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Former home on Rich Products complex may have belonged to Henry Wells

Total Wrecking and Environment
This house on the complex may have belonged to Henry Wells, co-founder of Wells Fargo.

It is a name you have probably heard, but may not know much about. Henry Wells is the Wells of of Wells Fargo. In 1852, he and William Fargo co-founded what is now a multinational financial services company. Wells may have a home on a former industrial complex Rich Products wants to knock down - and because of that, a demolition request has stalled before the city Preservation Board.

Credit Total Wrecking and Environment
The complex is located at the corner of Niagara Street and West Ferry in Buffalo.

Rich no longer uses the complex at Niagara Street and West Ferry, and had actually sold it for drink mix manufacturing and then bought it back. The request before the city Preservation Board is to demolish the complex and clear nearly four acres of land.

The request came from Total Wrecking and Environmental. Project Manager Jeff Mancil said his company does a lot of these former industrial complexes.

"Every project deserves to be considered a big project  because they each have their own necessities that you have to do to get through the project," Mancil said. "We do large-scale demolition all across the nation. We're becoming more of a presence here in Buffalo and this will get the same credence as it does a job four times as it would be in square footage."

Credit Total Wrecking and Environment
A front view of the home to be studied before demolition.

The Wells home occupies only a small piece of land. While the Wells house is studied, Total can go ahead and knock down almost all of the complex, since the project was divided into two pieces and most of is does not involve the home. Mancil said it will take six to seven months.

Preservation Board member Rhonda Ricks suggested a cleared site like that offers real development possibilities.

"Along with the green space, and I think that they are a responsible business that'll be very current as far as community input and what should go there," Ricks said. "I think it's a great opportunity and if they have no use for it as an industrial site, then why not?"

Niagara has seen a lot of development, but it has mostly been re-purposed structures. As the West Side corridor shifts from a heavy industrial area to an upscale residential area, more and more signs of the past are being removed or turned from chemical plant to housing or warehouse to housing.

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.