Historic Preservation: Move it to Save it?

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You may have already seen this USA Today story on a suburban Atlanta congregation that wants to purchase a closed Buffalo church, take it apart, ship it to Georgia and rebuild it there.

Some groups say it is a great way to preserve an otherwise vacant and unused structure. (The Diocese closed the church in 2008 because of declining enrollment – an issue many of our cities have faced that we’ve written about on this blog before.) You can see the web site for the parish that wants to bring the church south here. (Take a look- it truly is a beautiful building.)

Others say this Southern parish is pillaging Buffalo’s architectural treasures. The story quotes David Franczyk, president of the Buffalo city council: “Build your own church. We have enough vacant lots.” He compares the idea to Imperialists taking the Elgin marbles from Greece. It could also hurt Buffalo as the city strives to become a destination for those interested in the arts and architecture.

There’s a healthy debate going on at one of our favorite blogs, Buffalo Rising.

Maybe the fact that another community wants this so badly they are willing to pay millions of dollars to move it 900 miles will be a wake-up call to some in Buffalo to find another use for the building and preserve it there.

One thing’s for sure: they don’t build ’em like this anymore!

What do you think?

-KG

4 Comments

Filed under architecture, Art, Economic Development, Headline, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs

4 responses to “Historic Preservation: Move it to Save it?

  1. Wow. So now even the Rust Belt buildings are migrating to the Sun Belt?

  2. I read the story and lots of the comments.

    Buffalo’s strongest drawing card is its historic architecture of all styles and eras. It’s why the National Trust for Historic Preservation is holding their convention in Buffalo next year. Better to let the church rot than move it. Better yet to try to spur gentrification in the neighborhood.

    And it seems more than a little strange that a church has that much money and can’t build something new and wonderful or restore a church in their own area. Can’t believe this is the only church that’s empty.

  3. Gotta love the local political goons. Almost everyone gives the chances of finding the money to preserve the church in it’s current location as near zero. Granting landmark status will only wipe out the last chance the church has.

    I was slightly involved with a small group that wanted to convert an old police station and stable into a music school in what was then a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn. Landmark status prevented almost all changes to the building (like it had small jail cells) and made it too difficult to use. A few years later, it burned down. Afterwards, I came across an almost identical building in the South Bronx. The city landmarked the building but put no money in, making the building to expensive for any of the poor groups in the area to use.

    Put up or shut up.

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