Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, announced Friday that vocal advocacy by state and local officials has secured additional time to ensure the preservation of the 1860's-era carriage house at DeVeaux Woods State Park in Niagara Falls. The property had been slated for demolition by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
"As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War this week, it would have been a horrific tragedy for us to have allowed a home built in this important period in our nation's history to be destroyed," Ceretto said. "I am confident that this delay will provide the time needed to plan a way to preserve this important local landmark."
The brick carriage house structure was built in 1863, as one of 11 buildings forming the DeVeaux Campus. The buildings were listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, as a historic district, and were named a local historic landmark in 2004. The facility was founded and endowed by Judge Samuel DeVeaux, a Niagara Falls Pioneer and philanthropist. The DeVeaux Campus was used for a long period of time as a school for orphans and children of destitute means.
"I am challenging the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to use a portion of its share of Niagara River Greenway money to at the very least bring this building up to code, while a viable plan for its reuse is determined by local groups and preservation organizations," Ceretto said. "It would be irresponsible of state parks to turn their back on, not only this carriage house, but on this community."
The OPRHP receives $3 million annually over the next 50 years due to the relicensing and settlement with the New York Power Authority for its continued use of the Niagara Power Project. This money is earmarked to make upgrades at parks in Erie and Niagara counties.
"While I fully understand the financial constraints of the state and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, all too often in recent years, we have let buildings that offer a look into our past triumphs and history to be razed despite their historical and educational significance," Ceretto said. "This building was constructed at a time when President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and African-Americans were fleeing slavery by escaping to Canada at a bridge located just a half mile from the site of the carriage house."