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Willert Park Courts

  At Risk      High Risk      Demolition By Neglect  





Willert Park Courts, 1939. Looking Southeast; Spring Street on the right.
Current photo by David Torke .

Location

373 Spring Street, Buffalo NY 14204
Spring and Mortimer Streets, between Peckham and William.
Addresses: 295 Spring Street and 373 Spring Street. Mailing address for BMHA office is 43 Mortimer Street.
The parcel located at 373 Spring is the data point for this page.
Google Bird's Eye View
Ellicott Council District
SBL: 111.57-5-1
Erie County Property Info
County Tax Map (loads GIS page)
City of Buffalo Parcel Viewer

Owner

Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA).

Physical Description

Public housing complex. A complex of multiple two-story brick buildings in the modernist style, with cast stone sculptural elements at the doorways.

Current Condition

Partly in use and occupied.

History

Built in 1939 as public housing. Built exclusively for African-Americans, the first public housing project in New York State to be so designated. Originally named Willert Park Courts; currently named Alfred D. Price Housing or A.D. Price Housing; also referred to as Willert Park.

From Buffalo Architecture, a Guide by Reyner Banham (1981), p.246: "Willert Park Housing (now Alfred D. Price Housing), 1939. Architect: Frederick Backus. At the time of its completion Willert Park was hailed as one of the finest public housing projects in the country, for both its planning concept and architectural design. Sculptural panels by Robert Cronbach and Herbert Ambellan embellish the low-rise brick row houses and apartment buildings, which are organized around a central courtyard."

Unknown source, courtesy of David Torke: "Willert Park Courts (USHA), William & Spring Sts. Frederick C. Backus, architect. 1939. Total cost (excl land): $620,000; cost per room: $1,000. Rent per room per month $5.66 (including services). 173 families. Permission to visit interiors by telephone or letter to Buffalo Housing Authority or to architect, 360 Delaware Ave, Buffalo. Fan-shaped layout agreeably solves problem of economical building arrangement on trapezoid-shaped plot. Trim orderliness avoids military regularity through plan, variation of 2- and 3-story buildings, entries, planting. Sculptured reliefs in cast stone colored to harmonize with local brick used for all exteriors."

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • From David Torke, 1/10/14: "Four years ago Willert Park/A.D. Courts was placed on New York State Preservation League's "Seven to Save" list of endangered places. Yesterday, BMHA's constructive neglect of this historic site was shocking. I noticed half the windows had been removed and a third of the doors had been kicked in."
  • "CoB Preservation Board and Preservation Buffalo Niagara board member Terry Robinson will be presenting his landmark application for Willert Park/A.D. Courts at a public hearing on January 30 - 3pm, Room 901 City Hall."
  • "Willert Park is architecturally amazing and culturally significant. Here's the back story"
  • January 2017, from Jessie Fisher of Preservation Buffalo Niagara:
    Willert Court Park Update
    At the Planning Board today, they decided to delay approval of the plan to replace these National Register Eligible buildings, which formerly held approximately 150 units, with approximately 40 new units.
    Their decision to delay was based in part on the factual information we were able to bring to them regarding the importance of these buildings architecturally and in terms of the Buffalo story, but also on the fact that people turned out and spoke so passionately about this place and its importance.
    To my friends who are preservationists, these buildings are significant for their architecture as well as for their part in the story of city planning and segregation. To my friends who are interested in gentrification, consider that while admitting to having a 3,000 person waiting list, the BMHA is replacing 150 units with 40 units. And to my friends interested in the power of place and community, think about the amazing power of the story of this place. As we march forward to the New Buffalo, will we honor those who came before us?
    PBN and the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation are trying to become a part of the Section 106 proceedings on this matter and PBN will issue formal comments over the next few days, including who you can reach out to on this issue.

Other Pertinent Facts

Links



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Added 2013-05-06 • Last changed 2017-01-17