BUFFALO, N.Y. — This past spring, Buffalo's Central Terminal joined world-famous destinations like the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu on the World Monuments Fund Watch List. The organization chooses only 25 sites out of hundreds of applicants, and Buffalo is just one of two cities in the United States to be chosen this year.
"It's basically international recognition of the value or the importance of the complex. Not only its architectural merit but also the role that it's played in Western New York as far as being a center point for community activity both in its heydays as a train station and now today more of an event center," said Paul Lang, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation vice chairman.
Since 1965, the organization has chosen a list of sites every two years, with the goal of helping to preserve the site for the community.
"World Monuments Fund is trying to make a point, by having the watch, and that point is to make clear to people the connection between preserving heritage, preserving building and places and affecting positive social change because when a building like this gets going and gets preserved and gets re-purposed, the result of that for the economy of Buffalo and the economy of the surrounding neighborhood can be tremendous in a positive way," said Frank Sanchis, World Monuments Fund program director.
As one of the chosen sites, the Central Terminal took part in World Monuments Watch Day on Saturday, holding an open house and tours for the community. Organized by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, they also used that time to make an exciting announcement.
"Announcing the completion of our electrical project and the completion of phase one of the tower lighting, as we switch to LED lights," said Lang.
Although sites are only on the watch list for two years, that doesn't mean World Monuments Fund stops doing their part then.
"There's a saying at World Monuments Fund: once on the list, always on the list. We do what we can in the first two years to do that, to bring attention to them, but then we stick with them going forward and so I hope that our involvement with this building is not a 20-year one, I hope things get done in the next five," Sanchis said.
And with the start of the Central Terminal's restoration project funded by a $5 million state grant, it just could be.
"The first phase will be architectural and engineering planning and then we'll move onto construction. So some of the projects you'll is a full restroom creation, activation of the restaurant and the waiting rooms and then restoration and preservation of the ticket windows basically trying to bring it back to its 1929 appearance," said Lang.