Thursday, February 26, 2009

Niagara Falls, Buildings Lost and Found (Part ELEVEN): The Petrie House mystery

Below: Feb.26, 2009 - looking at the Niagara Falls Review newspaper offices, at the south-west corner of Valley Way and Morrison St.
above: same view, ca.1951 - Construction of the Niagara Falls Review building at Valley Way and Morrison. The Niagara Falls Library Archive notes that:
"F. H. Leslie owned this property for many years and in the late 1920's he built a miniature golf course on site - miniature golf was popular then but the novelty did not last. The lot remained vacant, except annually sold Christmas trees including Scotch Pine (a novelty then) when Mr. Petrie who lived in the house to the right. The House has since been demolished to accommodate an extension to the Review building."
[Note the house in the far right distance, visible through the steel girders as the Review building is being built - this was the Petrie House.]
In this particular above photo's description, the Library Archive states the Petrie House was "demolished"; however, as will be seen further below, other photos in the Niagara Falls Library Archive show the Petrie House (seen above at the far right) being moved, not demolished; the Petrie House was moved from its location (facing onto the south-side of Morrison St., it had been the next house directly west of the rear of the Review building) to make room for an extension of the Review's office building, at some point ca.1960. Apparently, it still seems to be a mystery regarding where the Petrie House had been moved to.
below: May 25, 1942 - looking west along Morrison St., standing on Valley Way. The description reads "the photograph was taken on the present site of the Evening Review building. The house to the left of centre is the Petrie homestead. The small square foundation at the left is what remains of the ticket office for the miniature golf course which F. H. Leslie built on this property during the miniature golf popularity of the early 1930s ...George Seibel".
Note the Petrie House is plainly seen at the centre top of photo.

above: Feb.28, 2009 - same view, looking west along Morrison St.; the Review building (corner left) now sits on the former mini-golf site. At the right, note same homes across the street on the north side of Morrison St.
below: Feb.27, 2009 - looking the corner of Park St. and St. Lawrence Ave., a house at this site was torn down during the week of Feb.16-20, 2009.
below: the same site as it was on Feb.18, 2009. (Click on photos to enlarge!)

below: Feb.18, 2009 - a closer view of the house on Park St. looking from the west.
below: Feb.26, 2009 - standing on the corner of Morrison and First Ave., looking along the south-side of Morrison St. towards the rear of the Niagara Falls Review building.

above: the same view, ca. 1960, before an addition was constructed at the rear of the Review building, the door and corner of which is seen at the far left.
The three-story house in the centre is the Petrie House. The same gabled smaller home (at the far right) can be seen in both above shots.
above: ca.1960 - the Petrie House is seen raised up off its foundation walls.
above: The Petrie House is now seen sitting several feet to the east from its original foundation; it is now sitting on wheels, partially in the Review's parking lot, with people (who were they?) seen standing on the wheels and waving, under the still-attached front porch canopy. Note that the third floor has been completely removed.
The above three photos are dated approx.1960; the description on all three from the Niagara Falls Library Archive reads:
"House was West of the Niagara Falls Review Building. The house was moved from the site to make room for an addition to the Review building ca. 1960 plus or minus - Date can be ascertained from date of Review addition. Don not know where house was relocated. As a sidelight, the Seible family lived in the petrie house during the winter of 1939-40 when Mr. Petrie took his family to live on a farm near the Sodom road South of Chippawa. It was his contention that if they lived on a farm his two older sons would not be pressed into military service. The farm lacked standard amenities and it was a hard winter as the Seibles had no lease they were given notice to vacate in the spring of 1940 and the Petries family moved back to town. "
Unfortunately the info with the photo above doesn't say where the Petrie House was moved to!!!!

It is interesting to consider whether the house that was torn down last week (during Feb.16-20, 2009; seen below on Feb.17, 2009) on Park St. could have been the lost former Petrie House. Was the Petrie House moved to Park Lane? It would have been a relatively very easy and short move, to tow the house down the street a couple of blocks, from Morrison St. down to Park St.
It was interesting to find, after the Park St. house had been demolished, that its foundation walls were of newer concrete block, not of rubble stone, as would have been normal of a house of the construction style that the Park St. home was. The Park St. house also had a newish single-layer veneer of brick on it, over a siding of rough-cut planks; again, unusual for a house of that age, which would have had load-bearing double-brick walls, not veneer-brick, wood-frame-walls, as the Park St. house had been; it was probably originally wood-sided (as the old Petrie house had been) and had a brick veneer installed on a new block foundation on the new site. The original third-story of the wood-sided Petrie House (as seen earlier) had a hipped-roof with a hipped-dormer, however, that was all removed prior to the move, as the Petrie House is seen on wheels with no third-floor. Certainly the third-story could have been rebuilt into a gable, as the house on Park. St. had, and the left-side bay window moved slightly to the rear. This house, at the end of Park Lane, behind the Michigan Central tracks, also didn't fit into the style of the other homes to its east on Park Lane. above: Feb.17, 2009 - looking north-east along Park St. from St. Lawrence Ave.
(The Michigan Central Railroad tracks used to run along the north-side of Park St., between where the newer sidewalk is now seen, and the row of trees; between the row of trees and the houses there had been a narrow road, called Park Lane, running parallel to the tracks, which provided access to these homes from an entrance on Crysler Ave.)
Could the house (seen at the left) which had stood as the last house at the west end of Park Lane all these years, have been the lost (and then lost again?!) former Petrie House?
To see the first post of this series click on Niagara Falls, Buildings Lost and Found, PART ONE
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