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885 Niagara Street Comes Back To Life

885 Niagara Street was designed by Sidney Woodruff in 1903 for the Buffalo Milk Company. It was constructed in 1905-1906 and incorporated Medina sandstone and Roman brick as part of its building materials. It was designed in the Neo-classical style and incorporated arched windows.

Roman brick on left

 

 

According to what I’ve read, its interior was very elegant. Unfortunately, that interior was destroyed with time for the most part. Several people who have been in the building over the last 10 years, prior to its reconstruction, have told me that the floors were crumbling and that it was unsafe to walk in parts of the building. The second and third floors that connected the front and back buildings collapsed while it was vacant.

The complex has large buildings on Niagara Street and Prospect Street. The remaining one story building connecting the two ran along Massachusetts Avenue.

As part of the building’s rehabilitation the second and third floors of the connecting building have been restored. This restoration used matching yellow brick on the building’s right side as part of the complex’s future as affordable housing.

Red brick was used on the restoration of the left side of the connecting building. Beautiful windows that appropriately conform to the Preservation Tax Credit guidelines were recently installed. I don’t know if the Medina sandstone will be cleaned before this rehab is finished.

Regan Development Corporation, an affordable housing developer from Ardsley, NY, is responsible for this redevelopment. Their previous work in Buffalo includes the redevelopment of the former Packard Motors Showroom Complex on Main Street in Midtown into an affordable housing complex.

 

Written by Dr. Rehab

Dr. Rehab

John Straubinger has been an occasional Buffalo Rising contributor since 2007. Born and raised in the city, John lived and worked in Boston, MA in the Research field for over 47 years. Since the early 1990's, he started following what was happening in his home town with a developing interest. Liking more and more of what he was seeing in Buffalo for the last ten years, John decided to return to Buffalo permanently in the fall of 2014. John has an interesting facebook page called Buffalo rehab and Reuse, https://www.facebook.com/groups/929189663802358/. He occasionally contributes articles to BRO as Dr. Rehab.

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  • Josh Robinson

    This project is a win for the neighborhood, and even better that it will be affordable housing for people already living there. The new arched windows are gorgeous.

    • OldFirstWard

      Affordable housing is only good if it is not overrun by lazy single moms and their boyfriends that suddenly appear after the lease is signed, pitbulls and paroles. But as things usually go on the west side, these apartment buildings turn into cockroach infested filth with ten different last names on the mailbox. Hopefully the apartment management does not put up with any bad tenants.

      • Josh Robinson

        You never miss an opportunity to chime in with unsolicited racist ramblings do you?

        • OldFirstWard

          There’s nothing racist about it. You should be smart enough to know that. Or at least anyone who has rented out apartments on the lower west side (myself included) would understand what I’m talking about.

      • Alex

        wow

    • OldFirstWard

      “This project is a win for the neighborhood”

      That remains to be seen, though it is an amazing project and restoration. I’m impressed with all the work that went into this complex. There were times early in the initial proposals for the complex when a lot of select demolition was threatened.

      Medina sandstone is one of finest natural resources which is located, and was quarried in our area. A lot of that stone was moved via the Erie Canal. It is of the utmost importance to preserve any buildings or homes where it was used. Hopefully a thorough cleaning is in order to restore the vibrancy of the brick facade walls and sandstone block.

  • NorthBuf

    It’s amazing what just a few new windows can do to a boarded up building.

  • RichardSmehlik

    windows look great! It’s amazing how so many of these beautiful old buildings had such obscure tenants way back when – Buffalo Milk Company? lol

    • Matt Marcinkiewicz

      may or may not have been an obscure company/tenant back in 1903…

      • S.L.Hawks

        Not a “tenant” at all – They built the place with their own money.

  • G Orty

    Now that’s how you take photos of a building under renovation to complement the story and give the whole picture.

  • BlackRockLifer

    To chime in on the windows, they look great, respecting the original size, proportion, and design is always the correct thing to do and always looks best. Many people not familiar with architectural design still recognize when a structure is done right and appreciate it when the original scale, proportion and design is restored.

    • Louis Tully

      Is that how they would have originally looked? Why not just have the one window fill the entire space? Though after looking at a comparable on the Statler Terrace Room I guess that could be how it was originally done?
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eab8b22288f34b8345620b312a3cd592763e25f6d754477fd32f835247214f3a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed5172bb391a6465d307bb9cb61885c2dee034d05f850ea9fe8e964a84aec10b.jpg

      • Let Buffalo Rise
        • Louis Tully

          Same building? Windows look a lot different, huh.

          • Let Buffalo Rise

            They look close to me. Big double hung with round top in the center, flanked by side lights on either side and arched windows around the top. What do you see being different?

          • Louis Tully

            OK yeah I didn’t look close enough. Are there no mullions on the old photo?

      • BlackRockLifer

        I believe Let Buffalo Rise is correct, the picture is hard to see though.

    • OldFirstWard

      Wait until you see what Savarino is doing to the windows at the former St.Stevens school building on Elk St. The original windows had Gothic frames on the top floors. Instead of ordering custom windows to fit the frames, Savarino put in square stock windows behind the frames of the Gothic openings. It is absolutely horrific. If it is a historic tax credit project, is it not a violation to deviate from the original window design?

      • BlackRockLifer

        To qualify for Historic Tax Credits a detailed plan must be submitted for review by SHIPO, I know they will sometimes allow some changes for various reasons as long as the overall project is deemed to stay within the original design, not sure if they can accept the alteration you noted.

  • Let Buffalo Rise

    Too bad all the old comments were taken down from previous articles. It would be great to go back and reflect on all the comments people had. Many people thought this project was going to be terrible and was being done all wrong.

  • jtown

    Affordable housing projects like this one look really nice at the start. The program really works in getting some very nice clean housing for those that might need just a little extra help.

    The key going forward is good management to keep it looking really nice.

  • S.L.Hawks

    While delivering mail, I took my lunch break by wandering through this entire place …. it was an incredible jumble of junk, treasures, antiques, and just plain “stuff” for sale. Although I saw every floor, every door and window, I still could not imagine what was the original use of the place. To find that it was a milk bottling factory was astonishing. It is fantastically gratifying to see that this beautiful building is being rebuilt and saved – especially after seeing how sad it had become.

    ps – I did find & purchase a dandy antique on that Postal lunch-break : an Edison Amberola for $50, which I still play every day !

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Looks great!

  • Ra Cha Cha

    Happy this project turned out as well as it did. Earlier versions called for butchering the building. A lot of advocacy and effort on all sides went into making this a much better project.

  • Bill Horbett Sr.

    Sydney Woodruff later moved west and was responsible for the iconic “HOLLYWOOD” sign erected in Los Angeles in the 1920’s.

  • Bill Horbett Sr.

    The new roundtop windows are virtually identical to the originals as seen in this historic photo https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f16bfc333160dd444fd1ef43a2f924d1124257bb9326d3ee6aac625f1714244.jpg