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 has been profiling this year’s winners leading up to the event.
Since January 2011, Buffalo Spree has been regularly publishing Preservation Ready articles which, through text and images, make a case for an endangered or seriously underused structures throughout Buffalo. Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Licata instigated the series, has written the columns (with two exceptions), has made final choices of the properties to be discussed, and has edited the series.
For over thirty years, Buffalo Spree magazine has published essays and articles about historic architecture and preservation by such contributors as Austin Fox, John Conlin, Francis Kowsky, Mark Goldman, Barry Muskat, and many others. In recent years, Spree has dedicated two entire issues to architecture, with a strong emphasis on preservation.
This focus is somewhat unusual for a city/regional publication.
In 2010, Spree entered a new phase of its reporting on preservation by instituting the Preservation Ready series, which focuses on buildings considered most immediately threatened with demolition, on buildings that are long vacant and in danger of being forgotten, or on buildings that are severely underused and/or badly maintained.
This series was inspired by the Facebook Preservation Ready group. The first year of articles focused mainly on a list of endangered buildings that was created by a group of local and ex-pat preservationists (including Cynthia Van Ness, David Steele, David Torke, Frits Abell, and others). However, once the list was more or less exhausted, the series has continued, with buildings chosen by Spree’s editor, after consulting with members of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists.
Each article tells the history of the building (as much as can be reasonably found), explains its architectural significance, and tells the story of its current situation. Sometimes, contact numbers and names are given, if they are available or relevant to anyone interested in a particular building. The stories are always accompanied by photography that demonstrates the beauty as well as the deterioration of the structures, and sources are acknowledged at the end of each piece.
This series is worthy of recognition because:
- It raises awareness of some of the area’s most beautiful historic structures, many of which are in areas of the city not often visited by the Spree readership. This education and awareness could extend to those who could develop and restore the structures. It must be noted that some structures got reprieves before they were covered, but articles were published anyway, in most cases, as examples of successful reuse.
- This regular and purposeful focus on preservation of endangered buildings is missing in the Buffalo region’s other print publications, with the exception of occasional content in Western New York Heritage.
- The articles always include historic research at the downtown library, City Hall, and the Buffalo History Museum’s library. Sometimes there is little information to be found, especially given time limitations, but whatever is there is always included.
- Since the beginning, the series has been the subject of a monthly Press Pass interview on WBFO. These are also available as podcasts and are widely shared on Facebook and Twitter, This unique cross-media strategy widely increases the reach of the articles.