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Now and Then: Whoa!

Some of my
favorite BRO posts have been from of my “Now and Then” series.  They
expose so much about the City of Buffalo through time, both positive and
negative.  Unfortunately, I have pretty much run out of my own historic
images, but I recently stumbled on a treasure trove of Buffalo pictures from
1986 taken by David Daruszka
. His portfolio covers many of
Buffalo’s greatest buildings, both well known and obscure.  He has given
us permission to use them on BRO, so look forward to more of “ye olde
Buffalo” in the next few months to come.

The historic
image shown here caught my attention more than any other.  At first I
didn’t recognize the building because I had forgotten how low it had sunk. I
remember walking past this building when it looked like this, and I could not
understand how such a beautiful building could be allowed to get to such a
state.  It is a great example of how different Buffalo is today than it
was back in the 80s.  

mansion before.png

Certainly
Buffalo can be a frustrating place in that it seems like things never change.  But
in some cases it has changed quite dramatically, and this house at 414 Franklin
Street at the corner of Virginia is a great example of that. At the time of
this 1986 photo, the house shared the intersection with another derelict,
though extraordinary, mansion that occupies the northwest corner.  Together
they formed a gateway of disinvestment in Buffalo’s premier historic
neighborhood on perhaps its most historic street.  Back then, Buffalo was
at a real low point, reeling from rapid white flight and massive industrial
decline.  Today, both houses are restored and fully occupied.  

At the low
point of this house, the typical arguments ensued: tear it down, we need
parking, it is too far gone!  The tear-down crowd seems to have an
inability to understand what they are actually trying to get rid of.  This
corner came very close to being blighted by twin parking lots.  I do not
remember how the renovation came about.  It may or may not have included
government money.  The building, thankfully, was saved shortly after this
picture was taken, when it was renovated into office space.  Unfortunately,
a wonderful side porch was lost and not replaced–but I will take the building,
sans porch, over a parking lot.  Today it is once again residential after
having gone through a recent second renovation by RCSArchitecture
.  

Buffalo still
has many egregious examples of disinvestment and poor building management, but
thankfully the examples of this are declining rather than increasing.  I
would like to think that this kind of scene would no longer be tolerated, but
Buffalo still has a way to go before that is the case.  Just north on
Franklin are a few great historic houses that desperately need new ownership.  Thankfully,
those houses are now the exception on this street rather than the rule.

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