Historic Preservation Crisis in Western New York
ECW is pleased to welcome historian Mark Dunkelman, although we wish he was bearing better news. Mark reached out this weekend regarding ongoing efforts in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. to preserve the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building, erected by the county’s Civil War vets—and unfortunately, the news wasn’t good.
On December 3, representatives from Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) met with the Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Public Works Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss proposals made by CAMP for the preservation and reuse of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley.
There was no discussion. Instead, what transpired was a complete surprise.
A legislator read a series of talking points that had been adopted by the PWC behind closed doors the previous day. One of them read: “Cattaraugus County will proceed to demolish this building at County cost and on a timeline favorable to the County.”
The protests we have raised, the many positive steps CAMP has made, the advice of historic preservation professionals at the Landmark Society of Western New York and Clinton Brown Company Architecture of Buffalo—all have been ignored by a Legislature that apparently made up its mind a year ago. As before, they are proposing “Saving key structural components of the building for incorporation into a memorial for all veterans.” But as I wrote when they first made this proposition in 2013, “Will any new Civil War memorial you concoct have the substance, symbolism, dignity, and historical significance of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building?”
On Wednesday, December 9, the Cattaraugus County Legislature will hold its final meeting of the year (a new Legislature, with fewer members, will take office next year). They will then vote on whether to authorize the demolition of the Memorial and Historical Building.
Between now and then, please write to the Legislators listed below and urge them to vote against destroying Cattaraugus County’s most significant Civil War memorial. Our voices must be heard at this crucial time. Our ancestors need us to speak up on their behalf.
Thank you for taking a stand on this important historic preservation issue.
Mark Dunkelman, CAMP Historian
William E. Sprague, email@example.com
Patrick J. Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman L. Marsh, email@example.com
Donna M. Vickman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary M. Felton, email@example.com
Dan M. Hale, firstname.lastname@example.org
James L. Boser, email@example.com
Carl W. Edwards, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Labuhn, email@example.com
John Padlo, firstname.lastname@example.org
James J. Snyder, email@example.com
Matthew J. Keller, firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard VanRensselaer, Sr., email@example.com