The History of the Cataract House Hotel

1825 - 1945

The Cataract House Hotel, originally built in 1825, was located on the river bank at the corner of Main Street at Riverway.

The three storey hotel was 114 feet long, constructed of oak logs. Not long afterwards, a narrow frame structure was added to the north side of the original building extending 100 feet. A center section, being 4-5 storeys in height, provided a view of the Niagara River Rapids.

In 1835, General Parkhurst Whitney purchased the hotel from Chapman. Whitney constructed a forty feet wide by fifty-six feet long – four storey addition to the hotel and renamed it the “Cataract House”.

In 1842 – 1843, General Whitney added another structure to the hotel almost as large as his first addition. In 1845-1846, again he added to the hotel. This time it was five storeys high measuring 152 feet by 42 feet as well as a two storey kitchen.

The Cataract House was the largest hotel in Niagara Falls and attracted many visitors.

In 1860, the middle section of the hotel was extended to the rivers edge. Then in the mid-1880, this same section was removed when the Niagara Reservation – New York State Park was developed.

In 1891, General Parkhurst Whitney sold the Cataract House Hotel to Peter A. Porter.

In 1909, John F. MacDonald bought the Cataract House Hotel. He continued to own and operate the hotel until 1937.

From 1937 until 1945, the Cataract House Hotel was owned by Union Trust Company of Rochester, New York. In 1945, the hotel was sold by the trust company to the Eagle Tavern Corporation.

On October 14th 1945 a fire erupted in the hotel and the Cataract House Hotel burned to the ground.