BUILDING ON THE PAST TO BRIGHTEN THE FUTURE
While the spotlight is on Western New York’s revitalization, the success of historic preservation is helping it shine. Preservation Buffalo Niagara works tirelessly and passionately to safeguard civic and cultural treasures and keep the light bright. “Advocacy work is our main focus,” says Executive Director Jessie Fisher, “along with helping people realize how special and unique our architecture is.”
The relationship between Preservation Buffalo Niagara and the Oishei Foundation dates to 2008, when a multi-year grant helped the organization get established and build stability. “The biggest plus we got from Oishei support was the ability to become an organization with a sustainable future,” notes Jessie.
By its nature, historic preservation requires an ability to look back. But it also calls for looking ahead. With help from a recent Oishei Foundation grant, PBN developed a multi-year strategic plan and a one-year business plan. “It’s a business plan with concrete action steps,” says Jessie. “These documents are our blueprint for moving forward, and I read through them every week to make sure we stay on track.”
Championing historic preservation is an effective way to create a culturally rich, vibrant, affordable and sustainable community. PBN offers a variety of initiatives to help achieve those goals, including:
WORKSHOPS: a year-round, hands-on series for homeowners and community activists on a variety of useful topics for maintaining and restoring historic properties.
TOURS: Buffalo City Hall tours, downtown walking tours, Hard Hat tours of adaptive re-use projects, and other tours focus on member engagement and community involvement.
HISTORIC DISTRICTS: working directly with communities and neighborhoods, PBN has been instrumental in creating three new National Register districts, with two more in the works.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: PBN advocates for preservation-friendly policies at a state level. “Historic preservation attracts new money to Buffalo that would otherwise not be available,” Jessie points out. “And it’s worth noting that $1 million invested in renovation creates more jobs than the same amount in new construction.”