LEWISTON – Town officials are looking at ways to revive the Frontier House, an historic building in the heart of the Center Street district.
Town Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey said town officials are currently negotiating with developer Richard Hastings regarding the restoration of the vacant structure.
Brochey said the move emerged from informal conversations with Hastings as they both expressed hope that the Frontier House, a former premiere hotel established in the 1824, could be restored to its original glamour.
Brochey said the board will seek to develop a commission comprised of 12 engineers, attorneys, political officials and residents to pursue plans to finance the building’s restoration through grants, Niagara River Greenway funding and donations. He said the board will avoid spending tax dollars on the project.
Village Mayor Terry Collesano, the village historical society and the village board of trustees were present to hear the announcement on Monday and met it with a round of applause.
“The Frontier House is our touchstone to the past that makes Lewiston the envy of other communities,” Brochey said. “It’s not only a cultural icon but it will become a key in unlocking Lewiston’s economic development and potential.”
The process will begin with an appraisal by GAR Associates, a $2,200 expense approved at Monday’s regular town board meeting, which is estimated to transpire in the next few weeks.
Once completed, the town will have a negotiating point with Hastings until the two have secured a price point. Brochey said the committee will be in place to ensure proper oversight and structure the project to sustain its own overhead costs. The building is tentatively envisioned as a multi-use facility.
“We stand together as one community to protect and resurrect a community treasure that will mark our legacy and passed down to future generations,” Brochey said.
The Frontier House has previously served as a private home, museum, restaurant, hotel, and was most recently was home to a McDonald’s franchise. The property has been vacant since 2004. The former hotel claims to have hosted the likes of President William McKinley, Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. It has appeared on the National Register’s list of historic places in Niagara County since the 1970s.
“The potential impact Lewiston would receive by bringing life back into this historical jewel will spell a dramatic difference in our local, commercial downtown,” Collesano said in a statement to the board.
Councilman Alfonso M. Bax said that the project would also require an engineering study to understand the structural integrity of the nearly 200-year-old property.
The supervisor noted that the money needed will be bonded out. Of the town’s annual $510,000 greenway allocation from the New York Power Authority, Brochey said he would utilize no more than $200,000 annually on the project. Brochey said preliminary conversations with the greenway commission have encouraged his efforts.
Who will retain the property after the plan’s completion is still undetermined, Brochey said