Support builds for Fenner House

Commentary: Preserving historic village structure

Editor’s note: This letter was sent in August 2018 to the state Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation.


I am writing to you in support of the Fenner House located at 178 Central Ave. in Fredonia. The building is currently owned by the State University of New York at Fredonia and has been the topic of discussion by many here in the village of Fredonia.

I am a village of Fredonia trustee and a resident my whole life in the Dunkirk and Fredonia area having been employed, married and raised our family here. My wife and three children have attended/graduated from the college here and we are proud of the history of our family here and the history of Fredonia in general.

The Fenner name has been one of pride and honor in Fredonia for over 100 years.

On Sept. 16, 1873, The M.M. Fenner Hose Co. 2 was named after Dr. Milton M. Fenner. The hose company was named in his honor due to his stature in the community and his generosity to the fire company. Today, the Fenner name still represents honor in the Fredonia Fire Department after Dr. Fenner and his dedication to firematics. I have been a member of the Fredonia Fire Department for over 30 years and am proud that one of our fire companies had been dedicated over 100 years ago for this very prominent member of our community.

The Fenner house similarly is a historical treasure that has been a part of our history in Fredonia for many, many years. In 1964, Dallas Beal, our then college president, thought to have the property owned and maintained by the college in order to preserve this very valuable property. Over the years, the property has not been properly maintained and demolition is slated to be done by the college as a result.

This historic building represents much of the history of the village of Fredonia and is a source of pride in our community. If the college does not want to maintain this historic building in our community, please allow this building to be sold and be privately restored, and not be demolished as is being discussed.

The Fredonia Censor devoted most of its front page on March 22, 1905, to a full account of the funeral and of Dr. Fenner’s life and accomplishments. Dr. Fenner’s life had been of great benefit to Fredonia and was accomplished in enterprise, courage, public spirit and business ability as was stated in the newspaper that day.

The Fenner House represents the historic accomplishments of Dr. Fenner and his life and his benefit to our community. Please do not let the Fenner House in Fredonia be another statistic of historic buildings demolished to make way for a parking lot or the likes. I support the Fenner House and am hopeful that you do as well.

Doug Essek is a village of Fredonia trustee.

Voice your opinion to the university


Thank you, Rod Pennica and Linda Malcolm for shedding light on the questionable rush to demolish Fenner House. This building is a jewel not only to the college campus, but the historical integrity of the college and Central Avenue.

As a veteran home inspector, Mr. Pennica knows of what he speaks. Surely there is something that can be done to salvage this storied house. I urge university President Dennis Hefner to hold off on demolition until further studies and evaluation on the viability of Fenner House can be sought.

I will be personally calling President Hefner today to voice my opinion. I urge all of you to do the same.



Chautauqua County Legislature candidate,

District 4


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