White Sulphur Springs building to be condemned

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
A century later: The front of the former White Sulphur Springs boarding house reveals peeling paint and open windows. To the right is a house that could be damaged if the old hotel collapsed.

BERNE — A 137-year-old building at a former resort in Berne, now in a state of disrepair, is likely to be demolished.

Building inspector Timothy Lippert approached the Berne Town Board about enforcing the town’s Unsafe Buildings and Collapsed Structures Ordinance in order to request the owners of the former White Sulphur Springs House to secure or destroy the building or have the town destroy it.

Lippert had inspected the three-story frame building the Saturday before the meeting, and told The Enterprise that it was impossible for the building to be renovated given the state it was in — at best, the owners could secure the building to prevent it from collapsing, he said.

White Sulphur Springs House was built as a resort in 1880 by Jacob Hochstrasser, according to its webpage on the Albany Hilltowns website. It was closed in 1916. Two churches subsequently bought the property; first United Pentecostal Church “Word of Life Ministries” in 1960, and then the Evangel Christian Church of Queens in 2005.

The town assessment rolls list the entire property that the building is located on — including 120.9 acres — at a full market value of $932,813. The property is not taxable since it is owned by a church.

The Evangel Christian Church, as well as the Evangel Christian School, keep the property as a retreat for members and for students at the school. Its webpage advertises three main buildings — a cafeteria, gymnasium, and dormitory. Lippert said he saw these buildings but did not feel the need to inspect them, as they looked more modern and in better condition.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Looking in: The empty windows at the former White Sulphur Springs boarding house reveal a nearly empty inside. The town of Berne is looking to order its owners to remove the building or secure it.


The three-story wooden White Sulphur Springs House, he said, has a collapsing foundation that is bulging in the back side of the building, and a rotted-out frame. The nearest neighboring structure, a private home, is 200 feet away, he said, noting that there is a risk of the building collapsing.

“If it was to fall, there would be potential for a fire,” said Lippert.

He added that the hotel owners have not maintained the building in the last dozen years that they have owned it, and had been asked by the town on multiple occasions to do so.

Evangel Christian Church did not respond to questions from The Enterprise.

The town’s law on unsafe buildings requires the town board send a notice to a building’s owner should a building be deemed unsafe; the owners must then begin either securing the building or removing it within 30 days from receiving the notice. This must be completed within 60 days from the start date. If the owner does not comply, the town can demolish the structure, remove the debris, and the cost will be assessed against the land on which the building is located.

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