Historic Union Hall seized

Signs say owners owe back taxes to New York state

The closed Union Hall Inn restaurant on Union Place in Johnstown is seen Monday.  (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The closed Union Hall Inn restaurant on Union Place in Johnstown is seen Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Historic Union Hall Inn Restaurant, which has had past financial difficulties, was recently closed and seized by the state for non-payment of back taxes.

The post-Revolutionary War tavern at 2 Union Place was seized on Nov. 28. It was not known Monday how much the business owes the state.

The restaurant is currently decorated with wreaths for the holidays, but an orange sign declares it closed by the state Department of Taxation & Finance.

“This property has been seized for non-payment of taxes and is now in the possession of the state of New York,’ the sign reads.

Tim Henck, who owns the restaurant with wife Anne, said Monday he’s working with the state.

“At this point, we’re negotiating to get it reopened,” he said.

A “group of investors” may be interested in saving the restaurant, Henck said, pending successful negotiations with the state.

“We hope to get something done in the near future,” Henck said.

The restaurant’s Facebook page indicates: “We are closed until further notice.”

Union Hall Inn Restaurant has been an iconic place of fine dining in the heart of the city for years. Its building is on the state Registry of Historic Places. Until recently, it was serving lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays with a bar and patio area and providing off-site catering services.

The restaurant has been popular with many area and visiting customers. The hall was erected in 1798 by Captain Jean Batiste Vaumane de Fon Claire, former officer in the French Army under Louis XVI. Tradition says that it was in this house that Nicholas Stoner, a noted soldier and hunter, killed an Indian to avenge his father’s death.

It was also the favorite Inn of Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, who came to Johnstown to race his horse.

In 1824, E.R. Williams purchased the building and renamed it Union Hall Inn, which operated until the 1880s. At that point it was sold and turned into a private home.

Clarence DeWitt and his wife bought the building in the 1930s and turned it once again into a restaurant, keeping the Union Hall name.

But the restaurant has had financial difficulties in the past. A tax warrant filed by the state against the restaurant for nearly $500 was posted on May 23, 2011.

The Fulton County Economic Development Corp. — a subsidiary of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth –filed legal action in November 2016 against the Union Hall Inn for defaulting on a $100,000 loan.

Defendants listed in that legal action were listed as Kim A. Henck and E. Anne Henck. That complaint had been filed with the state Department of Taxation and Finance’s Civil Enforcement Office.

CRG President and CEO Ron Peters said Monday that the CRG is still working with the restaurant on the defaulting of the loan. He said that is not connected to the current seizure by the state.

According to that complaint filed by the EDC, Union Hall Inn took out a $100,000 loan through the agency on Dec. 8, 2005.

The loan called for the restaurant to make monthly installments payable to the EDC until January 2016.

The suit says the restaurant failed to make “balloon” installment payments of $871.11 payable on four dates.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

COMMENTS