The historic Big Tree Inn at 46 Main St., Geneseo, is for sale, following a unanimous vote to sell made by the board of directors of the Campus Auxiilary Services. The non-profit CAS runs the dining halls on the SUNY Geneseo, and until recently also owned the MCClellan building at 34 Main St., Geneseo, that housed the Lockhart Gallery, James Kimball Music collection and (previously) the Soaring Stars education program.
Unable to find marketplace offers.
The Big Tree Inn has been under the management of CAS for many years and, in a letter sent campus wide announcing the proposed sale, said the reason for the sale was financial. Both buildings have received extensive renovations since they were acquired by CAS, but with the pandemic hitting, use of the buildings declined greatly, and in the case of the Big Tree Inn, dining services had to be stopped during the pandemic. The inn “temporarily” closed in August 2020, but In December 2020, the Big Tree Inn posted an announcement that “It is with heavy hearts we share the news of Big Tree Inn closing for the foreseeable future. This pandemic has created a difficult time for the country, world, and especially our Geneseo community. What was first a “temporary” pause from our normal operations has unfortunately been extended indefinitely due to the pandemic’s ongoing impacts.”
According to the letter recently sent to staff, Mat Felthousen, who is the executive director of the CAS, the CAS board of directors decided the financial challenges of trying to keep the buildings were too great to justify hanging onto the buildings, and they needed to let someone else buy the McClellan house and the Big Tree Inn and divest of financial burdens.
The sale of the McClellan house is pending, although its buyer is not being announced. An offer has been accepted, but the sale is under legal review, and the sale has not closed. As for the Big Tree Inn, it has not been officially put “on the market” yet, and is in the process of being appraised; however, according to the Livingston County Assessment office, it was assessed at just over a million dollars in 2021, having been remodeled and updated in the past few years. Not only was the restaurant used for walk-in diners and tavern use, but there was an event center for weddings and large groups, and rooms for rent upstairs.
The original building was built in 1833, as a home for Allen and Bethia Ayrault, and was purchased in 1886 by William Nash and a Mr. Wadsworth who renovated it, and turned it into a hotel. It has remained as an Inn since that time, and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Geneseo, and is on the National Historic Register of buildings.