1572 Jeffeson - Another Missed Opportunity

update 11/12/08...10:30am
I'd forgotten about this post over at
Buffalo Rising from 5/13/08 - Separated at Birth - that focused
on the plight of 1572 Jefferson.
While researching and writing about Lyth Cottage - see archive - two years ago, I noticed this amazing house at 1572 Jefferson. It was located just a few blocks from Canisius College and around the corner from Mayor Byron Brown's residence.

Last week it was demolished.
The City of Buffalo owned 1572 for the last two years. I've written about it - here recently and here in August 2006 and I've shown it to a handful of interested individuals. Here's an interior set of pics from one of the showings last September. While updating my Lyth Cottage pics - here - last week I was sort of stunned to see that it had disappeared, trucked to a landfill.

While there are a number of exciting rehab projects at various states of completion here in Cold Springs and Buffalo's Midtown, there's a rapidly dwindling inventory of vacant city owned houses that remain ripe for rehab. Recently we've lost two significant city owned houses that I'd previously written about and shown - 115 Northampton and 93 Riley Street. Both of those houses were significant for various reasons but most importantly they were located with in the footprint of the Artspace neighborhood. Two places, like 1572, that should have been moth-balled. While demolition is final, properly mothballing significant houses like these buys time for the market to catch up.
Please join me next Saturday for a walk around Artspace - here's the post - and see for yourself what's happening over here in this emerging neighborhood.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Manda. said...


Is the Lyth Cottage still available? I've been keeping tabs on it via the city's real estate list, but it's hard to tell how recent that is.

Also, it's listed as "homstead eligible." What does that mean?

fixBuffalo said...


Unfortunately it seems like the city - residential and industrial pieces - is disappearing at an ever increasingly faster rate, with more bang than whimper.

Yes, Lyth Cottage is still available. The short history includes an auction last September '07. By May this year the successful bidder stepped away from that sale of 16 Harwood. I've included those auction results in the following post, Lyth Cottage, Still Available.

"Homestead Eligible" means that a qualified person can purchase this house from the city for $1. By that I mean someone has to agree to live there and have the means - financing in place and a plan - that's it.

I've been involved in helping people negotiate what appears to be a maze of conditions at city hall.

Glad to help, let me know.



Anonymous said...

Dear David,

From your photo, it would appear there are people living in the blue house and that they are trying to maintain their property and neighborhood. While I mourn the loss of 1572 Jefferson. I can certainly understand why those living less than ten feet away would want it gone.

I live across the street from three abandoned buildings (one at each corner) and we daily fear some idiot torching one of them.

Obviously, proper mothballing is a step in the right direction. At some point though, the threat of fire, blight, and lack of development demand demolition if for no other reason than the mental health of those living next door to abandoned properties.

Manda. said...

How much does a total restoration of a house like Lyth Cottage cost? No heat, plumbing or electric PLUS it's in a historic district? It would be a dream house when complete, and no one can complain about a $1 mortgage, but I'd be curious to read a contractor's assessment...and why did the previous buyer back out?

fixBuffalo said...


I agree to a point. Some of the issues could easily be mediated by a more comprehensive and strategic marketing of City owned property.


I have no idea why the successful bidder backed away. To get the shell and mechanicals up to speed, you're probably looking at 40-50K. And depending on the interior finishes, price tag goes up.

Anonymous said...

David, this is indeed sad news. I got to see that house on the Buffalo Tours Jefferson Ave. tour in June, and it looked like it would have been a great rehab project. Another advantage is that the house would have come with (from appearances) some solid neighbors next door, who I'm sure would have been very grateful to anyone fixing up the "twin" to their house. The "cute" factor in that would have likely enhanced the value of both houses.

It is so short sighted to take down houses like this - and the beautiful Italianate taken down by UB a week ago - except when absolutely necessary. Bit by bit, Buffalo continues to lose the architectural assets which set her apart from other cities, and could be ingredients in her revitalization.

Clockhill said...


does a "homestead eligible" house mean you must be pre-approved before you can buy the house, or that you must actually have the loan in your possession before approaching city hall? Is there a master list of homestead eligible homes? I'm thinking that's the way I want to go when the time is right.

Thanks - Greg

fixBuffalo said...


In a certain way you have to be pre-approved. If you're using bank or personal financing for the project your plan has to be 'actionable' and you have to demonstrate to city hall that you're in possession of the necessary funds - either a bank letter or bank statement. I mean, otherwise what's the point - to get control of a piece of property and let it continue to rot?

That list is constantly in flux. I'll have a post later in the week identifying a number of properties that are city owned, homestead eligible and available for $1.

Anonymous said...

At some point the real world bad of having that a few short feet away from where the next door neighbors sleep every night overtakes the dream world "would have been" which seems higher priority from many miles away in Rachacha, most likely not sleeping every night right next door to a long vacant house with potential.

People living on Jefferson making real committment deserve higher priority than endlessly hoping for someone else to show up. What would have been even more "so short sighted" would be if the situation had finally contributed to the neighbors moving away, leaving both houses vacant with dual potential.

Although David is right that the city should publicize houses to seek buyers, 1572 had a ton of publicity. That was no thanks to the city but it's hard to believe the handful of people usually interested in rehab projects around that area were unaware of 1572's availability all that time. For whatever reasons nobody stepped forward. I bet the next door neighbors were glad to see it go instead of waiting another year or 2 or 3...

Anonymous said...

For those of us working to improve Buffalo, reading stories like this often feels like getting kicked in the face.

For as happy as these neighbors may or may not be that this house is gone, they certainly do not feel any sense of empowerment toward their neighborhood. While their own lot is pristine, they obviously made no attempt to keep litter, etc. out of the patch of would-be front lawn next store. Not that it’s their legal responsibility, but one of the components of achieving a healthy community (if that’s what you desire), is that if someone else isn’t doing something, then do it for yourself. Keeping the front of the house looking tidy would have gone much farther in attracting a new homeowner than all of the calls to City Hall you could ever make. How do you think this much larger dirt patch is going to look next year? Not much better than the small dirt patch in the first photo I’d say. Some improvement for a $20,000+ demolition charged to City taxpayers.

In no way was this house “the worst of the worst" that the City claims to be focusing demolition funding on. With limited resources we need to prioritize which houses come down, and a structurally sound brick house in a City-prioritized revitalization zone is not one of them.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the people living in the blue house simply wish to lead their lives. So what if they didn't volunteer to look after the yard of the long vacant red house next door?

They don't deserve that criticism from Anon 3:18. Yeah right, some litter was the explanation why blog comments about the red house's potential over the years outweighed buyers for it by the score of a bunch to zero. The lawn litter. Yeah.

Instead of being patient as the blue house folks were for so many years about what was next door a few feet from where they sleep, most people would have moved away from that spot long ago leaving two vacant houses side by side. Now accordinig to 3:18, they're part of Buffalo's problem. Yeah, right the nerve of them to go about their lives living in the 1500 block of Jefferson Ave and taking good care of their own house.

Maybe according to 3:18, Buffalo would be better off with fewer people like the blue house residents willing to live on that block of Jefferson and more of the caring compassionate visitors from out of town willing to walk through it once a year.

Anonymous said...

The above isn't a criticism of visitors from Rachacha or anywhere walking by and expressing an opinion. But their desires about the red house have microscopic importance compared to the people who live a few feet away - day after day, year after year, while it stood there waiting. Enough was enough. Forever is not a reasonable time when someone lives so close.

Anonymous said...

How dare Anonymous 3:18criticize the neighbors for not cleaning up 1572 Jefferson! I grew up near this neighborhood, and I pass by 1572 Jefferson several times a week. I don't know these neighbors and I don't know their circumstances. But I do know how hard it is--especially if you're older or have physical problems--to just take care of your own property. I also know what it's like to live next to a vacant house--although not as close as those two houses were.

I am just so happy for the neighbors that 1572 is gone at last.

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