BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health's Epidemiology team will be moving into Buffalo's oldest downtown building.
The Lincoln building first served as a church in 1833. Decades later, a school. It welcomed three presidents - Millard Fillmore, John Quincy Adams, and Abraham Lincoln.
And now, it's Erie County's COVID-19 response hub.
"Epidemiology will be here, the call center and contact tracing on the first two floors. And then the third and fourth floor will be utilized for other county activities, but the fourth floor is going to be a dedicated training space for not just the health department but also for other county agencies that need it," said Bill Geary, Erie County Commissioner of Public Works.
But before the socially-distant cubicles and computers were installed, the building needed to be renovated for work in the 21st century.
The building now has a new roof, HVAC systems on each floor, electrical and data work, an elevator, and fire alarm systems.
"They'll be able to have the whole epidemiology team right here in one space working as a cohesive unit," said Peter Anderson, Press Secretary to County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "They have people kind of spread into different buildings right now, so having them all under one roof working as a cohesive team all together in one space is going to be very helpful."
The $5.2 million restoration project of this187-year-old building began in June. Starting next week, Erie County Department of Health workers can call this building their new workplace, and experience its rich history.
"We actually were able to uncover a staircase that we walked up to come up here to the second floor. It was really covered up and it has all that original architecture from 1833," said Geary.
"It has a very rich history, and now to see it brought back to life in such a great restored kind of way that it's a 21st century functioning in a 19th century building, it's just fantastic," said Anderson.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, the county still plans to use the building and lease the office space.