Buffalo welcomes preservation conference

Oct 18, 2011

 More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in this week's National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in Buffalo.   While the formal opening ceremony takes place Wednesday, students at Buffalo's Waterfront Elementary School were busy Tuesday raising a scaled-down classic American structure, a barn.  Among those watching the barn raising was Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic preservation.

"Buffalo is world famous for its architecture and we've really been looking forward to being here," said Meeks. "I know that the location is part of the reason we're expecting such a good conference turnout this week.  Buffalo is iconic in its architecture and its reputation for architecture, and also the city's commitment to the cultural resources here."

More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in the conference, which includes what Meeks called a "robust" tour of Buffalo area landmarks, including schools, public buildings and places of worship. 

"We know that Buffalo also has some challenges and some struggles with their decrease in population, and that always presents a challenge to preservation," Meeks added.

As for that barn raising inside Waterfront Elementary School, organizers say it provided students with an education not just in the barn and its place in history but also science and math lessons they've received in the classroom.  This, however, gave them the chance to apply those lessons to something tangible and have fun while doing it, according to organizers.

"They learn about geometry.  They learn about teamwork, said Charles Leik, president of the National Barn Alliance, which hosted the event. "They learn about Roman numerals, different species of wood, and like one 10-year-old girl said in Ohio a few years ago - we interviewed her afterwards - she said, 'today we built a barn.' The idea that they were doing something tangible is so good, especially when it's coupled with their classroom work."

Leik added that taken care of properly, especially against the elements such as wind and rain, barns and similar structures can last for generations.  Preservation conference goers hope that's what others will come to understand about Buffalo's architectural gems this week.