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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  40 - Hotels of Eau Claire

Niagara House

(-as transcribed from pages 545 - 546)

The Niagara House was the first hotel to open on the west side of the river.

George A. Buffington located in Eau Claire in 1856. He was born June 29, 1825, in New York State, and came with his parents to Walworth county, Wisconsin, when seventeen years of age, in 1848 he sold his belongings and moved to Stephenson county, Illinois, but in 1850 returned to Wisconsin, locating in Dodge county. While there he was appointed under-sheriff and elected justice of the peace. He entered into the grocery and sales stable businesses and by good management, industry and economy laid aside several thousand dollars. He came to Eau Claire in 1856 and invested in real estate. He established the Niagara House on what is now Water street, on the west side of the Chippewa river. This seems to have been the first commercial hotel in this part of the town. January 2, 1857, the County Board of Supervisors created the town of Half Moon Lake and gave official recognition to the Niagara House as a public rendezvous by ordering the first town meeting to be held there on the first Tuesday in April, 1857. In the fall of 1857 Mr. Buffington disposed of the business.

George A. Buffington, from the time he located in Eau Claire to the date of his death in 1893, was one of the prominent and leading citizens. He was elected Mayor in 1876 and served as an Alderman from the Fifth Ward thirteen years. He engaged in the lumbering business and was very successful. Mr. Buffington was prominent in the Masonic fraternity and rose to the grade of 32d degree Mason. He disposed of the hotel business in the fall of 1857 and various parties from time to time undertook the management. In May, 1866, it was leased by Mr. Buffington to Fowler & Rolls, and a newspaper item of that day says: "The Niagara is the best and neatest house on either side of the river." The west siders celebrated the Fourth of July, 1868, at this hotel with a grand ball. Northam & James had become proprietors and the ball was also an opening of the house under their management. In 1873 J. W. Snow became proprietor. In the fall of 1877 a Mr. Coverdale became landlord and gave the house a thorough reorganization and renovation. He continued the business for some months.

After being closed for some time the Niagara was burned in the early eighties. On the old foundation a grist mill was erected, known as the Acme Mill. It is stated a portion of the old original foundation is still in use. Later the property ceased to be used as a mill and now has been converted into a manufacturing plant of the Schwahn & Seyberth Manufacturing Company.

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