Push to help preserve Old First Ward's history
It's an area recognized for its Irish heritage, but the history of Buffalo's Old First Ward includes much more than its cultural roots. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us about a new push for the area to receive historic designation and the tax credits that go with it.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "Buffalo has a long legacy of hard work and perseverance, but the foundation of this proud legacy was first built right here in Buffalo's Old First Ward neighborhood," said State Senator Tim Kennedy.
To protect that history for the future, Kennedy is starting a commission to get the Old First Ward listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"This designation will give homeowners and other property owners the opportunity to gain access to historic rehabilitation tax credits that will restore and preserve the neighborhood's rich history, for generations to come," said Kennedy.
Kennedy said the area played an integral role in the industrial development of Buffalo and Western New York, and many of the homes still there today were built in the 1800s.
"We have some of the oldest housing and oldest structures in the city of Buffalo, and this is in a city that has the oldest wooden frame structures in the United States," said Laura Kelly, executive director of the Old First Ward Community Association.
Kennedy said, "They're well built, but at the same time, many of these are in need of revitalization and rejuvenation."
And without the help of tax credits, he said many of these structures won't get the care they need.
Kelly said some of the houses in the Old First Ward have been home to five or six generations of the same family.
"By preserving the bones, you're also preserving the memories of the community. So many places in this city, the corner store is gone, or your grandmother's house."
Kennedy said the commission will determine the boundaries of the historic district and in the coming weeks will apply for state designation.
He encourages the community to get involved as they work toward the national register.
"Historic designation won't come overnight. But successful follow-through in this effort will pay dividends for this neighborhood, this city, this region and our wonderful state."