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 and other homesteaders on the day of the purchase last April|
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.
|Radiant heat panels installed on the first floor, before the application of a finished floor|
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.