BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A successful collaborative effort between the
University at Buffalo, the New York State Historic Preservation
Office (NYSHPO) and the City of Buffalo is expected to result in
the establishment of the first National Register Historic District
in the City of Buffalo since 1986: the University Park Historic
The district is currently listed on the state register and is
expected to be officially listed on the national register in
The proposed University Park District comprises more than 252
residential buildings, plus other structures (including garages)
and a park on portions of Larchmont Avenue, Niagara Falls
Boulevard, Radcliffe Road, University Avenue, Allenhurst Road,
Pelham Drive and Capen Road, all located between Main Street and
The possibility of a University Park Historic District was first
raised in a spring, 2010 University at Buffalo graduate planning
course, "Preservation in Practice," taught by architect and
architectural historian Kerry Traynor, M.Arch, M.S. (The tax
benefits available to property owners are described by Traynor at
Traynor, a clinical associate professor of architecture and
urban and regional planning at UB, is president of the preservation
consulting firm, kta preservation specialists. Her students
conducted a preliminary assessment of the properties in
The proposal then was developed in detail by Annie Schentag, a
spring, 2011 candidate for a master's degree in urban planning from
UB. In November, her completed application, including its analysis
of the neighborhood's historic place in the context of American
settlement trends, was submitted to the U.S. Department of the
Interior for inclusion on the National Register of Historic
Schentag says the district's homes were built between 1913 and
1933, but most went up between World War I and World War II. She
says they are largely adaptations of the American Foursquare,
Craftsman, Bungalow and Prairie Box styles, in this case, conceived
largely as a reaction to Buffalo's booming, industrial urban
According to Traynor, the area is a subject of historic
preservation not because of its architecture, but because of the
place of its neighborhood design in the history of American urban
The property was originally owned by the family of developer
Anthony J. Huck, who envisioned, designed and constructed it to be
significantly more pastoral and private than surrounding areas; a
district whose suburban flavor sequestered it from the bustle of
nearby Main Street.
To this end, Schentag says, the original planners employed a
number of stipulations regarding lot size, building setbacks,
designated green space and distance between houses to create a
calm, bucolic sense of place quite different from neighborhoods
organized in other areas of the industrial city.
To start things moving, Traynor's 30 students frequented the
library of Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, examined
legal records and maps and walked the streets of the district,
bounded by Main Street, Kenmore Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard.
They developed descriptive lists of its buildings, citing their
architectural styles, date of construction and later modifications.
They also conducted preliminary assessments of the street, circle
and park landscaping that give the University Park development its
particular suburban flavor.
"Architectural preservation," Traynor says, "requires an
architect or planner to know exactly where and how to find
information and how to use it.
"The purpose of the studio was to give the students a real
project that would teach them how to conduct an architectural
survey, ascertain property and neighborhood value and in doing so,"
she says, "come to recognize that nothing exists in a vacuum; that
the story of a building also is the story of a neighborhood, and
that both relate to the history of a city."
Schentag then took the raw material developed by Traynor's
students, including their charts and building descriptions, and
refined and developed the material to meet the requirements of the
lengthy and detailed National Register application.
She was assisted in her efforts by Canisius College
undergraduate Chelsea Petrucci; Daniel McEneny, historic
preservation program specialist with NYSHPO, and Michele Brozek,
senior planner for historic preservation, City of Buffalo Office of
The preparation of the proposal was a great collaborative effort
and Traynor says the residents of the district were happy to be
associated with the project and were helpful to everyone involved
in its preparation.
In her application, Schentag notes that the district's peaceful,
sylvan nature is largely shaped by University Circle, a grassy plot
70' in diameter, landscaped with blooming shrubs and trees
surrounding an ornamental five-light steel and concrete street
lamp, which marks the entry to the district.
"It forces drivers to slow their speed," she says, "and creates
an atmosphere fit for ambling around the landscaped elm-lined
medians lined connected to a centrally-located park."
According to Schentag, in 1913, Huck subdivided his family's
property into residential parcels on Larchmont, Radcliffe,
University and Niagara Falls Boulevard. He expanded the subdivision
in 1920 to include Allenhurst, Pelham and Capen, adding grassy
medians on Allenhurst, Larchmont, Pelham and Capen and additional
gates at the Main Street entrances to Allenhurst and Capen.
In assessing the development strategy for University Park,
Schentag places it in the context of 20th century settlement trends
and the emergence of suburban communities in America.
She says, "The lot size restrictions put in place by the
original 1914 plan, for example, contribute to the district's
overwhelmingly suburban atmosphere and provide a fascinating peek
at the mindset that devised this type of community."
Schengag and Traynor point out that on University Avenue, for
instance, every house is set back at least 30 feet and every street
is 60 feet wide, which gives the appearance of plenty of open space
and reflects a "suburban response" to the lack of planning control
in the expanding industrial city.
"If we contrast it to the high-density development in the city,"
Schentag says, "we can see that the imposition of building
restrictions in University Park described a development strategy
that promoted refuge; a planned community that reflected a strong
cultural desire for regulations that permitted control of one's own
"The experience of preparing this nomination has been
invaluable," she says, "and I have greatly benefitted from being
able to pursue this project from start to finish. It has been a
wonderful opportunity to contribute this nomination, and I hope
that these efforts will continue to inspire further historic
preservation efforts in Buffalo."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.