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.