffalo – where I call home, and, according to the latest census, more Italian-Americans call home than any other neighborhood in Western New York.

While North Buffalo today is a great conglomeration of people – a melting pot for sure – it’s nice to have the focus on one of the main cultures that helped shape the neighborhood.

To the residents of North Buffalo: you are fine hosts. It’s not a small ask of a neighborhood to close their streets and open their doors so-to-speak to 200,000 visitors. And yet, we wrap up another successful year of showing off “il nostro quartiere e la cultura”. (Google it)

To Campi’s Pizza and Romano’s Bakery: your welcome – I made a significant contribution to your bottom line this week.

To the North Park Theatre: nice touch with showing Italian movies all week!

To The Public House of Buffalo: thank you – your new spot served as a safe haven from the rain on Saturday and your staff, atmosphere and beer list gave me 72 of reasons to come back.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the direction the festival keeps heading with each year seemingly bringing more and more Italian traditions and culture to the forefront. There’s so much more to our heritage than just the typical foods and songs everyone can name, and I think that’s really starting to show at the fest.

Can’t wait for next year! Ciao!