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$10 million project under way on historic ECC City Campus Coated in scaffolding, building will be part of tours during National Preservation Conference here in October

Scaffold surrounds the historic Erie Community College City Campus as crews work on an extensive restoration project at the Ellicott Street building.

The $10 million project is expected to be completed early next year, which will leave one of the city's most significant architectural structures under construction during the National Preservation Conference in Buffalo in October.

But scaffolds on a building are a happy sight for preservationists, said Henry McCartney, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

The City Campus, which is the old Buffalo Post Office, will be part of the walking tours for the conference and will help showcase the city's rich architectural history, he said.

"Downtown Buffalo is on a roll. We have some great restoration going on," McCartney said during a news conference Wednesday.

The Post Office was dedicated in 1901, with the first letter posted to President William McKinley, who later was assassinated at the Pan-Am Exposition in Buffalo. The Gothic post office, with its pointed arch, towers, steep gable roofs, crenellation, columns, ornamentation, tracery and stained glass, was designated as architecturally significant in 1964. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

The 225,000 square-foot building, with its gargoyles and eagles and buffalo head, fell into disrepair and was scheduled to be demolished before ECC opened its downtown campus there in 1983.

College President Jack Quinn said the magnitude of the project shows the commitment of the board of trustees to the City Campus, and County Executive Chris Collins said the building is part of the architectural past of Erie County and important to keeping young people in the area in the future.

"Our commitment to the city campus is genuine," Collins said.

New York State is funding half the cost of the restoration and preservation, while Erie County is paying for the rest of the project.

Work includes roof and tower repairs, masonry repairs at the building envelope, window restoration, entrance and exit repairs, stairway and marble replacement, rebuilding the rear retaining wall and replacement of the roof and skylight.