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Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s new Traditional Building Trades Program

Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s (PBN) is introducing a new Traditional Building Trades Program, which will help to alleviate the dearth of skilled workers who can fix and restore aging historic homes in Buffalo. Currently, there is a huge demand for skilled preservation trades craftspeople who are able to tackle the unique and highly technical services needed when it comes to tending to this city’s historic preservation needs. As more preservation incentives are allocated through myriad programs, to spur sustainable building practices, a qualified workforce must be available to respond to the growing needs. 

The new Trades Program is suitable for contractors, students, professionals, and anyone else who possesses basic construction skills, and is interested in being trained in the rehabilitation of historic properties.

Courses will be presented in five subject areas:

  • Repair and Rehabilitation of Historic Windows
  • Energy Retrofitting of Historic Buildings
  • Maintenance and Repair of Historic Masonry Systems
  • Preservation Carpentry and Woodworking
  • Repair of Historic Plaster and Stucco

Participants can choose from any or all of the classes listed above. Along with traditional classroom training, there will be hands-on training with historic building materials, and field work at historic buildings and in neighborhoods, according to PBN.

“Western New York is blessed with a treasure trove of historic architecture and talented trades people, but as we have expanded interest in preservation, we have found that the supply of trained craftspeople has not caught up with demand,” said PBN Executive Director Jessie Fisher. “We are very excited to bring this training to Buffalo and are looking forward to incubating the next generation of tradespeople. Preservation means job creation, and we are looking forward to creating a pathway into this satisfying and important”

“We are pleased to join Preservation Buffalo Niagara in this workforce development initiative. The lack of skilled craftspeople to undertake work on older buildings was identified during the NYS Division for Historic Preservation’s 2015-2020 statewide planning process,” says Daniel Mackay, Deputy Commissioner of Historic Preservation at the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Our legacy communities are composed of building stock that far out-number those constructed after the post-World War II construction boom. Whether the property has landmark designation or not, these buildings require special skills that are currently being lost. For an entrepreneurial contractor, one only need to look at their built environment to see where the opportunities are.”

The first course to be offered is Repair and Rehabilitation of Historic Windows. Beginning on March 12, 2019, and running through May 11, the course will be taught twice a week and will include a hands-on field work component on a local historic building. Topics to be covered include:

  • Removal of glazing and remaining paint techniques
  • Preparing sashes for glaze and paint
  • Glass types, selection, and preparation
  • Glazing putty selection and practice with mixing and using
  • Window frame repair and preparation
  • Energy efficiency and energy modeling
  • Weathering windows, types of weather stripping, and storm windows
  • Window priming and painting
  • Re-installing sashes to frames and hardware

“When properly rehabbed, retaining historic windows makes much more financial and environmental sense than replacing them,” said Steve Swiat of Northwood Historic Restoration, who will be teaching the initial course – Swiat has over 20 years experience working on significant historic properties, and is considered one of the leaders of the historic window restoration community in Western New York. “I am excited to work with PBN and the New York State Historic Preservation Office to pass this knowledge onto the next generation of crafts people.”

The cost of the windows course is $750 prior to February 15, and is $775 between February 15 and March 1. All course materials will be included. Because these courses are designed to be extremely hands-on, enrollment is strictly limited. Early registration is highly recommended.

The program is being offered in conjunction with the New York State Division for Historic Preservation (SHPO), which will issue certificates of completion for participants of the program. Additionally, those who complete courses will be listed in PBN’s online database of preservation services and resources.

Additional information as well as enrollment applications can be found at

Lead image: Babington

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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