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Historic house demolished in Lewiston

LEWISTON - A 185-year-old house was torn down Tuesday morning in a village- and state-approved demolition.

Harry W. Wright, chairman of the Village of Lewiston Historic Preservation Board, said 470 Ridge St. was too deteriorated to be saved.

"Another little piece of Lewiston's history is gone," mourned Eva Nicklas, artistic director of the Lewiston Council on the Arts, whose office is right across the street.

The small house had been placed on the state's historic register nearly 30 years ago, Wright said, so the State Historic Preservation Office had to give permission for the demolition.

"The whole back of the house was rotted," village Building Inspector Kenneth Candella said. "It was deemed unsafe and unrebuildable."

Wright said the house, built in about 1832, originally was one story, with a second floor added later. He said past owners had cut into the log joists to lay ducts or conduits, and weakened the structure.

"Eventually the floors were bouncing," Wright said.

Niagara County land records show the house was bought for $28,000 on Oct. 6 by Shaun and Joanne O'Leary of North Eighth Street, Lewiston, after the previous owners had been foreclosed upon by their mortgage holder. The property's assessed valuation was $57,600.

Wright said the O'Learys thought they could save the house, but found it impossible to do so. The board approved the demolition in public meetings, Wright said.

"We hated to see it go, too," Wright said. "We did the best we could to save it, believe me."

Wright said the Historic Preservation Board will allow the O'Learys to build a new house at 470 Ridge, but it must look as much as possible like the old one on the outside. The design and plans must be approved by the board.

"The property will still be historic, but the building will be new," Wright said.

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