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Old House May Become Dream Home
Buffalo Courier Express
January 11, 1967

By MODESTO ARGENIO

(01.13.02) Time and traffic pass by Alfred Ricciuti every day, but they have been unable to dent his enthusiasm for a dream, an ambition which even Alfred Ricciuti cannot explain.
For Ricciuti-bus driver, part-time poet, philosopher, commentator on the arts, and self-styled architect and contractor building his dream from a variety of material.

276 Kensington Avenue
Alfred Ricciuti's 'dream' home at 276 Kensington Ave... the old building was built originally in 1888... he's had problems with neighbors and the City Buildings Division

His dream is a house at 276 Kensington Ave., a worn down wooden structure which he has been building anew from flat stone, frosty marble, common railroad ties and British Columbia cedar.
The transformation has been slow. "I guess I really started about three years ago," Ricciuti recalled.
lt has also had its detractors. Neighbors have complained. And the City Buildings Division is seriously considering ordering demolition.
But, Ricciuti has persisted, even though he can't say why he started the ambitious, one-man reconstruction.
"Oh, I don't know why I really wanted to build this," Ricciuti cut off reporter's questions.
" That stone is from the Mark Twain house you know", he pointed to one wall one wall he has nearly completed. "And those window beams are railroad ties. See that I-beam, it's treated cedar from British Columbia."
Ricciuti ok-the reporter inside house. The old walls looked scarred and depressing. But not Riecuiti's description of how they will look when he's finished.
.

This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be duplicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com™

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"I'm going, to have uncovered beams here, six feet across," he predicted. "And there'll be a sunken garden by that window. I've got a stained glass window from the Mark Twain house for over there. It's broken, but I'll fix it, you see."

The other side of Alfred Ricciuti's house where he's doing the stonework ...quite a transformation

Back outside, he explained how be had evolved the design for the house. "I've taken some African designs which some architects call anachronisms and remade them. You can say it's early frontier America, with a touch of Japanese, and Chinese too," Ricuitti claimed.
A pagoda like arch, he said, was the basis for the design of one window. He patted the snow on the ground with a gloved hand and sketched a few of the traditional designs which he had toyed with before, arriving at the one he is now following.
"Some Problems"
"As you can see there are some problems inherent in the four-wall design. But, that base is more than two feet thick, and it'll last," Ricuitti proclaimed.
Asked how he felt that the city may order a halt to his work, Ricuitti replied, "Oh, I don't like it. But don't roast those boys too much. I guess they have a job to do."
Ricuittl apparently chooses to ignore the possibility that his work may be for nil. Instead, lie chatted enthusiastically about the architectural possibilities for his house.
Meanwhile, the snow began blowing more forcefully, and the bumper-to-bumper line of cars in Kensington Ave. Limped by Ricuitti's and his dream.

-Editors note: "Old Al" as people around town new him was a remarkable man. He obtained his masters degree from U.B. in 1931 and as a child he used to come over to my dads house a carry with him the most remarkable Egyptian bell collection. The bells would tinkle and ding and ring with what seemed to be magical qualities. He was a bright personality, full of sparkle and happiness. He brought joy to people wherever he went.

He drove the old #8 main Street NFTA bus route in the 1960's and 1970's, that was the bus I used to take to school. Each day as I saw the bus approach, I used to hope it was him at the wheel. When I saw it was him, I would jump in the very first seat and hold the handrail and listen to him recite poetry or recite some clever anecdote.

I believe his father was a stonemason and Al was trying to follow in his footsteps. Al never go to realize his dream of completing his house, he was robbed and murdered and his house across the street from his 'dream house'. To my knowledge the killer was never caught.

A short time after Old Al's death the city illegally stepped in and tore his 'dream' home down.

Old Al's life to me an many others who knew him meant much more than his project house. He was a character, one that we always were happy to stop and chat with.

He was the poet of Main Street.spacer

 

 

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