Author: Robert Creenan
Buffalo is full of architecturally significant buildings that reflect its hard working past. Unfortunately, even during the city’s renaissance, many of these buildings are under threat of being torn down. Buffalo stands to lose not only these structures, it stands to lose its heritage – what makes this place special to begin with.
In coming weeks, I will be shining a light on some of the crucial sites that are threatened with demolition. I’ll be talking to the preservationists who are working to make sure that these places still stand, while taking a look at the neighborhoods that house the structures.
The first “in peril” structure on my list, The Crosby Company Complex, is located right off of William Street – 183 Pratt Street – where the main headquarters are situated. The Crosby Company has been involved with sheet metal stamping in Buffalo since 1896.
The company has been seeking to land a demolition permit since back in November (see timeline). The Buffalo Preservation Board has repeatedly denied the request, seeking historic landmark status for the complex. Nevertheless, workers from Empire Dismantlement started taking apart one of the historic buildings in December (namely the roof).
Bernice Radle, a leading Buffalo preservationist told me that the company “produced significant parts for machinery, using their state of the art stamping plant, for 20th century American life, including fridges, automobiles, planes, trains, and pretty much every major industry.” While the history of the manufacturing might come into play down the road, currently the preservation focus is retaining the impressive buildings that the company left in its wake.
Word on the street is that the owner might be coming around to understanding and appreciating the inherent nature of the buildings, and their unique value for future Buffalo. It would be a shame to knock these beauties down after they have stood the test of time for so many years.
This is the type of complex that could serve as a catalyst for an entire neighborhood’s rebirth. With the right developer, and the right vision, the Crosby Company Complex could be a historic anchor that others latch on to. Conversely, a parking lot or a grassy field will do the exact opposite. Below are the buildings on the immediate “watch” list.
“A demolition has been requested by the owners for nearly the entire group of historic brick buildings on site, including the Theodore Kleinschmidt’s Malt House at 193 Pratt. The demolition equipment is already onsite. Abatement has begun. The buildings are in great shape – there is NO emergency demo from City Hall. The entire brick complex is owned by Crosby Sheet Metal and according to the preservation board agenda, buildings 1,2,10,14 and 20 are coming down. These buildings could be reused or repurposed. They could hold the next brewery, start up maker company or loft project!” – Buffalo Young Preservationists
Readers can show their support for saving the complex by visiting this Facebook site. Buffalo Young Preservationists have also made it easy to contact representatives, to voice your concern over the pending demolition (click here to say something).
Once again, this is an extremely shortsighted approach to rebuilding Buffalo. This complex is not far from downtown Buffalo, and intuitive developers are starting to look to the East Side for investments. At this moment, there are developers kicking the tires of the Crosby Complex. For that reason alone, we should fight to save this site, which could someday become a destination unto itself.
The Preservation Board will decide further on the matter on January 21.
Images: Crosby Historic District
Malt House images – PreservationReady.com