A tragic arson fire could have spelled the sad demise of this brick beauty sitting at 486 Franklin Street. In fact, the demolitions winds were blowing strong, when a notice was posted on structure, stating that any remaining property on the inside must be removed due to imminent demolition. The news of this house being demolished did not sit pretty with the preservation community, who were aghast at the thought of losing this historic building. Buffalo’s Young Preservationists “heart bombed” the facade of the house, in hopes of drawing attention to its unfortunate plight.
Earlier on, shortly after the fire, there were rumblings that the house might have once been owned by Millard Fillmore. In response, The Buffalo History Museum conducted their own investigation into the matter, and could not find any evidence that Fillmore ever owned the property (see here). But they did find that an important Buffalo resident did live there:
“Jacob Schoellkopf (a pioneer in harnessing the hydroelectric power of Niagara Falls) owned that property from at least 1866 to 1893. The Emslie Deed Atlas from 1866 shows his name on that parcel, plus the 1893 Buffalo city directory shows him at 486 Franklin. Schoellkopf was probably the person who originally built the house.” – The Buffalo History Museum
A little over a month ago, the Allentown Association posted the following in regards to the structure:
“On January 29th 486 Franklin Street was in Housing Court and Judge Carney continued the case setting the next hearing for May 1st. Citing many complaints received from neighborhood residents and from us at the Allentown Association, the Judge told the owner that he must see progress. According to the owner permits have/are in the process of being secured and we should expect to see work start soon. This is not over neighbors! We need your help to keep an eye on this property, making sure that the owner follows through on his responsibility to repair the property. And if the owner is not following through then we need to get him back into Housing Court.”
Fortunately, a few weeks ago, workers showed up at the site, and began working on 486 Franklin Street, much to the happiness (and surprise) of neighbors and preservationists. Today, the building is well on its way towards becoming a productive property in the historic Allentown village, where it will also contribute to the rebirth of the city.
Thankfully we did not lose this important piece of Buffalo’s architectural history. If you take a walk down Franklin and Linwood, you will see some parking lots, and a handful of relatively newer (sometimes tragic) buildings. These parcels were, at one point, filled with glorious structures that met similar fates that faced 486 Franklin Street. Fortunately, this one got a new lease on life, and the neighborhood will not suffer from a “gap tooth” at the hands of an arsonist. Not to mention the building’s owner, who ultimately did the right thing and rehabbed the structure instead of letting it snuff out at the hands of demolition crews.