Ask a half dozen Buffalo residents and expats to list five decrepit buildings that should be saved in the city and you’ll likely receive six unique lists. Expand the list to ten buildings and one or two may be repeated amongst the lists. There are that many buildings that should be saved.
Preservation in Buffalo is basically a triage operation. A group preparing a list of “must-save” buildings needs to complete the list in a systematic way that has logic and allows for explanation to the general public – why is the building is important, why it is in danger, and why it needs to be saved. A draft set of criteria has been created, the most important being that if action is not taking soon, the building is likely to be destroyed within the next five years. So, while the Statler and Central Terminal may be the buildings most folks would say should be on the top of a “must save” list, it is extremely unlikely those buildings are going anywhere in the next five years and will not make the final list.
One option to determine criteria is to use the National Register Evaluation Criteria, which is as follows:
Criteria for evaluation. The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and
(a) that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
(b) that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
(c) that embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
(d) that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
However, some may say that the above criteria may be too limited, that additional criteria, such as “is it likely to be destroyed within the next five years?” and “is it the only one of its type remaining?” should be included. We would like your input on what should be used as criteria.
Identifying all the properties worth saving could take months, there are likely thousands of them. For this reason the list by our group cannot be comprehensive in its evaluation of the city’s endangered architectural treasures. The list is meant to draw attention to properties that should be saved, many of which are off the radar of locals and have few “friends” fighting to save it them. The initial list will include ten priorities to aid in efforts to be proactive rather than reactive. We hope to promote the list and raise the awareness not only of these buildings but all of Buffalo’s historic resources. Some will be saved, some will be lost. That’s the nature of advocacy. But if eventually a culture of preservation can be built and strengthened in Buffalo, the city will definitely be a better place for its people.
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