N.Y. Designates Funds to Restore Buffalo Psychiatric Center, Wright House
Tuesday, February 21st 2006
The future looks $100 million brighter for two historic buildings in Buffalo, N.Y.: a 100-year-old house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson's Buffalo State Hospital, now the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, listed on the National Trust's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1999.
New York State Governor George E. Pataki and the state assembly announced last month that they have signed into law the allocation of $76 million for the Richardson building, $7 million for architect Toshiko Mori's design for the visitor's center at Wright's 1906 Darwin D. Martin House, and $16 million for the new Burchfield-Penney Art Center, which will be built on the hospital's 90-acre Frederick Law Olmsted-designed grounds.
"This news shines a light from the standpoint of not only Western New Yorkers but also to the governor that these are extraordinary buildings, internationally recognized, and warrant saving," says Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, (D-Buffalo).
In 2002, Hoyt and preservationists at the Preservation Coalition of Erie County, a National Trust affiliate, sued the state under a law that requires the state to maintain historic state-owned property. Before the lower court victory was dismissed three months later by an appeals court, Governor Pataki announced $7 million in funding to stabilize the administration building of the psychiatric center. (The National Trust's Northeast Office has long fought for the repair and reuse of the 400,000-square-foot complex.)
The National Register-listed Buffalo Psychiatric Center, built in 1870-1896 from red Medina sandstone, has sat vacant since the state closed the psychiatric center in stages during the 1980s. Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux designed the hospital grounds, which originally exceeded 200 acres. Today, three of the complex's 11 buildings have been demolished, and the rest are in disrepair.
"The [hospital] building has dire needs," notes Cynthia Van Ness, the coalition's executive director. They include repairing damage from neglect and sealing the building from the elements until an appropriate reuse can be determined.
Hoyt says Governor Pataki is expected to "assemble a panel of experts together shortly to determine what the best reuse ought to be." Neighboring Buffalo State College has expressed interest in expanding its campus, and there has been talk of combining the two Olmsted Public Schools together on the property.
"Buffalo has a unique position nationally in terms of the incredible inventory of great American architecture," Hoyt says. "Very few other cities can boast of having some of Richardson's great works, some of Frank Lloyd Wright's great works, Louis Sullivan's great works - �and the list goes on."
This article was written by Maria Ceraulo and published by Preservation Online on Tuesday, February 21st 2006 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Buffalo State Hospital galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.