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Kevin Guest House to expand into three-story mansion next door

A well-known medical hospitality home that hosts families of patients traveling to Buffalo for critical care is expanding its services at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus with its purchase of a grand Victorian home on Ellicott Street, right next to its main site.

Kevin Guest House has acquired the three-story mansion at 766 Ellicott for $785,000 from the law firm Schroder, Joseph & Associates LLP, which had occupied the 6,500-square-foot home as its offices since its founding partners bought it in December 2003.

The labor and employment law firm, which has been both a neighbor and longtime donor to Kevin Guest House, is relocating to new space in a 32,000-square-foot building at 392 Pearl St. It decided to sell its current property last November, and selected Kevin Guest House as the buyer to assist with the organization’s expansion plans.

“Kevin Guest House has been a fantastic neighbor to our law firm and we could not be more pleased that they are now taking over as stewards of the property,” said Schroder partner Heather A. Giambra. “We always thought of this building as home for our attorneys and staff. We are happy to know that it will now help to carry on the mission of Kevin Guest House by providing a measure of comfort and a piece of home to families and patients being served by the medical campus.”

Kevin Guest House provides a place to stay for families, caregivers and outpatients who travel to Buffalo-area hospitals for advanced medical care and treatment. The organization was started by Claudia and Cyril Garvey, whose 13-year-old son Kevin died in January 1972 after battling leukemia for 18 months. It has three properties with 11 bedrooms, five bathrooms and various shared dining and living areas, and has housed over 53,000 guests since it began. They have come from 49 states, Canada and 11 other countries, but mostly from Western New York.

The purchase of the home, in the midst of the medical campus, is part of a $3 million capital campaign that the organization started in January 2014 to expand its ability to serve more patients and families by doubling its capacity. That will reduce its waiting list, which averages about 400 guests per year. The campaign will also enable the organization to make its facilities handicapped-accessible, and to provide private bathrooms in each new private suite. The expansion will also allow for a multipurpose room to make the facility feel more like home and encourage guests to interact with each other.

“The timing of this expansion is critical for Kevin Guest House as we prepare for the demand the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is creating in our area,” said Lynsey Zimdahl Weaver, executive director of Kevin Guest House. “We will need the help of generous friends to prepare for this growth and literally pay it forward for the next generation of families needing services in our community.”

The campaign has raised $1.3 million, but needs to raise more to pay for renovation costs and the costs of running a larger campus.

The organization’s board approved a plan in April to renovate 766 Ellicott along with its existing carriage house at 788 Ellicott. The latter, which was built in 1868, has been used as a transplant recovery apartment for the last 20 years. Kevin Guest House also plans to retrofit its main house with a handicapped-access ramp for its check-in area. In all, the expansion can serve up to 24 additional guests.

“In the early years, we did what we had to do, that is, to start the house. For several years following, we did what we could, which is to say we kept the project going quite well,” said Tom Garvey, founding family member and campaign chair for Kevin Guest House. “Now, as we look toward the future, we are trying to do the impossible; renovate a new facility to accommodate our expansion.”