History remains after fire leaves Colonial House in disrepair
Valley historians remind the community the historical Colonial House on Market Street in Youngstown now in disrepair, was once a beautiful, up-scale destination known for prosperity, entertainment and high-end food in the "Uptown District" of the city.
While the building showcased renowned architecture with elegant dining, there was dark history tied into it involving the mob.
"On the flip side, you have this mafia story with these Youngstown racketeers," Traci Manning, Educational Curator of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society said, "You have the famous fight between Cleveland and Pittsburgh factions here in Youngstown."
Co-author of the book, "Classic Restaurants of Youngstown" Tom Welsh, said The Colonial House was initially built as a private residence around the late 19th century before it would become much more than that.
1949 marked a new era for the Colonial House with new owners, including Vince DeNiro, a notorious Youngstown mobster trying to gain control of the Valley's underground gambling industry.
DeNiro later established a well-known restaurant close by called Cicero's.
It was 1961 when DeNiro was killed by a car bomb right outside the Colonial House that could be felt for miles, shattering the windows of almost every business down Market Street, according to Welsh.
"Unfortunately, his name is most often associated with the circumstances of his death," Welsh said, "one of a series of gangland slayings that really put Youngstown in the national headlines in a way the community didn't necessarily want."
Aside from the dark history, Welsh said ultimately this building was a symbol of Youngstown's post-war boom and a pre-cursor for Valley Italian restaurants to come.
"It was a place that drew the movers and shakers of the community," he said, "it was people just out for a good time."
Welsh and Manning said there were additional owners that maintained the restaurant up until 1995. Since then, there was no effort to revive the restaurant.
The Youngstown Fire Department said it's unclear what happens next for the building.