asp-admin-bldgBy Bob Schmid

The Red House Administration Building inside Allegany State Park (ASP) is a magnificent architectural structure that is situated in one of nature’s most beautiful settings. Harry Hudson was the chief architect while Shellburg & Lindquist, of Jamestown, N.Y., were the building contractors.

Construction began on Aug. 16, 1927, on the site of the Frink Family Farm and a section of the Charles Anderson Family Farm. The original plan called for the Ad Building to be built just to the right of where McIntosh Cabin Trail is today. It was finished and ready to open in December of 1928, 16 months after the first shovel was dug into the ground.

This three-story English Tudor style masterpiece measures 230 feet long and 48 feet wide. It was to have been 33 feet longer, but plans had to be modified due to a lack of state funds. The amazing thing that I always love telling the people when I give my talks on the history of Allegany State Park is the total cost of construction to build this treasure. The total cost was only $142,019! Although, I am sure that was a lot of money back then, now that seems like the cost of an average house.

On October 24, 1927, a copper box was placed within the Ad Building’s cornerstone. Placed inside the box were legislative bills relating to the formation of ASP, copies of Western New York newspapers, various books, pamphlets, photographs of the park and photos of the ASP Commissioners members, maps showing the park itself, as well as various Group Camps of Allegany and other articles of historic interest.

From its opening in 1928, the Administration Building was heated by coal. In September 1968, it was converted to a gas heating system. To this day, pieces of coal can still be found in the basement of the furnace room.

On the main floor of the building, you will find the rental office, which takes care of the campers’ needs on checking in and checking out. At opposite ends of the main floor were, and still are, the natural history museum, the Red House Gift Shop and the Park Police Station.

Early on, there were janitors’ living quarters on both the first and second floors of the building. This is now used as the NYS Park Police Station, both up and downstairs. The second floor housed the Red House Restaurant, which opened on Aug. 4, 1929, and is still open today. In 1944, two dormitories were created on the main floor, which were for seasonal used primarily by hunters and skiers until March of 1973.

The museum and gift shop would have their exhibits and merchandise moved to the third floor attic in November and bunk beds would be brought in to take their place. The women stayed where the museum was and the men stayed in the souvenir gift shop area. Starting in 1932, five hotel-style rooms were available for occupancy, with a sixth room being opened in the 1950s. These hotel-style rooms were rented by the night or by the week until the 1970 camping season. Today, these old hotel rooms house various administrative offices.

The great beauty of the Ad Building was shared with a national audience when it was featured in the nationally popular Life magazine in an article entitled “Not England, But Allegany State Park.”

Today’s visitors can still enjoy the same beauty including the gorgeous view from the Ad Building’s cozy sitting room with a large bay window and two fireplaces.

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