Orphaned, Again...

We learned this past week that the tax-credit financing for the proposed St. Martin's Village, failed. Some of the commentary in a rather hopeful post that appeared a day before the financing flopped is important to read, if you haven't done so already - right here. Since 1874 this site has also been known as the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home. See this archive for additional information.
Last month I received a copy of the (now failed) proposed site plan in the mail. Here's the rendering. I've linked to the plan's text in the smaller pics.
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One of the major problems here is that the Community Action Organization of Erie County has lacked the capacity and willingness to simply the secure the site, for the last five years. Lots of promises, no action. It's of course no surprise that politically connected organizations such as this are immune to Judge Nowak's Housing Court. The place is wide open, crumbling and quickly becoming the latest victim of this city's curse - 'demolition by neglect'. Since acquiring the property in 2003 from NY Liberty Homes LLC - the organization run by Houston based Scot Wizig - for $1 as part of the City's settlement, the CAO has managed to do nothing to the place, save mow the lawn on occasion.
Yesterday I spent some time at the former German Roman Catholic Orphan Home - see archive for additional writing about this place - took some pics and compiled this slide show. Really sort of wild, welcoming and forbidden place all at the same time. I remember meeting a former resident, an orphan who left the place when it closed in 1956 after a devastating fire. He hadn't returned in 50 years when I met up with him two years ago. He showed me traces of the fading line along a few of the buildings in the rear yard, a line that separated the boys and girls.
Two years ago Toronto based DK Photo Group arrived in town and explored the place photographically, see slide shows. Sean, from DK, compiled the above map of the site for the October 2006 show in Toronto. This 1915 map is a snapshot of the same area. The loss is staggering, especially when you compare that map with this recent satellite view that shows the proximity of the Buffalo Museum of Science across the scar.

As the 19th century fabric of this city continues to disappear at an ever increasingly faster rate, one wonders how much longer this catholic complex will last or if an invitation to Housing Court is even on the horizon. I'm remembering that boy/girl line that Ralph showed me two years ago. Today there are fewer lines. When you cross over from the side walk, bring a friend. In the country's second poorest City buildings collapse and are demolished on a regular basis. Check this one out, before it's gone.
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1 comment:

smlg.ca said...

From the looks of it, the two dorms and the chapel would be retained, while the gym, powerhouse/quarantine, nuns' residence/kitchen, and infirmary would be demolished. The site plan doesn't show the Schoolhouse I don't think. It appears that they are saving 3 of the 5 buildings that were present in 1915. The nuns' residence/kitchen portion of the building is in terrible shape, with a number of significant floor collapses, and the powerhouse isn't terribly interesting or reusable, so I think both aren't terrible losses. Saving the Dorms and the Chapel are important. Without seeing a lot of the details, I think this generally seems like a good plan.