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Landmark status sought for 136-year-old Engine No. 16 firehouse

The city's oldest surviving building constructed by the Buffalo Fire Department may get historic protection against excessive alterations or demolition, if its owner succeeds with its request to the Buffalo Preservation Board.

The Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition wants to protect its 136-year-old home at 1416 Main St. by having the former Engine No. 16 firehouse designated as a local landmark.

The building, whose company covered a large swath of the city at that time, functioned as a firehouse from Jan. 26, 1885 – when it held horse-drawn wagons – through 1991, when the city closed it. Four years later, the Housing Coalition finished converting the building to nine units of accessible and affordable housing for veterans, with a rear addition built as part of the conversion. The building has also served as the group's headquarters since 2012.

Designed by Hugh Macdiarmid and constructed in 1884-1885 by Schneider & Kraft on land purchased for $3,000, the two-story, Eastlake-style brick firehouse has stone trim and a flat roof with a bracketed cornice, according to the group's application to the board.

It's on the west side of Main between West Utica Street and Glenwood Avenue, and "is among the most established and familiar landmarks of the Cold Spring neighborhood," according to the application. The architect also designed nearly identical Engine No. 18 and Engine No. 19 firehouses at 1032 Fillmore Ave. and 209 Forest Ave.

The front facade still features a central truck bay that has been converted to a storefront, with a "corbeled recess," a lower-level window, a lower-level door and three upstairs windows with "stone stepback imposts and keystones," according to the application.

There is also a carved stone nameplate above the main entry, inscribed with "Engine 16, 1884."

"The building is architecturally significant as a good example of late nineteenth century firehouse design in the City of Buffalo, and is historically significant for its association with the growth and development of Cold Spring," the application said.

The Preservation Board will consider the request at 3 p.m. on Jan. 23 at City Hall.

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