How it all began – The First Ronald McDonald House
Co-Founder, Dr. Audrey Evans, was working as a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and saw the need for families to have a supportive place to stay while their children were in treatment; she had a vision for a home away from home, similar to a YMCA.
- At the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles were fundraising in support of player Fred and his wife Fran Hill’s daughter, Kim, who was battling childhood leukemia. Thanks to Leonard Tose, then owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, the team received his undivided support to continue raising funds to help benefit local area hospitals.
- Stan Lane, neighbor to the Hill family, formed Eagles Fly for Leukemia, to organize fundraising efforts to benefit Kim Hill. For over forty years, Mr. Lane as been a strong proponent for leukemia research and oncology families.
- Co-Founder and then General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Murray, approached Dr.
Lawrence Naiman at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children with proceeds raised by the Eagles. However, Dr. Naiman directed Jimmy to Dr. Evans; stating that she had a greater need for the proceeds.
- The first proceeds from the Eagles went towards creating two positive pressure rooms at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and then Dr. Evans told Jimmy of her vision for a house.
- Jimmy approached Don Tuckerman and Stanley Elkman of Elkman Advertising and came up with an idea that a quarter from every McDonald’s Shamrock Shake sold in the Philadelphia region would go towards the purchase of a House located by Dr. Audrey Evans.
- Thanks to Ed Rensi, President of the McDonald’s Region, he said yes to this proposal and agreed to provide funds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes if McDonald’s could name the House.
- On October 15, 1974, the world’s first Ronald McDonald House was born and now serves as the model for over 357 Ronald McDonald Houses in 39 countries– providing comfort to millions of families.
History of Buffalo’s House That Love Built®
Bob and Bunny Jones, Buffalo McDonald’s Owner/Operators, identified the need for a Ronald McDonald House in Buffalo. With the Jones’ vision and support from the Western New York community, the Robert B. Adam historic mansion on West Ferry Street opened its doors to families on December 8, 1983.
The Ronald McDonald House has a rich Buffalo history dating back to 1895 and was home to many prominent families.
Dr. Alexander Main Curtis
West Ferry Street between Delaware and Elmwood Avenues was one of Buffalo’s most prestigious addresses at the turn of the century. This was the neighborhood that Dr. Alexander Main Curtiss chose to build a new home in 1895 (the date appears on the conductor heads at the top of the downspouts.)
Dr. Curtiss was the son of Charles Gould Curtiss and Amelia Lent Main Curtiss. Charles Curtiss, a self-made man, was a close friend of Grover Cleveland. He practiced medicine in Buffalo for many years and also served as a director of the Third National Bank of Buffalo and as a trustee of Fidelity Guaranty and Security Company.
Dr. Curtiss’ family consisted of his wife, Sophia Jane Coleman Curtiss and three sons, Coleman, Geoffrey and Charles. Family members recall that in an attempt to keep order in the house, Mrs. Curtiss required her three energetic sons to use the back stairs instead of the elegant main staircase, which was reserved for special occasions.
The Evan Hollister family lived at 780 West Ferry from 1913 until 1922. Mr. and Mrs. Hollister were both from prominent Buffalo families.
Ruth Albright Hollister was the daughter of industrial and art patron John J. Albright who lived on the estate nearby.
Evan Hollister’s paternal grandfather, James Hollister, founded Hollister Bank of Buffalo and built a stately home on the Niagara Square site of the present Statler Towers. (Millard Fillmore occupied the house after returning to Buffalo following his U.S. Presidency.)
Evan Hollister was an outstanding trial lawyer and civic patriot who worked to promote Buffalo business, intellectual and cultural life. Mr. Hollister counted three U.S. Presidents among his wide circle of acquaintances: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his leisure time, Mr. Hollister enjoyed reading and big game hunting.
Mrs. Hollister was also active in the community, carrying on her family’s leadership in the Albright Art Gallery as well as involvement with the Red Cross, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, General Hospital, and the Boy Scouts.
To keep in mind what it took to manage a home and life-style of this kind in the early part of the century, the 1915 census indicates that four domestic servants and a chauffeur served the four-member Hollister family!
From 1923-1939, Robert B. Adam II, his wife Lena Stevens Adam and their three children lived in the home. Wedding receptions for the two daughters, Harriet and Florence, were held under large tents, which filled the lawn on the east side of the house.
Born in 1863, Adam came to Buffalo at the age of 9 and was adopted by his uncle, Robert B. Adam Sr., whose name he acquired.
A distinguished merchant who served as president of Adam, Meldrum, and Anderson for 38 years, Mr. Adam was also a noted scholar in the field of English literature. His library held a renowned collection of the works of Dr. Samuel Johnson and John Ruskin, which his father began and he expanded upon. In 1930, Yale University conferred on Adam an honorary degree in recognition of his scholarship in the field of literature.
From 1940-1954, the House was subdivided as a boarding house.
From 1955-1981, developer Hugh Perry and architect Gordon Hayes rehabilitated the House into elegant apartments.
Ronald McDonald House
Since 1983, the gracious structure at 780 West Ferry Street has been the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo, offering comfort and support to families with sick children.