Rarely a day went by in the past year when both threats to our built heritage and the rehabilitation and adaptation of historic buildings and sites wasn’t in the news and on the streets. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo was there every step of the way. And 2015 promises to bring new challenges. Spirit willing and the resources ready, we can win. For that, we’ll need your help.
The Campaign, with its strong membership, expertise, and fortitude, has always been where the community turns for action and strategy. We also put on a good show. In the last year, we hosted the largest event at The Congress for New Urbanism’s 2014 meeting— “The City of the Future”—an open-air lecture and light show at Silo City that drew almost 1,500 people.
The Campaign also prevented a huge, and hugely significant, building from demolition, The Larkin Powerhouse. The owners were secretly preparing to implode the industrial behemoth when we found out. It was a threat not only to our industrial heritage, but to the rebirth of The Hydraulics as “Larkinville,” Buffalo’s newest adaptive reuse success story. We called out the troops, stopped the demo plan cold and battled for months to successfully designate the Larkin Historic District. The core of Larkinville is safe.
The Campaign also worked hand-in-hand with members and residents of Linwood Avenue, one of our greatest streets, to expand the Linwood Historic District from West Ferry Street to its northern end at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Additional buildings—once threatened—on Main Street at West Ferry were included at the request of the owner. That shows the power of historic preservation incentives—legislation which Campaign members helped shape—to preserve and improve neighborhoods and personal wellbeing. After an exhaustive process of overcoming reluctance to the expansion within City Hall, the district expansion was approved two days before Christmas.
Speaking of fighting City Hall, The Campaign prevented the demolition of the Civil-War era Meidenbauer House in the Fruit Belt at Maple and High streets. We are still trying to overcome foot-dragging in officialdom to designate a “High Street Historic District” to protect the Fruit Belt from what seem to be weekly schemes to demolish houses for parking lots to serve the neighboring Medical Campus.
Finally, have you enjoyed the scene of ice-skating on the Erie Canalway, under bridges and streets laid out precisely as they were built 170 years ago? You have Campaign members to thank for that. We have been at the forefront of the Canal District’s rebirth since Day One. It has been a 16-year process (and counting), but the fruits of our labors are apparent every day.
Tasks ahead? You bet. The Campaign is already at work assisting efforts to stop the ill-advised plan to demolish the National Historic Landmark Chautauqua Amphitheater. You’ll be hearing a lot more on our efforts as the year unfolds. And, in what promises to be a bruising battle, an Urban Death Star in the form of a new stadium complex in the Cobblestone District, Old First Ward, or the Michigan Avenue Corridor will be announced soon. Each site, with demolitions, road reconstruction, vast dead zones, and more, would be the antithesis of “smart growth,” and actually thwart the history-based excitement we are witnessing. That, and we’ve really got to improve our website to serve members, the community, and everyone who wants access to our trove of knowledge on Buffalo-area history and architecture.
So, much success, but much to be done. We need your help. Please donate as generously as you can, today, to this season’s Greater Buffalo Preservation Fund. Use paypal button below, call us at 716-854-3749 or mail check to 14 Lafayette Sq. Ste.#1425, Buffalo NY 14203.
Thank you! Best wishes for 2015.
OPEN-AIR AUTOBUS TOUR GIFT CERTIFICATES ARE A GREAT IDEA FOR RELATIVES, FRIENDS, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES AND CO-WORKERS!
Give your favorite urban explorer, Buffalo lover, history buff, or achitecture fan a two-hour treat with memories that will last a lifetime: An almost reach-out-and-touch ride through the streets of our city and surrounding areas aboard the Open-Air Autobus. Your recipient will gain enlightenment along with entertainment through the narration of Campaign for Greater Buffalo's expert guides. Tours run from late spring to late summer(up to ten different ones to choose from).
Your good deed counts twice- gift certificates will also support the Campaign, enabling us to continue our preservation mission.
* Certificates to be used during 2015 tour season only and not redeemable for cash.
Purchase certificates by Paypal below, or call (716)854-3749. We accept checks and major credit cards. We will mail the gift certificates promptly to you, or with given information by phone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to your fortunate recipient.
Common Council meeting today, Tuesday 2:00pm City Hall.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is urging city officials to save the only public access on the east shore of the City Ship Canal and not give control to a business that would cut off access...
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo strongly supports retaining all of the public-right-of-way of South Michigan Avenue to The City Ship Canal, and to avoid permanent or temporary leases which would in any way impede the unfettered public access that has been in effect there since the waterway was created in the 1850’s. Make no mistake: this is a taking of public lands and public access at a time when the public is clamoring for more.
We urge, instead, enhanced public access and the restoration of the lift bridge that was removed in 1964. The City Ship Canal landing should be designed to encourage public enjoyment, with historical interpretation, relaxation, and cultural tourism enhancements.
General Mills, having failed to gain direct ownership of South Michigan Avenue and the City Ship Canal landing, now wants to be given a “revocable” lease, in perpetuity, on this valuable section of public land for a nominal sum. To grant the request would be a grievous mistake. It would be rued every time a person would be blocked from enjoying a beautiful and historic part of Buffalo’s living waterfront.
Lately, it has suggested that it is a matter of homeland security. That is a stretch (How does this property differ from any other in the United States in terms of food and water security? Every one of the tens of millions of farms, food handling points, and water supply points would be a matter of “homeland security”).
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo and its Open-Air Autobus tours would be directly effected by the proposed abandonment, as its most popular tour for visitors and residents alike is the tour that stops at the City Ship Canal and South Michigan Avenue for an extended discussion of General Mills’s elevators (built as part of the Washburn-Crosby complex) and the Great Northern Elevator, also to be seen from there. The eminent architectural historian Reyner Banham, as quoted in my book, Buffalo’s Waterfront, said that it could be argued, with little exaggeration, “that Elevators A, B, and C of the Washburn-Crosby complex [currently General Mills] constitute the most internationally influential structures in North America.”
Further, abandoning South Michigan Avenue would forfeit rebuilding the lift bridge that was once there. The Buffalo waterfront has changed dramatically since its low ebb in the early 1960’s. It would be a grave mistake that would be rued and recalled by all citizens forever if this most logical public path between the Outer and Inner harbors were to be foreclosed. There is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in development at stake, as well as enhanced access to hundreds acres of public recreational lands on the Outer Harbor.
The Campaign urges you to reject any attempts to privatize this vital and strategic right-of-way, temporarily or permanently and to actively explore the lightest, quickest, cheapest, and best crossing of the City Ship Canal: A new South Michigan Avenue lift bridge.
The "groundbreaking" ceremony for a hotel at the Richardson Olmsted Complex will take place on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The Campaign's board and staff were instrumental in saving the former asylum, filing a lawsuit which led directly to $100,000,000 in state funding for preservation projects, including $75,000,000 for the Richardson, which had been deteriorating unchecked for decades ($25,000,000 went to the Martin House).
An 88-room hotel and 300-seat event center are planned. Hotel rooms will be in the two pavilions flanking the Administration Building, which will house hotel reception and an "architecture center."
Construction on the $69 million project will also include landscaping and roadways. Controversially, the main hotel entry will be automobile-centric, and approached from the rear, or north, side of Richardson's iconic Administration Building. Northside landscaping is to be rectilinear, taking its cue from parking lots serving the hotel (the Campaign fought against this anti-Olmstedian plan, to no avail)
Landscaping and circulation issues notwithstanding, the occupancy of part of the Richardson Complex marks a victory in the 30-year struggle to re-occupy the National Historic Landmark.
Sunday, Sept 7 & Saturday Sept 20. Departing at 10:00am from the Hotel Lafayette @ 391 Washington St.@ Lafayette Square.
The lifestyles of the rich and infamous unfold on this fascinating tour of the mansions of Buffalo's titans. Learn of their feats and foibles and evolving taste in conspicuous architectural consumption. Massive Italianate, Second Empire, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, and Shingle-Style houses were a kind of urban Downton Abbey. All was not decourous, however: Mabel Dodge Luhan, who, after trailblazing and swath-cutting life on two continents, wrote a famous memoir that dished the dirt on her youthful Buffalo neighbors.
90 minute tour for $25! Call 716-854-3749 to reserve a seat or pay by Paypal below. *Please be sure to indicate tour and tour and tour date when purchasing.
10:00 am Sunday Sept 21. Departs at Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washingotn St. @ Lafayette Square. 90 minutes for $25
Buffalo's Hide-in-Plain-Sight secret: The Central Belt Line of the 1880'a, the city's most consequential transportation project since the Erie Canal. See huge industrial plants like Pierce-Arrow, Ford Motor, Larkin Soap, and, of course, the titanic NY Central Terminal itself-powerful and innovative architecture that effects how we live today.
Experience this great Open-Air Autobus tour with C4GB member and urban planner Chris Hawley on Larkinviile's Market Day!
Tour dates are are Thursdays, Aug. 7 through Sept 18.
We depart at Larkin Square, Seneca & Emslie at 5:30pm for the approx. 1 hr. tour.
Tours cost $10 for all ages and are sponsored by Larkin Development. Cash or credit card accepted upon boarding.
You may also reserve seats by calling (716)854-3749 or via Paypal button below.
Campaign Stops Demo Work at Larkin Powerhouse, Owners Confirm Bids Sought for Demo; Campaign seeks "Larkin Historic District;" Public Hearing May 15
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo has successfully stopped demolition work on the Larkin powerhouse at 645 Seneca Street and submitted an application for local landmark status for the entire Larkin District. The Buffalo Preservation Board adopted the application and voted unanimously to recommend that the Larkin Historic District be created. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday May 15 at 3:00pm in room 901 of City Hall.
Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman called City of Buffalo Commissioner of Permit and Inspection Services James Comerford on Wednesday afternoon, May 23, to report that, two different people, on two separate occasions, had said to inquiring passersby that “14,000” bricks were being salvaged on behalf of the building’s owners prior to the demolition of the building “in a month.” One man was quoted as saying the building would be imploded. Tielman photographed palletized bricks and a large section of wall from which two myths (layers) of brick had been removed in haphazard fashion—a typical salvage job one sees on demolition sites. No demolition permits had been issued.
The Campaign posted its findings on its website, The Greater Buffalo Blog, and sent out a news release later on Wednesday. The news was posted on various websites and resulted in an article by reporter Mark Sommer in the next morning’s Buffalo News.
On Thursday April 24, City of Buffalo building inspector Kevin Coyne posted a stop-work order on the building.
In the meantime, Tielman and colleague Eric Pochylski were working quicky to deliver an application for landmark designation to the Preservation Board at its meeting Thursday afternoon.
On Friday, Sommer had published a follow-up story in the News, in which principal Peter Krog dissembled on the issue. Tielman connected by phone with Krog in the early afternoon. Krog admitted that he had spoken about demolishing the building and claimed it was in bad condition. Indeed, said Krog, he had had Commissioner Comerford over to the site previously, and showed him the conditions in what Krog called the “crawlspace.” Krog reported that Comerford was so impressed that he offered to issue a demolition permit. Krog further stated that he had “had the asbestos removed.” No survey has been done or permit issued for that work, as far as can be determined.
On Tuesday, April 29, Tielman met with Comerford. When told of Krog’s comments, Comerford reacted angrily and denied to have ever visited the site and said Krog could not be “trusted anymore.” Further, an architectural firm retained by Krog filed for a permit to remove more brick from the building, and Krog partner Jim Cornell let it be known that demolition bids had been solicited.