Statuary of Willert Park Courts

406 Jefferson Avenue

Willert Park Courts is representative of PWA projects for public housing in its high-quality construction and incorporation of New Deal-style artwork, which included representations of the African American experience in Buffalo such as music and the Underground Railroad. Conceived by sculptor Robert Cornbach, who was ably assisted by Harold Ambellan, these works combined elements of cubism with the social realist approach used by many Works Progress Administration artists.

The neighborhood in which the Willert Park Courts complex was built had long been an integrated neighborhood in which African American and white, mostly immigrant residents shared residential and commercial space. Upon its completion, however, the housing project increased the high density of African American residents in one location, which precipitated the rapid segregation of this enclave in the mid-twentieth century. This social isolation has contributed to the long-term neglect of the property, which is now endangered for demolition through disinvestment and dereliction.

Harold Ambellan Sculpture