194 East Utica...On Life Support!

Spent part of the day at UB's School of Architecture and Planning talking with Samina Raja and Rod Mccallum. A few months ago Rod caught one of my posts about 194 East Utica - Saying Goodbye? David Steele, Chicago based architect and frequent Buffalo Rising contributor wrote about 194 East Utica, last April. Deeply moving piece - Why is this House Doomed? with an amazingly haunting sound track on the slideshow. Here's the map! At Rod's request, I asked Preservation Board members recently to stay the demolition of this City owned property. These folks have been very cooperative. Just asked and got a renewal for another 60 day stay of execution.

Rod asked me to pass along this message to fixBuffalo readers...
At 194 East Utica Street in Buffalo, New York stands a grand Victorian home built in 1900. The city planning board sees another vacant lot in the future of 194 but our vision is very different.

We see a vibrant community space that brings the neighborhood together and energizes this vital corridor between east and west. We see a restored parlor providing space for block club meetings, parenting classes, and a homework club. We see some of 21 vacant lots immediately surrounding 194 providing nutritious food and an essential connection with nature for neighborhood children and families. We see a renovated kitchen being used to teach single mothers how to prepare quick and healthy meals for their children. We see seniors from the nearby senior center establishing a presence in the streets while beautifying the neighborhood and getting exercise in the gardens. We see inexpensive housing for community development volunteers and families in transition. We see young men and women learning a trade with hands on participation in a major renovation project. We see a place of hope and transformational development rising from a glorious past, through a challenging present into a bright future.

This vision is not only possible but with your support it is within our grasp. Thank you for your time and consideration.
If you desire to be involved, please contact Rod via email -

Tomorrow afternoon Rod and I are back at UB School of Architecture and Planning. We've been invited to address two of Samina Raja's classes. The goal here is to include UB students in various aspects of the planning and promotion of this project as a living laboratory of sorts - a working and living space. All sorts of discussion about grants and developing a sustainable model for other people to follow.

What's amazing is that 194 East Utica is right in the middle of 50m of public investment - see map - in the arts and education in this part of Buffalo - Artspace, Merriweather Library and the new home of Performing Arts HS. The African American Cultural Center is just around the corner, too!
Fingers crossed. Update tomorrow.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr


Michele J said...

Fingers crossed!

Bruce Beyer said...

Dear David,

I look at your photograph of this beautiful abandoned East Side house and see that it cries out for salvation. Then I start thinking (conservatively!) about the costs involved to bring this beauty back from the edge.....$20,000 + - for the roof, wiring, plumbing, dumpsters for gutting, bathrooms and kitchen, insulation, furnace and hot water heater, new windows, paint and landscaping. Lets low ball it and call the costs for renovation at somewhere between $150-$200,000. Not bad if the house was located in Toronto, LA, or NYC but the East Side of Buffalo??? One would end up with a beautiful house located in a neighborhood where the churches and politicians are committed to vinyl Victorians. Vacant derelict properties, garbage strewn empty lots, and all consuming neighborhood abandonment would surround you.

I don't have the answers but, after having spent tens of thousands on an East Side rehab, I know that I can expect little or nothing in return for my investment. How many people can or want to go down the same crazy path that you and I have chosen? Obviously, not many!

fix buffalo said...


I understand.

At some point I'd like to gather up a group of urban pioneers for a few beers over at Ulrich's and Compare notes.

I know that reaching out to others is an effective way to transform and move forward. Something I learned from you 25 years ago...lesson sticks!

Step by step. Today, I just met one of my neighbors - two blocks away. He's a ballet teacher and came over to take a look at the new Performing Arts HS. (we had an interior tour today...more later.)

Lesson for me is that I have to start canvessing the neighborhood and start with some very local meetings...will keep you posted!

Anonymous said...

Fix-Although I'm a faithful reader I guess I skipped this post the other day. I think it's because the sight of such a house in such a condition is a downer. But this is great news and I hope it moves forward. And B. Beyer makes a good point about investing and rehabbing a house admist desolation which is WHY THE CITY OF BUFFALO NEEDS ANOTHER PLAN OF ACTION OTHER THAN DEMOLITION. DEMOLITION IS DESTROYING FUTURE POTENTIAL. It's not that difficult a concept to grasp. Brother.

Jefferson said...

The above comment by Jefferson not anonymous