Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 4, 2013

CITY DESK: 'The Grand Lady' of the Falls

Niagara Gazette — It happened so long ago now that I had to go back into the archives to jog my memory.

It was way back in 2002 when former Gov. George Pataki announced the state’s decision to give a $500,000 grant to supporters of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, a then-fledgling group that only a year earlier had secured the rights to the former Niagara Falls High School building, a structure some locals fondly call “The Grand Lady.”

The building is a community institution. It is also a valuable piece of the city’s architectural history. 

Built in the Classic Revival Style in 1923-24, it replaced an old school building that had been destroyed by fire. 

It housed thousands of Falls high school graduates in the years since, which is one of the reasons why community members rallied to its cause when school district officials were considering a plan to sell it to a private developer who planned to demolish it. 

Enter the Niagara Falls High School Preservation Task Force. The entity held several public meetings to solicit community input on what, if anything, could be done to preserve the building. In 1999, the city’s planning board gave the group a chance to develop a “viable” business plan for the site. And find one they did. 

A new group — Save Our School — eventually led to the formation of Save Our Sites, Inc., a nonprofit charged with carrying out the preservation plan. 

In December 2000, the Preservation League of New York stepped in to offer some assistance, designating the building as one of its “Seven to Save.” A little more than a year later, the city of Niagara Falls, led then by former Mayor Irene Elia, formally offered to accept responsibility for the property should SOS fail.

It didn’t. 

By the spring of 2001, the Niagara Falls School District had discontinued its plans to sell, having negotiated a new deal to allow the building to be transferred to SOS for a single dollar. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: The Bills stadium and the proverbs We are what we are because of the way that we think, and we got the nothingness that have as a result of it.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GUEST VIEW: A closer look at Spirit Airline's DOT numbers This last week, there were articles published highlighting that Spirit Airlines has the highest DOT customer complaint rate among US airlines.

    April 18, 2014

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Say it ain't so, Joe I had just parked my car in front of the Gazette offices on Niagara Street last week Thursday when a man approached me and stood by my door.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Tourism operators ready for new season Niagara area hospitality industry people will mark National Tourism Week, May 3 to May 11, with special events focusing on the assets that shape the Cataract City as a major destination.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Neither long ago, nor far away ... If you did not catch documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' latest masterpiece, "The Address" on PBS last night, it will be well worth your time to look for the re-run, or to find it online as soon as possible.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editorial: Let's go Buffalo! It could be a whole lot of sweet nothings being whispered in our collective ears, but talk about a Buffalo Bills stadium in Niagara Falls, has us chanting "Let's Go Buffalo." Already there are doubters all over town, who just don't want to get their hopes up. We're hearing people say they're reminded of the time those developers of the Mall of America flirted with the Falls when they were shopping for a location for their super mall. They eventually chose another city, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    April 16, 2014

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Don't go soft on teenage criminals New York is one of two states â€" North Carolina being the other â€" that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in misdemeanor and felony cases. Other states do so only on a conditional basis at the whim of the presiding judge.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: Gothic architecture -- a fitting structure for church services Before we get involved in the new church building, we need to know what happened to the former structure on First Street which was utilized for St. Peter's Church services for 30 years until 1880 when the present stone church was ready for use.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • GUEST VIEW: NTCC's 'regional approach' aids all local tourism

    April 14, 2014

  • GLYNN: Local interest mounts in India's big election A number of people whose families have emigrated from India to the U.S. -- a solid sector of the hotel and restaurant business in the Niagara area -- are expected to hear a message today directly from the homeland.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page