Tonawanda News


July 5, 2013

ADAMCZYK: That was then, this is now


Tonawanda News — These days you can rent a college for a conference, a wedding reception or a karate tournament. Colleges public and private overbuilt as the post-war boomers passed through society like a swallowed mouse inside a snake, and now need to turn a few bucks wherever they can. So do teachers trained to lead kindergartens; ask them about plying their skills inside factories to employees in need of retraining, they’ll tell you it’s something of a surprise but they’re OK with it.

The turnover in people, places and things can be so swift it’s hard to remember what was going on, even a few years ago. Just about the time movie theaters became multi-screen multiplexes on former farmland in the deep suburbs, the elegant doll house on Kenmore Avenue known as the Colvin Theater fell to accommodate a seniors’ tower. Some of those who remember that the movie experience came with red velvet curtains, ushers in uniforms straight out of operettas and sweeping staircases leading to graceful balconies, now can compare it all to the modern experience, a shiny disc falling out of a red envelope in the mailbox marked “Netflix.”

We need senior housing more than a night at the movies, evidently. The elderly know how to order movies.

The comfort in all of this is that, here, derelict buildings tend not to last long. The unnecessary is promptly wrecked to build the next thing the community thinks it needs. Those sagging, paint missing old structures can be picturesque but are for municipalities on their way to becoming ghost towns, and citizen, that’s not us.

At Eggert Road and Sheridan Drive, an airport in the Lindbergh days, a barrel-vaulted building stands in a strip mall from the late 1950s, more or less. It was a supermarket, then a church, then an Office Max and is now vacant, ready for whatever comes next. Designed as a place to sell groceries to the aforementioned exploding population of Tonawanda, its builders probably never imagined a need for a suburban church that large (with plenty of free parking), and why on earth would people not in business require all those office supplies?

I do not know which is more exciting to observe, a building coming down or one going up. Each appeals differently to my sense of change and of necessity. Each has its satisfactions.

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

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

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