Nash House


The Nash House at present.

Artist Rendering of what the house will
look like after restoration

J. Edward Nash History

The house at 36 Nash Street (Buffalo, NY) according to the research compiled by Dr. Monroe Fordham, has a very special place in the 20th century history of Buffalo's African-American community. From 1925 until 1987, the residence was the homestead of Rev. J. Edward Nash, Sr. and his family. Rev. Nash was the pastor of the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church from 1892 until his retirement in 1953. His widow continued to occupy the home after his death in 1957. She died in 1987.

Rev. Nash's leadership and presence in Buffalo's African-American community during the 50 years of the 20th century earned him legendary status in that community. During most of that period he was the most widely known and respected African-American in the city. Rev. Nash was involved in the efforts to bring branches of the Urban League and the NAACP to Buffalo. He was also a long time leader and treasurer of the Western New York Baptist Association. For 32 years he was secretary of the Ministers Alliance of Buffalo. The inter-racial body was one of the most influential religious groups in Buffalo. Rev. Nash called and led several community political meetings of Black Buffalonians to intercede on behalf of local Black citizens who were in danger of being wronged because of their race.

Because he was widely respected by the city's white leadership, Rev. Nash had direct access to the Mayor and other local elected officials. He often used his access to elected officials and business leaders to gain benefits for the African-American community and/or its individual citizens.

Rev. Nash had a statewide and national reputation. In 1910 he was host to Booker T. Washington's meeting with "Afro-American Citizens of Buffalo." An invitation and printed program found in papers that were recently discovered in Rev. Nash's study at 36 Nash Street, indicates that the famous Tuskegee educator met with "Afro-American citizens of Buffalo" on Thursday evening, March 10, 1910 at the Michigan Street Baptist church. Washington was introduced at that meeting by Rev. Nash. Washington apparently gave a second address that night at Buffalo's Westminster Methodist Church to a largely white audience of several hundred people, who listened to an instructive exposition on the problems of the black race. The second address was reported by the Buffalo Daily Courier on March 11 in an article titled "Only Hear the Worst side, Never Best Says Negro Educator." Rev. Nash was an officer in the local branch of the national Afro-American Business League.

A close friend and former classmate of Rev. Nash at Virginia Union College was Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. (pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church). Rev. Powell was an occasional guest minister at the Michigan Street Baptist Church, and a guest in the Nash Home at 36 Potter Street (now Nash Street). Rev. Powell was the guest speaker at Rev. Nash's 50th anniversary celebration as pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church. The Nash collection contains many letters to and from Rev. Powell.

Many of Rev. Nash's sermons and letters that are an integral part of Buffalo's African-American community history were written in his study at 36 Nash Street. There were literally hundreds of Rev. Nash's sermon outlines, sermons, speeches and speech notes that are filed as part of the Nash microfilm collection. Many of the nationally known African-American leaders that Rev. Nash brought to Buffalo were houseguests at 36 Nash Street. Some of the important unwritten events in the history of Buffalo's African-American community were probably first conceptualized, discussed and set in motion in the Nash home at 36 Nash Street. Papers from the collections will certainly confirm such assumptions.

For more information, email Kevin Cottrell at: tours@motherlandconnextions.com.


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