With so many new builds and contemporary styles replacing our older structures, we don’t always get to see the restoration of older homes as they adapt for current residents. But today’s before and after project focuses on a really unique house with a 200-year-old history!
The Coit House was originally built in 1815 by George Coit in downtown Buffalo, New York. He was a wealthy businessman from Connecticut, who arrived to the area envisioning great development of the Buffalo area. Along with many of his business partners, he was a key force behind the growth of the Buffalo harbor and the Erie Canal, and the consequent expansion of the city.
Originally the Coit House was a two story clapboard construction, which was expanded upon over the decades to make room for his flourishing family of eight children! Owing to the industrialization of the area, it was decided in 1868 after Coit’s death to move the wooden house to the more suburban area of Allentown. Teams of horses and logs were used to roll the house along to its new location.
Over the years the home was used as a boardinghouse, split into apartments, and at one point earmarked for demolition. But since 1961 there has been a strong effort to preserve the Coit House and maintain its architectural heritage. Now it is a family home once again for Sue-Jolie Rioux and Tim Boylan, and a chance to bring the Coit House back up to the high standards of its original glory. They feel elated, privileged and imbued with a sense of duty to make Buffalo proud that the city’s history is being well cared for.
As co-founders of Tres Jolie Maison, Inc. they have been using their knowledge and experience in historical restoration and interior design to preserve the Coit House and make it suitable for contemporary living. Check out the pine-knotted plank floors in each room.
Shortly after buying this property, Sue-Jolie and Tim were contacted by George Coit’s great-great-great granddaughter. “We have become great friends and have worked tirelessly to get a historical marker for the home. We were proud to say that went up this late May and she came up from Texas to be present for the dedication ceremony officiated by the cities Major, Byron Brown. It was a proud day for all of us.”
Signaling the importance of the house in the area, the historical marker was added to the property thanks to Rioux and Boylan’s work alongside the Coit family and local Allentown Preservation Society.
Work began in earnest and the results are stunning. This is a view of the entry and foyer hallway. The original balustrade wood is still in place and holding well, along with the timber frames of the house. The bright and airy decor make the foyer warming and welcoming.
This area is now home to the Tres Jolie Maison, Inc’s interior design studio. The office is open by appointment only, however, they do occasionally schedule open house days. It means different groups are able to visit and tour the home throughout the year. The community is always eager to see what new restorations have taken place.
This is a before and after collection to show the changes in the east wing parlor. This side of the house was not actually part of the original structure built in 1815, but an addition to the house made some time before 1850. I adore the Greek Revival style detailing of the mantles. The window frames are kept uncluttered by favoring blinds over curtains in this space.
A great piece of history here! You can see the trap door that leads to the cellar, which was a useful hiding place. Given its time in history, and previous proximity to the harbor it has been attributed as a chain in the Underground Railroad network.
Sue-Jolie talked with me about some of the things they have been focusing on during the renovation. “We love the fact that we so far have kept most if not all of the original material intact. There are several areas of the home that are not original anymore, and those areas we are removing one at a time to bring the homes original lines back to life.”
The west parlor is lighter and softer in touch. The gold and white elements of the room feel so refined, and show off the grandeur and richness of the original wooden floorboards and wall moldings.
Gosh, what a lovely place to relax. The different tables in this area are a nice collection of shapes, with the mixing of circles and also the long rectangular lengths in the middle.
The extra detailing of the armchairs are a nice touch, spicing up the style of the room a little without being too eclectic.
Really, this house is so spacious! In this lounge area on the second floor, the tones are darker and demure.
Cozy and relaxing! In this room the curtains reach from floor to ceiling acting as frames for the sunlight.
The pastel lilac color of the walls feels stylish against the deeper tones of the wood floorboards in this 3rd floor parlor room.
The room pivots around the theme of vintage glamour. It’s sophisticated and warming. I especially love the curves of that 50s vintage style wardrobe. The tall door still contains its original style lock and handle.
You can see the sloping of the ceiling. This room is up on the 3rd floor of the house. Originally the floor contained many bedrooms, for all the Coit family, but building regulations would require there to be a fire escape added on to the house for it to be used for this purpose.
This is one of the guest bedrooms, featuring bold colors and strong patterns. It’s a fun room, with a lot of character.
The powder room has been decorated with simple black and white sketches of architectural forms. It feels classic, and the scalloped edges of the basin are a gorgeous touch.
After a bad winter the crumbling brick path needed to be fixed up. So now the porch area has been refit with bricks. The design has been squared off to balance out the front and match the doorway style. Now it has a great symmetry and looks stately!
The Coit House has received a major overhaul, and it’s so impressive to see the restoration of each room so far. However, the restoration is no where near completion. “We are taking a multi-prong approach to this grand lady; there is so much that needs addressing that we felt we should attack major areas simultaneously, so we are working on mechanical, cosmetic and structural issues all at once. Yet, section by section so the work done is done with great integrity. It’s a bit daunting at times but we know our efforts will pay off,” says Sue-Jolie.
I look forward to seeing how the house will adapt in the future. With its strong timbers, rooms with charm and character, it will certainly be a home with many more stories.
Project: The Coit House
Design: Tres Jolie Maison, Inc