It's 'Hail Mary time' as Horan House faces demolition

The Horan House, built in 1899, is in a state of disrepair on its site just northeast of the Wenatchee River Bridge in Olds Station.

WENATCHEE — The Horan House has kept watch over the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers since 1899, but it could be gone within a couple months.

A demolition permit has been issued for the building and plans to save it are all but dead, according to local developers.

“Frankly, we’re just at a time where the window is gone and it’s Hail Mary time. I don’t think we can save this one, I really don’t,” said developer and Port of Chelan County Commissioner Rory Turner.

Turner began orchestrating an effort to either move or restore the building after its owner, Nevio Tontini, applied for a demolition permit in September.

The city of Wenatchee issued that permit on Feb. 12, according to city records, clearing the last hurdle for demolition.

The house was built at the turn of the 20th century by Michael Horan, one of Wenatchee's first developers and business owners. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and served as a popular restaurant.

The plan to save it created a lot community interest and Tontini supported the idea, Turner said.

But no one has found a feasible use for the building, Turner said.

“We’ve been unable to find a practical use for it down the road. If we could find that, if it was a museum or an interpretive center, then we could use it,” he said. “We can probably come up with money in grants and funding, but if we don’t have anything to use it for then we’re doing it blindly.”

About 12 feet of the structure would have to be torn off to move it, Turner said. Any remodel would cost at least $500,000 to $600,000.

“The cost to both move it and then restore it once it moves there, it’s going to be pretty expensive,” he said.

There’s not a firm timeline yet, but if a solution isn’t found within the next few weeks then Tontini will have to move forward with the demolition plan, he said.

The building could fall as early as April or May, he said.

After the house is gone, whether by relocation or demolition, Tontini will likely look to sell the property, he said. The leading contender is the Chelan County PUD, which just purchased surrounding property from the Port of Chelan County for a potential new headquarters.

Tontini, a retired contractor, purchased the 2.12-acre Horan property in 2006.

There have been three parties interested in moving the house since then, according to permit application records. All three efforts fell through due to moving costs.

This plan might have worked if planning had started a few years ago instead of a few months ago, Turner said.

“I’m a guy that tries to save buildings," he said. "In a way, I feel like I’ve failed the community because I haven’t been able to pull a rabbit out of a hat."