Home / Grand estate on West Ferry
A Bley & Lyman gem gets a new owner
Prominent wood paneling and beams are typical of this style.
Photos by kc kratt
“I lived in New York City for nine years, on 68th street in a doorman building, but I missed Buffalo,” says homeowner Ryan Osborne. “I started hating New York. I like gardens, I like having a car, some property to relax in—I wanted to come home.”
Since his return, Osborne has owned—and been a careful steward of—two spectacular properties in Buffalo. Last year, Spree highlighted his previous home on Norwood Avenue, one he lovingly restored and maintained from 2011–2018, when he found his next dream home, with some nudging and suggestions from a realtor who saw the possibilities before he did.
In October 2018, the University at Buffalo School of Management MBA and Deloitte managing director purchased for $1 million one of the city’s grandest homes. The listing and sale of the West Ferry Street house on the grounds of what was once the Albright Estate was much-publicized; this residence is on both the national and New York State Registers of Historic Places, and was designed by local architectural firm Bley & Lyman (helmed by Lawrence Bley and Duane Lyman, of Hamburg and Lockport, respectively).
The former library features a detailed, arched plaster ceiling, built-in shelving, a fireplace, and large leaded glass windows.
The Tudor Revival style home, with traditional decorative half-timbering on its exterior, was built in 1927 by businessman Rudolph Flershem, a Chicago native who graduated from Harvard University in 1898. The businessman moved to Buffalo to work at Marine Trust Company, and then Buffalo Bolt Company; in 1929, Flershem chaired a $5-million endowment campaign for University at Buffalo.
Set back from the street, the brick and timber house is incredibly detailed inside and out. Its 5,886 square feet house nine bedrooms, five and a half baths, several fireplaces, and carved stone and wood throughout, in keeping with the Medieval tone of its architectural style. The living room ceilings are vaulted with original trim; ceilings in the dining room and kitchen are coffered. “When I first pulled up, I didn’t like it,” Osborne admits. “The front of the house didn’t have much curb appeal. The realtor gave me a coffee table book about the house: ‘Just take the book,’ she said. Every time I sat down, I picked it up and looked at it and thought that I might regret one day that I let go this house with its scale and that level of character.”
The house had been on the market for a couple days when Osborne decided to have a look. “The bones and guts were all solid, and then it has incredible character and grandness,” he recalls. “My old house had a good balance of character and woodwork. But this house is so structurally sound, nothing creaks. All the floors are level and, for such an old house, that’s unusual. It’s all stone and brick, reinforced with steel beams throughout.
“The biggest selling point was the attention to detail and the quality of extensive renovations completed by the previous owners, all done very tastefully, making the house turn-key ready for me to move in,” he continues. “Some of the updates include a new kitchen with coffered ceilings and carved wood beams, new master bathroom, roofing, heating and cooling, windows, and a very high-end interior paint job from top to bottom. I am slowly putting my own stamp on the house, working with designer Angela Klutkowski, a partner at Pear Design Studio. Updates will include a koi pond water feature in the yard and a new fireplace surround in the master bedroom.”
Even the home’s basement has been painted, and is in impeccable condition, Osborne notes. Some of his moving boxes, at the time of this interview, were still waiting for unpacking, as he took the simple approach to a move and brings up items as needed. The home’s original Buffalo Cary Safe, transformed into wine storage, is still in the basement.
“My favorite parts of the house are the living room, with its woodwork, grand character, the high ceilings, followed by the library with its arched ceiling,” he says. “The kitchen is what sold me: there are a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, a gas fireplace, lighter-colored cabinets. The stove is a six-burner Dacor and there are two wall convection ovens.”
The kitchen’s island and countertops are black granite; nearby is a lounge area and wet bar. Stools around the island are covered in cream-colored leather, with nickel nailheads, a color repeated in the marble backsplash. Osborne elected to purchase the stools from the previous owners as their color and height work perfectly with existing furnishings. The kitchen floor is quarter sawn oak planks.
The kitchen has black granite countertops and a quarter-sawn oak floor.
Since Osborne moved in, the house has been bustling with painters and designers measuring windows for new treatments. There has been discussion of which room will be Osborne’s painting studio, but his home office is already mapped out. Decisions about where to hang the art collection are still being made.
The gated backyard where Osborne is commissioning a pond also features a granite pool and brick poolhouse. “I already have everything lined up for summer swimming,” he says. “My family members will have keys and come and go as they please.”
A long-time Garden Walk participant, Osborne expects to have a family Garden Walk party with a twist this year. “Every year I host a Garden Walk party with my whole family,” he notes. “This year, I want to get Garden Walk maps for everyone; we’ve never been able to actually go on it. Then we can come back afterward and have a party.”
Osborne praises the home’s architects and previous owners’ caring restorations. “It’s not that much different because I lived in this area,” he points out. “It is great that I will have Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts right here, and I live near the coolest part of the Elmwood Strip. And I go to Acropolis—a lot.”