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Did E.B. Green design it? Question stalls demolition of house on Medical Campus

Is it an E.B. Green house or isn't it?

That's the question that keeps haunting a demolition request by the nonprofit Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. organization to tear down a small portion of the former Osmose Holdings complex on the northern edge of the Medical Campus.

Some preservationists believe a brick home connected in a web of buildings on the site was designed by famed architect E.B. Green. The question is at the heart of a debate over a demolition request for the property at the northern edge of the campus that has been before the Buffalo Preservation Board for several meetings.

The BNMC last fall bought the former Osmose Holdings complex and plans to raze a portion of the site. But the Preservation Board has continued to press the organization for documentation that environmental contamination exists beneath the house.

"They seem to be stubborn about this," Preservation Board Chairman Paul McDonnell said. "BNMC wants to take it down. We felt we were working with them. We would hope they would work with us."

The house, at 980 Ellicott St., is brick and is connected to a portion of the complex that is slated for demolition. The board earlier this month approved the demolition of about 85 percent of the area BNMC wants to tear down. But the approval excluded the house.

Preservation Board member Tim Tielman has insisted that research of old building permits shows that Green – and perhaps a partner in his firm – likely designed the home, along with a handful of other buildings in the neighborhood.

The board's approval for partial demolition is contingent on a contamination report it has requested from BNMC and Ontario Specialty Contracting.

"We feel this is important to the streetscape and losing it would be a loss to Buffalo," McDonnell said of the house. "They're still pursuing it. We may have to proceed with trying to landmark this."

BNMC officials have declined to comment on the matter but have retained an attorney to represent their interests before the Preservation Board.

Organizers of the Medical Campus have previously considered turning the former Osmose property into a new innovation center for the campus, but campus officials say they are still exploring all options. Some of the former complex is being used for short-term parking for about 200 cars.

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