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BuffaloPundit has been writing an excellent series of posts on the misnomer movement down in Bass Pro land. Frankly, I’m getting sick of the Tim Tielmans that are tarnishing the respectable “preservationist” moniker that many of us enjoy. Every time someone embarks on a personal battle to protest the latest development and they tack on a historical angle to their argument, the local media seems quick to brand it the “preservationist” viewpoint. I’m concerned that the valid and productive work that true preservationists are doing, and the actual accomplishments that are being made are going to be eclipsed by media-whoring pseudo-preservationists.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to assign a new term to these people, one that more aptly describes their goals. I’m going to call them “revertionists.” A revertionist is a person that wants to revert an area to an arbitrary point in it’s history, regardless of feasibility, inconvenient alternative historical points, current state, or future plans. In the case of a situation like bemoaning the loss of green space that was never there in the first place, we call this revisionist revertionism. In no case whatsoever should this be mistaken for “preservation” where the goal is to keep a significant building or area around for future use and enjoyment. Preservation is most effective when coupled with either “restoration” – the returning of that item to it’s original state, use, or condition, or “adaptive reuse” – applying a new purpose for the object in question that preserves some, but not all, of the historical aspect in it’s new use.

Preservation may certainly be seen at times as anti-progress by some, but the value added by preservation is a juxtaposition of old and new, incorporating an area’s history and it’s future together. In a city like Buffalo that has been around longer than many of it’s newer, more populous counterparts, it’s a natural advantage that can’t be recreated once lost. Sure, we can reconstruct missing pieces of the Darwin Martin complex, or even build a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece that never left the drawing board, but they’ll never have the authenticity of an original H. H. Richardson or Fellheimer and Wagner.

Revertionism, on the other hand, may serve the interests of a minority of areas around the county, such as Colonial Williamsburg or even the Genesee Country Village. It’s not going serve Buffalo’s interests to bring back our historical red light district. Most families would rather take little Billy down to see Bigmouth Billy Bass, than to take little Suzy to see Sally the Syphilitic Stripper.

Preservation is a worthwhile endeavor in Buffalo, as it leverages our uniqueness while helping to shape Buffalo’s future. Revertionism does nothing but keep us pointing in the wrong direction. They’re two different concepts which will certainly produce two very different results.

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  1. Huh?

    You obviously have been spending way too much time in the ‘burbs.

    Larry Quinn and Co. are attempting to subvert years of award winning planning that has a broad base of support in the community. The 2004 Erie Canal Harbor Master Plan is being tossed out the window. Why Derek? What’s changed? Do your homework.

    There’s plenty of water front. Bass Pro shouldn’t have the choice location. Didn’t you learn that from your adopted neighborhood? Kmart devastated the Broadway/Fillmore area with classic big box economics. Oops…

  2. If people want to lead an anti-big box crusade, so be it. Just don’t do it under the guise of “preservation” when there’s nothing there to preserve. And there’s a huge difference between a Bass Pro as an element of a waterfront commercial district, and a Kmart plopped down in the East Side. Kmart isn’t a draw for tourists or other businesses, and whether you care to believe it or not, Bass Pro is.

  3. A 250,000 square foot Bass Pro is a draw, at least it was before they started getting more common. A 100,000 square foot BP is a shadow of what was once planned as a retail magnet.

  4. Bass Pro will be a draw because it’s had years of free marketing, it’s the first one in this area, and because people are itching for something to be built along the waterfront so they have a reason to go there. It may not draw people from hundreds of miles away, but it will bring people downtown. It will also be the anchor tenant to attract other retailers.

  5. I must say I completely agree with you in regards to the Tim Tielmans of the area. What good comes of the obstructionist style games that his court of followers plays?
    I am an avid Buffalo Buff. I have grown up in the city all my life, and I get to see much of the city due to my job, a City Paramedic. I see buildings all over the city that demand some attention from the pseudo-preservationists that garner nothing.
    I am a huge fan of firehouse architecture, and Buffalo undoubtedly has some of the greatest and most ornate firehouses in the northeast. However, I have not seen Mr. Tielman or his group ever cry foul how many of these firehouses have been left to rot. We have upwards of 10 former and current houses that garner historical status.
    Such as the case with Engine 2, Ladder 9 on Jersey Street. It was the last active firehouse dating from the volunteer firefighter days, thats circa 1880. I believe the house was built in 1872, and it’s a massive complex. I tried to have the city allow our ambulances to use it as a station to no avail, (which I have also asked of the other closed ones but the Mayor and his snippy Deputy refuse to answer replies)then they sold it to Hogan Restoration who occupied it maybe a year or two and left. Now it is succumbing to the elements of time and neglect.
    But Mr. Tielman won’t shed a tear for this beautiful building. He’ll cry over a grain elevator that had been closed down for the 27 years I have been on this earth, or the grain elevator on Niagara Street which was abandoned for just as long. Will he cry iwhen the city tears down the old Burger King downtown on Main Street? These people do not represent true preservationists and I am certainly glad someone else out there sees them for what they are.
    Kudos on a great article.


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