Although a property plaque dates this house to 1850, there is evidence that early Rochester mayor Charles Hill built the front part of the home in 1840. After 1850, the house changed hands five times over 15 years, with misfortune befalling each owner – including economic woes, arrests, and death. In 1865, the last of these owners, wholesale grocer George Buell, sold the house to Nelson Lord Button, whose family remained for 108 years. Third-generation Edith Button lived in the home in 1965, when racial tensions erupted and a National Guard Helicopter crashed at the end of Tremont Street. In March of 1973, Edith died in the same bedroom where she had been born! Her will stated that the house was to be demolished upon her death – but the Landmark Society of Western New York stepped in to declare the home a city landmark. Days later, a fire mysteriously broke out in the bedroom where Edith had died.
In 1977, the home was purchased by the Newburgs, who began the first large-scale renovation. In early 2023, after a lengthy vacancy, the home was acquired by a local developer who is returning it to its former glory. He was attracted to the eclectic history of Corn Hill, its’ 19th-century architecture, its proximity to downtown, and the civic pride, strong community spirit, and diversity of the residents.
As a landmark property registered with the National Park Service, the house requires feasible restoration to its original, historic appearance. Original materials and craftsmanship are used wherever possible. Replacement items must closely match the style of the period of the house. Unique features to be preserved are the pocket doors, brass bumblebee motif, arched room transitions, original marble fireplaces, copper detail, slate roof, Yankee gutters, and rooftop cornices. The most obvious change will be turning the home into a five-unit rental property.
The downstairs common area will eventually feature a storyboard of the history of the Buell-Button house as well as a watercolor rendering of the house by artist Lisa Robinson.