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Preservation Board making local landmarks official

It is a common topic of conversation, to say some building is a landmark. That may be, but many are not legally landmarks. That is why the Buffalo Preservation Board has a special subcommittee looking to change that.

The board subcommittee is looking around the city, finding buildings or even neighborhoods worthy of legally becoming landmarks. Some are long known as eligible for the National Register of Historic Buildings, but were never put into the process.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Kensington High School

The board is asking the Common Council to designate Kensington High School as an official landmark. Board Chairman Paul McDonnell said Kensington received special screening.

"These buildings have been determined to be eligible for the National Register and since public money is used for any renovations, there's never any private money for these," McDonnell said. "They are always reviewed by the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) in Albany. The SHPO review is even more rigorous than ours because they even do the interiors."

Kensington is not the only school on the list. Longtime rival Bennett High School and All-High Stadium are right behind in the process, as the board picks a date for a public hearing to take the next step.

For one board member, it is close to home. Don Gilbert was a star football and basketball player at Bennett before going on to football at the University at Buffalo and in the Canadian Football League.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Buffalo's Electric Building

"It brought back a lot of memories, of All-High Stadium and especially Saturday afternoon triple-headers where there would be three games right after each other," Gilbert said. "There were stands on both sides then and they would fill up both sides on a Saturday afternoon - and the big rival was Kensington."

Also before the Common Council for landmark status is downtown's Electric Building.

"This is obviously one of the low-hanging fruit there," said McDonnell. "As I said before, this is a landmark. Everyone is familiar with this building. One of the things that intrigued me, not only is the building, but the architect was Esenwein & Johnson, who are, along with E.B. Green, probably the most architecture firm in the city and masters in terra cotta."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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