While The City was rallying around the preservation of the North Buffalo Library, a historic church was being demolished in another part of the city. How convenient. Since at least 2012, Fix Buffalo has been writing about the plight of Salem Evangelical Church, attempting to draw the attention of The City, the community, and/or anyone else who might listen.
Unfortunately, this historic structure had five things going against it. First, it’s a church, which means that coming up with a practical use can be tough, especially if it is left to rot. Second, it’s located on the East Side, which means that it’s mainly off The City’s radar. Third, the building was deteriorating – an excellent example of demolition by neglect. Fourth, time was of the essence… developers are just now starting to consider investing in the East Side. And fifth, The City talks a great preservation game but does little to back it up.
What is most unfortunate is that The City did not address the condition of this church years ago. Now the historic fabric of this neighborhood has forever been altered, not to mention another lost piece of the city’s architectural heritage.
What is so sad about this is that while City officials were praising preservation efforts in North Buffalo, a building of much higher significance was being knocked to the ground across town.
Preservation Buffalo Niagara had this to say on July 7 on Facebook:
Salem Evangelical Church, a National Register eligible property built in 1907, will be torn down on Monday, using $200,000 in tax payer dollars. That’s right, if you live in Buffalo, you just paid 80 cents to tear down this beautiful building. This is yet another example of the City’s inability to manage a portfolio of thousands of vacant buildings. Despite constant positive press on the importance of our historic architecture and the positive economic development effect it is having on the City, we continue to lose buildings at an alarming rate, primarily on the East side of Main Street. Instead of waiting until it’s too late, the City should be working to establish a more effective framework to hold criminally absentee and negligent property owners accountable for their systematic destruction of our community and creating a pool of mothballing funds that we can use to identify and protect our valuable, vacant buildings.