Western New York Heritage

A Pair of Distinguished Chapin Parkway Addresses

126 Chapin Parkway

The home of Harry T. Ramsdell at 126 Chapin Parkway, ca. 1915.

Credit - Western New York Heritage Press

Designed by architect Williams Lansing, the stately home at 126 Chapin Parkway was built in 1910 for Harry T. Ramsdell, the fourth president of the Manufacturers and Traders National Bank.  Lansing designed numerous other residences and structures in Buffalo in the late 19th and early 20th century.  

These include the Hersee Block in Main Street, Canisius College, Holy Family RC Church, the homes of Bronson Rumsey, Edward S. Warren, and Mrs. David Gunsberg. Lansing was also supervising architect of the Pan-American Exposition buildings.

Harry T Ramsdell’s home was one of many to be featured in the 1915 edition of Beautiful Homes of Buffalo. As the United States entered the First World War in 1917, there were many Buffalo industries involved in the production of war material who received important financing from Ramsdell’s M&T Bank. 

In addition to this industrial support, Ramsdell himself served as a member of the executive committee of Buffalo several Liberty Loan campaigns, alongside such notable figures as George Rand, Arthur Bissell and, later, Edward Butler, Frank Baird and Louis Fuhrman.  

Ramsdell also served as a district chairman for a special subscription committee of the national Liberty Loan program.  In a letter to residents of Buffalo, Ramsdell argued that "The Liberty Loan provides what is perhaps the first opportunity the average man has had to definitely serve his country.”

From May 4, 1917 to May 10, 1919 residents of the City of Buffalo contributed over $250 million to the Liberty Loan campaigns.

121 Chapin Parkway

The home of Genevieve Schoellkopf-Vom Berge at 121 Chapin Parkway, ca. 1915.

Credit - Western New York Heritage Press

Designed by the firm of Esenwein & Johnson in 1912 for Genevieve Schoellkopf-Vom Berge, this home is typical of many of the homes built for some of Buffalo’s influential German families in the early 20th century. 

Genevieve Schoellkopf was born in Buffalo 1884, the daughter of Myrtle and Louis Schoellkopf. Genevieve was a granddaughter of "King Jacob," Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf. She married her first husband, Henry Vom Berge in 1907, though Henry died of Typhoid Fever prior to the home’s construction.

This English Manor-style home featured a side entrance and a separate carriage house. Interior layout was designed to accommodate a large number of guests, with large rooms marked by high ceilings and large windows, along with discreet kitchen space and servants quarters.

On December 1, 1915, Genevieve married Mr. Jefferson Penn.  She died in 1919 but her husband remained in the home until 1923.

The second family to reside at 121 Chapin was Mr. and Mrs. James H. McNulty. The McNultys had moved to Buffalo from Chicago in 1902, and in 1917 James became president of Pratt & Lambert.  

Mr. McNulty was heavily involved in the development of a College of Science and Arts for the University of Buffalo, and maintained membership in a number of the city’s clubs and organizations.  

When James died unexpectedly in 1926, his wife Harriet continued to live in the home until her death in 1956.

The third family to reside at this address was that of Dr. Leslie H. Backus. A renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Backus had also served as a medical officer to President Roosevelt and his advisers at the Yalta Conference during World War II. The home remained in the Backus family until 1963.