Reach out — and have a plan

Newsmaker of the month: Saving the Fenner House

There has been plenty of public outcry in the last two weeks regarding the Fenner House. Many are upset with the decision by the State University of New York at Fredonia to call for a demolition of the structure.

Unthinkable, opponents of the razing say, when noting the history of the house.

In May 2018, Douglas Shepard and Wendy Straight authored a short piece for the OBSERVER on the structure’s history. According to the article, the Wolfers/Fenner/Kasling house at 178 Central Ave. was built after the Civil War by the Fredonia carpenter Robert Wolfers (1816-1897), who is also known for the majestic Wolfers/Ellis house, a Greek Revival home built before the Civil War and located at 100 Eagle St. Wolfers and his family conveyed it to Dr. Milton M. Fenner (1837-1905), who was locally famous as the manufacturer of bottled medicine marketed as “People’s Remedies.”

Originally from nearby South Stockton, Fenner was also a state legislator and was connected to a number of business enterprises, including the Dunkirk Fredonia Electric Railroad and the Columbia Hotel. During the mid 20th century, the site was known as the House of Kasling.

Most recently, the Fenner House was an introduction to the university for numerous prospective students when it served as the admissions office. Those who entered, however, knew little about the importance of the building.

For the Fredonia Preservation Society — and many others — that past is worth saving. Since President Dr. Dennis Hefner sent the letter to the State University Construction Fund to begin the process of razing the building on the property at 178 Central Ave., that is where those who want to save the structure must go next. Organize a petition, through paper and online, and make your voice heard.

The address is 353 Broadway, Albany, New York 12246. A phone call can be placed by calling (518) 320-3200.

Most importantly, those invested in saving the site must have a plan for the building. Just opposing the current demolition is not enough.

TO COMMENT ON THE NEWSMAKER OF THE MONTH, send an e-mail to editorial@observertoday.com or to suggest a Newsmaker of the month, contact us at 366-3000, ext. 401.


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