The Olbiston Apartments were built on the site of the Genesee Flats, which burned to the ground early in the morning of March 3, 1896. The Olbiston still stands on the corner of Genesee Street and Clinton Place, about a third of a mile southwest of Oneida Square, in the area of the city once known as Genesee Hill.
This postcard is an early photograph of the Olbiston, a 5 story building that replaced the 7 story Genesee Flats after that structure burned to the ground in 1896. Early photos were often colored with paints by a skilled artist.
Note that the correct spelling is "OLBISTON," compared to that seen on the postcards. Misspelling the Olbiston's name seems to have been a common mistake made over the past one hundred years. As a matter of fact, were it not for Jon, I'd still be misspelling it!
Early tenants of the Genesee Flats and the Olbiston were usually quite well to do. In The Flats, each home was an 8 room apartment, complete with a small bedroom at the rear intended for the maid. A cafe was provided for the convenience of residents and their guests. The later Olbiston also had a cafe and at one time it was open to the public and advertised in the newspaper.
Below, the top photo shows a rather idyllic rendition of the Olbiston as its owner intended it to be seen.
The lower photo hints at the changes in the neighborhood over the last century. Today the Olbiston sits in a part of the city where the ethnic makeup is rapidly changing and economic opportunities are slowly dwindling.
Gentlemen: This is a professional piece of work in every aspect, from the layout to the graphics. Thank you. First, let me talk about the postcards. #1 shows the building around 1917. I am judging this by the size of the elm trees, which had to have been planted after the Genesee Flats burned in 1896, because the photo of the Flats, as posted on the Genesee Flats Fire thread shows the whole facade and no trees at all. Notice the trolly tracks running down Genesee Street and the street is now paved. This is an excellent image. I would say the second image is contemporary with the first. These hand colored cards were ofter printed in Germany, thus the building is sometimes shown as grey, sometimes red. The third image shows the building as it is now and yes, you can see the effects of time as well as sense the cultural changes that have taken place over the last 100 years. The towers are gone, taken down sometime, I believe, after WW2. The last photo is new, showing the facade, and part of the front, facing Genesee Street. The facade is red Medina sandstone over brick. You also have an image of an ad for the dining rooms. The dining rooms were open from 1898 to 1945 and extended over the entire top of the 7th floor, those two towers that can be seen in the center of the building. Tomorrow I will talk about the dining rooms and some of the architecture. I think the physical aspects of the building will be a good starting point. be well. Fiona
I have the image-postcard # 2, dated Sept 29, 1920 and the message reads: To Miss Bessie Reynolds, Groton, Tompkins Co. NY c/o Lou Sharpstein : Dear Bessie: If nothing happens we will be out to Groton Sunday morning- we may come Saturday night, but, you can look for us any way if it doesn't rain pitchforks- I am afraid if we waited later we could not come as the pullets will soon be laying and we could not upset them. and it is hard to get anyone who understands the lights. Hope Ida can come home too. I will drop her a card. Tell Myra she had better come too. Look for us early. We are having some lovley weather now and this is a grand place to stay. I hope it lasts a few weeks longer and love to all Ina.
By an order granted by Justice Scripture yesterday afternoon upon motion of Jones. Townsend & Rudd, Seymour D. Latcher is restrained from collecting any rentals in the Olbiston and from acting in any way as agent of the property. Justice Scripture also granted a show cause order returnable at special term in Syracuse next Saturday why a temporary receiver for the property should not be appointed.
The action duplicated that of last week in which Philip Owen et. al. seek to take from control of Mr. Latcher the Majestic Theater property. The plaintiffs, as in the previous action, are Philip Owen, individually and as surviving partner of the firm of Owen and Philip Owen, and Jessie L. Owen, as executrix of the last will and testament of John Owen, deceased. The defendants are Seymour D. Latcher and Lulu N. Latcher. Individually and as sole heirs and next of kin of Milton M. Northrup, deceased, and as sole heir and next of kin of Maria C. Northrup, deceased. Linus A. Northrup, Sarah C. Radway, individually and as administer executrix of the goods, chattels and credits of Devillo W. Northrup, deceased and Grace North, Clinton Wire Cloth Company, Emma A. Blanchard, the Wheeling Corrugating Company, Charles E. Drake, . Rasilter & Co., Inc., and Anna Calwell and Seymour D. Latcher, as surviving partner of the firm of Northrup & Latcher.
It appears from the complaint that Northrup & Latcher sold the Olbiston to Owen Brothers for $125,000 on July 1, 1901, and by the terms of the agreement at that time entered into by the parties. Owen Brothers contracted to sell the property back to Northrup & Latcher for the same price, the principal to be paid within five years with interest at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum. The deal was subject to a mortgage of $175,000 held by the Mutual Life Insurance Company and an alleged lien of the Clinton Wire Cloth Company. There were several other conditions, among them that Northrup & Latcher should pay all city and county taxes and other assessments and the interest upon the $175,000 mortgage and that they should have the building insured to a certain amount. On October 21, 1903, Northrup & Latcher negotiated an additional loan from Owen Brothers to the amount of $25,000.
In the complaint for the action, it is claimed that there has been default of the, contract to pay either principal pr interest of the $150,000 thus loaned, that the city taxes and other assessments for five years and the county taxes for 1905, are unpaid, that the required insurance upon the building was not effected ; that the plaintiffs in this action had to pay the interest upon the $115,000 mortgage of the Mutual Life Insurance Company each year. It is also stated that no will of either Maria C. Northrup or Milton N. Northrup has been probated, or an administrator appointed, according to the records of the Surrogate's Court. It is also claimed that Mr Latcher has collected several thousand dollars in rentals each year and that he a week ago served tenants of the Olbiston with notices to pay their rents, as complaint states to get month's rent in advance.
The deposition of Philip Owen, accompanying the complaint, states "That the allegation in the complaint, that Seymour D. Latcher is now insolvent, and that Milton M. Northrup was insolvent at the time of his death, is based upon the following facts and information by said Seymour D, Latcher in the past year that the liabilities of said Seymour D, Latcher and the firm of Northrup & Latcher, herein mentioned, consisting of M. M. Northrup and Seymour D. Latcher, amounted to one million, two hundred thousand dollars."
Mr. Owens also goes on to state that a fair market value for the Olbiston is $225,000 and that the incumbencies amounted to $383,584.74 on April 21, It is also stated that the firm of Northrup & Latcher are indebted to the plaintiff in the sum of $50,000 with interest at 5 per cent from November 3, 1902.
It is asked that the defendants and all persons claiming under them subsequent to the commencement of the action be barred and foreclosed of all right, lien and equity of redemption in said premises and that the premises or so much thereof as may be sufficient to raise the amount due the plaintiffs for principal, interest, costs and charges, which may be sold separately without material injury to the parties interested may be decreed to be sold according to law; that out of the moneys arising from such sale the plaintiffs may be paid the amount found to be due the plaintiffs with interest at the time of such payment, together with the costs and expenses of said money property belonging thereto will pay the same and that the defendant. Seymour D. Latcher, may be adjudged to pay any deficit which may remain after applying moneys so applicable thereto.
Second - That it be determined by this court that all rights and interests of the defendant especially the defendant. Seymour D. Latcher, and Lulu N. Latcher, his wife, and their heirs at law and next of kin of Devillo W, Northrup and of Milton M. Northrup, under and pursuant to the deed and contracts for purchase be declared forfeited and the parties burred of all right thereunder.
Third - That a receiver be appointed during the dependency of the action to take possession of said property, collect the rents and profits thereof and manage the same.
Fourth - That the defendant, Seymour D. Latcher, and others be enjoined and restrained, during the [repdalley] of this action from collecting any rents which may proceed from this property or from incurring any liabilities or obligations in respect thereof to any person or persons except pursuant to an order of this court.
Fiona, thank you for pointing out that the red sandstone is a facade placed over brick construction. I've been looking at the detail from the "orange" photo Jon posted, as well as the "red" photo that I believe was posted by you. The work is intricate, at least to my eye and experience. It is a handsome design.