“During the 35 years that I taught American and Modern architecture courses at UB I have seen too many fine buildings representing the city’s and the region’s stratified history lost to specious demolitions. In fact, examples of Beaux-Arts classicism — the hallmark style of the peak years of Buffalo’s and Lackawanna’s heyday — are particularly rare. Just as the headquarters building originally represented the public face of this once flourishing industry so it should continue to represent what was. I fully support the efforts to save this building and see it restored to some sensible alternative use.”
– Jack Quinan, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Senior Curator, Darwin Martin House
“I am a forth generation Lackawanna resident. Also a forth generation steelworker. I’m still employed at the lackawanna bar mill now called republic. My father was an asst roller and worked in the tandem mill. He also worked in the coke ovens. My grandfather (his father) started on the cutting line and then was a foreman in the strip mill. My great grandfather was a stove tender in blast furnace and a pipe fitter at the plant. Even my great grandma worked in the plant during the war in the bar mill as a matter of fact in the same building i still work today!! Lackawanna is in my veins to say the least. I look at the old office building in aww and know its somewhere where my whole family has set foot there.”
– Andrew, a Lackawanna Resident
“In Rochester, we lost the “structurally sound” Cataract Brewery buildings last year in order for the Genesee Brewery to create yet another parking lot. Despite the fact that we had engaged a developer and had created realistic and feasible plans to put a new roof on one of the structures, place windows in each opening, clean up the exterior, and provide lighting — all efforts with an eye toward land banking — once the mayor and several neighborhoods had their way, there was no turning back the machine. And all of this effort, despite the fact that the Rochester Preservation Board voted unanimously to Landmark the buildings. In interviews since the demolition, a great amount of media outlets and radio hosts continue to claim that the Cataract Buildings were on the verge of collapse and that there were no viable offers to purchase the buildings! Not true. Do not let this happen to Bethlehem Steel.”
– Joe Helfrich, Rochester, NY
This is a one of a kind gem of a building done by Architect L. C. Holden whose work is rare. The community has been fighting to save this building for more than 20years. It is a proven fact that preservation is a key asset to urban renewal. This building could be offices, it could be a museum, it could be a community center- there are a plethora of plans for this site. The question should not be why save it but instead, why haven’t we saved it yet. In a city and region that has long been considered dead- this is the perfect example of how a community can use such a historically significant structure to benefit its urban landscape architecturally and financially by boosting industries such as cultural tourism. This is iconic. It is the face of more than a hundred years of our communities development and decline and could be the face of our communities redevelopment and renewal. If we let this building be destroyed or sit in decline as the owners have let it, we are saying we do not care about our past or our rich cultural heritage, therefore we do not care about building our cultural tourism industry and other industries that will spring up as a result of beautifying our urban landscape and preserving our cultural icons. And as a result we are saying we do not care about our community now or in the future. This building is an asset and it can be more than just an asset- it can be the central focus of Lackawanna’s rebirth as a city focused on economic development through reuse design, preservation and cultural tourism. When we lose our history, we lose our cultural assets, we lose our ancestors, we lose our economy, and we lose our community. Buffalo and Lackawanna have lost so much of what it could be and should be because steps were not taken to preserve and save our past. Now, Buffalo is scrambling to rebuild canal side, hurrying to save our grain elevators, slowly renovating the Richardson Complex, developing plans for the Shoelkopf Color Factory as a 35 acre railway museum, and basking in the sun of the success stories of the Darwin Martin House, Graycliff, the Botanical Gardens, the Wilcox Mansion, Statler City, the Buffalo Zoo, the Olmsted Park System, the Buffalo Museum of Science, OLV, Hotel Lafayette, the list goes on- all if which bring millions of tourists and their dollars to our region and act as relevant community-focused centers of education- most of which were once endangered of being razed and some had fallen into disrepair and seen as an “eyesore” and a liability- until the community came together and said “NO! WE WILL NOT LOSE THIS PART OF US!” That is why we must save this building- for our past, our present, and our future. I hope that is an enlightened answer and I hope I have given a good enough sentiment for saving this sad old lady. We can not lose her. We can save her and she will deliver.
– Spencer Morgan
I moved back to Buffalo after spending the last 35 years away pursuing my career. I left reluctantly and when I was finally free to relocate anywhere, my memories of the built environment here in my home town were so compelling in my decision to return. About a week after I’d moved back, I took a drive over the Skyway out toward’s Lackawanna. When I saw the old Bethlehem Steel Admin. building, I was awestruck that it was still standing. I used to look at that structure through the yellow-brown haze that the smokestack’s caused back in the 60’s when we would speed past it on the old Father Baker Bridge and even as a kid was amazed at the elegance of it in the middle of all the industrial muck. I immediately thought “moving back and seeing this still standing after all these years validates my decision to return here.” Wish those who don’t appreciate what is still left would realize how important Buffalo’s architecture is to those of us who grew up with it while Buffalo was still in it’s glory days. A whole new generation is appreciating that more than mine did, that what’s keeping me optimistic about Buffalo’s future. To all of those dedicated people I say ‘don’t ever give up the fight and Thank you!!
– Comment on Buffalo Rising article about Demolition
I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to demolish the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building. In speaking to residents of Lackawanna, specifically those living in Bethlehem Park who are former steel plant workers and their families, there was overwhelming support, as you saw via our change.org petition, to save the building. It is beautiful, one-of-a-kind and NOT beyond rehabilitation and reuse. Bethlehem Steel is not only Lackawanna’s history; it is also this country’s. Please respect our heritage.. your heritage.. and the legacy that has been left for us. We deserve it.
-Lisa Perillo, in an email to the Mayor of Lackawanna, NY
This is a very sad legacy for you as Mayor. It saddens me to see the needless destruction of a beautiful piece of history. This is Lackawanna’s character. This building is the kind of building that has the potential to make Lackawanna special and set it apart from other suburbs. Modern developments are boring and ugly. Reuse of this building would be so much better. Please rethink your decision while you have the chance.
– Elsa J. Schmidt, Esq., in an email to the Mayor of Lackawanna, NY
This is still in the hands of Lackawanna, where there are few preservationists and many who just don’t understand how this building could be the centerpiece for revitalizing their city and that stretch of industrial Lake Erie. Please, help all you can.”
– Will Harnack, Village of Lancaster, NY, Historic Preservation Commission
“The first step in any place’s recovery is embracing and preserving its identity. The empty Bethlehem building is not an embarrassing symbol of decline. It is emblematic of the place which produced the steel for everything from the WWII battleships that obliterated tyranny to the vehicles that powered America’s auto industry. What’s not to be proud of?”
– Donn Esmonde, The Buffalo News
“The blast furnaces, tall chimneys and grimy buildings are gone, and some would say good riddance. But the elegant and dignified Administration Building, which has stood since the earliest days of the company, should be seen as a symbol honoring all those generations of men and women who worked so hard to support their families and to raise their children to find their own successes and accomplishments. There could be no more beautiful reminder and memorial.”
– Mary Horowitz, The Buffalo News, Letter to the Editor
“One of Buffalo’s great shames is the 1950 demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building. But it also has some significant saves, like Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building. Even children gasp at its ornate engravings and carvings of terra cotta and copper. That building is on a different tour I give, one I’d like to be able to add the Bethlehem Steel Building to. The field where the Larkin Building’s broken pieces were dumped and buried is on the way to the Bethlehem Steel Building. Please help so that my tour’s grand finale isn’t a similar site in Lackawanna.”
– Erin St. John Kelly, in a Buffalo News, Letter to the Editor
Great buildings, even buildings that have endured years of neglect deserve to remain intact whenever possible. When thinking about matters like these, I like to keep the medical concept of ‘first do no harm’ at the top of my mind. The Bethlehem Steel building is not a symbol of failure. It is a reminder of a glorious past, and something worth protecting for our future. I understand there is money to be made by demolishing this building, but there is little use for an empty lot at the expense of such a beautiful building that in any other city would have already been put to better use. Please, give this time to get better. Once it is gone, it can never come back, and as we’ve seen with other long lost buildings in WNY, there is always regret.
– Mike Baco, WNY resident, in an email to the Mayor of Lackawanna
“The State Historic Preservation Office has determined that the building is structurally sound and there’s no reason it needs to come down. There’s no reason for the mayor to be pushing for this demolition at this point.”
-Dana Saylor, Historian, Old Time Roots
“I don’t see the need to tear it down. It’s a national landmark, it’s part of our history here in Buffalo.”
– Joe Peluso, son of a former Bethlehem Steel employee
“It’s not going to come back to that or anything, but we have to do something to tie Lackawanna in to all the good stuff happening in South Buffalo here. This would do it for us.”
– Andrea Haxton, former Councilmember, City of Lackawanna