Documentary Highlights What Could Have Been

To The Reader’s Forum:

I commend WNED public television and everyone who had a part in making “Reimagining A Buffalo Landmark,” the new Richardson Olmsted Campus documentary. It clearly and convincingly illustrates why this is a model preservation project, one most deserving of its 2018 Richard H. Driehaus National Trust for Historic Preservation Award. It also demonstrates what can be achieved when local leaders engage with their stakeholders in an honest, transparent and inclusive manner.

At the same time, the film also serves as a reminder of the failure of the Chautauqua Institution to explore its options when it came to preserving and updating its own national historic landmark, the Amphitheater – the most significant structure on its grounds and perhaps in the entire region. The dishonesty, secrecy and exclusivity of the Institution’s leaders led directly to the Amp’s needless demolition and replacement with a replica. Their actions are a case study of what not to do in terms of historic preservation and community planning. Sadly, it’s a story that needs to be told to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.


Brian J. Berg