The original Dexterville Tavern building, more lately known as the Buffalo Grill, stands at the corner of Buffalo Street and East Second, empty and condemned. We have nothing in our collection from it other than recent photos: no calendars, no billheads, no ledgers, no glasses, no plates, no advertising novelties, no pieces of wood trim or even nails torn out in remodeling. It is the oldest building in Jamestown. The original part of the structure was built in 1826 according to available information. Beside it stands an historical marker erected in 1986.
I was on the historical marker committee when the marker was emplaced. That is the only time I was ever in the establishment. I briefly interviewed the daughter of the then owner. But I never pass by without giving the place a nod of respect for its age. An August 2017 article in the Post-Journal available on line implies it was still open at that time, but I have noticed it closed and then condemned for quite a while. A check of the Chautauqua County GIS site lists the owner as SIDI Properties, Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, owners since May 2019. The same source lists 11 previous owners but they seem to all be members of just five families going back to 1999.
The marker booklet text, available on the internet as well as in booklets for sale and free here at Fenton and numerous other locations outlines the complex history of additions and enlargements the building has gone through. There were numerous other buildings built in Jamestown of course before 1826, but none of them survive to the present time. An additional complicating factor is that although the tavern is still in its original location, it was not built in Jamestown. The building didn’t move. Jamestown’s boundaries did. Jamestown was incorporated as a village in 1827. Its boundaries have been extended, mostly in modest steps, several times. But on April 22, 1873, Jamestown grew out three quarters of a mile or one Holland Land Company lot in all four directions absorbing the hamlet of Dexterville in the process. Even then, other buildings in the old part of town predated the Dexterville Tavern, but they have not survived to the present. I don’t know what the second oldest building in Jamestown is, the building that will become the oldest once the tavern is gone.
I have tried to find or inspire some interest in saving the building or at least photographing and documenting it in some way before it is too late but as of this writing in late November, no one has expressed interest.