Mar 22, 2013

Hamlin Park Historic District Approved for State Listing, Now on the way to National Designation

The Hamlin Park Historic District was approved for listing on the New York State Register of Historic Places at the quarterly meeting yesterday. Now that it has been adopted by the state, the application is on its way to National Park Service for listing on the National Register. Hamlin Park is the first historic district on the east side and is now one of the largest in the state.

Northland Avenue

Out of the nearly 1600 properties within the district boundaries, approximately 1370 of them are contributing structures, while only 190 are non-contributing as a result of integrity loss, significant alterations, loss of feeling/character, etc. That means there are now close to 1400 east side residents that can utilize the state historic tax credit for homeowners, a 20% tax credit. Once listed on the National Register, commercial property owners with contributing structures/homes in the district will also be able to use an additional 20% tax credit from the federal government for qualified rehab work.

Viola Park

Hamlin Park is bound by Jefferson Avenue, East Ferry Street, Humboldt Parkway, and roughly Main Street. Within these boundaries are over 150 years of Buffalo history and an incredible community that has been dedicated to keeping their neighborhood safe and stable, all while preserving its beautiful homes and landscapes. It was approved as a local historic district in 1998 within the same boundaries.

The nomination was prepared by Preservation Studios, pro bono, with survey work and research beginning about two years ago. The process has been a wonderful example of a public-private partnership as the cost of materials and survey work was offset by a “Preserve New York” grant from the Preservation League of New York State, which was matched by the City of Buffalo. 

Humboldt Parkway II

Just like all National Register (NR) nominations, a period of significance needed to be determined for the district. Typically, an individual building listed on the NR uses the original year of construction for its period of significance, while a historic district has a range of years. The period of significance for Hamlin Park is ca.1860; 1895-1975, which is very unique. 1860 relates to the approximate date of construction of the oldest structure in the district, the Old Stone Farmhouse at 60 Hedley place, 1895 relates to the year many of the next oldest homes were built, and 1975 relates to the end of the Model Cities Program (more on that later).

Hughes Avenue

While there are considerations/exceptions, individual buildings built within the last 50 years (1963) are often not eligible for listing on the National Register in most cases and the same goes for historic districts. Ending the period of significance for Hamlin Park in 1975 is virtually unheard of and is likely the only one in the state, maybe the country with that designation.

Beginning next week, I’ll be starting a short series on the history of Hamlin Park (about 5 installments) that pulls directly from the National Register nomination. It covers the former Driving Park where Hamlin Park gets its name, the early agrarian history of the area then the shift to a residential development, post-war transformation, and much more.

Beverly Road I

This state designation and the future national designation is something Buffalo can be proud of, especially as we have so few east side preservation success stories. As a soon to be homeowner in Hamlin Park and someone who played a role in the nomination, this something I’m very proud to have been involved in and years in the making. Special thanks to the Preservation League of New York, the Hamlin Park Community & Taxpayers Association, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, the New York State Historic Preservation Office, and the City of Buffalo.

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