In a region that includes such charming villages as Lewiston, East Aurora and Ellicottville, it is sometimes easy to overlook other locales that, for one reason or another, don’t shine quite so brightly in the public imagination, but that nevertheless hold their own considerable charms. Hamburg is one of those special places, and it may finally be getting its due.
The village’s historic Main Street has found a spot on the New York State Register of Historic Places, and soon it may also achieve national designation. That’s more than a badge of honor; it comes with the potential for significant financial benefits for residents.
The village began work on this effort about a year ago, and success was no sure thing. Inclusion on both the state and national registers generally relies on the “quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture,” according to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
It also factors in “integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.” Historic sites may be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the “broad patterns” of history or that are associated with the lives of historically significant people, and so on.
For Hamburg, it was the village’s Main Street that turned the key to admittance. It first nominated the block of Main Street between Center Street and Buffalo Street, but state experts thought the village would have a better chance of success if it extended the designation an additional block west, to Lake Street.
That change brought into consideration a more eclectic mix of buildings. While the commercial district buildings, which range in age from the 1860s to the 1960s, are closer to Buffalo Street, large homes take over closer to Lake Street.
Now the village of around 9,400 residents is keeping its fingers crossed for inclusion on the national list. Damon Ayer, chairman of the Village Historic Preservation Committee, is optimistic. “We feel very good about it,” he said.
The village has earmarked $7,400 for a consultant to prepare the application, though the cost will probably be slightly lower. A $5,400 grant the village recently received from the state will help offset that cost.
The expense will be well worth it, if the application succeeds. Not only will it open grant opportunities, but residents could be eligible for a 20 percent federal income tax credit.
Here’s our recommendation: Go see for yourselves. Those who haven’t visited Hamburg recently should reacquaint themselves. Those who have never visited are in for a treat. It will be historic.