The following story was submitted by ThisApparatusMustBeUnearthed.com
Since I’ve lived downtown I’ve had my eyes on this building. Not for much good reason except that it was there, and waiting. But despite being so close, it always stayed locked up and out of reach. In fact, over the years it seemed to defy everyone’s best efforts to occupy it – including those of its many owners…
The history of 65-67 Chestnut Street begins in 1915 when it opened as Hotel Richford for Men, a fireproof hotel with 400 rooms starting at $1.00 a day. Room prices hadn’t changed much by 1929 when it was renamed Ford Hotel and reopened for both men and women.
Founded by Richard T. Ford, his R.T. Ford & Company would also operate hotels in Buffalo, Erie, Toronto , and Montreal.
The name eventually changed back to Richford in 1944 and with the midtown bus station established next to it, it would become a reasonably popular budget hotel along with the Cadillac, which at that time was still truly a hotel. Both establishments declined rapidly however in the 1960s as highway travelers opted for motels located along the expressways – and buses and trains became less fashionable modes of travel.
Suburban sprawl, economic pressure, and Rich Ford’s 1959 death led to the hotel’s closure in 1961, leaving only the Cadillac still open (which itself served to prevent much of anything else being able to succeed on the block to the present day). Since the hotel closed for good in 1968 the property has been the ruin of one developer after another – probably bankrupting more people than any other in the city of Rochester.
In the early 70s the building became the Richmond Office Building and the home of First Federal Bank. Its original neo-classical facade was also “modernized” and covered in the lovely metal cladding we see today.
There were other attempts to renovate it in 1981 (offices), 1987 (offices, briefly successful with a branch of First Federal bank re-established in the basement), 1993, 1997 (the last one with any work to be done on it, responsible for the drop ceilings and Ethernet cable), 2004 (offices), and 2008 (condos). Each of these ended in the developer losing their investment and the property falling into foreclosure.
UPDATE: This article previously stated that 65-67 Chestnut had approval to be converted into “96 apartments.” This information was sourced from Emporis.com and may be outdated or inaccurate information. Although additional sources we checked confirm that plans are in the works for something here, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for details to surface.
Recently, gaining access into the building has been trivially easy. The front door (facing the former bus station) was, and probably still is, open. One look at me and you’d realize I’m not a ninja like some of the other local urban explorers.
The space inside was much more thoroughly destroyed than I would have expected. Contrary to just about every other abandoned building I’ve seen, the uppermost floors are actually the closest to intact, with the damage getting worse and worse going from top to bottom.
There was a little bit of actual trash in there (food wrappers, etc) that looked like it was about 20 years old, but no signs of current or former occupants except pigeons and crows fluttering around the upper levels.
Between the 90s renovation attempt, the office features (phone jacks, exit signs, cubicle walls, etc) scattered all over, and the combination of colors from the paint and mold, I thought it had a totally different aesthetic than anywhere else I’ve been – much less post-industrial or post-apocalyptic, much more vaporware (an ironic movement that reclaims 90s corporate style).
The Richford Hotel – End of Day on the 5th Floor
by Ian Ference
Tags: 65-67 Chestnut Street, Cadillac Hotel, Chestnut Street, downtown Rochester, Elm Street, Ford Hotel, Hotel Cadillac, Hotel Ford, Hotel Richford, R.T. Ford & Company, Richard T. Ford, Richford Hotel, Rochester, Rochester NY
This entry was posted on Sunday, May 15th, 2016 at 10:31 pm and is filed under Architecture, Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Urban Development, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.