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Separated at Birth: Update

Update:In this post from last May 13th, we lamented the disrepair of the house on the right. As you can see in this post from fixbuffalo, there’s nothing to worry about anymore. The house was demolished last week.
These two houses are virtually identical in design. They are part of a row of similar brick houses built in the late 1800’s, probably from the hand of one builder / developer. They are simple, well built houses of a type created for a newly growing middle class.
They are not extravagant, but do have a few Victorian flourishes to announce their owner’s comfortable status. The house on the left (as well as some others in this area) has been meticulously cared for and continues to provide its owner with wonderful shelter in spite of the drastic downward spiral of the house next door as well as the neighborhood as a whole.
The house on the right, 1572 Jefferson on Buffalo’s East Side has led a very different life. At some point in history the paths of these houses diverged. 1574 continues to flourish while 1572 slowly declined and became vacant. At this point 1572 Jefferson is being readied for demolition. It is owned by the city and though it appears to be structurally sound and sits with a group of well cared for neighbors the city has determined that the only course of action that makes any sense is to remove this irreplaceable piece of Buffalo’s history.


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David Torke of Fix Buffalo has been keeping track of this property for several years. You can find out more about this house and his efforts to find a new owner here. He posts several interior images, which show a house that is remarkably sound. It has been gutted to the studs and brick making for a relatively simple interior build-out. As you can see by the back yard image included here, the neighborhood could pass for anything in the Elmwood Village or Allentown. Sure this is still a tough area of the city, but islands of hope like this strip of well cared for, well built houses can be leveraged into a bulwark of renewal on the East Side.
There are other opportunities like this throughout the city. Without a plan these opportunities will be lost forever. The city plans to spend millions on demolition and several million more on new construction of dubious quality but, seems to have no plan at all for using assets that already exist for rebuilding distressed neighborhoods. With a simple system of evaluation, which ranks viability of distressed properties and a plan of action for a house like 1572 Jefferson, millions could be saved.
Harvey Garret has shown that with a plan, some organization, and lots of determination neighborhoods can be turned around. He and his group have made major advances in pushing back decay on the West Side. Even David Torke’s lonely vigil on the East side has shown results.
His persistence has helped to save 194 East Utica. It is now seeing new life as the Queen City Farm, a 2.5 acre experiment in urban faming centered on one of Buffalo’s forgotten Victorian treasures. The list goes on too. With just a little publicity from Fix Buffalo and Buffalo Rising several houses are being renovated on Coe Place, just around the corner from Art Space.
If you think you would like to save 1572 Jefferson, email David Torke and he will help you get in touch with the right people. Hurry, this will soon be one of those coveted shovel ready sites.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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