Buffalo’s Willert / A. D. Price Courts
February 26, 2010
In February, 2010 the Preservation League of New York State listed Buffalo's Willerts/A.D. Price Housing Project on its state Seven to Save list, based on a nomination submitted by Preservation Buffalo Niagara. See February 26, 2010 press release Attitudes about what we should preserve are changing. Until recently, Modernist architecture was not considered significant, partially because so much of our earlier urban fabric was destroyed to make way for it. Now, however, there is a much greater appreciation of the importance of our Modernist heritage. It is certainly the case here in Buffalo with an important early Modern landmark – the A. D. Price Housing Project, located on the city’s east side which opened 1939 as the Willert Park project. Here architect Frederick C. Backus created one of the first garden/courtyard housing projects in then nation; it was also the only project in Buffalo to have a significant sculptural program.
Perhaps even more important than the architectural significance is the cultural heritage of this apartment complex. It was constructed in the center of what was then Buffalo’s black neighborhood. White applicants were denied admission. The Willert Park – A. D. Price Housing Project thus served as an incubator for the African American middle class during the mid-twentieth century, nurturing a generation of Buffalo’s most prominent citizens. At the request of PBN, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) reviewed the significance of Willert Park and issued a statement on its eligibility for the National Register.