LITTLE VALLEY – The Cattaraugus County Legislature is under increasing pressure to rethink its decision to allow the demolition of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building, across the street from the County Center in Little Valley.
Lawmakers have been flooded with emails, phone calls and letters.
This week, the Legislature heard an appeal from former Chautauqua County Legislator Nancy Bargar.
Barger, who was introduced and given privilege of the floor by Legislator James Snyder, R-Olean, said she is the great-grandniece of a soldier of the New York 154th Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
“I never intended to be a spokesman for all the people from across the country that have relatives involved in the unit,” Bargar said.
“I come to you today to ask for your open-mindedness and to sit on this decision to bring down the building.”
The 21 members of the Legislature have received correspondence, in the form of email and written letters, from descendants of the local unit and those with a desire to preserve historic properties.
The building has fallen into a state of disrepair that would be quite extensive to fix, according to County Public Works Commissioner Joe Pillittere.
Mold, water damage and crumbling foundational walls, not to mention asbestos in the building materials, would make preservation an expensive proposition.
Bargar likened the building to a couple of buildings that sit on property across the street from the Chautauqua County Building in Mayville.
There are two historic buildings that have been given over to restaurateurs, providing a place for lawmakers and employees to meet and eat.
“There may be a possibility to retain the buildings, restoring them and giving them over to the private sector, either as a tenant or an owner,” she said.
“These buildings are something that we can’t start from scratch and replace.”
Bargar said the building reminds her of what Chautauqua County has in Chautauqua Institution.
The building could be an important site for genealogy research, she offered, and, much like the buildings at Chautauqua, is important to those that would come, “if only for a brief period of time.”
Bargar’s great-granduncle, Lowree D. Bargar, of F Company of the 154th, was captured at Gettysburg and held as a prisoner of war.
He is believed to have died in a prison camp in Richmond, Va.
The fate of the building has yet to be finalized by members of the Legislature and Public Works Department.