Riverplace (The Old Nester House)

Riverplace (The Old Nester House) is located on Water Street, the only street that fronts the Ohio River in Troy, IN. Completed by John G. Heinzle in 1863, the old native sandstone block building was first used as a grocery store with residence on the second floor. After Heinzle's death in 1871, his widow, Elizabeth, married Jacob Nester who expanded services at the hotel by adding length to the original 32' x 36' structure making it 32' x 68' on the ground floor and 32' x 58' on the second and third levels.

The old section's first floor was then a hotel lobby, bar, merchant showroom and elegant dining room. The extension served as kitchen, storage and servants' area. The second floor had eight instead of five rooms, at least two of which the Nesters used as living quarters. The attic provided sleeping space for single men, mainly local miners.

Three coal-burning fireplaces, one in the lobby and two on the second floor and a pot-bellied stove in the dining room provided heat for the entire hotel. Floor grates allowed heat to rise, hopefully to the third floor.

A fire started from the overheated flu by the stove and the roof was destroyed in the 1880's. The double front porch was probably removed at that time also. When the roof was replaced, its facade was changed eliminating the dormered appearance of the upper story window.

Riverplace has had several owners and several names. The owners were John G. Heinzle (1860), Elizabeth Heinzle (1871), Jacob Nester (1879), Issac Dunn (1895), Peter Backer (1900), Francis Dunn (1902), Joseph Schwartz (1911), Joseph and Margaret Leingang (1913), Francis Xavier Bumm (1920), John I. Bumm (1954), Joseph W. Leingang (1959) William Cole (1967), and now James and Joyce Efinger (September 1988).

The hotel has been known as: The Heinzel Family Grocery, Heinzle Hotel, Bauer Hotel (when rented to John Bauer by his sister, Elizabeth Heinzle), Union Hotel, Old and New Union Hotel, Nester House, Riverfront Hotel, and now Riverplace. It is the intention of the Efingers to preserve both the building and its history.

A roofed lattice pavilion on the east lawn provided a place for outdoor dancing during its grandest times. The existing brick wash house replaced the train platform at the northeast edge of the lot sometime during that period.

It is said that the basement, long since filled in, was a link in the Underground Railroad System having a tunnel through which slaves could escape southern masters. A section of that tunnel was uncovered in 1991.

The 21" thick walls and the mortise and tendon jointed poplar studs are as secure today as when Riverplace was completed in 1863.