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History comes calling Preservation board nominates 3 structures for inclusion on national and state registers

Three local structures that never attracted much attention have been nominated for the national and state registers of historic places.

The Edgar W. Howell House at 52 Lexington Ave. in Buffalo; the former Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway station in Orchard Park; and Buffalo Harbor's south entrance light were among 26 properties statewide recommended by the state Historic Preservation Board.

In its report to State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash, the board cited the Howell House as "an outstanding example of eclectic domestic architecture" located amid "one of the best preserved streetscapes of late 19th and early 20th century domestic architecture" in Buffalo.

The original resident, Edgar W. Howell, was a partner in John Howell's Sons, which bottled flavored soda and mineral waters from the 1840s into the next century. John Howell bought the property on what was originally Butler Street, near Delaware Avenue on the Upper West Side, in 1874. His son's 37-foot-by-60-foot house was built in 1889 in a Free Classic eclectic style containing elements of American colonial architecture.

The Orchard Park rail stop was built in 1911 "based largely on a plan designed by Henry Hobson Richardson for the Auburndale, Mass., station" and retains "a high level of architectural integrity and period craftsmanship," the Historic Preservation Board said.

Located on South Lincoln Avenue near the South Buffalo Street railroad overpass, it was a combined passenger and freight depot from 1911 to 1955, "an important period of growth" in the Southtowns community. Now owned by the Western New York Railway Historical Society, it remains "one of the finest and best preserved suburban station complexes in Western New York," the board said. The Massachusetts depot was razed years ago.

Erected in 1903, the south harbor light "has been an important guide for commercial shipping and recreational watercraft" ever since, the group said. The light on the breakwater near Lackawanna's former Bethlehem Steel plant has been unmanned since 1962, and its lighthouse and fog horn no longer operate, replaced by an automated beacon.

Although its "period of historic significance" ended 50 years ago, the light is a worthy candidate for the registries because it represents federal government efforts during the early 20th century to provide safe maritime transport on the Great Lakes through an integrated system of navigational aids, the board said. It also exemplifies the common practice at that time of building cast-iron lighthouses on concrete piers and breakwaters.

Buffalo State College art history professor Francis R. Kowsky acted as consultant for the Howell House nomination. The south light was sponsored by the Coast Guard; the Orchard Park depot, by the Western New York Railway Historical Society. Ash is expected to approve the recommendations.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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