Heartbreak in the 'Hood

This house is located at 98 Laurel [google map].
98 Laurel - Buffalo, NY
It's in the block between Michigan and Masten. Nine houses left in this block. Four that looked occupied, with curtains and lawns recently cut, had no gas meters. This house at 98 Laurel is listed as a two-family house and according to City records was purchased by its current owner for $1000.00 at the City tax sale in 2004. A quick check of Housing Court records reveals that the property is not in court.

I walked by here during one of those full moon nights last week. I'm fascinated with mansard roofs. One reason why I bought my house 10 years ago, just a few blocks away. Sunday afternoon was the first time I photographed this block.

While this house may never see a new lease on life, the question remains what are we doing - collectively now, City, Preservation and Community Groups - to identify other houses that should be saved. What criteria should be used? Think triage now. Mothballing and monitoring could be a start. Any suggestions? For starters anything within 3-4 blocks of a major investment such as Artspace and a newly reconstructed City school should probably be mothballed and properly secured.

Just a few blocks away and well within the foot-print of Artspace are 97 Dodge, 115 Northampton and 93 Riley Street. All three, owned by the City. Oh, and the Woodlawn Row Houses, too!

We - taxpayers, as in you and me - are spending 50 million here in the neighborhood - 15 at Artspace, 30 at BAVPA and another 5 million at the recently opened Merriweather Library - and for some reason, unknown to me, we can't afford plywood and lag-bolts to properly secure these places. Here's the map showing proximity of these City assets and recent public investment.

The best way to prevent more of this sort of "Heartbreak in the 'Hood" is to properly take care of things today to prevent things from sliding further down hill. Common sense, I know. This is not rocket science. Then again, there's Sisyphus. I've always imagined him determined and yes, happy.


Jefferson said...

I've always been fascinated with mansard roofs, too. Shame to lose these houses. Do you know if any of these will be on the city tax auction
next month? I can't find any specifics on the City of Buff website.

fix buffalo said...


the little mansard maybe...the others the City owns and the task of the City at this time is to sell other property, not City property.

gabe said...

The question should be...

Who will save these houses?


Why will they be saved?

IMHO, mothballing works well with brick and masonry structures.

Woodframe houses tend to start falling apart at a much quicker rate once they are abandoned.

Even the ones in good condition need constant maintenence.

Buffalo never had a major fire that would have triggered an ordinance forcing everything to be built only in brick and masonry.

The fact that almost everything in Buffalo's neighborhoods is built out of wood says alot about the terrible condition many parts of the city have sunk to.

fix buffalo said...


Who...the ubiqitious "they"?

I know "they" moved to Charlotte and other points south. It's just us now. Been thinking about organizing a "move back to the 'hood" group...meeting regularly with developers, elelted, architects and other notables. Carve out a portion and re-settle.

Regarding things. Things need maintenance. Period. Cities, houses and people. Wood or brick.

Regarding these houses in particular that I've mentioned in the post are key as they are cool and are not too far gone.

STEEL said...

Wood houses will sustain a lot more neglect than people think. Brick needs maintenance at almost equal levels to wood structures. Brick just does not show the effects of neglect as fast. This building looks bad but I am willing to bet that most of the problems are cosmetic. The house even still has its original windows. It is very straight and has most of its original detail. It is unfortunate that the powers that be look right past these jewels in favor of new plastic houses. these buildings are the future of the east side the NOT the new houses being built which are basically 1 notch above temporary quality