Landmarks and Historic Districts in Buffalo - Table of Contents

State and National LANDMARKS in Buffalo - Table of Contents

State and National Landmarks in Buffalo, NY - FAQ
Buffalo's Landmarks Listed on the State & National Registers of Historic Places

What are Buffalo's landmarks that are listed on the State & National Registers of Historic Places?

See Landmarks in Buffalo, NY for an unofficial list with links to Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.

For a list of landmarks on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, go to

National Register of Historic Places and scroll to New York State and Erie County. This is the official site.

National Register of Historic Places: New York - Erie County   Note that this site is managed by the U.S. Park Service and it isn't necessarily up to date.

Many of the buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places have nominations (photos, text) online. To access them, go to the following:

Document Imaging for National Register.
Click on "Basic Criteria" and scroll down to "County - Erie."
Then, click on "Results."

Additional information, including photos and data, on 63 of Buffalo's historic buildings can be found at Built in America on the Library of Congress site. Type in "erie county new york."

Are there similar FAQ online?

Yes. See Frequently Asked Questions about the State and National Registers of Historic Places in New York State, a reprint of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation flyer.

Also, see National Register of Historic Places - FAQ

What's the official New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) website?

See their homepage.

What's the official National Register of Historic Places website?

See their home page, but also see National Register of Historic Places

What does "landmark" mean?

Sometimes the word simply refers to a well-known building in a neighborhood. Thus, it may be a term of endearment. Lafayette High School would be an example

"Landmark" can also refer to a building that has been legally designated as such. Lafayette High School fits this definition, also.

This website is concerned only with legal landmarks.

How are LOCAL vs. STATE and NATIONAL landmarks are referred to?

LOCAL landmarks are "designated"as such, whereas STATE/NATIONAL historic districts are "listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

What are the benefits of owning a landmark that is listed on the National Register?

Listing on the National Register recognizes the importance of these properties to the history of our country and provides them with a measure of protection.

In addition, owners of income producing properties may qualify for federal income tax benefits.

Properties owned by municipalities and not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for state historic preservation matching grants

See also Benefits of Historic Districts and Landmarks for a longer list of reasons.

Why is applying for listing on the National Registers of Historic Places so popular with developers?

Because of lucrative national, state and local tax cedits and tax incentives. For information, contact Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

How do I get my building listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places?

The process begins with requesting an application (nomination) form from SHPO (New York State Historic Preservation Office) or contact Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

How do I go about researching the history of my building?

Librarian Cynthia van Ness has prepared a great guide: Built in Buffalo: How to Research Local Architecture

Has any professional research been done that will help property owners determine if their building is eligible for listing on the State & National Registers of Historic Places?

Yes. In 2005, three Intensive Level Surveys were completed. These contain a wealth of information.

The 3 surveys:

See also: Historic Resources Surveys in Western New York

What's "preservation"?

Retention of essential character of an improvement, object, building or structure as embodied in its existing form, integrity and material. This term includes the retention of the trees and vegetative cover of a site. This term may include temporary stabilization work as well as ongoing maintenance of historic building materials. (Source:Chapter XIII of the City of Buffalo Charter and Ordinances, 1974)

What's the difference between "reconstruction," "rehabilitation," and "restoration"?

Reconstruction - Reproduction of the exact form and detail of a vanished building, structure, improvement or part thereof, as it appeared at a specific time. (Source: Chapter XIII of the City of Buffalo Charter and Ordinances, 1974)

Three good examples are the reconstructed buildings on the Darwin Martin House Complex. In the 1970's, the pergola, conservatory, and carriage house were demolished. In the autumn of 2006, there was ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the reconstruction from original plans. See photos of the three reconstructions.

Rehabilitation - Repair or alteration that enables buildings, structures or improvements to be efficiently utilized while preserving those features of buildings, structures or improvements that are significant to their historic, architectural and cultural values.

See March 1, 2007, photos of the interior rehabilitation of the 1888 Webb Building at 90 Pearl Street, originally a factory to be opened as a day care center and apartments in the autumn of 2007.

Restoration - Recovery of the form and details of a building, structure or improvement and its site during a particular time.

For example, The Martin House Complex is being restored to its 1907 condition. Thus, Martin House Restoration Corp. intends to return the structure to its condition at that time, and to reverse the changes made by the family. This will recreate Wright's original work.

What's "adaptive reuse"?

Conversion of a building originally designed for a certain purpose to a different purpose (Source: Chapter XIII of the City of Buffalo Charter and Ordinances, 1974)

A good example of adaptive reuse is the Sternberg House at 414 Delaware Avenue. It was built in 1869070 as a residence for a wealthy grain elevator owner. In the 1880s, it was turned into a hotel. World war II, restaurateur Hugo DiGiulio bought the establishment, turning it into the celebrated Victor Hugo Wine Cellar. The restaurant closed in the 1970s and remained abandoned until April 2001 when it opened as The Mansion on Delaware Avenue, one of highest rated hotels in the country.

The 1901 Old Post Office, now servings as an Erie Community College campus building, and the 1919 Elk Market Truck/rail Terminal, now the Lofts @ Elk Terminal, are two more good examples.

see the adaptive reuse Buffalo's large stock of historic Victorian and early modern buildings as one key to Buffalo's future prosperity.

Where can I get information on the best practices for making repairs to my historic building?

See National Park Service 43 Preservation Briefs Technical Preservation Services has helped home owners, preservation professionals, organizations, and government agencies by publishing easy-to read guidance on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings.

I heard that if I live in a historic building I can't do anything to change it. Is that true?

The short answer to this question is "no." Preservation laws recognize that change is a necessary part of life. In order for old buildings to remain a vital part of contemporary life, they must be allowed to change. Historic preservation does not mean that buildings are to be frozen in time.

It is true, however, that there are limitations on changing certain old buildings.

First of all, it is important to find out whether the building in question has been designated as a local landmark, or is in a locally designated district.

Properties in the National Register are not subject to any restrictions unless they are also designated at the local level.

Does the owner of a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places need to get approval before doing any exterior repair and improvement?

Only if government money is being used. Otherwise, you can do anything you want to the property, including demolition.

Of course, if you to get tax credits for the changes you make, you need to follow the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties in making changes.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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