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                                                 AUSTRIA • GERMANY • LIECHTENSTEIN • SWITZERLAND

      Fate of Voelker’s still on hold

         by Steve Dlugosz
         t is the hope of the Campaign for
         Greater Buffalo History, Archi-
      Itecture  and  Culture,  as  well  as
      several other community advocates,                            GERMAN CHRISTMAS
      that the longtime bowling alley, bar                          TRADITION CONTINUES.
      and restaurant Voelker's on the cor-                          The  annual  German  Christmas
      ner  of  Elmwood  Avenue  and  Am-
      herst Street will not be razed as part                        Mass took place on Dec. 5, 2021
      of  projected  demolition,  due  to  its                      at St. Louis Church, Main Street,
      historical  significance.  The  130-                          Buffalo.  The  2021  celebration
      year-old site is described by preser-                         drew  larger  attendance  than  it
      vation  advocates  as  a  generational council’s permission.  did in 2020.  The German-Ameri-
      staple of the community.          It  is  the  belief  of  Tielman  that  can  Musicians  returned  to  offer
         It was announced in April 2021 Voelker's  has  served  as  more  than  their  music  for  the  liturgy.
      by  Krista  Voelker,  whose  great- just a venue over the years; rather,  COVID  concerns  prevented  any
      grandfather opened the business in it's been a symbol for what Buffalo  post-Mass reception from taking
      1892,  that  a  pandemic-related  de- history represents.     place.  Comments  among  the  at-
      cline in business prompted the deci-  "It's a piece of authentic Buffa-  tendees  were  very  favorable,
      sion  to  close  the  32-lane  bowling lo," said Tielman. "It's appeared in  many  expressing  gratitude  that
      alley,  bar  and  restaurant.  She  said movies.  I  went  bowling  there.  My  things  were  beginning  to  feel
      the property at 680 Amherst St. and kids went bowling there. It's just a  more normal again.
      three others at 666 Amherst St., 668 sense of what Buffalo is all about…                                                            photos by Martin Ederer
      Amherst  St.  and  1634  Elmwood It's  all  part  of  substance,  part  of
      Ave. would be demolished to make everyday  life.  It's  a  huge  thing,  a
      way  for  a  to-be-determined  devel- really important part of Buffalo."
      opment.                           Golombek  approximated  that
         The demolition request was re- about  40  percent  of  the  property
      viewed by the Buffalo Preservation could be deemed salvageable under
      Board last April, but was ultimately historical  identification  /  signifi-                approval.  The  city  graciously  ac-
      deemed a designated historical land- cance,  while  finding  parts  of  the Greg            cepted  the  undeveloped  land,  by
      mark by the board. Related preser- property that date back to 1946 or                       May  of  1912  the  residents  of  the
      vation  research  was  conducted  by earlier.                 Witul                         area  begged  the  city  to  add  to  the
      Tim Tielman, director for Campaign  The Councilmember added that  .                         forthcoming park.
      for Greater Buffalo History, as well specified legal writing would be es-                      Represented  by  19th  Ward  Al-
      as the Black Rock Historical Society tablished by the City of Buffalo in                    dermen Friedrich W. Gerking, Rev.
      and organizational historian Monica establishing  landmark  boundary                        Gottlien Berner of St. Andrew’s Lu-
      Rzepka. A narrative, titled "The Ar- lines, at which time a decision can                    theran Church, Dr. Gustav A. Hit-
      chitectural, Historical, and Cultural be  made.  He  said  attempts  have  his year is a big anniversary zel,  president  of  the  German
      Significance of the Elmwood Hotel- been made to work with the proper-  for Buffalo’s Schiller Park as Alliance,  Philip  Braun  operator  of
      Voelker’s Lanes, 680-692 Amherst ty  owner  on  project  planning,  al-  Tthe recreation area that fronts the Genesee Park Restaurant, Buffa-
      St.  and  1620  Elmwood  Ave."  was though long-term specified uses for  Genesee Street, touches Doat Street lo Bottling Works president Bernard
      compiled  and  submitted  as  part  of the  site  have  not  been  outlined  to the south, and Villa Maria to the Vohwinkel,  and  real  estate  agent
      preservation efforts.          plainly.                       east  turns  a  respectable  110  years Louis Adolff, Jr. urged the council
         The matter had been brought to  "I  get  both  sides  of  it,"  Go-  old.                to  purchase  all  the  available  land
      the Buffalo Common Council and is lombek  said  in  regards  to  what  is  In its long life the park has been attached to the proposed park which
      awaiting  further  deliberation,  after ultimately desired or planned to be  home to pools, baseball diamonds, was  being  offered  for  $65,000, German  playwright,  poet,  and
      possible  review/establishment  of done with the property. "The biggest  and  pond  and  is  still  home  to  the about $10 a square foot.  philosopher Friedrich Schiller.
      boundary lines for at least a portion concern is demolishing the property  latest addition to the park campus,  As  the  aldermen  looked  into
      of the site to be preserved. Tielman with no specific plan for the proper-  the  Schiller  Park  Senior  Citizens property and possible purchase, Al- in  his  knowledge  of  his  industry,
      said such re-drawing of the site bor- ty. The idea of “Demo it and (poten-  Center. But if it wasn’t for the cam- derman Gerking began  campaign- Gerking made the leap to open his
      der-lines has been suggested at least tial  buyers)  will  come”  is  not  a  paigning  of  the  area’s  strong  Ger- ing to have the park named after the own cigar firm in 1893.
      as a way of saving portions of the viable option… (The site) can't be  man-American  community,  the  42 great German playwright, poet, and  Twenty  years  later,  Friedrich’s
      property(s), in establishing how the removed while under historical (re-  year old building as well as the park philosopher Friedrich Schiller.  popular tobacco brands and connec-
      site is contributing under the desig- view). I do think part of it is (histor-  as a whole would have been known  Having  just  been  elected  in tions to a great number of German-
      nation as "art/resource."      ically salvageable as a landmark)."  by another name, Scajaquada Park.  1911, the Republican Gerking need- American organizations would help
         In  July,  Voelker  expressed  her  According to Tielman, preserva-  On  Oct.  19,  1911,  two  of  the ed a big win that would appeal to the him win his seat as alderman.
      desire to have the site transformed, tion  precedence  has  been  set  both  Pine  Hill  area’s  leading  men, entire, mostly Democratic, German  By late May, the details to pur-
      perhaps, into a green space, or pos- locally and nationally when it comes  George  Urban,  Jr  and  William  H. community around Genesee Street. chase  the  land  were  being  worked
      sibly a grocery store or bank. How- to  historic  structures,  or  when  just  Walker, contacted Mayor Fuhrmann Born Feb. 8, 1861 in Kirchlengern out and now only the name had to be
      ever, the Buffalo Common Council parts  of  structures,  such  as  signs.  with an offer. They would each do- in  the  modern  day  state  of  North settled.  The  Express  weighed  into
      would ultimately need to decide on The  Common  Council  had  previ-  nate a plot of land flanking Sprenger Rhine-Westphalia,   Germany, the  fight,  saying  the  Germans  of
      its  significance,  and  in  September ously ruled in the favor of past pres-  Avenue, Urban giving a half acre on Friedrich  arrived  in  Western  New Buffalo should be represented in the
      the  Council  voted  for  a  cease  and ervation   efforts,   designating  the east side of the street and Walker York in the early 1880s.  city’s public spaces. The newspaper
      desist  order  against  any  change  to "thousands" of items as holding his-  giving a half acre on the west, if the  With a desire to become a tobac- also   championed   a   proposed
      Voelker’s  Lanes.  This  came  after toric significance, at least to the lev-  city would develop the land into a conist,  Gerking  first  worked  for $25,000  statue  to  the  William  Tell
      Councilmember  Joseph  Golombek el of non-razing, the advocate said.  public  park  named  after  the  creek wholesaler and retailer Otto Kieke- author that in the end would never
      said  there  were  community  con-  Tielman listed examples of this  that ran through it, Scajaquada.  busch,  and  then  moved  on  to  the come to fruition.
      cerns  that  a  sneak  demolition  was locally as the Wonder Bread sign on  Fuhrmann agreed with the idea well  known  cigar  manufacturing  continued on page 7
      attempted  at  that  time  without  the                       and sent it to the city alderman for firm of H. & J. Breitwieser. Secure
                                                 continued on page 2
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