the past may be blueprints for the future
May 30, 2002
By Dick Case, Post-Standard Columnist
Mike Bragman's putting down a new neighborhood on what used
to be dairy farms in Cicero, near where he grew up, a mile from Oneida Lake.
He's also floating an interesting idea about one type of
home we might want to build in a corner of his Settlers Pass at the Pastures
at Route 31 and South Bay Road.
How about a house designed by Ward Wellington Ward?
As we know, Ward's become an icon for architecture in this
town in the last 20 years. His Arts and Crafts-style homes are considered
gems, prized and sought after by buyers. In Syracuse, where he designed
about 100, 26 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ward died in 1932 at 57.
He left a legacy of more than 200 residential designs, not
all of them built, and an archive of plans, many of them literally rescued
from an attic by researchers. About 150 of the master's designs - drawn by
Ward in black and brown ink on linen - belong to the Onondaga Historical
Historians at the OHA say this week they are working up a
plan to share some of the designs with buyers and builders. An original
could be copied and replicated for a fee. The archive includes floor plans,
elevations and Ward's notes on materials.
Dennis Connors, the association's curator of history, said
OHA approached Mike Bragman with the idea when it was announced his
development in Cicero would be the site of the annual Parade of Homes. The
display of 10 new houses by 10 local builders opens Saturday.
Mike, the retired assemblyman and now full-time land
developer, was taken by the prospect and grabbed hold. He's a longtime
member and supporter of OHA.
''What a wonderful opportunity,'' Mike's saying last week as
he tours me around the tract with his son and partner, Mike Jr.
''Not only could people live in a Ward house that normally
wouldn't be available, but this is a chance to highlight the collections at
the historical association, spotlight the architect and produce some income
for the OHA.''
Mike's paying the historians to prepare an exhibit on Ward
to be part of Parade of Homes. It will be in the garage of the first home,
by Dallas Builders, on the street called Addison Loomis.
He says he has no financial stake in the Ward project but
would be interested in talking to owners and builders about raising a few of
the re-creations in a 35-acre wooded section of The Pastures next to the
Cicero State Wildlife Area.
''When I heard about the idea, I said, 'Let's explore it,'
'' Mike explains. ''Right now, it's an experiment. We'll see how people
Dennis Connors says OHA picked 20 designs to be made
available at first. They are of buildings that Ward designed but were never
built, or were built and later demolished.
They range from a mansion of 8,000 square feet Ward created
for plow maker James Wiard at 1072 James St. in 1914 to a bungalow that once
stood at 123 College Place, designed for John Cummins in 1912.
The mansion was torn down in the 1960s, along with other
James Street palaces. The Cummins house, later home to a sorority and a
Syracuse University office, was demolished by SU in 1986.
Cleota Reed of Syracuse is the recognized authority on Ward.
She helped rescue some of the drawings now at OHA 谰2 . 0045.08and put
together a 1978 Everson Museum of Art exhibit, ''The Arts and Crafts Ideal:
The Ward House,'' that opened the Ward Wellington Ward revival.
Cleota knew nothing about Ward until she bought one of his
homes on Westcott Street nearly 30 years ago.
She calls the OHA project ''a novel idea,'' adding, ''I hope
they will use some of the proceeds to microfilm the Ward papers and create a
new catalog of his work.''
The historian, along with the Arts and Crafts Society of
Central New York and staff and students at the State University College of
Environmental Science and Forestry, continue to document Ward buildings in
Syracuse and elsewhere.
Mike Bragman says he likes to develop land he knows, to buy
from friends, which is what he did for the new tract. It's cross-lots from
where he grew up, near where Thompson Road ends at Route 31.
Yes, Helen and Mannie Bragman's farm of 5 acres is close to
the first development Mike and his wife, Sue, started in 1986, around their
own new home. They've since worked up eight more, including The Pastures and
a new tract on South Bay.
No doubts that Mike's a hometown boy with a passion for
Cicero history. The Pastures is dotted with historical street names - Asa
Eastwood, Matilda Gage, Moyer Carriage - and historical markers we don't
usually see in a housing development.
The Bragmans' Eaglewood Associates started buying these
farms a year ago. The land has special meaning to Mike; he 谰2 .
0031.00wandered the pastures as a kid, and pumped water into a pitcher in
the yard of the Boyko homestead before he and the Boykos walked to school at
Stone Arabia, across 31.
Mike assembled his development from the Boyko and Roehm
farms, and others. Bill Boyko and his brother, Bob, farmed this land until
two years ago. Now they're winding down, getting ready to let Mike's crew
open a new entrance through the homestead.
We stopped and greeted Bill the other day. He explained that
his parents, Mary and Joe, bought the place in 1940 and started farming with
''15 milkers.'' The Boykos are remembered in one of the new street names.
''It was very traumatic for them to sell,'' Mike says.
''They trusted me to do the right thing.''
The right thing includes covenants in the lot deeds Mike
says will protect the environment, including older trees and hedgerows.
Amazingly, even to the developer, almost all of the more
than 300 lots are spoken for. Mike has reserved that one wooded piece for
what he calls ''a Ward community.''
Forget what we hear about the economy: Cicero booms north of
the Thruway. These houses will cost $275,000 to $375,000, more if the lot's
in the woods.
''Cicero has more building permits than any town in Onondaga
County,'' Mike boasts.
The Pastures bustled like Times Square last week, revving up
for Parade of Homes. ''Some boost for the local economy, huh?'' my guide
asks, looking around at the frenzy.
Not to forget some boost to the mystique of Ward Wellington
Ward, an architect 70 years dead who may be on the job again.
Dick Case writes about neighborhoods every Thursday. Reach
him at 470-2254, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2002 The Post-Standard.