At the end of 1988, my life changed dramatically. One of the benefits of that change was that I started to pay attention to Buffalo again. During the 21 previous years that I spent in Boston, I visited sporadically. My parents lived in Florida in the winter, so I spent Christmas with them and I often skipped several summers of possible Buffalo visits, preferring to go to other places for a vacation.
When I started coming back to Buffalo on a regular basis in the summers of the 1990’s, the city didn’t look good. It looked beaten up. I grew up on Linwood and was very familiar with what is now the Elmwood Village but, in particular, Ashland, Norwood and Richmond and the streets that crossed them below Elmwood looked shabby and depressing. On every block and on every side of the street, there were 5 or 6 houses for sale. Many of these houses looked ramshackle, needing painting and removal of ugly asphalt shingles. Many had sagging porches that were propped up by 2x4s. And there was Zero rehab activity. I found this situation alarming as did those who I spoke with about it. No one seemed to know what to do about it at the time. It took a tax revaluation and community activities like the Garden Walk to bring back these streets. Today, most of the houses on these streets shine, and that shining has spread to many other streets in the city. By the way, the Garden Walk has inspired a lot of rehabs on the West Side and Allentown.
I started writing about rehabs for Buffalo Rising about 12 years ago. I wrote about houses that I took pictures of in numerous summers. I also worked with organizations like Heart of the City and Homefront to publish articles with pictures they supplied of houses that their organizations rehabbed. Until I moved back to Buffalo in November of 2014 (when I retired), my articles were few and summer based. My articles are more frequent these days. I now have the time to pursue rehabs all over the city which is how and why I started the Facebook page, Buffalo Rehab and Reuse with the purpose of informing and stimulating conversation. As I mentioned previously, I also have a number of contacts that tell me about current or near-future rehabs and I also utilize the agendas of Buffalo’s Planning and Preservation Boards and the Zoning Board of Appeals as sources. Sometimes I just drive through a neighborhood looking at the houses for rehab activity as I travel its streets.
When part 4 is published this coming Friday, I will have provided pictures of over 100 rehabs that were ongoing in Buffalo in 2017. I have no reason not to believe that 2018 will bring just as many rehabs for a reader’s review at this time next year.
Photos in this segment were contributed by Anthony James, Jesse Rosenhahn, Johanna C. Dominguez, Frits Abell, Katy Stuck, Marc Pasquale, the Matt Urban Center, Chrissy Lincoln, Sandy Hertel, Darrell Benjamin, Keith Szczygiel, Buffalo Rising, and myself.