LITTLE VALLEY - Since word has been released that the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building, across the street from the County Center in Little Valley, is planned to be razed, legislators have been flooded with emails, phone calls and letters. The full body of the legislature received a visit during their regular meeting from a neighboring former county legislator, wishing to talk about the building.
Former Chautauqua County Legislator Nancy Bargar was introduced and given privilege of the floor by District 10 Legislator James Snyder, R-Olean. Bargar, the great-grandniece of a soldier of the New York 154th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, voiced her concern in the planned demolition.
"I never intended to be a spokesman for all the people from across the country that have relatives involved in the unit," Bargar said. "I come to you today to ask for your open mindedness, and to sit on this decision to bring down the building."
The 21 members of the Cattaraugus County Legislature have received correspondence, in the form of email and written letters, from descendants of the local unit, and of those with a penchant for preservation of historic properties.
The building, as has been reported, has fallen into a state of disrepair that would be quite extensive to fix, according to Joe Pillittere, county Public Works commissioner. Mold, water damage and crumbling foundational walls, not to mention asbestos in the building materials, would make preservation an expensive endeavor.
If preservation of the structure would be considered, Bargar likened the possibilities to a couple of buildings that sit on property across the street from the Chautauqua County buildings in Mayville. There are two historic buildings that have been given over to restaurateurs, providing a place for lawmakers and employees to meet and eat.
"There may be a possibility to retain the buildings, restoring them and giving them over to the private sector, either as a tenant or an owner," she said. "These buildings are something that we can't start from scratch and replace."
Bargar said the building was something that reminded her of what Chautauqua County has in Chautauqua Institution. The building could be an important site for genealogy research, she offered, and, much like the buildings at Chautauqua, is important to those who would come if only for a brief period of time.
Bargar's great-granduncle, Lowree D. Bargar, of 'F' Company, of the 154th was captured at Gettysburg, and held as a prisoner of war. He is believed to have died in a prison camp in Richmond, Va.
The fate of the building has yet to be finalized by members of the Cattaraugus County Legislature and the county Public Works Department.