Demolition of former Russert home
BUFFALO, NY - The Boyhood home of the late NBC newsman and South Buffalo native Tim Russert was demolished on Wednesday morning.
The job to tear down the multi family dwelling on Woodside Avenue, which lasted 45 minutes, brought out a crowd of a few dozen nearby residents who expressed mixed emotions as they watched a memory of one of their neighborhood's favorite sons come tumbling down.
"I hate to see it coming down because of the significance of the house," said William Grundard, a resident of the street since the 1960's who remembers Russert as a youth.
"Tim used to come around the neighborhood and he was a very smart kid. You could tell he was gonna be something even when he was a kid," Grundard told WGRZ-TV.
With every swing of the giant claw of an excavator used to demolish the home, with every crunch of lumber, and with every bit of falling debris, it appeared someone standing by to witness the event had a recollection of the home's most famous occupant.
"All of my family and older sisters grew up with Tim Russert," said Anne Wirth, 52, who still calls Woodside Avenue home.
"My dad and Mr. Russert (Tim's father) were both in the Blackthorns, so watching this is kind of sad because this is like a piece of our history which is now gone," Wirth said.
The Russerts sold the home many years ago and in more recent years it had become, according to neighbors, an eye sore. This was even before a recent fire which heavily damaged the structure, and which would lead to its ultimate demise.
Despite sadness over losing the home, many expressed relief as well, fearing it would become a haven for vandals or even drug dealers.
"Tim's no longer here, and I don't think even he would want it to stay this way," said Grundard. "To see people live in an eyesore and an unhealthy environment...it probably would have turned into a drug house for the selling of crack cocaine or whatever these people do."
And while some had dreams of the home's resurrection in the form of a Russert museum, it's obviously too late for that now.
Still, others remain hopeful that something else could rise from these ruins in remembrance of someone so fondly recalled.
One such idea among neighbors is to turn the site into a pocket park, with perhaps even a statue of Russert, who rose to national fame but who never seemed to forget his South Buffalo roots.
"That would be awesome," said Wirth. "Because I think it's a piece of history and I think that's important."
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