The Langston Hughes Institute of Buffalo will become another cornerstone in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor as the Corridor Commission continues to cement plans for a district to commemorate black history in the city.
The institute moved last year from its High Street building to a leased headquarters at 163 and 167 Broadway, and purchased the facility last month. The site is the new home of the Center for Cultural History and Arts Education, and becomes the fourth anchor in the planned heritage corridor, along with the Colored Musicians Club, Nash House Museum and Michigan Street Baptist Church.
Karen Stanley Fleming, chairwoman of the commission, shared news of the purchase Monday, along with providing updates on the corridor, at a board meeting in the Larkin at Exchange Building.
Stanley Fleming said the team of consultants that was retained in March to work with the commission on a master plan for the area did a first draft in June and presented it at public forums during the summer for comment and feedback.
A week ago, she said, the consultants presented a draft of the management plan to the board that is only available to commissioners for now.
Commissioners voted Monday to approve the draft plan in concept and principle, subject to final edits.
The proposed corridor starts at East Ferry Street and Masten Avenue and continues south to Woodlawn Avenue, then to Michigan Avenue, and ends at Swan Street, with many offshoots along the way. Those offshoots include Pine, Sycamore, Elm, William, Hickory and South Division streets.
Commissioners will review the plan and forward their comments to the chairwoman by Nov. 26.
The group then has to approve the draft and forward it to the Common Council, which will hold at least two public hearings before voting on approval, said Laurence K. Rubin, attorney for the commission.
After that, the draft is sent to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which has 45 days to approve it or suggest further changes, Rubin said.
In addition to moving forward with the draft management plan, Stanley Fleming also said the corridor is partnering with the Buffalo Zoo to get Gates 3 and 4 at the zoo listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The zoo is part of the commission’s Thematic Heritage Area, outside the proposed corridor.
Even though the zoo is already listed on the National Register, Stanley Fleming said, “We want to highlight in particular these gates” that were designed by African-American architect John Brent. He also designed the Michigan Street “Colored” YMCA and was employed by the City of Buffalo when he designed the structures at the zoo.
Stanley Fleming met with Mayor Byron W. Brown about locating the blueprints that Brent worked on and signed.
Commissioners also approved a collaboration with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The foundation will fund research and professional services to complete the application for the National Register.
The commission also is collaborating with Buffalo State College to archive the documents.
“We’re working on interesting ways to do that,” Stanley Fleming said.
“One aspect of celebrating Brent is to do an appropriate exhibition in conjunction with ‘Year of the City,’ ” an observance at the college for the 2012-13 academic year, said Commissioner Edward O. Smith Jr., director of the Monroe Fordham Regional History Center and former head of the history department at Buffalo State.