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Arson Takes a Landmark

Impromptu quiz:  What is most disturbing about last night’s burning of the Woodlawn Row Houses?

A.)  The fact that they were one of the last few sets of row houses left to Buffalo?
B.)  The fact that people, like David Torke of, have been begging for years for something to be done before this happened?
C.)  The fact the historic structure is owned by the city?
D.)  The fact that the row houses have been on a landmark list since the early 80s?
E.)  All of the above. (We have a whole alphabet of reasons this is a damn shame, but we’ll quit here.)
This isn’t a case of hindsight being 20/20.  Rather, it’s a case of the writing being on the wall…for a long time.  Torke has practically acted as personal real estate agent for this structure, marketing it on Craigslist and through other avenues, sometimes attracting viable out-of-town investors, but to no avail.  
Torke was wrong about one thing; he looked at this as culminating in a demolition by neglect scenario, and starting in March of 2004, he posted monthly updates on the property.  In that time, news has gone from nothingness, to hopeful, to the present, worst-case scenario for the row houses.  
In a past post of a slideshow of the East Side that I posted on BR in May of 2007 (now unavailable), commenter Carol_Anne saidI think that we should tear down or burn down the vacant houses, especially the stupidrow houses on woodlawn ave that everyone whines about.  

The eeriest part of that comment?  The row houses weren’t in the slideshow.   And now they’re gone.  Will they serve as a cautionary tale in their absence?  Torke says we value our historic properties and is looking for others he might turn his attention to with better results in the wake of this loss.

For now, we’ll look wait for word on the assessment of the damage, along with the next step for the row houses.  The arson investigation begins.  

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