The Bennett Street neighborhood An architectural community worthy of recognition
Wiedemer-Pratt, Renee C.
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This thesis examines the impact of the catalog home phenomenon on the vernacular fabric of American architecture. By examining the products of Ray H. Bennett, owner of the Ray H. Bennett Lumber and Homes Company and designer and producer of the Bennett Street neighborhood, I clarify this neighborhood's significance and integrity, and I argue for its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Preservation. The time period studied includes the peak of the catalog home building years, 1915-1930, which corresponds to considerable growth in the North Tonawanda region. The strategies I use to evaluate and quantify this neighborhood include examination of original floor plans and catalog home mail-order books; oral history from current and former owners of Bennett Street homes; review and evaluation of original bills of sales, Sanborn maps, and historical documents (including deed, mortgage, and permit records); and finally review of written and photographic material. This thesis supports the conclusion that this modest and influential neighborhood continues to provide and offer a unique legacy to the American housing stock and therefore should be preserved through inclusion on the National Register of Historic Preservation.