By 1955, this growing community needed a gathering place - a center where they could teach their children, celebrate weddings, enjoy entertainment, and do all of things that would remind them of who they are and where they came from. With that, DNIPRO was born. Named after the largest river in Ukraine, DNIPRO became their cultural center, at 562 Genesee Street in Buffalo.
Constructed in 1914, with a three story terra cotta façade fronting 44,000 square feet of space, the building had seen cycles of deterioration and investment. It is still heavily used and contains a credit union, an actively used event space, and a Ukrainian school, among other things. The stewards of this important building, members of the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center of Buffalo, knew they needed a conditions assessment and code analysis of the building as a first step in developing a master plan for rehabilitation and an expansion of community uses.
The Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund of the Preservation League make an $8,600 grant to the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center for a conditions assessment of the exterior and interior, a mechanical systems analysis, an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code assessment, and to gather information on underutilized sections of the building. The firm of Hamilton Houston Lownie was hired for the study, which was completed under the guidance of one of the firm’s principals, Ted Lownie, just prior to his untimely death. With Ted’s work completed, the stewards of this important building have the basis for developing a sensitive rehabilitation plan for their center which will serve this important community for many years to come.
This grant is the fifth made from the Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund of the Preservation League of New York State which was established in 2010 and is funded through a permanently endowed charitable contribution from Thomas J. Schwarz. The primary goals of the Fund are to support professional services for important preservation projects that: illustrate the benefits of the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, leverage other public and private investments, and enable the League to react quickly to preservation opportunities with financial resources. Previous recipients include CiviCure in Hoosick Falls; Friends of Fort Plain in Montgomery County; Adirondack Architectural Heritage in Keeseville, Clinton and Essex Counties; and GARNER Arts Center in Rockland County.
As a metal fabricator in Long Island City, Donald Stephen Gratz worked with modern architects, industrial designers, sculptors and furniture designers from Mies Van der Rohe to I.M.Pei to Barnett Newman and Bill Katavalos. But he always had a soft spot for historic preservation and enthusiastically supported the work of his wife, Roberta Brandes Gratz, a longtime Preservation League Trustee. He loved attending League events. Thomas J. Schwarz, who endowed the fund, is a member of the Preservation League's Trustees Council. He serves as President of Purchase College, SUNY, and is a board member and alumnus of Hamilton College with great affection for upstate New York.