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A hundred years ago the structure at 110 College St. in Buffalo was a much different place than the worn and weathered building that stands there today.
Built sometime in the early 1900s — probably about 1908 — the Queen Anne-influenced building welcomed guests as one of two hotels in a growing community thriving with commerce.
Those days vanished, and the structure became a private residence, but if Ron Meyer has his way, those days are on the way back.
“I had the idea to open a bed and breakfast,” Meyer said.
Meyer, who lived in Tonieville before moving to California for several years, returned to the area in November 2008. He bought a house on College Street, just down the street from the former hotel.
The hotel was being used as a private residence and was located on the corner of College Street, facing Ky. 470.
“So every day I passed by this house,” he said, explaining he admired it.
Because Meyer had worked as a painter, he had some experience with contract work.
When the opportunity arose, Meyer arranged to buy the house. He closed on it in May.
“I never thought I’d end up being the owner,” he said.
Since then, Meyer has worked on restoring the house with help of others, including friend Shad Rossman and carpenter Ricky “Cricket” Harris.
“I’ve known ‘Cricket’ for 20 years,” Meyer said.
Last week, as Harris worked to replace the poplar siding on the house, he admitted the project was not like most others he’s been involved with.
“It’s probably the biggest one,” Harris said.
Siding, interior walls, floors, electrical and plumbing all are on the work schedule. Though Meyer is a licensed journeyman painter, electrical and plumbing are his “weak points,” he said.
“It’s going to take quite a bit,” Meyer said. “And it’s going to take a few years.”
Meyer said it likely will take three to five years to complete the renovation.
“I’ll take it one floor at a time,” Meyer said.
When completed, Meyer plans to have special themes for each of the available rooms at his bed and breakfast, such as a Lincoln room and a Derby room.
“I’m kind of wanting to keep it Kentucky focused,” he said.
Eventually he hopes to have an upscale dining facility at the bed and breakfast as well.
The National Register of Historic Places lists the building by the name McClain Hotel, which it describes as a “gable-front, five bay, asymmetrical plan, two-story frame building built circa 1908.” It’s importance, the organization says, is because of its “association with early 20th century commerce in Buffalo.”
At one point the hotel might have been called the Keith Hotel, after C.E. Keith, who is credited with its construction, but that is not certain, the NRHP says.
In 1923 the hotel was purchased by J.H. McClain. The McClain family operated the business until 1945, except for a brief period in the 1920s, when it was owned and operated by C.H. Dixon. Evidence exists that it was called The Dixon Hotel at that time.
Another hotel called the Beauchamp Hotel was a block away but was razed in the 1960s, the NRHP says.
The loss of the hotels over the years means a lack of places to stay for visitors to LaRue county, Meyer said. He wants to change that.
“I’d just like ... to have an upscale place for people to visit,” he said.
Before Meyer took on the project, he had looked at another location and formed a business plan. His mother thought the idea was a good one, too, and since has created her own bed and breakfast in Tonieville.
Meyer said he has been able to get an inside look at the process, which will help him in the long run.
For now, he is focused on getting the project done, little by little.
“Our goal right now is to get the outside finished by the first of the year,” Meyer said.
Rossman, who helps with the lawn and assists with the work, echoed the sentiment of taking the work little by little.
“It’s baby steps, man,” Rossman said.
The project also has caught the attention of neighbors including Josh Taylor, who visited the site with his cousin, Travis Druen, during recent renovation work. Taylor lives behind the building.
“I know one thing,” he said. “The whole neighborhood appreciates it.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at email@example.com or (270) 505-1743.