Congressman Brian Higgins, members of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association and leaders from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation joined together at the historic Buffalo Lighthouse to mark the finish of restoration efforts on the 178 year old structure. Built in 1833, the Buffalo “Chinaman’s Lighthouse,” is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Public access to the Lighthouse, which sits on U.S. Coast Guard Property, has been limited due to post-9/11 security requirements.
“This beacon of light has been a symbol of Buffalo for nearly two centuries and now with this outstanding restoration it also stands as beacon of hope, representing continued positive transformation for our region,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Again we have another example of taking what is unique to Buffalo and Western New York historically and reinventing it for today and tomorrow.”
In April, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) board awarded $170,700 in New York Power Authority relicensing settlement funds for masonry repair and stonework on the exterior and interior of the lighthouse structure which will help prepare the lighthouse for new visitors.
“This work is another step towards the realization of a waterfront for Buffalo in the 21st Century,” said ECHDC Outer Harbor Group Chairman David Colligan. “One that is cognizant and respectful of the past, but with a degree of access that our region’s previous generations could only have dreamed of. ECHDC is proud to have contributed to this effort, and we salute the vision of Congressman Higgins and the hard work and dedication of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association.”
The push to restore the site was a decade long undertaking by the Buffalo Lighthouse Association which was founded in 1985. The organization has an outstanding history of activity and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised and spent on restoration, in addition to hosting festivals, tours, and conservation.
“The current rehabilitation of the Buffalo Lighthouse has been a labor of love undertaken by the Buffalo Lighthouse Association. Our association was formed in 1985 to save this important landmark and symbol of the City of Buffalo,” said Thomas R. Johnston, President of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association. “We have recently acquired the South Buffalo Lighthouse and this will be our next restoration project. We plan to showcase these lighthouses in October when the National Trust for Historic Preservation hosts their national conference in Buffalo.”
The work was conducted by International Chimney Corporation, an 84-year old local company located in Williamsville, which has expertise with historic restoration efforts and has completed work all across the country. The project will be completed this week.
Joseph J. Jakubik, Manager, Historic Preservation Division for International Chimney Corporation said, “We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to restore this structure so very important to the history of the City of Buffalo. Over the years, we have performed on and are proud of our many lighthouse restorations and relocation projects, including past work on the Buffalo Light. A local project like this that we are in constant contact with, is very special to us.”
In 2008, working with then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Higgins secured $6.1 million in federal funding for a project to provide public access to the U.S. Coast Guard property around the historic lighthouse. Phase I is now underway and expected to be completed by this fall with the goal of full public access to the Lighthouse and the waterfront property leading up to the site to coincide with the October National Preservation Conference in Buffalo.
Second Image: (L-R) Jim Rzad (Buffalo Lighthouse Association), Ed Patton (Buffalo Lighthouse Association), Tom Johnston (President of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association), Congressman Brian Higgins, Dave MacLeod (Buffalo Lighthouse Association), David Colligan (Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation). Other images by ECHDC.