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Preservation- Buffalo Niagara

By Carol S. Wolf

In going through my articles for the past several years, I came across the article I wrote in February 2014 on Preservation Buffalo Niagara. They were working on several major projects in Western New York. I called their office and made an appointment with Jessie Fisher, Executive Director. Their office is at 617 Main St., Suite 201 in Buffalo. I asked Jessie where she grew up, where she went to school, and how she became interested in historic preservation of the architecture in downtown Buffalo.

Jessie grew up in Elmwood Village and has always been interested in promoting the history of Buffalo and the projects that are going on to preserve the communities. She went to the University of Washington in Seattle where she earned her Master’s degree in Urban Planning. She has always been interested in preserving neighborhoods. Her previous jobs were working as a historic preservation and neighborhood planning consultant, owning and developing at-risk and abandoned buildings, and serving as the Director of Planning at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. I shared with her that I grew up in the Fruit Belt in Buffalo. Many of the homes there have been torn down or are in bad shape. She said that is what they are trying to restore and preserve in those areas.

Jessie was the project manager for the $10 million dollar Babeville project in downtown Buffalo, which transformed the vacant and deteriorating Asbury Delaware Church into a dynamic multi-purpose arts and culture venue in downtown Buffalo. This project included both historic and New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), as well as a successfully administered EPF grant. Jessie also shared that they work in communities that the public, civic, and private organizations and individuals are committed to helping historic property owners maintain, rehabilitate, and restore their buildings. They provide technical assistance in a variety of ways. They also help owners get funding.

In 2015, she was Director of Planning for Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper, which is a non-profit organization that works to preserve clean water. She worked there for four years. Before that, she was project manager on the Asbury Development. Each of these positions have combined to give her a unique sense of how promoting our region’s heritage can unlock a brighter, more equitable, and more sustainable future. They also have Historic Homeowner Tax Credit workshops monthly. You can learn about the available homeowner and commercial historic tax credits, including eligibility criteria, what kind of work qualifies, and how to submit an application.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara offers a number of great tours throughout the year. They have a Buffalo City Hall Tour, which is free and occurs every weekday at noon. You can see the art deco masterpiece up close and personal. You can also the stunning views from the Observation Deck. They also offer exclusive weekly tours of the Guaranty Building. You get a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at this architectural marvel and find out why it is a favorite preservation success story. Pre-registration is required for this tour. Check out their website or call 716-852-3300.

If you want to see all of the great architecture that downtown Buffalo has to offer, there are tours Fridays and Saturdays at 10am, March- November. You will explore the Market Arcade, the Electric Tower, the Ellicott Square Building, and much more. They also have hardhat tours, group tours, a homeowner workshop series, and other special events.

They have received several preservation awards:

2019 – Outstanding Project (over 10,000 SF)

Northland Workforce Training Center which occupies half of the 240,000 square foot former Niagara Machine & Tool Works factory on the East Side of Buffalo. It is the reuse of a former prominent machining and tool factory as an energy and manufacturing workforce educational center maintaining the historic industrial use and significance of the complex. This project is the first step in the revitalization and reuse of one of Buffalo’s great historic factory districts.

School 77 – The final outcome is 30 affordable apartments for seniors on the 2nd and 3rd floors located in the existing classrooms, and a mixed-use not-for-profit commercial and community oriented neighborhood hub on the first floor, which includes renting the auditorium to a local community based theater company, offices for PUSH staff, and maintaining the gymnasium for a variety of recreational activities.

Outstanding Project (less than 10,000 SF)

Graycliff – This architectural masterpiece was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built as the summer home of Darwin and Isabelle Martin on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie in the late 1920s. Skilled artisans from Reddin Construction brought Wright’s work back to life aided by a team of dedicated Graycliff volunteers and staff with major financial support from Empire State Development of New York.

Neighborhood Conservation

Hamlin Park Taxpayer and Community Association

For fifty years, the Hamlin Park Taxpayers and Community Association has been working to protect and enhance the beautiful Hamlin Park Neighborhood including spearheading and creating a local historic district in 1998 and adding this neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Preservation Craft – Northwood Restoration

Northwood Historic Restoration with Steve Swiat has restored some of the northeast’s most cherished historic sites. They have restored hundreds of windows for historic sites and private residences. They are currently training workers, managing the window restoration of the former Medina High School, and restoring the nearly 200-year old columns for the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site in Buffalo.

I found all that is going on in Western New York to maintain its history very fascinating. I thanked Jessie for giving me all this information. For more information and schedule of tours, visit their website at <www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org.>

If you know of a successful program in your community or would like more information please let me know at cdwolf1132@gmail.com.

Carol Wolf is a writer, speaker, storyteller, and leader of workshops and retreats. She is retired from 35 years in health care administration and co-hosts a TV show called Challenge for the 21st Century for the Network of Religious Communities. She is the author of Journey into Prayer and Biblical Storytelling in Youth Ministry. She has been married to Dick for 58 years and they have two sons, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson.


 

 


Carol wrote this book as part of her two year Master's program in the Academy for Biblical Storytellers. It has just been published and is available for $10.00. Carol is an author, speaker and leader of workshops meditations and conference.
"This book give you an opportunity to experience how, when we become a part of the biblical story, we often find meaning for our own life. It is an incredible resource for confirmation, baptism, and intergenerational groups." Trracy Radosevic, Dean, Academy for Biblical Storytellers.
Anyone interested in buying a book can email me @caroldickwolf@cs.com. The book is $10.00 + $2.00 mailing.