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Historic Springville building reduced to rubble

One of the oldest historic buildings in Springville is no longer standing.

The Springville Hotel, known at different points in its history as the Mansion House and the International House, was demolished Saturday after officials Friday discovered the building’s walls and flooring were collapsing, said Estelle Simpson, whose parents owned the building in the 1920s and 1930s.

Built in the mid-1870s, the Springville Hotel, which started as a three-story, 30-room hotel, helped usher in a robust, dynamic era in the community’s history.

In its early days, the mansion likely housed teachers from nearby Springville Academy, Erie County’s first high school, said David Batterson, Village of Springville and Town of Concord historian. The hotel was located on Main Street, one of the main thoroughfares heading west, he added.

At the turn of the century, the mansion was renamed the International House after travelers were drawn in by Springville institutions such as its opera house and carnival-ride businesses.

“We’re basically a small town that grew very rapidly,” Batterson said. “It was culture, higher learning that brought people to the area, which then needed hotels to service them.”

As a child, Simpson, whose parents owned the building early on, remembers watching prominent businesspeople frequent the mansion, which featured no-frills upstairs living quarters and a restaurant and bar downstairs. Simpson said her childhood at the hotel kindled long-held memories of old-fashioned cars and brick streets. Her parents may have even cooked on an oil stove, she said.

“It was a spectacular time for me to be growing up,” she said.

Simpson, who was born in the mansion 83 years ago, gushed about the ability of her parents, Tony and Mary Skuza, to assume ownership positions with little schooling. Her father completed the third grade and her mother, the eighth.

As Simpson offered recollections of her early childhood at the hotel, she said she wasn’t unhappy to see the building demolished Saturday, because it had become a Main Street eyesore.

“I’m not saddened today by the coming-down of this building,” she said. “Today, I have many memories and am so proud that my mother and father got into this business and had very little education, and they made a success of it.”

The property changed hands at least seven times over the course of its more than 125-year history, and it is owned by a local businessperson, Batterson said. The hotel had become dilapidated after unsuccessful renovation efforts, and the owner failed to pay taxes, he said.

Batterson called the hotel’s demolition a “loss of another one of our historic treasures” and said he was saddened to see the building reduced to rubble. He held up an exterior photo of the hotel in its heyday that – except for some differences in embellishments – remained largely unchanged from how it looked when it was taken down.

Of Saturday’s demolition, Batterson said, “It’s really kind of quite sad.”