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SEP 15 - SEP 22, 2015

Lewiston's Frontier House Use it or Lose It

Daria Jurek

SEP 15, 2015

The Frontier house:Yesterday and today

The once stately Frontier House sits on Center Street in the middle of the Village of Lewiston. Built almost two hundred years ago you can still see the simple beauty of the Federal Style Architecture used in its design and there is no disputing its historical significance. The two story stone building has long been listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places.

During those two centuries it served as a four star hotel, and private residence, a museum and an eatery. For the last twenty years of its useful life it was even leased out as a McDonalds Restaurant. But since 2004 the grand building has stood vacant. The interior of the building is, in a word, destroyed. It will need to be completely gutted and then rebuilt. The exterior has extensive structural issues that will need to be addressed and the final cost to restore this property to its former glory will no doubt be in the millions of dollars.

After purchasing the property in 2004 local businessman / real estate investor Richard Hastings spoke of restoring and refurbishing the building but none of those plans ever materialized. Mr. Hasting is in the process of trying to sell 38 parcels of shuttered real estate he owns in downtown Niagara Falls and on Main Street. These properties too sit idle waiting for a possible redevelopment that may never come. So for the last ten plus years the building has sat deserted in the middle of a bustling business district.

It has been on the market for sale numerous times and offers have been made, but none of them were accepted by Hastings. Earlier this summer Lewiston Board Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey said that Richard Hastings would sell it to the town “if the price was right.” But after being hired by the town to provide an estimate Gar Associates of Amherst set the value of the building at approximately $900,000. Those numbers were quickly rejected as absurdly low by the owner. 

Some seemed disappointed that the Town wasn’t able to get involved in the purchase and rehabilitation of this property. But the majority of the residents I spoke with feel that despite the Frontier House’s historical value the town Lewiston shouldn’t be using its taxpayer’s money to get into the real estate development business. They were also concerned with the costs going forward of marinating and owning a large piece of property that can generate little or no income.

The building is now listed for sale on the private market again, but with asking price of $1,699,000 there doesn’t appear to be a line of buyers stepping forward to purchase the property. So it seems as if the impasse will continue, with the owner unwilling to rehabilitate the property and seemingly unwilling to set a reasonable price that will allow someone else to do so.

Hopefully the situation won’t go on for another 10 or 20 years leaving both residents and visitors wondering “why is such a marvelous old building simply sitting there unused?” 






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