LITTLE VALLEY — The outside of the Cattaraugus County Monument and Historic Building on Court Street was abuzz with activity Monday as preservationists held a memorial ceremony to Civil War veterans and the nation’s other war dead.
“It went great,” Thomas Stetz, president of Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (C.A.M.P.), said the day after the ceremony that followed Little Valley’s Memorial Day parade.
“We had a pretty good crowd of 50 or 60 people who came after the Little Valley parade,” said Stetz, who gave opening remarks, thanking those attending. He then asked for everyone to honor all veterans with a moment of silence.
Stetz then invited anyone in the audience who wished to share their thoughts about veterans from other than the Civil War. A few of the participants did get up and speak about their relatives’ military service.
After leading those assembled outside the 100-plus-year-old building, a Little Valley Cub Scout, Noah Fuller, presented the flag to a group of several Civil War re-enactors led by John Stengel of Cuba.
Stengel portrayed a veteran who returned from the Civil War and attended the 2013 dedication of the monument and building.
Descendants of members of the 154th Regiment, which included many Cattaraugus County residents, read statements about their ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
A U.S. Air Force major who spoke earlier at the Little Valley Memorial Day ceremony at Little Valley Rural Cemetery also attended the C.A.M.P. service, Stetz said. After speaking briefly about modern-day veterans, the major related an interesting Civil War story involving a father and son killed on the same day in the same battle.
C.A.M.P. officials then placed a monument in front of the monument, knowing it could be the last such ceremony.
Stetz spoke briefly about the building still being in jeopardy of being demolished. “We’re trying to preserve it so that it stands forever in peoples’ memories,” he said.
Also speaking was Cattaraugus County Legislator Carl Edwards of Limestone, who urged his colleagues to give C.A.M.P. enough time to study the building and raise funds to help preserve it.
County lawmakers had expected to demolish the building after setting aside funds to remove asbestos and demolish it along with the adjacent former Cattaraugus County Board of Elections building. Legislators last year agreed to give C.A.M.P. time to see what they could do to preserve it. The Public Works Committee is looking for some progress by this fall before considering another time extension.
“We’ve got a preliminary report we’re looking over right now,” Stetz said.
The $3,500 report by Clinton Brown Co. Architecture of Buffalo was paid for using a $2,500 grant from the Landmark Society of Western New York, which has deemed the building worthy of preservation.
“We’re waiting for comments from the Landmark Society,” Stetz said. “It will probably be a couple of weeks before we get the final report.”
That is not only expected to tell C.A.M.P. if it can be preserved and for how much, but also offer some proposed long-term uses for the building.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)