From 1850 until the turn of the twentieth century, the United States experienced many different residential architectural fashions and fads. The styles can all be found in Buffalo's architectural heritage. The various architectural styles were adapted to the needs of the middle-class detached houses built on the 25-35 feet wide lots found on Buffalo's west side. Very few of the houses are "pure" examples of the various styles popular during the last half of the ninetenth century. Architecture of the period, although still based on historical precedent, represented a reaction to the historical bent of the earlier revivalists. Mid-to-late-nineteenth century architects reasoned that no age had produced the perfect architectural expression and that they could benefit from all the best of the past. They did not hesitate to combine features from various styles. Freer adaptation could evoke the spirit of teh past without rote imitation and would allow for exciting creativity. Thus, eclecticism characterized much of the architecture of the immediate post-Civil War period as did a continued emphasis on the picturesque. While new styles prevailed, great importance was placed on character and a sense of permanence in buildings. New technology made beautifully carved wood accessible on a scale never seen before. Coupled with a rise in fortunes of the middle class, creative and artistic ornamentation of fine quality craftsmanship was deployed in homes of the period. For these reasons, determining late nineteenth century architectural styles is challenging. Many architectural historians lump all structures built during this period under the term "picturesque eclecticism." Historian and writer John Maass called the era the "nameless period."
[from page 80 of Historic Plymouth Avenue by Christopher N. Brown]