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Medical Campus house tied to E.B. Green demolished

A house on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus that preservationists had fought to save is gone.

The brick building at 980 Ellicott St. was razed last week after Supreme Court Justice Diane Y. Devlin allowed the demolition to go forward despite objections from people who felt it should have been spared because of its ties to architect E.B. Green and the auto industry.

The building is part of a 4-acre industrial site that the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. has targeted for campus development, including a potential second innovation center.

The quick demolition, which came shortly after Devlin lifted a temporary restraining order on the site, angered the head of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, History, Architecture & Culture. The group had sued the City of Buffalo and the limited liability company that owns the building in an attempt to stop the demolition.

Timothy Tielman, a former city Preservation Board member who researched the history of the site and fought for the home to be saved, said the demolition further erodes an East Side neighborhood on the edge of the campus.

"Everybody at BNMC should be ashamed of what they've done to the East Side," Tielman said. "They want it their way and only their way. It's an outrage. It will cripple the work of preservation in Buffalo if they get away with this."

Tielman drove by the building a few days after learning of the judge's June 23 decision and found it had already been razed.

BNMC officials declined to comment on the demolition or anything involving the Osmose property.

The city and the property owner argued in court that city officials had followed proper procedures when they issued a demolition permit for the house and nearby buildings in March.

The city's Preservation Board, which had agreed to allow other buildings on the property to be demolished, was still considering whether to landmark the building when it was demolished. But Devlin ruled that the board had "plenty of time to consider the land marking" and noted there was no application to landmark the property despite several months to consider the issue.

Devlin also ruled that the Preservation Board does not have authority to stop the demolition of a property that is not a "landmark, on a landmark site, or in a historic district," and noted that the "house in question has been substantially altered, both in form and use since its initial construction."

Tielman said the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, History, Architecture & Culture intends to appeal Devlin's decision because of concern it could impact its efforts to protect buildings that are not designated as local landmarks.

The BNMC Inc. last year announced it had signed a contract to buy the property from Osmose Holdings and said it was exploring options for the site. When the $3.75 million sale closed in November, the property was transferred to a limited liability company registered to the same address as the firm that was doing the demolition work.

Tielman said his group plans to continue to push for the remaining 4-acre site to be landmarked for its historical and cultural heritage. A handful of parcels were once home to Buffalo-headquartered Brunn & Company, an auto body manufacturer that helped build Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidential limousine and which also custom built a car for the Shah of Persia on the site.

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