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Paul Shatkin, attorney in fight to save three Delaware Ave mansions

July 20, 1933 – Aug. 15, 2017

Paul Shatkin, the attorney who helped save three Delaware Avenue mansions from demolition in the early 1970s, died Aug. 15 in Hospice Buffalo after a long illness.

He was 84.

Mr. Shatkin represented Friends of Delaware Avenue, a group of 15 families led by Dr. Charles P. Battista that opposed plans by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) to demolish three historic mansions to build a four-story glass and brick regional headquarters and a 3.5-acre parking lot.

"That was the first major preservation victory in Buffalo," said Martin Wachadlo, architectural historian.  "This was the first time that multiple buildings were saved, and a streetscape was preserved – not just an individual building. It really galvanized people into greater preservation action."

The properties on Millionaires' Row were the Forman-Cabana estate, 824 Delaware (1893); the Matthews estate, 830-32 Delaware (1902); and the Lockwood estate, 844 Delaware (1888/1918). Both the Forman-Cabana and Matthews estates were designed by Green & Wicks. The Lockwood mansion was designed by Marling & Burdett.

Mr. Shatkin successfully appealed the rezoning of a portion of Delaware Avenue between Summer and Bryant streets that would have opened the door to the destruction of the mansions.

Today the mansions are occupied by Child & Family Services.

"He felt it was a landmark in his career because he helped prevent the demolition of the mansions," said his wife, Geraldine "Deeny" (Lippes) Shatkin. "He was proud to have had the opportunity."

Mr. Shatkin graduated from Lafayette High School, the University at Buffalo and UB School of Law.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Shatkin relaxed in the expansive gardens he created at the family's old summer home at Windmill Point in Fort Erie, Ont.

"Every day he worked from mid-morning to dinner time to create these gardens,"  Mrs. Shatkin said. "He created beautiful perennial gardens and he kept making new ones every summer. And then he would cook dinner. I was very fortunate."

Mr. Shatkin also built a stone wall at their summer home, recalled Mrs. Shatkin.

"When we moved in, there were still the ruins of a windmill on our property," Mrs. Shatkin said. "The windmill was gone, but all the rocks remained. Paul spent a lot of time bringing rocks up with his wheelbarrow."

He also was a creative cook and an avid reader of books.

The Shatkins, who were married for 57 years, traveled extensively in South America, South Africa and Europe, particularly in Italy, where they toured Tuscany, Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast.

"We always traveled independently," said Mrs. Shatkin. "We generally rented a car and we got lost. We always got lost."

"He was a humble man," Mrs. Shatkin said. "He wasn't a joiner. He wasn't on boards.  He just did his own thing."

Other survivors include a son, Marc; a daughter, Jody; a sister, Ceil Linder; and two grandchildren.

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