Pictured is the Schmidt/Shea House, located at 356 Richmond Ave. It was built in 1895 by William H. Schmidt, a well-known local builder who constructed a number of homes in the area. A unique home for the area, the 1897 Buffalo Merchants Exchange book described the home as “one of the most lavish and recognizable houses on Richmond Avenue, with its elaborate use of Medina sandstone and Beaux-Arts design.” William lived in the home until 1909, when he sold it to Thomas Shea. A St. Catherine’s, ON native, Thomas came to Buffalo as an infant with his family, where he was raised in the Old First Ward. As a young man, he worked for a time on the docks with his brother, Michael Shea, a name well-known in Western New York as the creator of a theater empire, including the crown jewel: Shea’s Buffalo. While Michael enjoyed great success in the theater business, Thomas experienced his own success in the restaurant world. With construction of the grand Ellicott Square Building completed in 1896, Thomas became one of the new building’s first tenants, opening a café on the first floor, known as Ellicott Square Buffet. It became known as the largest buffet restaurant between New York and Chicago, and it regularly attracted the city’s leading businessmen and politicians. Different from modern buffets, the Ellicott Square Buffet was also a local watering hole, with a wide array of alcohol, including over 300 brands of whiskey. Unfortunately, with prohibition enacted, Thomas closed the buffet. He operated a restaurant at the corner of Church & Pearl for about a year, before returning to Ellicott Square and opening a small confectionery stand in the central court. Thomas passed away in 1939 at the age of 77. His home at 356 Richmond remained in the family for many years following his death before it was foreclosed on and nearly demolished. Thankfully, in 2007, new owners saved the home and worked hard to restore it to its former glory.