You may have noticed the many recent improvements along Main Street between Florence and Leroy. Several buildings have undergone some incredible transformations in the past few weeks thanks to the efforts of the Parkside Community Association (PCA) and grant money from the Main Street grant program.
In late 2010 the PCA received a grant award of $500,000 from the State Office of Community Renewal. The state Main Street Grant Program is used to encourage rehab of mixed-use residential and commercial districts. Grant monies from the program have been utilized throughout Buffalo including this stretch along Main Street, the Larkin District, and on Grant Street.
The grant covers 75% of the cost and the building owner covers the remaining 25%. The results speak for themselves. Take a look below at the image of The Oakwood (2297-2303 Main) before the renovations. The change is nothing short of dramatic and really brings attention to the historic details of this fabulous building.
Paul Burgio, owner of Burgio's TV, has been in The Oakwood since 1981 and purchased the building in 1991. He has some fond memories when film crews descended upon Buffalo to film The Natural with Robert Redford. Paul has a handful of great candid shots of the set and crew when they were filming at the Parkside Candies building across the street. He was amazed at the level of detail for the scene, which included several period correct, but totally fake newspapers that were for sale at the newsstand in the scene.
The Oakwood was built in 1923 and unfortunately I have not had a chance to delve too much into the history of the building. It was used as a car dealership during the 1950's when "Saul's Studebaker" occupied the building and later changed hands to "Bilsco Imports" who remained during the 1960s and 1970s. Four apartments are upstairs in the former administrative offices and feature some incredible woodwork. Now that the windows have been completely replaced, the views of Main Street are quite fantastic.
In addition to the Oakwood, five other buildings have or are in the process of undergoing renovations. The other buildings include the former Parkside Candies building (2302), Eyecare Professionals (2290), 2323 Main Street, and 2288 Main Street. Tony's Ranch House at 2285 is also one of the six buildings that has received funding and was recently highlighted on Buffalo Rising.
There was also a small pot of funds for improvements for the public right of way. Thirty granite tablets have been ordered for installation on both sides of Main Street. The tablets will depict historical scenes from before European settlers up to present day and will likely be installed in the next two weeks. A series of street banners will also be installed that have already been approved by the Common Council. A large mural is planned for the side of The Oakwood and the other side of the street facing School 54. The vacant lot next to The Oakwood will be converted into a small Peace Park for the neighborhood to enjoy. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for early Fall.
I'll be getting in contact with some of the other building owner for some follow up posts to highlight their progress as well. For additional photos of The Oakwood, click here.
Google Maps image before the renovations
Several photos during The Natural filming
View of Main Street from some of the new windows