Buffalo’s involvement in the lumber trade dates back to the city’s earliest years. Many found fame and wealth either by felling the many local forests, or by stocking lumber from Canada and the mid-west.
In 1850 there were 61 lumber yards in the city, principally handling hemlock lumber, and they were all locally owned. Some of those involved included the Goodyears, James Scatcherd, Calvin Hazard, and in the early 20th Century, the Zoladz brothers.
The Zoladz’ came to Buffalo from Poland in the early 1920s. All three owned lumberyards in the area. Walter (1110 Clinton Street, 40 years), John (4525 Broadway, Depew), and Joseph (1400 Bailey Avenue).
Joseph was born in 1886 and emigrated in 1900. He owned a tavern, then a housewrecking business (east Buffalo Housewrecking Co.) before settling in the lumber trade around 1924.
In 1925, under his wife’s name, he purchased property at 1386 Bailey Avenue from William H. Bailey of San Diego, California, known as part of the “Bailey Estate.” This was where they built their first warehouse.
By 1929 the Zoladz bought 1205 Bailey Avenue, a couple blocks away, to build a new home. This home, with several distinguishing features outside and inside, was pride of the neighborhood.
The Zoladz Lumber Co. had a semi-professional baseball team in the 1940s, playing in the Municipal Baseball League and also sponsored bowling teams.
Joseph died in 1972, but his sons had been running the day-to-day operations for some years. His wife Mary continued to live in the house until her death inn 1989. In prior years her eyesight had deteriorated, and the house had been modified to allow her easier movement.
The Zoladz Lumber Co. continued in operation until the mid-1990s. Declining sales, reluctance to change with the times, and big competitors helped close their doors.
In 1991 the Zoladz house was purchased by only its second owner, and in 2000 a fire destroyed what was left of the old Zoladz warehouse.