Included here are three images of the same building at dramatically different phases of its existence. It opened on West Utica between Linwood and Main Street in the 1930s as the Stratford Arms Hotel. It has a stripped down Tudor style architecture, a type of simplified historicism that was popular at that time. In a way it is an early form of branding architecture, as its name and architecture referenced each other. It is an unspectacular building but is a pleasant piece of the street fabric. By the 1980s the building was in steep decline and was abandoned after a fire. As can be seen in the picture, pretty much all of its windows were broken out and this building was well on its way to becoming one of those supposedly sought after shovel ready sites.
By the 1980s buffalo was at a very low point in its history. Abandoned buildings were steadily creeping even to the west of Main Street and into the Elmwood Village. The building directly to the west of the Stratford Arms had also been abandoned and was also missing most of its windows. It had been saved just a few years before this image from 1990. That building was thankfully renovated as housing for seniors. Today, because of perseverance and foresight by those who knew the value of these buildings, the Stratford and its neighbor to the west are still contributing to a good urban historic streetscape. Buffalo is a much different place from the 1990 Buffalo pictured here. While much of the south side of this block of Utica was turned into a fast food sprawl scape, we have just witnessed the restoration of a wonderful commercial building on the East side of Main at the corner of Utica (see post). Something like that would have been unheard of back in the 1980s.
The Stratford Arms was brought back to life as affordable housing for disabled and low income military veterans and is run by the WNY Veterans Housing Coalition. I believe it reopened in 1991. Although they got a few details wrong, the renovation was done quite well. The finials on top of the walls are too small and unfortunately the decorative wood half timbering was lost at the top floor but they put in decent windows and even rebuilt the center pediment that had been lost to time. All in all this was a great save of a good urban background building and another great example of how the first response should not be to tear down our heritage.
Images: left-circa 1960, bottom right-1990, top right-present