Niagara Gazette

Columns

July 25, 2013

DELUCA: Tom Yots falls back in place

Niagara Gazette — Well, he's back.

Some people are going to be delighted and maybe a few, not so much. More than likely, he's going to start trying to preserve stuff again. 

About three years ago, Tom Yots moved to Buffalo with his wife, Louise, to be closer to his grandchildren and to spend a little more time pursuing the things that enrich people's lives — like going to the library, playing the piano and seeing a little more of the world.

How that pair ever thought they would get out of this city is beyond me. They are so closely intertwined with many people and causes here, it seemed impossible. Tom was a volunteer city historian and freelance preservation expert. Louise, who was running their bed and breakfast on Park Place, is still entrenched in Carolyn's House and the YWCA. She also started the Niagara Falls Greeters program.

I really hated to see them go. They were among the small group of people in this city I see over and over again as I cover stories, all trying to crank the engine on this place.  

Regardless, a gentile life was not to be found in the big city. Tom pretty quickly accepted a job leading Preservation Buffalo Niagara. From the Martin House to the Electric Building to most of Allentown, Buffalo is a city that is learning the value of preservation. Tom has landed well. The former Lew-Port chemistry teacher wrote his change of life master's thesis on what cities around the world are doing with abandoned grain elevators. Believe it or not, those cement mills, created for the first time in Buffalo, influenced modern architecture around the world. Google it if you don't believe me.

Now, as Buffalo leaders are coming to see the value of keeping old stuff around, people there have gotten behind efforts to save the city's mills, which are now the subject of historical tours, and the location of art exhibits, movies presentations and soon a climbing facility. Tom was on the leading edge of saving those grain mills.

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