The function of the seven-member Historic Preservation Commission is to recommend to the Village Board properties and sites for historic designation and village land-marking.
The members include: Mary Lowther, Anthony Bannon, Chuck Akers, Jim Tammaro, and Christine Hunt, who is chairperson. Serving as the commission’s resource officers are Wesley Stone, Thomas Barrett, and Susan Palmer.
Meetings are generally held at 7 p.m. at Village Hall on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
There is currently one vacancy within the commission. If you are interested in becoming a member or would like further information, contact the HPC’s liaison, Trustee Matt Etu, whose email address and phone number are below.
Historic Districts 101
The Village of Williamsville’s Historic Preservation Commission hosted “Historic Districts 101,” a program presented by Preservation Buffalo Niagara on Aug. 13, 2019.
The program was led by Christiana Limniatis, PBN’s director of preservation services. During the session, she provided an overview of the definitions and types historic districts, how they can be established, and how they may be used as municipal planning tools.
The program also detailed benefits of historic districts and how they can provide access to various financial incentives.
- Click here to download the Historic Districts 101 presentation
- Click here to download the Frequently Asked Questions sheet
Surveys of Historic Assets
- Intensive Level Survey of Historic Assets
- Reconnaissance Level Survey of Historic Assets
- Intensive Level Survey of South Cayuga Road
Certificate of Appropriateness
Any work conducted on a historic landmark or historic landmark site requires the approval of the Historic Preservation Committee. Click below to download a Certificate of Appropriateness application, which initiates a formal request process regarding proposed work. Further details are included on the form. For questions, contact the Building Department by calling 716-631-7080.
Historic Landmark Design Standards
The Williamsville Historic Landmark Design Standards serve as a template for historically sensitive investment in landmarked structures. The Village Board voted on proposed landmarks on Nov. 10. Click here to download the design standards. Below is a list of village landmarks.
Village of Williamsville Local Landmarks
56 Spring Street
This stately silhouette represents the hopes and struggles of the community’s earliest settlers. The watermill started its operation in 1811 and functioned as a flout and grist mill until the 1820s when it converted into a cement business with the building of the Erie Canal and went back to a flour and grist mill in the mid-1880s. The mill was built by Jonas Williams, an early settler and the namesake of the village. The mill was owned and operated by Phillip Klein, Edward Jacobi Sr., and Edward Jacobi Jr. from 1902 to 1947. Then in 1947, Mr. Niederlander and his wife Mrs. Grace Miller Niederlander took over the mill and restored it. The mill then fell into disrepair and the village bought the mill in 2005 and saved it from decay.
175 Oakgrove Drive
The castle was built by Ignatz Oechsner who wanted to recreate a castle like the one in the town of his birth in Germany. The castle took 25 years to build and featured a main building, gatehouse, tower, and coach house plus walls and bridges embellishing spring-fed ponds and waterways. People were allowed to visit the castle and grounds with an admission charge levied to defray expenses. The builder never got to live in the castle, for he passed away in 1942 before the work was completed. The castle is currently a private residence.
5658 Main Street
This building was originally a church built in 1871 by the Society for the Disciples of Christ. They were a dedicated, community minded group who longed to unite Christian people everywhere and to revive America’s moral character. When declining membership forced the congregation to disband in 1976, the building was offered to the Village for one dollar. The former church was restored by the Village and its historical society. It is currently being restored and upgraded and hosts movies, plays and musical events for the community.
5550 Main Street
This building known as the “Hopkins Block” or “Brick Building” was the tallest commercial building in Amherst containing three stories in 1854. Originally a carriage shop, this building also housed a school room, E.H. Smith’s general store, Bill Measer’s grocery store, Howard G. Brittings’s general store, Clara Walter’s Village Shoppe, Bancroft’s Village Shop, Roneker’s Mens and Boys Wear, and R.J. Wells Co. In the early 20th century, this building also housed the telephone switchboard for Amherst’s 40 phones and was the Village Post Office. The second floor was used as a court room, meeting rooms, and housing during a shortage in World War II. The third floor was used as an entertainment hall and later Odd Fellows Hall.
39 Academy Street
This institute was a private secondary school, the first school in Amherst above the elementary level. It was sponsored by the Disciplines of Christ Church of Williamsville. Erected on land acquired from the Hershey family, it was constructed in 1853 and closed in 1869. It attracted commuter students as well as boarding students from neighboring states and children from prominent families attended the school. At its height, the school had nearly 300 students. The structure now houses Christian Central Academy, an independent, inter-denominational, college preparatory Christian school for students in kindergarten through grade twelve.
287 Glen Avenue
Glen Park was for many years a community entertainment center featuring an amusement park and casino. After a large fire that occurred in 1968 there was a prolonged community controversy between turning the ten acres into a commercial development of the historic site and those who saw the use of the land as a natural park. In 1976, the award of a federal grant hastened development of the park. A contract for design and development was granted to Grever and Ward, landscape architects, and Four Winds Nursery of Amherst. Volunteer efforts and the administration of government boards have helped to make this living tribute to the past a lasting gift to the future. The park is considered the gem of Williamsville and is also one of the most popular spots for wedding pictures in Western New York.
86 S. Long Street
Also known as the Lehigh Valley Depot, the tracks were first laid in 1896. The railroad ran from New York City through Northern New Jersey and Northeastern Pennsylvania into Western New York. There was also a small country style depot on what is now South Long Street that opened on November 15, 1896. The Lehigh Valley passenger service did not end until the 1940s and its freight service, which ended in 1976, was vital to the building and road construction boom in the village. In 1989, the depot was taken over by the Western New York Railway Historical Society which preserved the depot. The former railroad line was converted into a walking trail that terminates at South Long Street near the depot.
72 S. Cayuga Road
The “old stone schoolhouse,” as it is affectionately known, built in 1840 on land donated by one of the area’s earliest and most prominent residents, Timothy S. Hopkins. It started as a one-room school house and later it was partitioned into two rooms to accommodate teachers. The school educated children from all around until 1924. Over the years, it was used as a clubhouse, senior center, and the first home of the Amherst Museum. It stands today as a testament to the village’s faith in education.
5480 Main Street
This church serves the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Buffalo. The bickering of local denominations prompted Mr. Smith to offer land to the church in return for the guarantee that the building be constructed of stone. The offer was accepted and construction began. A new church was built in 1863 and made of limestone due to the growth of the parish. Two bells were added to the spire in 1868 as well as a clock which served for over half a century. The old church served as the school until it was dismantled in 1871 and the stones shipped to Cheektowaga and a new, current school was built in 1893 behind the current church.
5402 Main Street
This cemetery began as a family cemetery set aside by the Long family, devout members of the Mennonite congregation. A plot of land located at Main and Reist Streets, was set aside for family burials but later became the Williamsville Cemetery open to all residents. Most Civil War veterans from the Amherst Area were interred here. Also, the Soldiers Monument was erected in 1947 by the George F. Lamm Post #622 of the American Legion. This monument paid tribute to past members, both living and dead, who served their country in the war. It remains a popular cemetery and serves as a gathering spot on Memorial Day and other days of remembrance.
60 E. Spring Street
This building was used as a business office and has been associated with the mill and its owners since its construction in the 1830s. This building was located between the sawmill built by Jonas Williams in 1831 and the actual mill. The red house is slated to be moved to its original historic location directly in front of the water mill before the village sells the mill complex.
68 Eagle Street
An example of a vernacular Gothic Revival church building. The church congregation originated in 1869, as the pastor of the Lutheran Church in Eggertsville saw the need for a Lutheran congregation in Williamsville. In 1885, the Williamsville church had its own pastor, and built a parsonage for him. In 1900 the present church was constructed. When additional space was needed, the basement space was enlarged for use as Sunday school classrooms, and a 2-story brick wing was eventually added to the rear of the building in 1940. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
78 East Spring Street
An example of an early vernacular building. Although removed from its original setting, its proximity to the Williamsville Mill and the Ely Zent House on East Spring Street help to reinforce a 19th century character in this area. Originally, the building was a barn located on the J. Hutchinson property on the south side of Main Street. Once moved to East Spring Street, the building was used as the veterinary office and hospital of Dr. Leroy L. Herman. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5428 Main Street
The building was likely constructed in the 1870s and served as a boot and shoe store for the Seitz family, who owned both this building and the neighboring property at 5430 Main Street from the 1870s through the 1900s. This building also is significant as an example of the commercial Italianate style on Main Street in Williamsville. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5430 Main Street
An example of a modest brick Greek Revival residential building that has retained much of its historic appearance despite being converted to commercial use. The building is thought to have been constructed in the 1840s or 1850s, an era when many of Williamsville’s brick buildings were constructed on Main Street. For more than a century, the house was the residence of the Seitz family; father Joseph and later son John. Joseph Seitz was a boot and shoe maker; a business carried on by his son. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5522 Main Street
A rare example of the Second Empire style on Main Street. The brick building is thought to have been constructed around 1860, when the Second Empire Style was at the height of its popularity. Businesses that have been located in the building include John and Emmanuel Herr’s store, John Hoffman’s general store, Measer’s Shoe store, a barber shop, several variety and discount stores including Black’s 5-and-10 store and a Ben Franklin store. When renovations to the building were made in the 1970s, a historic cooking fireplace was revealed. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5554 Main Street
An example of a largely intact 20th century bank building. In the 1970s, the building served as a branch of the Marine Midland Bank. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5578 Main Street
A rare remaining example of an early inn and tavern that served as a much-needed destination for weary travelers, helping encourage westward expansion into Western New York. The Eagle House was built by Oziel Smith beginning in 1827, however the initial building was devastated by a fire while it was nearing completion. The present building was not completed until 1832 by Smith, using the initial foundations. Used as a retail store in addition to its use as a tavern in the 1950s, it has been restored to more closely resemble its historic appearance, and currently is utilized as a restaurant. Beneath the House is said to be a series of cellar caverns and passageways that some people speculate may have served a role on the Underground Railroad. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5590 Main Street
An example of a vernacular early commercial building on Main Street. 5590 and neighboring 5596 Main Street were constructed by Alexander Gotwalt and Henry S. Metz, who purchased the property from Benjamin Miller’s estate in January 1893. The first tenant was H.S. Smith, who sold drugs and groceries. It later became Albert H. Herman’s barber shop, a music store, and J. Binz’s candy store. Recently, the building has been extensively updated and restored. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5596 Main Street
An example of a 19th century commercial building on Main Street. 5596 and neighboring 5590 Main Street were constructed by Alexander Gotwalt and Henry S. Metz, who purchased the property from Benjamin Miller’s estate in January 1893. The building originally consisted of two stores with two apartments on the upper floor, and the earliest business was George Steinbrenner and Joseph Abel’s meat market around the turn of the century. In 1918, Ben and Barney Miller started a hardware and auto store, selling Ford parts, batteries, vulcanizing tires and featuring a gas pump at the curb. The B. Miller Hardware store was a long-time fixture in the building, continuing into the 1970s. Presently the building houses a gift shop and salon. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5672 Main Street
An example of a vernacular style former residential building in Williamsville. The house was constructed in 1840 by Christian Rutt, and remained in his family for over a century. Christian Rutt was one of the first trustees of the Williamsville Classical Institute in 1853, as well as one of the first highway commissioners in the Town of Amherst. Although the building is altered from its original appearance, it is significant for its ties to Rutt. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5688 Main Street
An excellent example of an early-20th century commercial building. The building is locally significant as the first home of Campbell Chevrolet, founded around 1946, which later moved to Transit Road and has since been purchased by the West Herr Automotive Group in 2012. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5792 Main Street
An example of a brick Greek Revival former residential building. Unlike other commercial converted buildings, it retains a high level of integrity to its primary elevation, still strongly resembling the original massing, scale and details of the original house. The brick portion of the building was constructed around 1840 as the home of the Hershey family. The wood frame additions were added in the late 1800s, originally serving as a summer kitchen for cooking outside of the main body of the building. A carriage house is also located on the property, also likely dating to the late 19th century. A notable long-time resident in the house was known as “Grandma Measer,” who was mother to four Measers who became prominent citizens in Williamsville’s business community, including as owners of the Amherst Bee newspaper. The house was converted in 1870 for commercial use, and today houses various offices. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5893 Main Street
An excellent example of Colonial Revival with its symmetrical roof and row of dormers. The house was built by Dr. Richard and Maude Harrington in 1918. He was a family physician that moved here from Canada. Their daughter and son in law, Dr. Lester and Marguerite (Harrington) Lapp then lived at the residence. He was a dentist and had his office at the location. Marguerite was the longtime President of the Williamsville School Board. She was also President of the Millard Suburban Hospital Board and was one of its founders. The house was then passed along to their daughter and son in law, Dr. Robert and Dorthy (Lapp) Evans. Dr. Evans had his orthodontist office there as well. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
20 Milton Street
An excellent example of mid-20th century church design. It is the work of notable Buffalo architect Robert North. The congregation dates to at least 1819. In 1912, when services were held in the Thorner house on Miller/now Oakgrove Street. In 1918, land was donated at the corner of Los Robles and Milton Streets for a parish hall, and a new church building was complete by 1924. In 1951, parishioner Daniel Neiderlander donated a plot of land at the present site for construction of a permanent parish church. The cornerstone for the new building was laid on September 16, 1951, and the building opened for services on March 30, 1952. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
Main Street at Mill Street
The Main Street Bridge is significant as a rare remaining historic stone bridge still utilized on Main Street/Rt. 5 in Western New York. In an era of modern road construction, many historic bridges have since been replaced to accommodate larger, heavier automobile traffic. The bridge was built in 1882 by Martin Wendel of Wendelville for a cost of $11,466. Stone was quarried by Edward B. Miller and John D. Long on Orchard Street. It provided the first permanent replacement to the plank bridges that were frequently washed away in spring floods. Stone for the bridge was quarried from the Miller Long Quarry on Orchard Street nearby. Mr. Wendel was given the honor of driving the first wagon across the bridge when it opened. It may have first been paved with asphalt in 1960. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5329 Main Street
An excellent example of a brick Greek Revival former commercial/manufacturing building on Main Street. The building was likely constructed around 1840, and was perhaps most notably the location of J. Rumbolt’s blacksmith, carriage and wagon shop in the late 19th century. Other businesses that occupied the building include Wolf’s blacksmith shop, Charlie Young Auto Repair and for more than 30-years it was home to the Courtyards florist shop. Presently the building houses a bakery. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5409 Main Street
An example of an Italianate style residential building in the Main Street commercial corridor, retaining many of its characteristic features despite its commercial conversion. The house was built in 1877 for Phillip J. Snyder and his family. The family had originally resided above their grocery store, which was located just to the west of the present house, and it was at the request of Mrs. Snyder, the larger brick residence was constructed. The house was later converted to residential functions in the 1960s; at this time the deteriorated front porch was altered, and the front entrance was modified with the removal of a glass fan window and sidelights to the present configuration. Click here to read the Nomination Form for this property.
5111 Main Street
An example of mixed-use early 20th century building with a modest Craftsman style influence. Despite some changes, the building retains a high level of integrity. It also includes a ca. 1950s neon liquor store advertising sign. Click here to read the nomination form for this property.
5529 Main Street
An excellent example of an early 20th century bank building. The building was the Williamsville Post Office from 1935 to 1948 and a Liberty Bank branch office in the mid-20th century. Click here to read the nomination form for this property.
5707 Main Street
An excellent example of a former Greek Revival house converted to commercial uses. The house appears to have been constructed ca. 1852, in an era when bricks became more widely available for construction in Williamsville. It was built for Mrs. Esther Carpenter Hershey, widow of Benjamin Hershey who operated a milling business in the village beginning in 1831. This mill eventually became known as the Dodge Mill, which was lost to fire in 1894. Mrs. Hershey lived in the house until her death in 1887. The property later became the John E. Hayes Co., Inc. marketing company. Today, it houses an insurance agency. Click here to read the nomination form for this property.
5725 Main Street
An example of a mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival house that has been updated and enlarged in the Colonial Revival style in the early 20th century. It is also an example of the type of commercial-converted former residential buildings that are located along Main Street. Said to have been originally constructed in 1854 by Alexander Gotwalt, a local dry goods and crockery dealer, the house remained in his family for almost a century. During this era, several enlargements were made to the property including a rear addition. Dr. Robert S. Pratt purchased the building in 1941 and constructed his office on the east side of the house in 1942. He also restored the front façade of the building to more closely resemble its original appearance. Former Village Mayor Marvin Mason and his family were the last residents of the house prior to its commercial conversion in 1978. Presently the building houses a salon. Click here to read the nomination form for this property.
5757 Main Street
An example of a modest Italianate style brick former residential building. It is also an example of the type of former residential buildings converted to commercial use that are located along Main Street. Built in 1851 by John Haskill, a wagon maker originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the brick house remained a residence for over a century. In 1956 the building was converted to commercial functions. Around this time the building underwent alterations including the addition of a side porch and the relocation of the entrance. Today the building houses an architectural office. Click here to read the nomination form for this property.
5541 Main Street
The Beach Tuyn Funeral Home at 5541 Main Street is considered the Village’s oldest continually operating business. It was constructed in 1888 by prominent Williamsville resident Demeter Wehrle as an enlargement and update to his previous log-built undertaking business. Wehrle had converted a previous inn known as the Williamsville Hotel that dated to the 1820s into his cabinetry and undertaking enterprise. Architecturally, the building is also a rare example of a hipped roof Italianate building in Williamsville, and its cupola is a notable landmark on Main Street.