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What It Looked Like Wednesday: The 'splendidly equipped' Hotel Fenton

The Fenton was among a spate of hotels built to handle the throngs of visitors coming to Buffalo for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901.

But it differs from most of the others, because it's still standing.

Many hotels built for the exposition were temporary structures, but the Fenton was made to last. It has stood strong at Main and West Ferry streets since 1896.

The four-story, yellow brick building features stone trimmings and large, bay windows on each floor. At the time it was built, the Hotel Fenton could accommodate 400 guests — even though the building only had 18 bathrooms. There was a restaurant on the ground floor. Rooms cost $1.50 per day, if you had two or more people in each room.

It was billed as the largest permanent hotel near the Pan-American Exposition grounds, which began at the southern entrance of Delaware Park. "Buffalo — Old and New," published in 1901, described the Hotel Fenton:

It is a fine, substantial, permanent structure, with cabinet finish and hardwood floors, not erected for temporary use. The Fenton has a prompt postal service, also telegraph, telephone and messenger service all night in the building. The hotel, situated in the midst of the finest residence section in the city, a cool, quiet and restful resort, is conducted on the European plan.

From the roof at night, visitors could see the illuminated Pan-American Exposition grounds.

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Developer Nick Sinatra bought the neglected Fenton and redeveloped it in 2015.

It houses 33 one- and two-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $1,300 to $1,600 a month — a far cry from the $1.50 per day rate at the turn of the century.

Not much has changed since 1896, except the first-floor retail has been removed and a fresh coat of blue and white paint spruced up the exterior.

Fenton Village apartments on West Ferry Street, pictured in 2015. (John Hickey/News file photo)

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