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Preservation Board presses to spare house on Medical Campus from demolition

A portion of the former Osmose Holdings complex on the northern end of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is on its way to getting the green light for demolition because of contamination.

But a house on the property believed to have been designed by famed architect E.B. Green may be spared.

The Buffalo Preservation Board last week approved the demolition of a portion of the property at 980 Ellicott St. due to suspected contamination. The approval, however, does not allow the house to be torn down and is contingent, overall, on the demolition contractor filing a detailed contamination report prior to the demolition.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., a non-profit organization that coordinates the institutions on the campus, bought the property late last year and is exploring options for its use.

Preservation board members and representations of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus spent nearly an hour last week touring the site and the area proposed for demolition.

"What's really important is the streetscape," Board Chairman Paul McDonnell said during a Preservation Board meeting. "There's so many 'toothless grins' on Buffalo property."

McDonnell said contaminants are reported to exist on the site – including underneath the E.B. Green house – but no contamination report has been filed. Preservation Board member Timothy Tielman pressed for a detailed map showing the alleged contamination. The demolition company, Ontario Specialty Contracting, is continuing its analysis, a company representative said.

"This house is such a small footprint of what they want to demolish," McDonnell said. "We would hope they would make an all-faith effort to save it."

There is interest in developing some of the Osmose property into a new innovation center, but Medical Campus officials are exploring all options. Some of the former complex is used for short-term parking for about 200 cars. The organization bought the complex $3.75 million last fall.

Tielman said research of old building permits led him to believe Green designed on the property. He said Green designed five or six other buildings in the neighborhood.

"I wish my basement was as solid," Tielman said of the house. He described it as having "great craftsmanship."

"Even if it weren't an E.B. Green home, it's a good example of 19th century architecture," McDonnell said.

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