“Hiram Day Mansion”

441 Franklin Street was built in 1870 for Cyrus L. Gorton during the guilded age: a period of conspicuous consumption in the U. S. Buffalonians were becoming prosperous, and the best way to expend wealth at the time was to build the biggest, most impressive house they could afford. 441 Franklin Street is dressed to impress.

The house was designed in the Second Empire style (extremely modern at the time) and has a distinctive, highly vertical mansard roof, pierced with arched windows. It also has a tower on the northwest façade. The third story is dramatically highlighted with wide eaves and ornamental brackets beneath. Exuberantly artistic wooden hood moldings over the massive arched windows on the second floor add to the architectural festivity of the house. Inside, the center entrance leads you into the entry hall with elliptical staircase and carved octagonal newel post.


In the drawing room to the left of the staircase is a beautiful carved white marble fireplace mantel topped with more wood carving. Each room has different woodwork of oak, chestnut, and walnut. Behind the drawing room is a dining room with another fireplace, while pink marble fireplace mantels highlight another room. The house’s original owner, Gorton, was a Civil War veteran and civil engineer. Gorton only lived in the house a few years and sold it in 1873 to prominent attorney Hiram C. Day, who lived in the home for the next thirty-five years until his death in 1908.




Day trained as an attorney with Millard Fillmore and became a close friend of the Fillmore family, visiting the White House often while Fillmore was president. Day was in love with Fillmore’s daughter and when she died an early death, his love for her continued. He died a bachelor, and in his final, fading years his niece moved in with him to provide care and assistance.

The next family who occupied 441 Franklin Street was equally intriguing. Nellie Clark, the widow of ship captain Alexander Clark, purchased the home and lived there with her children Jane, John and Henrietta. Her oldest daughter Jane graduated from the University of Buffalo Medical School in 1916, becoming one of Buffalo’s earliest woman physicians. Jane operated her doctor’s office in the basement of the house, and by 1930 had turned the house into a rooming house for elderly tenants, with as many as twenty boarders living in the house with her and her husband Ernest Fowler. She certainly provided medical care for many of her tenants.

By the mid-1990`s, this grand home had turned into a seedy boarding house. It was purchased a few years ago by Don Gilbert. Don is in the process of creating luxury apartments in the building, providing modern conveniences while at the same time restoring the unique and historic architectural characteristics of the house.
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