The DeGraff Home
The DeGraff Home – 273 Goundry Street
A large red brick house built between 1882 and 1884 by James DeGraff, one of the first bank presidents in North Tonawanda . His wife was Mary Simson, a descendent of the Long sisters from Tonawanda. LeGrand Simson DeGraff, who was born March 30, 1871, attended Lima College near Geneva, New York.
This home is said to have had the first indoor plumbing and the first elevator in North Tonawanda. The elevator was installed in the early 1950's so the elderly Mrs. LeGrand DeGraff could get upstairs in her wheelchair. The house was one of the very few houses built of brick instead of wood at that time. The house was rather dark with much mahogany woodwork, some stained glass windows, glittering chandeliers, and parquet floors. The ceilings are eleven feet high. The home had many unique features. At one time a trip up to the Widow's Walk on the roof permitted a clear view of Grand Island and the Niagara River. There are parquet wood floors, each bordered with a different design, done in various types and shades of wood.
LeGrand DeGraff managed A. Weston & Son Lumber Company. He and his associates rounded up support in the community for a new hospital. DeGraff said that he and his associates were prepared to foot the entire bill for a brand new hospital building, equipped and ready to operate, at a cost not to exceed $40,000. The name of DeGraff was adopted in recognition of the contributions to the civic and economic life of the Tonawandas of DeGraff's father, James H. DeGraff. DeGraff and his associates stipulated that the indigent of the communities were to receive free hospital care, and the two cities were to maintain the hospital property. If the hospital failed to meet these conditions for as long as two months, the property would revert to the donors for disposal with the proceeds to be divided according to the proportion of each donor's original contribution.
Photos: courtesy of Museum member & volunteer Betty Brandon. History courtesy of 1965 Centennial Magazine