Slow progress for historic Allentown building damaged in arson

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- 486 Franklin Street has been a boarded-up work in progress for nearly five months. Some in the historic Allentown neighborhood say the damaged structure is a growing eye sore.

An arson nearly destroyed the building in late July.

Executive Director of the Allentown Association, Andrew Eisenhardt, is worried about the structure’s future.

“The loss of this building would be significant. We would never wind up with a structure on that parcel that was anywhere near what the quality of what is there now,” he said.

Jacob Schoellkopf built the structure in the 1860s, and lived there shortly before moving into a mansion on Delaware Avenue.

486 Franklin is one of the many structures in Allentown that support the neighborhood’s place on a national registry for historic districts.

“Allentown has many contributing structures, this is listed as a contributing structure on the national register and for every one that we lose, there’s a chance that we lose our national register designation,” Eisenhardt said.

Allentown hasn’t lost many structures in past, but Eisenhardt told News 4 every few years, one or two are lost to neglect.

At the time of the July arson the building was used as an apartment space; several tenants were left homeless.

MORE | Suspected Allentown arsonist is a resident of the Franklin Street apartment building 

Gregory Gerwitz, the owner of the building, said he plans to rebuild. The structure has been deemed salvageable by the city, and Gerwitz said once it’s restored it will again be an apartment space.

A spokesperson for the city told News 4 building inspectors are keeping a close eye on this property; the city also has a strong interest in keeping the building.

Gerwitz said progress is slow going, but he’s currently awaiting city approval to replace the roof; something both he and Eisenhardt want done as soon as possible.

“We definitely have to have it sealed to the elements, and whether that’s the city or the owner, it must be done very quickly. Every storm is another nail in it’s coffin,” Eisenhardt  said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s