Preservation Buffalo Niagara is recognizing outstanding preservation projects and those contributing to preservation efforts at its annual awards ceremony May 31, 11:30 AM at Kleinhans Music Hall. Buffalo Rising is profiling this year’s winners leading up to next month’s event.
The Evans Bank project is being recognized as an outstanding example of adaptive re-use of a historic building. The existing Mennonite Meeting House was used only for storage of the Town of Amherst Archival records. The building at that point was in serious need of maintenance and repair. Iskalo Development Corp. was able to rehabilitate this important piece of Amherst and WNY history and make it adaptable to become a branch office for Evans Bank.
The Mennonite Meeting House was constructed in 1834 and is one of the oldest churches in Western New York and is the oldest surviving religious building in Amherst. It is also the oldest Mennonite Meeting House in Western New York. The building served as the Mennonite Meeting House from 1834 to 1981. The exterior of the building retains a relatively high degree of integrity of design materials and craftsmanship. It is constructed from limestone from the nearby Fogelsonger quarry. It is a simple vernacular building with some Greek Revival influences. The Mennonite Meeting House was designated a local historic landmark as well as being listed on the state and National Register of Historic Places.
The goal of this project was to create a branch office for Evans Bank using the original structure with all its original characteristics on the interior and exterior while adding an appropriate addition to expand the square footage for banking operations. In retaining the historic look of the building, the original windows (9/9 and 12/12) were fully restored as well as restoration/replication of the interior and exterior doors (by Northwood Restoration). The original exterior stone and chimneys were kept and new composite roofing material was used to replicate the original cedar shake. Salvageable cedar siding was removed and re- installed on the rear of the ca. 1890 addition and the deteriorated cedar siding was replaced with real wood cedar siding on the side and front. The building was painted in period colors.
Landscaping was kept simple and period appropriate. The interior floors and doors remain as well as the original pulpit. A removed exterior stone wall was re-used in the main entrance as well as for the exterior Evans bank signs. The moved wall and floor have been marked with laser wood engraving for the education of the customers.
The project had well over one year of planning with the town preservation board and SHPO to ensure it was properly rehabilitated to remain historic. Construction of the project started in June of 2012 and was completed in October 2012. The ability and creativity to take a 178 year old simple building on a busy commercial intersection surrounded with modern buildings and convert it into a structure to serve a community bank is an outstanding example of adaptive re-use of historic structures. This notable landmark building not only still stands but demonstrates to the public how fabulous historic structures can be saved and re-used to serve modern day needs.