Owning a historic building is a big responsibility. Throughout Buffalo’s commercial districts there are examples of good and bad building owners. Good building owners, like Mike Maywalt, take a special pride in their ownership responsibilities. Recently, Mike embarked upon a significant restoration effort of 495 Amherst Street in Black Rock, home to Maywalt Realty Group.
“When the City passed the plan for a big development at the foot of Howell Street, I knew that there would be 40 more tenants walking along this section of Amherst Street. I wanted the storefront to be a reflection of the neighborhood. The leaded glass transom windows were shot. So I retained the services of Roycroft artisan Peggy Eisensmith at Aurora Art Glass. That means that the glasswork would have the Roycroft mark. She used the old glass, new glass, and beveled glass, and her work makes the whole storefront sing. Then I got Sterling Glass to replace all of the glass panels below the transoms. A primary front door was added (creating a small vestibule), and the building’s 125-year-old wooden boards have been restored. I also did the roof. Everything is being brought back as close to the original look of the building as possible. We’re 90% finished at this point.”
In recent years, we’ve seen an onslaught of cheap, prefab aluminum storefronts being installed throughout the city. It’s so sad to see a historic shopfront facade ripped out and replaced with a bunch of cookie cutter garbage. That’s the last thing that Mike wanted to see on his building.
The icing on the cake will be the addition of old fashioned signage with raised lettering on the shopfront.
“There will be no more stickers in the window,” Mike told me.
Mike said the he got a little funding help from a Buffalo Main Streets Initiative grant, but that he also made a significant investment himself.
“The grant helped, but this was a project that I was going to do either way,” said Mike. “I knew how important this was to the street, as well as a reflection of my business.”
Photos courtesy Susan Cholewa