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The Julia Boyer Reinstein Center and the memorial stone in the woods

Now offices for the Buffalo History Museum, this former home holds an intriguing past.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A local landmark that you may have passed by countless times without even knowing it is there. The Julia Boyer Reinstein Center sits right across the parking lot from the Buffalo History Museum, and even if you have seen it, you may not realize the secrets the grounds hold. 

Every day more than 20,000 vehicles pass by, most oblivious to the grand manor that sits behind the brush. History Museum Executive Director Melissa Brown says, "it's very hard for people to imagine what this landscape looked like when Leonard Adams purchased the property."

Today, the center serves as office space and storage for the History Museum, but when it was built in 1920 for musician Leonard Adams, it was a site to behold. It was right on Scajaquada Creek, so it was waterfront property. At that time, before the exopressway was built, Elmwood Avenue actually ran behind the building, between it and the museum. The creek was also quite a bit wider and more significant. The home sat right on the bend and featured a fantsastic view from the parlor through a two-story high, majestic window.

Mr. Adams used it as both a residence, but also a performance studio and music school. 

"They had it set up so there was like performing areas where parents could come and kind of look over and see. I would imagine the students doing their different performances and there was a piano in the main area so music with an performance was a main part of main function of this base but then he also had his kind of private life there as well," Brown said.

Today, surrounding the house, evidence of grandeur; old iron work, what is left of a courtyard and what once were elaborate gardens. There is also what appears to be a tombstone in the woods. But according to research librarian Cynthia Van Ness, it is a tribute stone known as a cenotaph, or a monument to someone buried elsewhere. Adam's mother Sophia died in 1918, was buried at Concordia Cemetery, and then moved to Forest Lawn in 1967. The stone may even be a portion of her original marker at Concordia.

There is evidence of elaborate gardens and cement balusters throughout the overgrown property. As the History Museum develops its master plan, they are looking at renovating the building into event space and giving this piece of hidden history a new future. 


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