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GROUP AGRESSIVELY PURSUES SITES FOR LANDMARK STATUS

The Lafayette Hotel and more than a dozen other buildings are being targeted for landmark protection as part of a new preservation campaign.

"Making Monuments" is the name the Preserva tion Coalition of Erie County has given to its first organized drive to obtain landmark status for build ings not currently in danger of demolition or alter ation. "We like to be on the offensive rather than the defensive," said Susan A. McCartney, president of the coalition. In the past, the coalition has tended to react to plans that placed buildings at risk. This time, the group is pursuing buildings that it considers landmarks but that are not necessarily en dangered. "My feeling is the whole preservation community should be more pro-active," said James F. Forton, chairman of the Buffalo Preservation Board, the City Hall agency that reviews all landmark applications. "So often we have to react to buildings under the threat of a wrecking ball." The campaign officially began this week, when the coalition submitted an application to the city seeking landmark status for Plymouth Methodist Church at 453 Porter Ave. But the 76-year-old church is merely first on a long list of buildings that the coalition is researching for historical, architectural and cultural significance. The buildings being studied by the coalition in clude the Lafayette Hotel at Washington and Clinton streets. "We thought it was long overdue," Ms. McCart ney said. Completed in 1904, the Lafayette was one of Buffalo's grand hotels. It was designed by Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs, a firm headed by Louise Blan chard Bethune, the first female architect in the Unit ed States. The French Renaissance-style building was sold in 1978 to Tran Dinh Troung, the owner of several hotels in New York City. Tran has shown an interest in selling or renovating the building, but only if public funding is available. William A. Price, an attorney for Tran, said he is unaware of any plan to sell or restore the Lafayette. But he said Tran probably would support efforts to protect the building. "It's a very good idea, and I see no reason why the owner would oppose it," Price said. Other buildings being studied for landmark status are: The former Trico plant, 2495 Main St., a huge brick building with a terra-cotta facade. Closed since last year, the 73-year-old building is being sold, but Trico has declined to disclose the buyer or the buy er's plans for the building. The former Pierce-Arrow Showroom, 2421 Main St., now the home of Braun Cadillac. Built in 1929, the building has an Art Deco design, and the interior includes an unusual tile floor and a ceiling with ornate automobile detail. The Great Northern Grain Elevator on Ganson Street. The building was built in 1898 and now is owned and operated by the Pillsbury Co. St. Peter's Evangelical Reformed Church, Gene see and Hickory streets. Built in 1877 for a congrega tion of German settlers, the church features a Gothic style with a tall, thin spire. The Vars Building, 344-352 Delaware Ave. This Art Deco building was finished in 1929 and has been home for some of Buffalo's more prestigious retailers. The Charlie Baker block at Oak and Genesee streets. Developer Willard A. Genrich Jr. gutted the 19th-century complex last year and planned to con vert the buildings into shops and offices. The build ings remain vacant. Washington-Russell House, 2540 Main St., now the Dengler Funeral Home. Built in 1841 on 200 acres of land, it was one of Buffalo's original farm homesteads. The coalition is also researching St. Mary's School for the Deaf, 2253 Main St.; the Phoenix Brewery, Virginia and Washington streets, and St. Vincent's Female Orphan Asylum, the former Erie Community College City Campus at Main and Riley streets. Other buildings under study include the Boarding House Restaurant, 142 Seneca St.; the Calumet Building, 46-58 W. Chippewa St.; the Iroquois Gas building behind City Hall and the Jersey Street Liv ery Stable.

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