On Thursday December 19th, 2019, Preservation Buffalo Niagara acquired 72 Sycamore Street from local developer Rocco Termini with plans to protect the landmark and bring new life to this part of Sycamore Street.
The previous owner of 72 Sycamore proposed demolition of the former boarding house in 2017. In addition to opposing the demolition, PBN worked to acquire landmark status for the building and local developer Rocco Termini stepped in, agreed to purchase it and hold the property for PBN until initial funding could be acquired by the local non-profit.
“I am proud to have provided the stepping stone for PBN to acquire 72 Sycamore,” said Rocco Termini. “Their work to protect historic buildings has been important to revitalizing Buffalo and Western New York and it’s exciting to see them take this next step in their own evolution as an organization.”
The intentions for 72 Sycamore Street are to rehabilitate the building into office space for Preservation Buffalo Niagara and local non-profit affordable housing specialist Heart of the City Neighborhoods, as well as a Preservation Resource Center where PBN can hold workshops and provide educational experiences.
“In addition to being an important remaining part of the Sycamore Street landscape,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, “This building has a unique and fascinating history and we are looking forward to ensuring that this building remain a part of our city-scape for another 170 years.”
“Heart of the City has been working with historic Buffalo neighborhoods for over twenty years to build and maintain high quality affordable housing options,” said Stephanie Simeon, Executive Director of Heart of the City Neighborhoods. “By partnering with Preservation Buffalo Niagara on this project, we will not only be assisting in the development of more quality affordable housing on Sycamore Street, but we will also finally have a long-term home for our day-to-day operations.”
The Eliza Quirk Boarding House (72 Sycamore Street), located on the East Side of Buffalo at the edge of downtown in Erie County, is a pre-Civil War boarding house designed and constructed circa 1848 for its original owner, Eliza Quirk, a well-known courtesan, who occupied the building until her death in 1868. The structure is a simple, red brick vernacular double rowhouse, a typical pre-Civil War design for urban residential buildings. While the architect (if any) is unknown, the boarding house appears to have been built as both Ms. Quirk’s primary residence and a boarding house with likely additional use as a brothel throughout this period. It is one of the few remaining intact boarding houses and pre-Civil War buildings in downtown.
It is within the Impact Zone of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and its preservation is seen as an important component of continuing revitalization efforts in this area.
PBN will be working on securing additional funds through the winter and spring, and hopes for a summer 2021 occupancy. Preservation workshops will be held throughout 2020 on the site, to help the community better understand the technical aspects of preservation projects.