Preservation Awards 2022

Louise Bethune Award for Outstanding Project (over 10,000 SF)
Hollywood Theater

Gowanda’s Hollywood Theater was built in 1929 to replace a wood theater structure that burned down a few years prior. The building was designed to house not only vaudeville entertainment but also live theater productions. The theater is equipped with dressing rooms, an orchestra pit, seating for a total of 980 on the main floor and balcony, 2 offices, restrooms, entrance lobby, and ticket booth. It was in use until the early 1970s as a movie theater.

In 1994, Gernatt Asphalt Products, a local family business, bought the building and donated it to Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater organization, a non-profit comprised of residents dedicated to re-opening the theater for the community. From 2008 to 2021, the non-profit organization and Flynn Battaglia Architects completed eight phases of construction to rehabilitate and restore the interior and exterior of the historic theater efficiently, bringing the building up to current codes and updating mechanical and theater systems. In addition to restoring a building, a gathering place to build community was also restored.

John E. Brent Award for Outstanding Project (less than 10,000 SF)
Eugene V. Debs Hall

Eugene V. Debs Hall resurrects a long-vacant pre-Prohibition tavern in the shadow of the Central Terminal. The historic bar opened in 1914 as John Kucharski’s saloon and was later known as Joe’s Grill from 1945 to 1971. It was last known as Al’s Place and closed in 1991. Thanks to the generosity of founding members and the leadership of the not-for-profit board of directors, Eugene V. Debs Hall celebrated the substantial completion of its restoration on Labor Day 2021 and is now, in early 2022, on the verge of opening with regular hours. The non-profit social club celebrates the legacy of prominent American labor leader and five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs and is committed to commemorating the labor history of Buffalo and the United States. In addition to a faithful restoration of the tavern space, the leadership of Eugene V. Debs Hall has brought forth a new and innovative model for collective action in restoring our built environment.

The Robert T. Coles Award for Neighborhood Conservation
The Charles Burchfield Gardenville District

In early 2021, the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce began to promote West Seneca as an arts tourism destination by building on the legacy left behind by world-renowned artist Charles Burchfield and his family, who lived and worked in West Seneca for decades. The idea was to bring together the many arts, cultural, historical, and educational destinations in the Union Road/Clinton Street corridor and promote it as one incredible campus. The group identified specific historic properties within this walkable corridor which included the Charles Burchfield Home & Studio, the Burchfield Nature & Art Center, Burchfield Park, Ebenezer Cemetery, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, 14 Holy Helpers Church, and the Christian Metz House. Since 2021, the project has overseen the opening of the Burchfield Home & Studio, the Burchfield Nature & Art Center, and the Christian Metz House. Looking ahead, the group will continue to promote the area with tours and potentially a Burchfield Beautification Grant Program, which will fund business and organizational beautification throughout the town.

The George K Arthur Award for Preservation Leadership
Sam Hoyt

As a former New York State Assemblymember and Regional President of Empire State Development Corporation and current President of Upstate Strategic Advisors, Sam Hoyt led the effort to implement and improve the New York State Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The passage of the historic tax credit bill, led by Mr. Hoyt and former State Senator David Valesky of Oneida, has resulted in one of the most successful economic development programs in New York State history. The tax credit has spurred $12 billion in investment to revitalized more than 1,000 historic properties since 2011, including well over a billion dollars of private investment in Western New York. This work has led to the restoration of many of our region’s most beloved spaces and created a pathway for much future work.

The Robert J. Kresse Award for Education, Outreach, and Planning
The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission’s Strategic Action Plan

The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor comprises a collection of historically significant spaces and places, courageous people, and defining movements that exemplify the tenacity inherent in the African American experience.

This strategic action plan has been developed in full collaboration with the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission leadership, with the engagement of key community stakeholders, and in relationship and partnership with a host of Buffalo residents and community members. The plan’s intent is to focus on the core area around the cultural anchors and to provide an implementable roadmap for catalyzing and transformational development that will spread outward from the core in a way that is contextual and sensitive to the aspirations of the community.

The Mary Talbert Award for Emerging Preservation Leader
Brandi Barrett

Brandi Barrett has been in leadership roles incorporating preservation ideals as a board member and the Director of Operations for the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, as the commercial program manager of the Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services (BFNHS), and through the local historic district Broadway-Fillmore East Side Commercial District Program (ESCDP). From her role as a board member on the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust (FBCLT) to her position as Director of Operations for the FBCLT, Brandi Barrett smoothly and diplomatically incorporates the values of historic preservation into the work of the FBCLT, especially concerning the structures 326 High Street (old CAO and formerly Wedekindt Funeral Home) and 204 High Street, Meidenbauer House. She makes the point of preservation being green advocacy and a way to protect and honor memory. As an activist, she articulates to others how community anchors and historic places are critical to a neighborhood’s success. She is a fifth generation Fruit Belt resident, considers her home her “forever home,” and the legacy, commitment, and work ethic of her ancestors of the Fruit Belt guide her passion to this day.

2022 Award for Preservation Advocacy
Newell Nussbaumer

Newell Nussbaumer, co-founder and editor of Buffalo Rising, has been an unrelenting voice for safeguarding Buffalo Niagara’s endangered homes and commercial buildings for over twenty years. Long before Buffalo they had gained widespread popularity, Newell identified, wrote, and published noteworthy articles about the architectural treasures that are part of this area’s DNA. For decades, Buffalo Rising has presented the case for preservation with relentless commitment and dedication. Having a far-reaching outlet champion preservation like Newell has helped change the way many people across our region and beyond view our older buildings.

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