One of the earliest buildings in Geneseo was Pierce’s Tavern, a low one-story yellow frame building built about 1809 by Colonel John Pierce. Located at what today is the southeast corner of Main Street and Ward Place (Ward Place did not exist at the time), it was twice enlarged and improved before the end of 1817. A stage coach stop, where a four-horse stage arrived and departed daily, it became well known for the excellent accommodations furnished its guests. A gala party given on January 1, 1818, to celebrate the opening of the new ballroom on the second floor included many of the leading people of the county.
Under the ownership of Orlando Hastings, in 1825 the attic was put on for the use of the Comet Lodge and Billings Chapter of Free and Accepted Masons. The large piazzas were not added until the 1870s, the building by then well known as the American Hotel. Over the years it had become the political center for the county, where governors, assemblymen, senators, judges, juries, lawyers alike gathered. Famous for its delicious food, it was a popular gathering place for social events as well.
On March 1, 1885, in below freezing weather, the American Hotel was left in ashes by a devastating fire. Due to the gallant efforts of the local fire department, surrounding buildings were saved, but the loss was a shock and a severe blow to the community and to most of this section of the state.