State Review Board Recommends Elmwood Historic District (West) to the State and National Registers of Historic Places

September 23, 2012
Clinton E. Brown, FAIA

Congratulations RANHDI Friend of the Elmwood Historic District!

On Thursday, September 20, 2012 , the State Board for Historic Preservation voted unanimously to recommend the addition of the Elmwood Historic District (West) to the State and National Registers of Historic Places during its meeting at Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, Yonkers.

State Historic Preservation Office National Register Unit representative Daniel McEneny made a presentation that was summarized as this largely intact…

“…primarily residential district of 1,600 properties is a product of the first street-car suburbanization of the city during its golden age following the Civil War and boasts the architecture and streetscapes that illustrate Buffalo’s premier residential neighborhood at the height of the city’s prominence as the 8th most populous city in America.”

You can read the entire nomination here.

Now for some background on our 33 month odyssey…

Alma and I started this quest in January, 2010 knowing what needed to be done but not knowing how we would ever get it done alone.

This is when Providence stepped in, sending the Rev. Philip Dougharty, rector of St. Johns-Grace Episcopal Church, and Wardens Ann Dutton and Dave Smith, and Kenneth Rogers, a neighbor of then-Assembly member Sam Hoyt, state historic tax credit author. They commissioned a Community Council of 20 that led to a coalition of more than 100 neighbors and friends who initiated, managed, funded, and accomplished this historic district. Preservation Buffalo Niagara was our National Register Nomination Project Partner. Major funders included the Preservation League of New York State, Council Members Michael LoCurto and David Rivera, the Baird Foundation, the D-B Trust, Kenneth A. and Kathleen C. Rogers, the Magavern Pool and you!

Thank you each and all!

We had six Clinton Brown Company professionals working on this for nearly two years under the leadership of Architectural Historian Jennifer Walkowski and Project Manager Alma Brown. District resident Cynthia Van Ness of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society was a great help, finding some historic resources that had lain hidden for a century, and Lidia Invernizzi combed the archives of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.

The Buffalo News, September 21, 2012.

Our initiative would not have been so successful without the good work and strong support throughout of SHPO staff members Daniel McEneny, Kathleen LaFrank, Mark Peckham, and Elizabeth Martin. Also, with their help, a couple of former opponents who emerged in the last month became great supporters. In the end, only thirteen property owners filed objections to the nomination, meaning an approval rate of better than 99% among property owners.

Elmwood Historic District (West) elected representatives LoCurto, Rivera, Assembly Member Sean Ryan, State Senator Mark Grisanti, State Senator Tim Kennedy supported the RANHDI. Thank you Mayor Byron Brown for your appointment of district resident Gwen Howard to the Community Council.  Every major Elmwood district institution supported our efforts, thanks to the leadership of the RANHDI Community Council.

Today, dozens of construction workers are working on state tax credit assisted historic home rehabilitation projects in the Elmwood Historic District (West), many more than last year. John Bonafide and Sloan Bullough of the SHPO have helped make this happen. We have put people to work!

Next year, our more than 1,600 property owners who created upstate New York’s largest historic district will be a resource in advocating for the extension and expansion of the state historic tax credit program.

In the future, our unprecedented, self-initiated, largely self-funded, and community-led do-it-yourself Elmwood Historic District (West) historic preservation initiative may be an inspiring model for similar historic preservation successes in other neighborhoods for many years to come.

Well done and thank you each and all!

Best Wishes, Clint

Clinton E. Brown, FAIA
President & Principal
Clinton Brown Company Architecture, pc
The Market Arcade, 617 Main Street, Suite M303, Buffalo, NY 

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About RANHDI

The Richmond Ashland National Register Historic District Initiative [RANHDI] is a community-led collaborative effort to nominate nearly 1,700 mostly residential buildings to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the nation’s official list of architecturally and cultural significant buildings and places. Listing will provide access to economic benefits for property owners who wish to appropriately improve their historic buildings.
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