Author: Renata Toney
Inspired by the legacy the Kensington-Bailey area played in the growth and development of Buffalo and the American experience, University District Councilmember Rasheed N.C. Wyatt has announced the creation of a Kensington-Bailey Historical Committee comprised of residents passionate about renewing the area’s character to reflect its uniqueness and diversity.
“Construction of residential homes and some landmarks in my district dates back as early as the 1890s. Preservation is about honoring the past and can be a strategic catalyst in revitalizing communities and preserving culture,” said Councilmember Wyatt. “Our goal is to promote public awareness of architectural assets and to encourage reinvestment in our neighborhoods.”
kta preservation specialists, a Buffalo-based historic preservation consulting firm, is working with the committee thanks to a Preservation League of New York State grant awarded to the University District Community Development Association, Inc. (UDCDA) to conduct historic survey work in the University District.
At the last committee meeting, Annie Schentag of kta preservation specialists presented an informative session on the history of district from its evolution from farms, timberland and the completion of the Kensington Avenue trolley in 1895 to post World War I when private real estate companies developed residential neighborhoods. Academically trained as both an architectural historian and an urban planner, Schentag has extensive experience in researching and writing National Register nominations, conducting Section 106 Compliance projects, and architectural reconnaissance surveys. Her work has thus far listed over 1,000 properties on the National Register of Historic Places in Buffalo, NY.
“The work of the historical committee coupled with the ongoing research and survey work of kta preservation specialists has the potential to strengthen our community’s unique heritage while also supporting homeowners and encouraging small scale reinvestment in the neighborhood through tools like historic tax credits. Historic preservation has been an engine for Buffalo’s revitalization, and Kensington-Bailey has no shortage of buildings or stories worth preserving.” said Darren Cotton, Director of Community Development & Planning at the University District Community Development Association, Inc. (UDCDA).
“Short-term plans are to continue to research places of historic significance and collaborate with local and state preservation agencies in conducting surveys, reporting sites and tracking progress,” said Doris Corley, University District Senior Legislative Assistant and Committee Chair. “Future projects in the pipeline include producing video documenting residents’ stories of the uniqueness of Kensington Bailey neighborhoods and launching a website.” This is a huge undertaking that is worth the time and effort for such a vibrant and diverse neighborhood.
“Using our historic sites, we teach residents and the community-at-large that history is relevant in daily life and can be used to explore a shared connection among people,” added Councilmember Wyatt. “My vision is to celebrate a love of place and to promote conversations on creating a better future.”
The committee is seeking more members interested in preservation and promoting appreciation of these neighborhoods. We are seeking residents, youth and businesses who live in the Kensington Bailey neighborhoods who want to share in its history.
Meetings take place the second Monday of each month, 4 PM at Clevehill United Methodist Church 546 Eggert Rd. Buffalo, NY. If you’re interested, please contact the University District Council Office at (716) 851-5165.
Lead image: Members of the Historical Committee in front of the Kary Building at the intersection of Bailey and Kensington