Demolition crews this week are preparing the Bethlehem Steel North Office Building in Lackawanna for its demise. Constructed in 1901, the Beaux Arts style building is located on Hamburg Turnpike (Route 5) at the northeast corner of the sprawling 1300-acre former steel plant complex.
The building, like the city it is located in, has clearly seen better days yet remains defiantly majestic. It has even been identified as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Though the smoke and fumes produced by steel plant furnaces cleared years ago, the highly visible property close to the waterfront found no takers. Crews are currently removing asbestos before starting demolition.
Preservation Buffalo - Niagara is saddened by the news that starting this Friday the former Bethlehem Steel North Office Building, known as the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building, will be demolished. Located along the City of Lackawanna and the City of Buffalo line, the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building has been a Beaux Arts gem welcoming travelers into both cities for decades. Even in its present deteriorated state, the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building hints at our region's grand industrial roots while illustrating our collective great fortune of architectural heritage.
The Bethlehem Steel Administration Building also represents the vital need for a strategic approach to dealing with our region's underutilized, irreplaceable historic assets. An approach that proactively finds solutions to foreseeable problems and that places an emphasis on the social capital embodied in our built environment. An approach that enables community-wide participation in the discussion of what ultimately happens to our historic structures. Without such an approach, our community is destined to lose even more of our built history and with that our fragile connection to our past.
A critical component of this desired approach is Local Historic Landmark designation. Local landmark designation insures the opportunity for meaningful public input and protects the interest of the public in preserving the collective community heritage.
Preservation Buffalo - Niagara further believes that it is imperative to protect the integrity of historic resources to insure their eligibility for lucrative historic preservation grants and tax credits. These incentives are key to enabling historic preservation solutions and making the preservation of these structures a reality. It is Preservation Buffalo - Niagara's hope that a practical, proactive approach is crafted to facilitate the more responsible stewardship of threatened historic buildings and sites in the Buffalo - Niagara Community. Preservation Buffalo - Niagara is offering its expertise to assist any municipality with the creation and implementation of such an approach.