The Buffalo House

fronthousesmOur cornerstone, the Buffalo Ronald McDonald House, opened in 1983 with the single focus of “Keeping families close” by providing lodging and emotional support for families of children receiving medical treatment in Buffalo. The Ronald McDonald House was built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest.

Since that time, more than 18,000 families from Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, the country and the world, have benefited from the comfort provided by our House. Children heal better when surrounded by the comforts of home and family. RMHC of WNY keeps families close when they need each other the most.

How it all began – The First Ronald McDonald House

History of Buffalo’s House That Love Built

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.

Hollister Family

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!

Adam Family

old house small fixedFrom 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.