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Another look back at the Wiss's history; clarification of LLC's ability to take ownership

By Howard B. Owens

Tim Hens, who owns property neighboring the Wiss Hotel building and is an engineer and history buff, sent along this photo of the "Wiss House" circa 1900, when it was two stories with a wood exterior.

He notes it was a wood-framed building.

Is it possible that the three-story structure there now is the same two-story building with a third-story addition? Most of the frame structures built in the early 1800s were post-and-beam construction with wood siding. Very few remain in our area. It would have been difficult to add a third floor to a post-and-beam constructed building. Was there ever any history of a fire? Possibly they rebuilt on the same site?

Building permits were not required way back when, so the historical record is rather incomplete.

Hens also notes that the facade in the postcard pictures we ran the other day make it look like the facade is stacked stone.

Here's one of those postcards:

Of course, we all know the current facade is red brick.

Hens said it makes no sense to put brick in front of stacked stone and it isn't likely somebody would have removed the stacked stone to put up brick.

Thinking about this, I remembered something I read in the Lynne Belluscio article from 2005.

Hepps added the third story to the old two-story landmark and capped it off with a flat roof. He covered the exterior with metal siding.

In 1927 he replaced the siding with 'tapestry brick" veneer. He added the small one-story store to the east ...

So the Hepps-owned building we see above was probably sided with tin that was pressed to look like stacked stone.

I asked Hens if that was possbile and he said yes, but said such a facade in that era wouldn't not have weathered well.

As for adding the third floor to the wood-framed structure, compare window and door placement. The interesting thing to note is how the east end of the building isn't level with the west end in both pictures. 

However, Hens said a new building, given the slant of Main Street, could have been built the same way.

Personally, it seems to me unlikely that the building of 1900 would be so similar to the building of the 1920s if they were different buildings.

So here's something else to debate: Is the current Wiss the same building as the structure originally built at that location in 1802 (the construction date in an article Hens shared).

On another note, a caller this morning raised the issue that I haven't reported that the Le Roy, NY, LLC, isn't in a position to take immediate ownership of the building even if the village board approved the sale today.

That hasn't been an issue, at least in public statements, for the three trustees blocking the sale, but it's also true.

I confirmed with Bob Fussell this morning that there is a contingency in the LLC's offer that would give the group four months to raise funds sufficient to move forward with the project.

Fussell said he believes people have made sufficient verbal commitments to ensure the funds would be raised well within the time frame, but until the funds are committed, the LLC won't take title to the building.

Timothy Hens

Seems the tin siding didn't last long at all if the building was still two stories and clapboards in c. 1900 and then the brick veneer was placed in 1927.

The building definitely looks more attractive on its own than with the small addition that connects it to 70-72 Main St (Forti Block).

At least there are some photos to be found of the Wiss. We had a very hard time tracking down any photos of our building across the street (69-73 Main St) when we added the front porch. Not many photos of the south side of Main St were taken due to the glare of the sun apparently. We eventually found a photo of a parade from World War I that you could just catch a glimpse of the front of the building in. The old portico extended about 3/4 the length of the building. We decided to put it back onto the building full width to create a nicer entry for our retail tenants.

Always interesting researching old buildings. We have quite an extensive history of our building at 69-73 Main St that I will share if I can find it--it was built in 1822. Amazing how many times buildings got moved, "turned", or replaced due to fire to get to their current locations.

Feb 15, 2013, 5:11pm Permalink
scott williams

Have you ever heard of all the talk to this date of how every resident that is old enough to remember our beautiful city of Batavia misses it so much since the wrecking ball came and took it away? If you tear the WISS down your removing so much of who you are as a village landmarks can't be replaced. PLEASE BE WISE FOR THE WISS!

Feb 15, 2013, 6:24pm Permalink

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