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REVIVED MANSION REMAINS A CORNERSTONE FOR CLEMENTS

Stephen M. Clement never got to sleep in the mansion E.B. Green designed for him at 786 Delaware Ave. near Summer Street.

After spending most of the previous year traveling to Egypt and Europe in a vain effort to mend his failing heart, the wealthy banker died just in time to have his funeral held in the newly finished Tudor revival in March 1913.

So it seems fitting that his great-grandson, Stephen M. Clement III, will be on hand today to mark the great stone building's rebirth as headquarters of the Buffalo Red Cross after a $1.5 million renovation.

Few of the Clements who will attend the ceremony ever lived in the mansion, which the family donated to the Red Cross in 1941 and which for years functioned as the organization's regional blood center.

But the mansion still has a prominent place in family lore, which was passed down to him by his father, said Stephen III, headmaster of Manhattan's Browning School.

"One story was that mail addressed to S.M. Clement used to get mixed up with mail addressed to S.M. Clemens (Mark Twain) when he was an editor at the Buffalo Express," he said. Clemens lived three blocks away at Delaware and Virginia.

"It's probably a tall tale, but it's a tale I grew up with."

Through the years, the descendants have remained emotionally connected to the 25,000-square-foot "medieval manor," as it was once described.

Clement's father, Stephen H. II, a Buffalo psychiatrist who died in 1995, loved the Music Room, the high-ceiling hall near the entrance where donors gave blood for many years and which recently was named the Eckhert Board Room after longtime Red Cross benefactors Dr. Kenneth H. and Marjorie Eckhert.

"He loved the setting," Clement said of his father. "He linked the past to the future by giving blood. He would sit while donating and think about the family parties that used to be held there on Christmas and New Year's eves."

In the beginning, those occasions were filled with music performed by Carolyn Tripp Clement, Stephen M.'s widow, whose restored portrait by Cecelia Beaux hangs from the east wall, and her sister, Emma Tripp Frost.

"Both were good musicians who played by ear. They would go down to the Erlanger Theater to hear Gilbert and Sullivan and Victor Herbert and then come home and play the tunes," Clement said.

Sunday hymn-singing was another staple of life in the staunchly Presbyterian Clement House and the Elmhurst dairy farm in East Aurora, where the family summered.

"The youngest child would always choose the first hymn," said Clement, who is a Clement trustee of the Buffalo Red Cross.

Many such remembrances will be bandied about after the ribbon-cutting at 11:30 a.m. today. The building will be open to the public until 3 p.m.

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