68 & 72 Sycamore Street

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March 2017


Fire at 68 Sycamore, 2018-01-09
Photo credit: Tony James, David Steele, Jessie Fisher. 68 on left, 72 on right.

Location

68 Sycamore Street, Buffalo NY 14203

Next to: 82 Sycamore Street

Owner

  • Sycamore Street Development LLC (Rocco Termini) as of June 2017.
  • Bought from Nancy Singh dba 68-72 Sycamore LLC.
  • Nancy Singh was the owner of the Royal Pheasant building at 443 Forest Avenue when it burned and was demolished in 2013.

Physical Description

  • Two adjacent red brick Federal-style buildings.
  • 68 - two story brick apartment building.
  • 72 - 3 1/2 story brick apartment building.
  • The outside appearance of the houses has changed little since the 1840s. Both are excellent, intact examples of Federal Style architecture. Characteristic Federal Style features are low-pitch saddleback gable roofs, with distinctive end parapets and chimneys. Windows are flat-headed single light, double-hung with stone lintels and sills.
  • 68 Sycamore burned and demolished January 10, 2018.

Current Condition

  • Vacant and insufficiently boarded after recent fire.
  • In Buffalo Housing Court for multiple violations.
  • Increasing dilapidation.
  • Last use was as boarding houses.

History

  • 1843 - 68 Sycamore Street was built in time for inclusion in the 1844 city directory as the residence of Joseph Staub, a shoemaker and saloon owner. PBN Landmark Application
  • 1848 - 72 Sycamore Street was built in time for inclusion in the 1849 city directory as the residence of Eliza Smith. PBN Landmark Application
  • 1867-1868 - The city changes street numbers along Sycamore St to the current 68-72 designation. Prior to that, these residences were actually 46-48.
  • 1870 - Home to one of early Buffalo's more interesting residents, "Irish Lize" Elica Quirk lives here until her death a decade later PBN Landmark Application

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • March 4, 2015 - Nancy Singh's 68-72 Sycamore LLC purchased the pair of buildings for $160,000.
    • 68 & 72 Sycamore Street are part of the proposed Michigan Sycamore Historic District.
  • January 2017: The two buildings at 68 & 72 Sycamore have been listed for sale with an asking price of $349,900.
    • Sale contact: Rick Recckio, Recckio Real Estate and Development, 716.631.5555 x10
  • February 2017 - Owner applied for demolition permit.
  • March 2017 - Demolition denied by the Preservation Board. Board voted to hold a public hearing on March 23 to consider an application to landmark the two adjacent buildings.
  • March 23, 2017 - the Preservation Board unanimously recommended local landmark status for 68 and 72 Sycamore.
    • '"This is exactly what we should be doing to protect and preserve these structures," Common Council Member David Franczyk said. Council President Darius G. Pridgen said that demolition should not be an option.' Buffalo News, March 24th, 2017
  • May 4, 2017 - Developer Rocco Termini intends to purchase the buildings and has promised not to demolish them.
  • May 16, 2017 - The Buffalo Common Council has approved Local Landmark status for these two buildings
  • June 19, 2017 - Rocco Termini "has purchased 68-72 Sycamore Street for $120,000. His Sycamore Street Development LLC purchased the properties from Nancy Singh’s 68-72 Sycamore LLC." Buffalo Rising
  • July 19, 2017 - 'The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. is recommending a loan of $750,000... be approved for Rocco Termini's Signature Development Buffalo LLC project at 68-72 Sycamore St. Termini, who purchased the long-vacant Sycamore properties to prevent their demolition by the prior owner, wants to redevelop the historic buildings on the eastern edge of downtown Buffalo into a mixed-use project with four apartments and one commercial space. He hopes to start construction on the $2.92 million project in August 2017 and finish by March 2018.' Buffalo News
  • January 9, 2017 - Fire at 68 Sycamore.

Other Pertinent Facts

  • Designated a Local Landmark
  • Chris Schmidt says in Buffalo Rising that they may be two of the oldest buildings in the city.
  • Some of the only Federal style architecture left in Buffalo, as well as some of the last remaining pre-Civil War buildings in the city. PBN Landmark Application
  • Frank Kowsky points out that these two buildings were of the type fugitive slaves would have seen when they arrived in Buffalo on the Underground Railroad from the 1840s on. This is resonant with the historic district of nearby Michigan Avenue, with important landmarks of local and national African-American history.
  • December 2019 - Preservation Buffalo Niagara has acquired 72 Sycamore, as a donation by owner Rocco Termini. Their announcement:
    On Thursday December 19th, Preservation Buffalo Niagara acquired 72 Sycamore Street from local developer Rocco Termini with plans to protect the landmark and bring new life to this part of Sycamore Street.
    The previous owner of 72 Sycamore proposed demolition of the former boarding house in 2017. In addition to opposing the demolition, PBN worked to acquire landmark status for the building and local developer Rocco Termini stepped in, agreed to purchase it and hold the property for PBN until initial funding could be acquired by the local non-profit.
    “I am proud to have provided the stepping stone for PBN to acquire 72 Sycamore,” said Rocco Termini. “Their work to protect historic buildings has been important to revitalizing Buffalo and Western New York and its exciting to see them take this next step in their own evolution as an organization.”
    Preservation Buffalo Niagara intends to rehabilitate the building into three units of affordable housing, office space for local non-profit affordable housing specialist Heart of the City Neighborhoods, and a Preservation Resource Center space for PBN where they can hold preservation workshops and provide educational experiences.
    “In addition to being an important remaining part of the Sycamore Street landscape,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, “This building has a unique and fascinating history and we are looking forward to ensuring that this building remain a part of our city-scape for another 170 years.”
    “Heart of the City has been working with historic Buffalo neighborhoods for over twenty years to build and maintain high quality affordable housing options,” said Stephanie Simeon, Executive Director of Heart of the City Neighborhoods. “By partnering with Preservation Buffalo Niagara on this project, we will not only be assisting in the development of more quality affordable housing on Sycamore Street, but we will also finally have a long-term home for our day to day operations.”
    The Eliza Quirk Boarding House (72 Sycamore), located on the edge of downtown and the East Side of Buffalo in Erie County, is a pre-Civil War boarding house designed and constructed circa 1848 for its original owner, Eliza Quirk, a well-known courtesan, who occupied the building until her death in 1868. The structure is a simple, red brick vernacular townhouse style that represents a typical pre-Civil War design signifying its residential use. While the architect (if any) is unknown, the boarding house appears to have been built as both Ms. Quirk’s primary residence and a boarding house with likely additional use as a brothel throughout this period. It is one of the few remaining intact boarding houses and pre-Civil War buildings in downtown.
    It is within the Impact Zone of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and its preservation is seen as an important component of continuing revitalization efforts in this area.
    PBN will be working on securing additional funds through the winter and spring, and hopes for a summer 2021 occupancy. Preservation workshops will be held throughout 2020 on the site, to help the community better understand the technical aspects of preservation projects.

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Added 2017-03-09 • Last changed 2019-12-19