Out filming downtown last night, I saw the smoke and drove by what was the end of a massive building fire in Buffalo, New York.
Great job by the Buffalo Police and Fire Department!

* I made sure to stay clear of the fire so I wouldn’t get in the way. Not something you see every day!

Fire destroys historic building on Sycamore in Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. — An overnight fire destroys a historic building Wednesday morning. Investigators are now trying to find out what ignited the flames at this local landmark…

BUFFALO, N.Y. — An early morning fire leveled most of the historic building on 68 Sycamore Street, Wednesday.

The fire started at 3 a.m., and it took several hours for fire crews to put out the flames. During this time thick smoke billowed through the downtown area.

The Battalion Chief, at the scene, told 2 On Your Side that they were taking it slow for two reasons. First, they did not want any firefighters to get hurt in the collapsing structure. Second, they did not want to damage the structure next door, 72 Sycamore Street, which is also a historic building.

“It’s just something that can never be replaced. So, it’s a hard day for us,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. The organization fought for the past year to save the two buildings from demolition.

Fisher admits both properties had been sitting vacant for some time, but things were looking up because the properties had just been purchased by well-known developer, Rocco Termini. Also, the Local Landmark applications for the two properties was approved by the city of Buffalo this past summer.

Fisher tells 2 On Your Side, they had also just completed some of the preliminary paperwork to also have them listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It really was a witness to a huge number of events in our country’s history and our city’s history.” explained Fisher. “There were only 27 states… when that building was built. So you can see how much it has stood the test of time and how long it’s been here.”

Built circa 1843, it was one of the oldest pre-civil war era structures still standing in downtown Buffalo. The city itself had been incorporated only 11 years earlier, in 1832.

According to historical documents, the two story home was built and lived in by a shoemaker and his family. It later became a saloon and a boarding house.

“It was a rare piece of federal style architecture in Buffalo,” added Tim Tielman, Executive Director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture, and Culture.

Sitting at the corner of Sycamore and the Michigan Street corridor, the focus is now to preserve 72 Sycamore.

Fisher says she has been in contact with Termini and that he’s still dedicated to that mission. It appears he had plans to begin construction on 68 and 72 Sycamore this spring.

Some of the ideas for the two buildings had included making them a mix of living and commercial space for artists in the local African American community.

We’re told Termini plans to continue developing those ideas for 72 Sycamore. Preservation Buffalo Niagara plans to continue the application process to have the remaining building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“All the numbers and everything were based on two historic buildings,” says Fisher. “So we’ll definitely have to take a look at it.”

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