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A call for preservation: WNY group speaks out in support of the Great Northern Grain Elevator

After significant storm damage, a group of Western New Yorkers continue to call for repairs and restoration.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Great Northern Grain Elevator is a part of Buffalo's history that can't be erased.

Built back in 1897, the elevator saw plenty of ships loaded with grain during its peak - day after day.

But for decades now, it's been vacant and out of use. Which has been a hot topic discussion about for quite some time.

Gwen Howard is president of the City of Buffalo Preservation Board and says the elevator was, "instrumental in making Buffalo what Buffalo was back in the day."

Beyond its purpose, the structure itself, Howard says, is extremely meaningful and significant.

"We were known as the elevator capital of the world, we were a center of grain transportation, and shipping, and exchange," Howard explains. "This rates up there with the technological, masterful technological, advancements that put Buffalo on the map."

As one might imagine, the building has withstood a lot over the course of time, that includes damage done back in 1907 and most recently this past weekend due to severe weather conditions and high winds. 

Howard tells 2 On Your Side, "the damage, it's concerning, but it is also a building that is pretty robust in the way it's constructed, so the damage looks a lot worse than it is in terms of the structure itself.

Archer Daniels Midland, also known as ADM, owns the property.

On Monday, Congressman Brian Higgins penned a letter saying:

"I write today to strongly encourage ADM to rehabilitate this structure, for its own benefit and the benefit of the community I represent in Buffalo and Western New York. I further urge you to consider the long overdue designation of this structure on the National Register of Historic Places in order to avail the federal Historic Tax Credit program, the New York State Historic Tax Credit program, and potentially other incentive programs to restore this historic structure."

Howard says, as for the recent damage sustained, next steps call for a structural engineer report. 

"We do know that the brick exterior wall, and the steel bins that inside are structurally separated," Howard explains.

As it stands, the elevator is a designated local landmark but has yet to be designated as on a National level.

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