Buffalo is concerned about its future. Like many cities, Buffalo has seen its industry decline and the people move farther and farther away from the city center into the suburbs. While the city’s ghosts are still very visible in neighborhoods (where red spray paint marks houses for demolition) and in business districts, there are also visible signs of growth. During our stay we are fortunate to not only see Buffalo, but also hear its stories from the people who know it best.
Most people we speak to truly love their city and are eager to see it reemerge with a growing economy and engaged community. And many people are actively working towards progress here. Ani Difranco, a musician and Buffalo native, has toured the world and still calls Buffalo home. When Ani and her manager, Scot Fisher, realized a church in downtown Buffalo built in the late 1800’s was slated for demolition due to years of neglect, they bought the building from the city. Millions of dollars and years of renovations later, the church has been transformed into a beautiful music hall that still retains its original grand beauty. Rechristened Babeville, it now houses the Righteous Babe offices, a gorgeous performance hall, an art gallery, a cinema, and a soon-to-be bar.
We were lucky enough to receive a grand tour of Babeville, including a long climb up the bell tower.
Babeville offers a beautiful venue for the Buffalo arts community to enjoy and for performers to visit. And like many of Buffalo’s historical landmarks, the church is “no longer simply a static reminder of Buffalo’s bygone glory, it’s a promise of things to come. “