2023 Preservation Awards Awardees

Residential Preservation


1 Penhurst Park, Buffalo

Built 1909-1910, 1 Penhurst Park was originally the home of James H. & Edna G. Dyett. James was an executive at the family-owned Hard Manufacturing Company, which designed and produced hospital furniture. One of the first houses built on Penhurst Park, it was designed by noted local architect, designer, and painter Robert North. After the Dyetts’ ownership the property was home to Nina Freudenheim, noted local gallerist.

The current owner of 1 Penhurst Park, Adam Perry, is only the third owner and as a result, the residence retains a high level of integrity of its historic character and original features including its stucco exterior, historic windows and doors, lighting fixtures, bathrooms, and even the original dumbwaiter. The recent rehabilitation, which utilized historic tax credits, also included the repair of the original slate roof and copper gutters and downspouts and updates to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and to the kitchens.

The National Register-listed home, a contributing resource to the Elmwood East Historic District, is a prominent visual landmark in the neighborhood, and the incredible rehabilitation project ensures that it will remain part of this historic neighborhood for generations to come.



Commercial Preservation


Nash Lofts, 163-167 Broadway and 64 Nash Street, Buffalo

One of the more unique and challenging preservation projects of late in the City of Buffalo, the Nash Lofts are located on a corner in the heart of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, a designated NYS Heritage Area. Also known as the Dellenbaugh block, the four neighboring buildings that comprise the project were built between c. 1840 and 1922. Vacant for nearly 20 years, the site required extensive stabilization efforts. Utilizing historic tax credits and funding support from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, and Empire State Development, the $6 million rehabilitation project includes 18 new apartments, 8,000 SF of available commercial space, parking, and office space for the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP. A symbol of hope for the future, the project is an example of historic and continued mixed-use development rooted in the betterment of its community and city.

Spolka Building, 436 Amherst Street, Buffalo

The Spolka Building at 436 Amherst Street is a commercial block constructed from 1916 to 1917 by the Polish American Building Company for tailor Jacob F. Bujarek and was later occupied by men’s clothier Spolka. The Black Rock store held a prominent, decades-long presence in the heart of the Amherst Street business district, directly across the street from the religious heart of the neighborhood—Assumption R.C. Church.

The new storefront replicates the original inset storefront and was designed and installed utilizing the original exterior entryway tile floor. The interior has been rehabilitated as the home of the  Black Rock Historical Society and features exposed brick walls, new museum display cases, and a large open floor plan to accommodate a wide array of public programming. The rehabilitation of 436 Amherst Street not only showcases the history of the neighborhood, but represents the best of what restoration can be for the community.


Art’s Café, 5 E Main St, Springville

The Arts Café Building in Springville is the personification of community-led preservation. Located in the center of downtown Springville, 5 East Main Street was built in 1880 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource to the East Main-Mechanic Street Historic District. This building is especially notable for the exuberant design of its second-story façade, which features brick piers between bays, round-arched window openings, recessed square brick panels, and a prominent bracketed metal cornice.

After years of neglect, the building’s roof collapsed, taking the second floor with it. But through the leadership and dedication of the Springville Center for the Arts, the rehabilitated building now features an artisan bakery and café with a connected arts workshop, performance venue, fully accessible green roof, and artist residences.

This project was made possible through NYS EPF, Homes & Community Renewal Rural Area Revitalization Project, ESD, NY Main Street and NYS Environmental Facilities Corp funding, and financing assistance was provided by NYS Preservation League EPIP Program, M&T Bank, Local Enterprise Assistance Fund, and Community Investors.

The key ingredient to the success of this transformation was the energy of the community intertwined with courage, tenacity, innovation, creativity, and generosity in all phases of the work – the physical rebuilding, the multi-source funding, the ownership model, fearless investors, volunteers, and the combination of businesses with the arts. The Arts Café’s business structure puts the mission of building community and reinvesting in Main Street first and foremost. What began as a disaster has become a model multi-use rehabilitation project, and a significant community success story and example for the whole region.


True Bethel Commons, 1128 South Avenue, Niagara Falls

True Bethel Commons was originally built in 1900 as the Sacred Heart School for the adjacent Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. A partnership between Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, Inc. and True Community Development Corporation, the $15 million project rehabilitated the school into 39 vibrant apartments. All the apartments will be affordable to households earning at or below 50% of the Area Median Income, and eight apartments are fully accessible and adapted for people with physical disabilities. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the project utilized historic tax credits and low-income housing tax credits, as well as funding support from NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and the city of Niagara Falls. A complement to ongoing public and private revitalization projects in Niagara Falls, the True Bethel Commons project preserves the historic legacy of this landmark while providing quality affordable housing for a new generation.


Tugby-Lennon Block,324 Niagara Street, Niagara Falls 

Comprised of several attached historic structures constructed in 1904 and 1909, the historic Tugby-Lennon Block brings new opportunities to the heart of Niagara Falls. Developed and managed by Savarino Companies, the mixed-use project includes three ground-floor commercial units and ten market-rate apartments. The apartments feature original cedar floors, exposed brick walls, and in-unit washers and dryers. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the $3.5 million rehabilitation project utilized historic tax credits, as well as funding support from the USA Niagara Development Corp. (a subsidiary of Empire State Development), the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, National Grid, and NFC Development Corp. Among the few surviving historic mixed-use commercial buildings that were once prevalent along Niagara Street, the Tugby-Lennon Block project revitalizes traditional buildings typologies for continued use in the modern age.


Emerging Preservationist


John Domres

John Domres, owner of Buffalo Brewing Company, has an admiration and drive for historic preservation, which began in 2014 when he brought life back into an 1890s former foundry at 314 Myrtle Avenue, transforming it into the company’s first brewery. Upon outgrowing the space, John set his sights on the former Schreiber Brewery at 662 Filmore Avenue. In 2021 he started working on rehabbing the long-vacant building, and in October of 2022, he brewed the first beer on the site in 72 years. With only the first phase of the rehabilitation completed, and more projects on the horizon, we raise a glass to his work in preservation and revitalization on Buffalo’s East Side.

Preservation Leadership


The Zemsky Family 

The Zemsky family, through their company, the Larkin Development Group, has been working for the past 20 plus years to preserve, renovate and restore buildings in the historic Larkin District in Buffalo.  These efforts have included the redevelopment of the circa 1911 former Larkin Terminal Warehouse, now known as the Larkin at Exchange Building, the circa 1893 Larkin U Building, the 1890s building at 716 Swan Street, now home to the Hydraulic Hearth restaurant and the circa 1900 Schaefer Building. now a mixed-use building.  In addition, the circa 1937 Swan Street Diner was relocated to the Larkin District and fully restored.  Larkin Development Group has also cleaned up neighborhood blight and brownfields. Recent developments have included a series of new infill projects to help return the district back to its former density and vibrancy.

In addition to the development work in the Larkin District, the Zemsky family has supported a variety of preservation projects in the community including the Darwin Martin House, the Richardson Olmsted Campus, Temple Beth Zion and more.  On a smaller scale, their company has helped residential neighbors in the Larkin District with grants to restore the exterior of their homes.

The family is proud to be a multi-generation family business, started by Howard Zemsky’s father Sam and now welcoming a new generation to the business with Kayla and Harry Zemsky and Michael Myers engaged in the continued work of preserving and developing the Larkin District.


Demolition Moratoriums and the Local Landmarking Process

By Christiana Limniatis and Tabitha O’Connell


On March 7, 2023, the small Art Deco style administration building at the Clinton-Bailey Farmers Market in Buffalo was illegally demolished. This post will break down the context of this demolition and why it was illegal.

In December 2021, a demolition application for the building, which was located on the market’s property at 1443 Clinton Street, came before the Buffalo Preservation Board for advisory review. This is the process for all non-emergency demolition applications in the city; before a permit is issued, the Preservation Board reviews the application and makes a recommendation that is passed on to the Department of Permit and Inspection Services (DPIS). For buildings that are not designated as local landmarks, this recommendation is non-binding.

In the case of the building at 1443 Clinton, the Preservation Board hoped to work with the owner to find an alternative to demolition, and the application was tabled while the Board discussed the issues with the owner, conducted a site visit, and facilitated a meeting between the owner and the district’s councilmember. The demolition application has remained tabled by the Preservation Board ever since, with no recommendation ever made.

As part of our advocacy on this issue, we submitted a letter to the Preservation Board asking that they recommend denial of the demolition permit and encouraging the landmarking of the entire Clinton-Bailey Famers Market. To assist with the preparation of a landmark application, we included research on the property and a recommendation of which Criteria for Designation we felt the site was eligible under. The Preservation Board’s Landmarks Subcommittee subsequently prepared a local landmark application for the market property, which was submitted in July 2022. After the necessary public hearing before the Preservation Board in September, the Board recommended that the application be approved and sent it to the Common Council for the next part of the process.

Per the city’s Preservation Ordinance, upon the Common Council’s receipt of a landmark application from the Preservation Board, a moratorium on demolition permits for the subject property goes into effect until a final decision on the application is reached. This aspect of the law is a relatively recent amendment that was unanimously approved by the Common Council in 2021. Sponsored by Councilmembers Nowakowski and Rivera, it came about due to the demolition of the house at 184 West Utica Street while a landmark application for that building was pending.

As amended, the law states:

The Preservation Board shall, within 90 days of receipt of a completed application form, take its final action thereon, which shall be in the form of a recommendation to the Common Council. …

Upon the Common Council’s receipt of said recommendation, the Department of Permits and Inspection Services shall put in place a temporary moratorium, prohibiting the issuance of any building permits or demolition permits, relating to any property or resource that is subject to the proposed designation, to last until there is a final decision on the designation.

A property owner affected by this temporary moratorium may petition the Common Council for the lifting of any temporary moratorium to allow certain work to proceed pending the completed designation process, if such work would not affect the historic features under consideration.(§337-8 of Article III of Chapter 337, Preservation Standards)

Thus, a moratorium on permits should have gone into effect for 1443 Clinton Street in September 2022, when the Common Council received the recommendation from the Preservation Board. Since then, a final decision has not been made on the application. The Council’s Committee on Legislation held a public hearing for the application in October 2022, but rather than sending it on to the full Common Council for a vote afterward, they tabled it, and it has remained tabled ever since.

Issuance of a demolition permit for this building thus constitutes a clear violation of city law. While the City has not yet provided any formal explanation, based on  information available our understanding is that the permit’s issuance comes down to three critical failures on the City’s part:


1. Department of Permit and Inspection Services

Cathy Amdur, the Commissioner of the Department of Permit and Inspection Services, has stated that it is the job of the acting Secretary of the Preservation Board (who, as specified in §337-5 of the city’s Preservation Ordinance, is the staff person assigned to that position by the city) to enter a comment in the City’s permitting system to indicate when a property has a pending landmark application. In this case, according to Ms. Amdur, that information was not entered in the system, and thus DPIS was not aware of the moratorium when they received a demolition permit application from the building’s owner. However, as quoted above, the law states that it is the duty of DPIS to put the moratorium in place. Thus, the City’s internal policy is a violation of city law.

2. Preservation Board

The Preservation Ordinance lays out the powers and duties of the Preservation Board, which include “To advise and assist other City departments on matters pertaining to historic preservation” and “To undertake any other action or activity necessary or appropriate for the execution of its powers and duties or to further the purpose of this code” (§337-5 of Article II). In this case, the Board did not communicate sufficiently with DPIS regarding this building, resulting in a failure of execution of the Preservation Ordinance.

3. Common Council

Finally, indefinite tabling of a landmark application by the Legislation Committee is itself a violation of city law. According to the Preservation Ordinance, the Committee must take action—that is, approve, disapprove, or modify the proposed landmark designation—within 30 days of the public hearing and transmit their decision to the Common Council, who will then conduct a final vote on whether to approve or disapprove the designation (§337-11 of Article III). The requirement that the Council make a timely decision is confirmed by case law; in The Campaign For Buffalo History Architecture & Culture, Inc. v. The City of Buffalo Common Council (2019), the New York State Supreme Court found that it was “arbitrary and capricious” for the Council “to fail to make a decision” on a landmark application.

As a side note, this particular issue is not unique to 1443 Clinton Street; Voelker’s Bowling Center, located at 680 Amherst Street, is currently in a similar situation, with a landmark application for the building having been tabled by the Legislation Committee for 18 months, since September 2021. The city’s housing court recently issued a demolition order for the property, which is a directive to the owner to obtain a demolition permit; however, even with this order from the court, DPIS cannot legally issue a demolition permit while the landmark application remains pending.


As we plan our next advocacy steps, in light of the numerous issues laid out here, we call on Mayor Byron Brown and his administration to review and update the City’s internal policies and procedures so that they are consistent with the letter of the law and allow for the law’s appropriate execution. We also call on the Common Council to process received landmark applications in a timely matter. PBN will continue to advocate to the City to protect our historic fabric from further illegal demolitions

PBN’s New Executive Director Bernice Radle

Let’s take a moment to welcome Bernice Radle as the new Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara!

With over 10 years of work and activism in the Buffalo area, Radle is the owner and CEO of Buffalove Development and Little Wheel Restoration Company. She is also the Vice Chair of the City of Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals and a faculty member of the Incremental Development Alliance. She was also the host of American Rehab Buffalo on the DIY Network. She has a B.S. in Urban Planning and Regional Analysis from Buffalo State University. Radle will be transitioning out of her role at Buffalove Development in March.

Of her new role, Radle has stated, “I look forward to working with PBN’s board and staff to advance historic preservation in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I am excited to use my first-hand restoration experience and knowledge of historic buildings to assist others in their restoration journey. The future of preservation is about action!”

We are excited to have her join our dedicated team, and continue our important work in our communities! Radle’s first day will be April 3, 2023.



Preservation Buffalo Niagara in the News- Williamsville Editorial

Below is an excerpt from an editorial letter from the Buffalo News published on  February 24, 2023. We are elated that Williamsville has created a historic district, and the reverence of our report “Everyone’s Heritage: The Impacts of Historic Preservation in Buffalo,” shows how beneficial historic districts and preservation can be for an area!

“The 13 structures in the district include the water mill, itself, which was constructed by the village’s founder, Jonas Williams, in 1811 and is located off Main Street along East Spring Street and Ellicott Creek. The district runs along Main Street, from Rock Street east to the pedestrian entrance to Glen Park, with the properties dating from 1811 to 1949.

Individual structures include the Eagle House restaurant, Moor Pat tavern, and Share Kitchen & Bar Room, which are among the village’s oldest commercial structures; there are also non-contributing buildings in the district that don’t share the designation. Preservation designation in Williamsville can include buildings that are 50 years old or older; their interest to preservationists depends on architectural style as well as historic factors.

It’s perplexing that the creation of the district met with as much opposition as it did. Clearly, there needs to be more education about preservation’s surprising benefits. Skeptics could start by reading a recent report commissioned by Preservation Buffalo Niagara, “Everyone’s Heritage: The Impacts of Historic Preservation in Buffalo,” which presents clear data supporting its conclusions that the economic benefits of maintaining a historic built environment include job creation and population growth as well as higher property values. The report is easily accessible at preservationbuffaloniagara.org.”


To read the full article visit the Buffalo News website.