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Illegal demolition activity at Larkin Powerhouse; Contractors say plan is to "implode" building within month. Campaign moves to stop work, designate entire area "Larkin Historic District

Members of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture have witnessed and documented illegal demolition activity at a significant Buffalo landmark: the R.J. Reidpath-designed powerhouse. A section of brick wall is being removed by contractors working on behalf of the building's owner, developer Peter Krog. Contractors said the building would be demolished "in a month." Piles of bricks and a wrapped pallet of bricks were photographed by The Campaign. A query at the Department of Inspections revealed no permit for the demolition work, nor applications filed for the building as a whole. The Buffalo Preservation Board, which must review all demolition applications, has also not received any notice of such an application.

Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman expects to give the City of Buffalo Preservation Board a nomination form to designate the powerhouse and all the Larkin Company buildings as a local historic district. Once accepted, the Board could vote as early as tomorrow (April 24) to schedule a public hearing.

"It is unfortunate and outrageous that a building owner seeking to exploit the historic cachet of the Larkin Company (Krog and partners also own the adjacent 701 Seneca Street, which they call the "Larkin Center of Commerce") would destroy part of the nation's legacy for a parking lot," Tielman said. A Larkin Historic District would give long overdue formal recognition and protection to one of America's most importa"nt industrial complexes. It would also offer the maximum protection for the endangered powerhouse."

Krog's company is enjoying the fruits of other public and private investments in "Larkinville." M&T Bank recently leased a large block of space, and Krog has been building and repaving parking lots in the area.

"There is always a creative solution to parking issues that is short of demolition, and if Krog can't develop the building, I am sure there are other developers out there who would be happy to do so," says Tielman. We are determined to fight very hard to save the powerhouse, and I am sure the public will agree we cannot lose this building."

Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Administration Building, across the street from the powerhouse, was demolished in 1950. Krog currently owns the site and operates it as a parking lot.

Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspection Services Commissioner James Comerford, reached by The Campaign on Wednesday afternoon, vowed to send an inspector to the site as soon as possible. 

Campaign for Greater Buffalo moves to designate endangered Fruit Belt buildings


City’s oldest continuously operating market and post-Civil War Meidenbauer-Morgan House threatened by proposed grocery store.


291 Maple frontage illus.


The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, working with the city’s Preservation Board, is advocating to designate as historic landmarks two buildings at Maple and High streets in the Fruit Belt neighborhood that are threatened by a proposed grocery store. The Campaign is proposing that the two buildings, the Meidenbauer-Morgan House (1871, above) and the Schirmer Meat Market (1876) be joined with the already-designated Promiseland Baptist Church at High and Mulberry to form a High Street Historic District. The Preservation Board is to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its next meeting, Thursday April 10, pending proper public notice. Should the Board recommend designation, the matter would be go to the Common Council's Legislation Committee, which would schedule a public hearing and send it to the full council for a vote.


195 High detail illus"These are very handsome brick buildings that are survivors of a proud neighborhood, and are emblematic of the houses, churches, and markets of the Fruit Belt and a model for future development,” says Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director Tim Tielman. “The grocery store, on the other hand, can go anywhere. The answer to saving the Fruit Belt is not to continue the 50-year war of demolition against it and its people, but to reinforce the qualities that make it special.” The buildings mark the current western edge of the Fruit Belt. Every remnant of the former residential neighborhood on High Street from Maple to Main Street has been demolished as a consequence of the North Oak Urban Renewal Project and hospital expansion.


Research by The Campaign has found that 195 High Street (above), currently operating as the High Street Deli, is the oldest documented, continuously operating market in the city. It was built for butcher Henry Schirmer, and opened in 1876 as Schirmer’s Meat Market. It is a structure the likes of which is no longer built. In addition to the market, Schirmer lived upstairs, and a smokehouse, sausage factory, and ice house were attached to the rear. The brick walls of the structure are a foot thick. All of this continues to stand, but is threatened by the proposed subsidized market across the street.


The Meidenbauer-Morgan House (variously described in city records over time as 204 High and 291 Maple, often simultaneously) is rare: It consists of two conjoined houses built at once. The larger block faces Maple Street. The smaller block faces High Street. Together they enclose expansive grounds on the corner of Maple and High. The compound has been owned by only two families since constructed, and is now owned by the City of Buffalo, which is working to consolidate the entire north side of High Street between Maple and Mulberry for the parking lot and store proposal. Several parties have approach the city over the years to buy the unique property and restore it, only to be rebuffed. Consequently, the structure is suffering “demolition by neglect.” 


The compound is most closely identified with two doctors of longstanding, John G. Meidenbauer, who lived there since his parents built the house in 1871, until his death in 1941. Thereafter, it was owned and lived in for 46 years by Dr. Lyle Morgan, who made house calls for decades throughout the neighborhood, and delivered the pioneering funk musician Rick James, who remained a patient through adulthood.


The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation. Its mission is to protect greater Buffalo’s historic, aesthetic, and cultural heritage; help to protect and improve property values in historic districts; encourage civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past; protect and enhance greater Buffalo’s attractions for tourists, thereby benefiting business and industry; strengthen the area's economy; and to promote the use of characteristic and exceptional architecture for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the people of Erie and Niagara counties.