Returning Attica Hotel to its roots

May 23, 2018

ATTICA — “It’s sold! It’s sold!” cried Attica residents when they saw a published announcement, even before the Attica Hotel’s newest owners had the chance to sign the official documents.

“I wasn’t even sure it was us,” said Attica Historical Society President Brian Fugle. “It was the day before the papers had been signed and I had to call the real estate agent (to make sure). I’m like, ‘Who bought it?’ She’s like, ‘Well, you did.’ We didn’t even sign the papers yet!”

Not too long after, the text messages and calls began flooding in, Fugle said.

It was urgent for residents to know what he and co-owner Michael Manusia would do with what had once been a popular mainstay and frequent stop for locals looking for grub or a cold beer — please, the text messages read, do not turn the hotel into an apartment building.

“That’s certainly not the intention,” Fugle assured.

When a sale for the Exchange Street building failed to go through earlier this year, its future hung in the balance. With a leaking roof and no caretakers, the hotel that had once housed the first U.S. female ambassador to Denmark and a first lady for overnight stays, that had once hosted the thriving, crowded Christmas parties of Westinghouse employees and that had once given many a fond memory to those looking for a steaming fish fry on a Friday night, fell further into disrepair each day.

And for Fugle and Manusia, both avid history buffs, to see such a building deteriorate proved painful.

Especially after they had the opportunity to explore the inside.

“I went to see (the hotel) out of pure curiosity,” Fugle said. “I saw that it did need work — I care a lot about Attica buildings and so I decided to put an offer in and see what happened. It was kind of off the cuff.”

Initially, Fugle and Manusia only wanted to preserve the building, they said. But an overwhelming community desire to see the building returned to its roots forced them to reconsider.

“One of the things is that people locally say is, ‘This is us, this is ours, this is tied in significantly to history,’” Manusia said. “People have a strong emotional tie to buildings, they spend a lot of time in them. So that’s the ultimate goal — to turn it back into a hotel, restaurant, bar.”

Though they’re at the mercy of contractors who are slated to repair the water damage and fix the leaking roof, they hope to have superficial changes like paint and carpeting complete so that they can open by Christmas time. The rest — restoration and renovation — will come only if they receive enough community support to make those changes feasible, they said.

“In real life, we aren’t millionaires,” Fugle admitted.

But if all goes according to plan, the 18 hotel rooms will, in the distant future, be restored to their historical significance and become available for overnight stays.

“It will be the Attica Hotel,” Fugle said. “That’s just, that’s it’s name. Our intention is to return it much to what it was in the past. Locally there’s such a resurgence of history. You see it in Buffalo, Batavia, Rochester. You have all these great buildings that nobody is utilizing and people really seem to want to see them saved. It’s just a shame that it’s so expensive to do ... But if the stars align right then there’s a lot of potential there.”

There’s still a lot that hangs in the balance, they said, and not a lot of overwhelming changes planned, at least not at first.

“The intention is to not compete with anyone who’s already here,” Fugle said. “It’s to complement already existing businesses.”

But as things progress, the men expect the community to play a large role in influencing what the Attica Hotel becomes.

“If there’s something that is wanted or desired or people say ‘Remember this?’ ‘Remember that?’ It’s like, I’m in,” Manusia said.

For now, the duo is just glad to be able to invest in the community and its history, they said.

“People want to see you make repairs, they want to see the old buildings saved,” Fugle said. “You see it every day in the newspapers, nobody wants to see a building bulldozed. And when they are, the day after it’s too late.”

By Jessica Dillon, Batavia Daily News

Category: Community