4/19/2010

94 Northampton - Plundered

Salvage crews from Buffalo ReUse were gutting City-owned 94 Northampton Street late last week (bing map). The City recently awarded a $20,900 contract for the demolition of this amazing Midtown residence to a local demolition contractor.
IMG_0531
94 Northampton Street
The stewardship of 94 Northampton has been systematically mis-managed. It was flipped to MBBA - see Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly's MBBA analysis (2006) - and unceremoniously given back to the City. Inexplicably, the Preservation Board signed off on this demolition in 2006.
IMG_0530 94 Northampton Avenue - Buffalo, NY
Across the street three houses have been completely rehabbed. Anchored by Artspace and the Packard the neighborhood is no longer on life support. In 2007 the Landmark Society began advocating for the preservation of 94 Northampton. Located in the Artspace impact area this house was widely seen as a strategic save, a significant residence that was going to be part of this neighborhood's long term success.
This house is located at 82 Northampton, right across the street.
IMG_0532
There are dozens of well-maintained houses in the neighborhood. All of these houses can be found within a block of 94 Northampton. By any measure the collection of 19th century architecture in this neighborhood would qualify as an historic district. This was the first house in the neighborhood to sell after Artspace announced plans in early 2006 to locate here.
One block to the North... One block to the North... IMG_0720 IMG_0735 IMG_0789
click image to enlarge
Neighbors say Buffalo ReUse left behind this mess along the curb after ransacking the historic 94 Northampton of salvageable materials.
IMG_0525
So, where's the plan? This is one of the East Side's most significant residential streets. There's a systematic failure here. Once 94 Northampton is demolished, it's gone forever.

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38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ransacking?
Buffalo ReUse doesnt ransack anything..and did not leave that mess..
Buffalo ReUse is located on Northampton and has spent much time and effort beautifying the area with many gardens and neighborhood projects.
We are all for saving what can be saved..we have made a huge investment in the area and our program director now resides on Northampton too.Wrong choice of wording David..you know better than most of all the positive contributions Buffalo ReUse has made in cold springs.Michele J

Eisenbart said...

Let him vent Michele. He has been championing for the east side before Buffalo Reuse was even a thought.

The before and after pictures a truly stunning. They also point out how vulnerable an old wood frame house is to a couple of Buffalo winters.

mgainer said...

I will begin by defending my crews and say that we never leave messes on the sidewalk during salvage projects. I know for a fact, that the house was salvaged several weeks ago and this material has emerged on the sidewalk since then. I anticipate in preparation for bulk trash, but you never know. Just two blocks away, the western most block of Eaton Street has become a dumping ground. There would be NO REASON for ReUSE staff to remove the items pictured from the house located at 94 Northampton Street.

There is a procedure for how ReUse goes about its salvage activities. We never enter a house until we are given explicit permission by the demolition contractor bid to remove the structure. That means our work, doesn't begin until the City, the Preservation Board, and the cities residents choose that the building is not feasible for rehabilitation. Then and only then, we enter the building to save any significant materials so all is not lost, when the building is thrown away. My only regret is that we can't save more.

Two years ago, I attended the inrem auction, prepared to bid on this structure, because it is a unique building and it is deserving of a full rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the STARTING bid was $10k.

You can choose to attack ReUse, or you can address the root causes of why this building has stood vacant as long as it has. There are proactive strategies that will help to preserve buildings like 94 Northampton in the future. If you choose, you can get involved and support the efforts we are and will be promoting to build demand for housing in the Cold Spring Neighborhood and to improve the quality of life in this neighborhood.

I commend the work that David does to shine a light on neglect. We all have a roll in strengthening our communities. Buffalo ReUse will continue to innovate solutions to the most pressing problems in the neighborhood. It's a lot of work. It takes time, energy, resources, and commitment. It takes you!

Michael Gainer
Buffalo ReUse
Homeowner, 279 Northampton Street

Anonymous said...

The 100 years ago post was one of the first I ever read on your blog. I've been both dreading and expecting the day I would see this post, I think it's the images not only of the house back in it's glory but also the family members in the photo. It really makes me think about how vibrant this neighborhood must have once been and what it's become (no shot against all of those who have worked to improve it).

I don't know I guess I just have come to see this property as the poster child for Buffalo. This was obviously once a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood, but the flight of both people and capital has left it a wreck.

It's a shame to see this one go.

fix buffalo said...

Michael, I wasn't present when your crew at Buffalo Reuse entered this landmark and removed heritage elements from this historic structure. Neighbors told me directly they saw your crew leave these items at the curb and left them there. Take your case up with the neighbors, if you dispute it.

Buffalo ReUse has prided itself on taking salvageable items from otherwise unsavable builings. This building was and is savable. It is a landmark of the neighborhood. It's shameful Buffalo ReUse has chosen to participate in the demolition machine that results in the needless demolition of savable landmarks like 94 Northampton.

I hope in the future Buffalo ReUse will reaffirm its commitment to the preservation of historic structures in vulnerable neighborhoods. This block's economic and cultural capital is being eroded by the City's decision to demolish this structure and it is inexcusable that Buffalo ReUse, instead of protesting its demolition, has decided to take part in it. This ranksacking - yes, ransacking - of 94 Northampton should not be a precedent for Buffalo ReUse's future contributions to the East Side's revitalization.

Frits001 said...

David: I totally sympathize with your frustration. You have been the watch dog of this area, and it has to be soul killing to see the needless and irreverent destruction.

Michael: I wondered if you might be able to shed some light on "the proactive strategies that will help to preserve buildings like 94 Northampton in the future"? I would love to rally the (burgeoning) Expat Network to support such strategies, and would appreciate learning more. Frits

Derek J. Punaro said...

I don't understand how you're finding fault with Buffalo ReUse. The house was already slated for demolition. It's fate was already sealed. If they didn't go in, then the architectural and useful elements would have been lost to the landfill. ReUse is Buffalo's last ditch effort to make something good happen out of something bad happening. Your anger is completely misdirected.

landlady said...

The 20K the city allowed for demo could have been used to rehab this beautiful building. The city could have sold it for $1 but they want "fair market value".
Very sad and frustrating!

Anonymous said...

Well, you could save it and use it for a penal colony housing..like the house acreoss the street with the bars across the front windowshmmm? is that to keep the inhabitants in...? or to keep the well behaved honest neighbors out...good luck saving this neighborhood....perhaps in the next 200 years..someone/family might consider living here...of course then ...all will be paradise!!

Susan McDonnell said...

It's a good thing Buffalo ReUse wasn't around when the Metcalfe House was being demolished. That nice staircase would be in their junkyard on Northampton instead of in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Judging from the poor choices Buffalo ReUse is making with 94 Northampton, my guess is the organization would not have protested the Metcalfe demo if it meant getting some of that nice wainscoating for their Poor Man's Home Depot.

Evan said...

I want to add to Landlady's comment. MGainer states that when this house went up on the auction block the highest offer was 10K. Yet it will cost 20K to demolish it. Couldn't the 20K be used to assist a new owner in fixing the place up?
This is truly sad. And how hard did the City try to find an owner?

Anonymous said...

And is it really too late?

Betty Barcode said...

The problem here is that the city would rather spend $20K to demolish it than accept $1 or even $1000 to return it to the tax rolls.

Once the city committed to that course, complaints about Reuse being responsible for its demise are sorely misplaced.

Leaving aside whether they left scrap on the curb, what "poor choices" did Reuse make in the matter? What could they have done to reverse the demo order? Isn't that the job of Preservation Buffalo Niagara and Campaign for Greater Buffalo?

Michael said...

this will be my last post, but i do hope to answer a few of the questions that many have raised.

1. i'm not interested in debating who made the mess on holland avenue. we're more interested in solutions and we'll likely just clean up the street/sidewalk/around the house, as we did during the summer of 2008 and the summer of 2009 with volunteers from our green summer program and volunteers from our reconnect program. our reconnect program is the active community regeneration arm of our organization. if you come by on earth day, you'll see over 50 volunteers from national grid actively engaged in transforming vacant lots into community assets on northampton street. you will see northampton street transform before your eyes. maybe you have heard of our efforts to plant over 1200 trees in this neighborhood (see david torques photo...those trees in front of 94 northampton??? we planted them).

buffalo reuse planted those trees and every other tree on michigan, masten, holland, elicott, northampton, southampton, glenwood, riley, woodlawn (right across from david torques home), etc. our efforts will continue, because we care and because we know these efforts will make an impact on how others perceive our neighborhood.

2. there is an independent effort underway by some reuse staffers and two awesome UB planners, to obtain a conservation district designation for this exact neighborhood, from the state of new york. this will assist us in future rehabilitation efforts by creating a district where historic tax credits will apply for rehabilitation projects. if you are interested in more information about this effort, send an email to buffalorehome@gmail.com.

3. if you want to stay informed of other efforts that we have on-going in the neighborhood...stay tuned to our blog, http://www.buffaloreuse.org/blog/ lots of cool and creative happenings.

4. we protest in a variety of forms, but we are also actively engaged in saving houses...in the last year we have found owners for several homes that would have likely been demolished. one in particular on eaton street, is also currently bid for demo, but we are hoping that an architecture student will be successful in haulting that effort so the home can be repurposed. if someone is SERIOUS about saving a home that is bid for demo, including 94 northampton, meaning they have a plan and a few bucks to throw behind it...(and i certainly hope you're the walking type and not the talking type)...then send an email to jcomerford@city-buffalo.com. he has conveyed to me on a several occasions that it's not too late until its gone, and that they can always substitute a different house in the bid package.

5. as wonderful as 94 northampton is of an architectural structure, it is in severe disrepair. i was a contractor for many years, so i know that ANYTHING can be saved if there is the will to do so. that being said, the holes in the roof have allowed extensive intrusion of water, which has had a detrimental effect on the floor structure. this is easily a $250,000 rehabilitation...minimum. not insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination. if there is a will there is a way. if it is rehabbed, it would require 100% gutting. All the plaster and likely all finishes to be removed/replaced. Anything that we removed could be easily replaced, upon completion. I'll even offer a $250 REUSE gift certificate to any developer or individual that takes up the torch to rehab this house.

6. we're actively working for solutions, but similarly we can't save the world. we need more well meaning folks to sell the city and to be at the forefront of positive change. get involved.

susan, maybe you have a group that you can bring to the neighborhood to be part of the solution???? you can send an email to volunteer@buffaloreuse.org if you're interested.

onward,
michael gainer
buffalo reuse

Evan B said...

It is true that it is a tragedy that this structure could not be saved due to the neglect it suffered. And as much as I admire David for his genuine love of Cold Springs it has to be said that there has to be a viable market in order to justify the cost of renovation for these large homes. This, along with the other neighboring properties have massive sq. footage and I agree with Gainer that, using a cost-benefit analysis rationale, this could not be saved unless someone had ample funds to restore it. And who in this market is going to drop 250k+ into a property that is lucky to return half of that in actual value?

Seriously.

All the negative comments against Re-Use are cheap shots... without their services all of the salvageable elements would be lost instead of being repurposed in the "junkyard" up the street. For those of us who own historic homes in Buffalo that junkyard is a treasure.

Susan McDonnell said...

Bravo, Michael. Your response is about as feel-good as this promotional advertisement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Q-89tAV34

Where do I sign up to build more community gardens on the sites of ransacked and demolished historic structures?

I'd give Buffalo ReUse the benefit of the doubt except that this kind of irresponsible behavior has been noted before:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fixbuffalo/4112977997/

Only after called out does Buffalo ReUse's pattern of bad decisions receive such a response to the community. Was this gift certificate to a lucky new homeownver offered before ReUse started stripping this historic house of valuables? Is Buffalo ReUse also offering volunteer labor to reinstall whatever it took out?

If Buffalo ReUse acted like doorknob thieves in Parkside or the West Village, as it is at the historic 94 Northampton, would people not be at Buffalo ReUse's doorstep with pitch forks and torches?

Mary Beyer said...

I agree 100% with all of Michael Gainer's six points. Thank you for the reality check. Buffalo ReUse is the best thing that's ever happened to that neighborhood.

Mary Beyer

Bruce Beyer said...

I think Michael's estimate of rehabing this house is short by 1/2 ie: new roof, foundation work, new porch, gutting, new electrical, new plumbing, new windows, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, drywall, drywall finishing, paint interior and exterior, exterior carpentry, new doors and hardware (from Buffalo Re-Use) insulation and misc. expenses plus permits. Oh yeah, it will need a new driveway and security system.

David is fully aware of what Buffalo Re-Use has accomplished in his (our) neighborhood. To talk about "ransacking" is truly a cheap shot. I believe an apology is in order!

Anonymous said...

It is clear that David's response is in the best interests of the neighborhood. In this instance it is important for Bflo-ReUse to address this issue and any criticisms of its behavior with maturity and openness. David's involvement in this community is and has been a key element of progress. He has been working to effect positive change in our neighborhood for longer than the idea of ReUse and if something draws his attention, it deserves consideration.

Keep the peace people - keep the vision of a great Buffalo. Leave animosity behind please.

fix buffalo said...

Derek/Betty-Barcode & others -

Preservation is an uphill struggle as you both know from your own work in the City, and especially in marginalized neighborhoods. Derek your work (and of all the volunteers at the Central Terminal) requires the patience of Job, an example of amazing work that resonates through the memory of Russ and Mike - a legacy infused with preserving a structure from the past for the future, despite all the odds.

Even when an historic structure - like 94 Northampton - lies in a bulldozer's path...there's still time. ReUse has pulled buildings off the demo list (see Michael's comment above). In this neighborhood the best example in recent memory occurred in December of 2001. The wrecking ball had already smashed through the walls of the Squier Mansion on Main Street, near Riley. Today it's a fabulous place.

To conclude - as you seem to - that the fate of 94 Northampton was sealed when the demo contract was signed, is, despite all the evidence to the contrary, short-sighted. Should preservationists, activists and neighborhood advocates fold-up and go home in the face of a bureaucratic decision to demolish a building?

Certainly the market for a house like 94 Northampton is soft and the house has its own set of issues. No one is disputing this. The neighborhood is still a tough sell, the market is weak. Will it always be this way? Three years ago who would have thought that 28 Coe Place (constrained by MBBA's control and city-ownership) would one day be renovated - with that giant tree that once grew out of its weakened foundation? Buying a distressed city-owned property is not for the faint of heart. It requires a commitment - a commitment that more people today are making in this neighborhood than was the case a few years ago.

Based on prior experience - as an asbestos survey has not been conducted, or applied for - a demolition of 94 Northampton is weeks maybe months away. There's still time to find someone to buy or resources to locate to moth-ball the property for future use. With that being the case, will someone please tell me how the removal of architecturally significant items from historic three-story 94 Northampton Street has contributed to the revitalization of this community?

Chris Hawley said...

I have to confess, David, even I am surprised to see that your prediction 28 Coe Place would be saved has come to pass. I remember telling you, only a few years ago, that it was a lost cause. I was wrong.

Your prediction that 28 Coe would be rehabbed should indeed give Buffalonians pause when houses like these are threatened with demolition. Indeed, 28 Coe was is in much worse shape than 94 Northampton!

Mr. Maker said...

Sad as it is, this is a perfect example of specific site planning that leaves the 'whole picture' out of focus.

Here was a big plan for pumping millions of dollars into an area; yet the plan didn't include all the neighborhood it was in. Now, there'll be a big hole where a beautiful home once stood.

There's another house there of historic merit that was luckily saved by a friend; it was another puzzle piece left out by the 'planners'.

I'm the guy who keeps saying 'make a new neighborhood and move your best houses to it; make a new community'.

Here, you already have the houses; some redone and improved; next to a big development- that is next these abandoned houses. Absurd.
Where's the planning?

These plans are being made by disinterested third parties.

Plans need to be made with the people in power; together with the educated and truly interested.

They all MUST come together somehow and unite in ways that provides INCENTIVES; and plan and revitalize whole neighborhoods.

Or, just be used to this scenario again and again- it's been this way for decades.

There are still alot of neighborhoods with potential left. I hate seeing these empty spaces- especially knowing what was there.

I am willing to get together with people on this; and rally with others; to fight for what's right in the way of appropriately financing, valuing and taxing historic properties and neighborhoods...

If there were results from Preservation groups now, we wouldn't be seeing this everywhere we look.

What we have today in the entire country is not right; in fact it's way wrong. We all suffer from it.

The battle won't succeed with weak words and weak armchair typing. The only answer will be righting the values that are all out of wack.

I'm tired of fighting alone. Are there any heads out there who can calculate with open minds? We need you we need a plan; then wew need to make it happen.

In the meantime, I'd suggest contacting the guy with the ten grand and getting behind him; I'll come back him up, if he's a serious player.

I once saved a cottage the day I heard it being slammed with hammers. There's still time here too. And whatever Reuse has, I'm sure they'd be glad to see go back into the home.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you're finding fault with Tom Telesco. The Central Terminal was already slated for demolition. The Terminal's fate was already sealed. If Telesco didn't go in, then the architectural and useful elements would have been lost to the landfill. Tom Telesco is Buffalo's last ditch effort to make something good happen out of something bad happening. Your anger is completely misdirected.

Anonymous said...

Buffalo ReUse salvages heritage elements from the Central Terminal:

http://www.vimeo.com/8389688

Derek J. Punaro said...

Anon - While I find your attempt humorous, the Central Terminal was never slated for demolition. Telesco, who already legally owned the building, was selling off anything of value with the intentions of taking the money and running (down to South Beach, where he's now a successful night club designer). Somehow I don't equate Buffalo ReUse to Telesco.

And if the Terminal was ever so unfortunate, then I'd rather Buffalo ReUse come in and find a new purpose for its parts than for them to be lost forever in a landfill.

I get that people are angry at the decaying conditions of Buffalo and that things which could have once been saved are being lost. But when you start blaming groups that actually are serving a purpose and accomplishing some good, then yes, it's misdirected anger.

Anonymous said...

I think the difference, Derek, is that 94 Northampton's fate is not sealed. Many people called for the demolition of Central Terminal and before amazing people (including you) showed up at the scene to help save it, demolition by neglect was indeed the inevitable course. The only folks that have called for the demolition of 94 Northampton are the City and Buffalo Reuse.

Anonymous said...

Since when is Buffalo ReUse deferring to the City to determine what's worth saving and what's not worth saving? Isn't their answer always to save nothing?? What has the City saved in Midtown? Anything? Anything at all?

Buffalo ReUse - inclusive of reusing buildings, not only a few doors or a staircase railing - should be setting the agenda on recycling East Side landmarks. It should help lead the discussion. It shouldn't be taking marching orders from City Hall, which is what it's doing at 94 Northampton.

Derek J. Punaro said...

Anon - you have it backwards. Since when is Buffalo ReUse the determining body as to what gets saved? Their role is to go into houses that are slated to be demolished and save what can be reused. That's it.

You've clearly highlighted the misplaced anger - perhaps the city is making bad calls. Fix the process, don't blame the group for doing it's part.

olcott_beach said...

Tough audience but I guess it shows the passion for Buffalo’s immense collection of architectural gems (in the rough).

I worked with Michael Gainer briefly as he de-constructed a burned-out home for me adjacent to Mercy Hospital and I found him to be one of the most dynamic and professional individuals I have ever met and I have worked with many, many contractors throughout my career.

I even attempted to open the door for Michael to be considered for future demolition projects on ECMC Medical Campus but since I was hired to complete a campus building survey, I was not in a position to promote any one contractor as it would have been construed as a conflict of interest.

Also, as cold hearted as it may sound, Michael Gainer, like any contractor, needs to turn a profit. Therefore, I am sure it is quite easy to place a link on this site to prove that Reuse intentions are for promotional or some other such nonsense.

I certainly cannot speak for Michael but I truly believe that his intentions are in the right place – hell, he lives and operates his business on Northampton which is more than I can say for the majority of people commenting on this blog.

Anonymous said...

naysayers of buffalo ReUse: what have you done to help the community on the east side? if nothing, shut up.

Bryan said...

Interesting debate. It is the same one that accompanies any conflict regarding preservation. It is not a question of legality but one of morality, which, it must be acknowledged, is highly subjective. But really, what are we are talking about? At the crux of the discussion is an opinion that seems to be held by all contributors to this discussion, which is that there is cultural and material value in the structure at 94 Northampton. So, pirates, the question is really how to make use of your treasure? Should it end up in a museum, as an iconic remnant of the life of yesteryear? Should the material be allowed to transcend its formal limits and reused or re-purposed in a new project? What does it matter with such an abundance of this sort of housing stock in the city of Buffalo? Building typologies such as the one found at 94 Northampton were designed for an urban lifestyle of 100+ years ago. Perhaps these forms no longer suit the needs and habitation patterns of life in 2010? I'm reminded of Shel Silverstein's Giving Tree, where the apple tree continues to support the boy even at the end of its life. Let 94 and others like it make a last contribution to the vitality of this city. If we can't find buyers or homesteaders and the city wants to demolish, let those parts and pieces be salvaged and re-purposed in new configurations that better suit the needs of today.

fix buffalo said...

Bryan,

That's an interesting analogy. It's persuasive, but not convincing. I'm not so sure that Shel Silverstein would agree with you - as the house is still standing, it's not collapsing and at the end of the day presents no public safety issues.

The point here is that stewardship of this house has been seriously mismanaged - systematically on all levels - for a long time.

The city lacks a coherent and strategic policy to handle property, especially heritage property like this. Very few people knew that this place was available. Aside from my posting and neighborhood walks in the past there's been no marketing.

The question becomes, how do you gauge demand, if very few people know that structures like this are available to purchase.

The City's Department of Real Estate asked the Common Council to add this property - they asked in 9/2009 - to a list of properties that would be made available for $1. The Common Council has sat on that request for the past 7 months.

It's a three-family house providing a prospective new owner with some very flexible options in an area of the City that is experiencing a real resurgence.

I agree with you that the City has an abundance of these sorts of grand and historic homes - if you're from here and/or live here now - you know, except when you cross Main Street and head East.

If you're not from here do the google/bing map flyover and see what's already been demolished on the City's East Side. Here's a good place to start.

Stay tuned...

Mr. Maker said...

Great discussion.

What's happening here is in-fighting, among people all with the same interests and goals.

You would not be fighting, if the system WORKED.

You (and I) have a business partner a BAD business partner.

Government.

Government can only 'govern'; there are those in government who MAKE law; they are very few; and the rest only interpret and ENFORCE law made by the few.

The example of a man who shuffled demos represents someone within the government who knew the law was not right; and acted, in a way he could; to interpret the law.

What HAS TO HAPPEN, is NEW LAWS; to make right what's wrong in current ones; Laws with 'right' agendas and actions.

This scenario is everywhere in the United States.

Fighting among ourselves is wrong; and makes us look to those who enforce wrong law as if they are right.

It's all about incentives; and opportunity.

Our partner needs to create REAL incentives; REAL opportunities; with an overall goal of saving our nation's best properties and neighborhoods.

I'm straightening a barn now, on a home I'll be having designated on the Historic Register, in Angola.

I finally found a buyer; in Iowa; who wants a historic three unit rental.

It sold through Historic Properties.com; and was featured as a 'great deal' in February Country Living magazine.

Yet, the selling price is not appropriate for what the property true value is, and costs of maintenance, restorations, etc.

The same thought applies to 94.

What's needed is 100% tax break; for restorations, etc for designated properties; INCLUDING owner-labor improvements.

Think about it. Why not??

We need REAL legislation; and we need it fast.

Let's unite and make something really happen before all the 94 Northamptons are gone.

Frits001 said...

Agreed Mr. Maker. I am in.

Anonymous said...

Folks saying it is not Buffalo ReUse's responsibility to avoid the loss of heritage structures have it backwards. Buffalo ReUse isn't a salvaging contractor; it is a social justice-driven nonprofit with a mission to help save Buffalo neighborhoods. Damn right they have a responsibility not to weaken the chances of a heritage building like 94 Northampton from being saved.

Frits001 said...

In fact, Mr. Maker, I put a feeler out to a number of different factions of the preservation movement in Buffalo...from PBN to C4GB, suggesting we have a preservation summit in Buffalo. Get everyone concerned about the issue into one room, foster increased collaboration, strategize on short/long term goals,determine a "divide and conquer" strategy, plan for the 2011 conference etc. I received one response from PBN, which is "game".

It seems to me, as an "outsider" who really wants to help the preservation movement and is just coming to the table, that the preservation efforts remain fragmented and that there is still too much infighting, which only weakens the collective efforts.

I still will push for such a summit/meeting, which I believe could only help.

Anonymous said...

I have been an occasional reader of FixBuffalo for about 3 or 4 years. I am and will continue to be very grateful that this blog exists.

I have been an employee of Buffalo ReUse for a little over a year. On most days I am grateful that we exist too ;)

I was on the salvage team for 94 Nothampton twice. I can say with about 100% certainty that no one on any of our salvage teams would ever have strewn garbage around a salvage site as depicted in the photo. In addition to just having no earthly reason to do so, I just can't imagine any of us ever even having time to do so. At ReUse my work time is spent working.

I have been on a LOT of salvage operations. Some houses are made out of nothing and some houses are absolutely breathtaking. But the one thing that they all have in common --at least in my perception-- is that a bulldozer is about to knock them over and I am the last chance that they have to divert some of their treasures away from a landfill and back into a home. Right or wrong, that is my perception of what I am doing as a Buffalo ReUse employee.

For this I am not paid huge sums of money. And as an added bonus I occasionally get to feel like I am in grave danger. One such occasion was while I was in 94 Northampton. I had absolutely no clue about any possible historic significance of this structure. I could tell that without question this house had once been absolutely beautiful. It was certainly not the nicest house I've ever done salvage in, but it was honestly very impressive. BUT rarely have I ever had such a sense of imminent danger from even just walking around on the ground level of a structure. The ENTIRE living room and dining room on the first floor AND the second floor are just barely weight supporting and one gets the sense that they are going to fall through anywhere they stand in the front of the house. Throughout the house there is a level of weather damage that I have rarely seen.

I was very surprised to hear that it was even a consideration to do restoration on this house. If anyone actually does decide to restore it, putting back what I helped to take out of it is going to be the absolute least of their concerns/expense.

I will volunteer time/labor to help restore damage I have done to it if someone is actually going to restore it.

-Alex M.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the conversations but it is a good debate because it points out the case by case nature that preservation can be. Some structures have more going for them than others. This one is savable due to its location and features. The same house in better condition but a less desirable location might be a tougher save than this.

I have been in 94 Northampton a few times over the last couple years including recenty. The hole in the roof has not grown in size much in several years. That is good news. The strength of the floor joists under that leak have diminished. Avoid walking there until it is shored up. As of my last inspection they would flex but I detected no significant rot. Either way, sistered joists will be needed.

Jeff Brennan