Tonawanda News


April 18, 2014

ADAMCZYK: Kenmore is a village made of bricks


Tonawanda News — Yes, Ken-Ton has its own ruins, younger than those in the Holy Land but equally immovable, unless the real estate value of brownfields suddenly skyrockets. Not in my lifetime.

Restoration is a hot field, these days. The architect and the urban planner often rely on the historian to ascertain what existing buildings looked like; they then work to recreate the effect intended years ago. Kenmore’s Delaware Avenue has seen admirable attempts in this regard. Drive, or walk, past these retail and mixed-use buildings and note they look more-or-less the same as they did in the 1910s and 1920s when they were built, when butcher shops and radio stores occupied the spaces now taken over by hair care salons and gyms.

A row of newer buildings typically implies that, somewhere on the time line between then and now, a massive fire cleaned out the entire block.

Out here we do not bulldoze unless we have to. That Walgreens at Delaware and Kenmore Avenues replaced a shops-and-apartment hovel that deserved it. That vacant greensward adjacent to the Eberhardt Mansion was once the site of another, nearly identical Eberhardt Mansion. It fell in 1978, too costly to modernize and repair.

We have enough on our minds, these days, to wallow in history, and Kenmore, despite its image as a psychic repository of all the attitudes of Americana, is not the Colonial Williamsburg of Erie County (that may be Orchard Park). Kenmore remains a living, breathing organism, as any municipality should be.

And yet, kids on their way to school trod the same sidewalks as their counterparts did 100 years ago, past homes and buildings erected nearly 100 years ago.

Eventually everyone and everything goes to dust, so to speak, except maybe for things made of brick, and becomes the fabric of someone else’s history. If it’s made of brick it seems to go on forever.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at 

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