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Work afoot to restore Coit House New owners plan a bed-and-breakfast

The George Coit House, Buffalo's oldest wooden home, has been sold and its new owners plan to convert it to a bed-and-breakfast.

and Russell Maxwell purchased the Federal-style building, built between 1815 and 1820, for $98,000.

The Allentown Association first put it on the market in July 2005 for $149,900.

The offer was withdrawn for several months to satisfy concerns raised by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and others. The association bought the structure at 414 Virginia St., near South Elmwood Avenue, in December 1999 with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Wendt Foundation.

"My hope is to renovate the structure and save a piece of Buffalo's legacy," said Yaskow, whose company, Dixon Enterprises, buys and renovates historic homes.

He also owns the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Walter Davidson House at 57 Tillinghast St., and took ownership two weeks ago of Gene McCarthy's, a bar in the Old First Ward.

Architect Tommaso Briatico is working with the owners on renovation plans. Yaskow said he envisions the bed-and-breakfast having four to five guest rooms, and estimated it will be a year before it is ready to open. He also plans on leasing the inn rather than running it himself.

Gretchen Grobe, Allentown Association president, said she was confident the new owners would be respectful of the building's history.

The association helped stabilize the building while using the first floor for office space, but concluded it could no longer sustain the building's operating costs or pay for needed renovations.

"I believe they are going to do a good job with the Coit House. It is now going to be taken care of, and it's good for Allentown," Grobe said.

George Coit played a pivotal role in constructing Buffalo Harbor and establishing Buffalo as the terminus of the canal in 1823. The house was built near the canal at 53 Pearl St., before being moved to Allentown in 1867.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who earlier sought to have the building relocated to the Erie Canal Harbor, said he was cautiously optimistic.

"As long as the building gets the proper care that it deserves, and the buyer invests the resources with great sensitivity to its historic importance, I'm pleased," Hoyt said. "I think the appropriate organizations and agencies ought to watch closely to make sure it's done properly."


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