Oct 28, 2016
After a fire destroyed Creekside Inn on Oct. 29, 2004, people wondered what would happen to the historic building.
The interior had been gutted by flames and the location’s future was in doubt.
Those questions continued until Rochester businessman and contractor Bill Farmer purchased the property in 2007 from James and Elizabeth Gomborone, who owned and operated the eatery at the time of the fire.
Since then, Farmer has been working to rehabilitate the inn and reopen it. And the progress has become increasingly noticeable to area residents.
According to Lynne Belluscio, Le Roy historian, the Creekside Inn was constructed sometime in the 1830s, although the exact date is unknown.
“An image of the building actually shows up in a woodcut from pre-Civil War,” she said. “It shows the Main Street bridge and the building that is there.”
The building at one time was Mr. Ballard’s Hat Factory, and Belluscio says the village has pre-Civil War accounts of a man named James Ballard manufacturing fur-felt hats. There were stories of Le Roy children trapping beaver and muskrats to take the pelts to the factory to have them processed into felt hats.
“How long the hat factory was there, I’m not too sure,” she said.
It then became the property of Percy Hooker, who was the first New York state highway commissioner, and Le Roy has photographs of his daughter, Margery, taken in 1893 at the house.
Belluscio said the historical society had photographs of Harold Cleveland sitting in the house — while he lived there, it is unknown if he owned or rented the location. Upon his death, Dr. Henry Knoll, a physician, acquired the property where he had his offices and lived with his family.
Belluscio isn’t sure when the building became a restaurant, but it had to be sometime before the 1970s.
The building originally had stucco, and at some point it was removed to expose the Marcellus shale.
The entrance to the building has changed, but Belluscio said that’s due to the Main Street bridge — the west end of the Main Street bridge was raised, so she believes the doors and windows have changed as a result.
And the progress continues.
In 2008, the Genesee County Economic Development Center approved a Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes plan for what Farmer presented as a plan to reopen the Creekside Inn in 2009. The agreement was extended in 2011 with the new target date was July 2012, in time for the community’s Oatka Festival.
Although it has not yet reopened, Farmer has met all the tax obligations and his continued work is seen as positive, according to Rachael Tabelski, the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s director of communications and marketing.
“I think everyone in Le Roy is going to be excited once the project is done,” she said.
Village Trustee Bill Kettle said he thinks the renovations are going very well.
Although he knew there was a “down” period on the external work, in the last several months, Farmer has done a “remarkable job and invested a lot of money” in getting the facade and exterior look up to date.
“Now he is working on the interior side,” he said. “So I’m very encouraged with the progress he made.”
Kettle said he believes the work Farmer has done has boosted the morale in the village, and is a very positive direction for the village.
Farmer didn’t respond to a request for comment prior to press time.