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Pictured, from left: City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino; Joy Swanson, president, Walter S. Johnson Building Co.; and Kory Schuler, executive director, Niagara USA Chamber. (Submitted)
Pictured, from left: City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino; Joy Swanson, president, Walter S. Johnson Building Co.; and Kory Schuler, executive director, Niagara USA Chamber. (Submitted)

Walter S. Johnson Building Co. marks 100 years of building in Niagara Falls


Wed, Oct 18th 2023 08:05 pm

Fourth generation continuing construction legacy

Founded in 1923 in Niagara Falls, Walter S. Johnson Building Co. is celebrating 100 years as a general contractor. The family-owned and operated company, now in its fourth generation, has been a mainstay construction consultant to municipalities, school districts, and heavy industry undertaking hundreds of projects over the last century that have shaped the landscape of the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County.

Joy Swanson was named president of Johnson Building Co. late last year, taking over from her father, Richard Johnson.

“Johnson Building Co. has been synonymous with Niagara Falls construction and development, overseeing some of the largest projects built in our community,” Swanson said. “While construction technology has evolved over the past century, Johnson Building Co. is showing no signs of slowing down as we continue our family tradition of outstanding service and experience, with quality results.”

Recent projects for Johnson Building Co. include the renovation of a former Kmart into a Life Storage facility in the Town of Niagara; continuing maintenance and support work with Aquarium of Niagara; construction of a new little league fieldhouse in Town of Amherst; and rehabilitation of Schenk House – one of the earlies homes within the City of Buffalo limits – at Grover Cleveland Golf Course. The company is also currently working on an office façade renovation project for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in downtown Buffalo.

The company’s founder, Walter, was a carpenter, always balancing a variety of projects, when he decided officially to start a business in 1923. His wife, Laura, was very involved in the initial years of operation. In its early years, the company focused on all building types and, in addition to schools and commercial buildings, also constructed many homes, especially throughout the Lewiston Heights area. The company turned its focus to all commercial work in the 1950s.

Among the company’s most notable projects throughout its history include Hyde Park Elementary School in the late 1920s; diverting water from Bridal Veil Falls to conduct rock surgery and address continued erosion at Luna Island overhang, construction of American Rapids Bridge to Goat Island, and the Niagara County Building (now Angelo Delsignore Civic Building) in the 1950s; Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in the 1960s; Niagara Falls sewage plant demolition and rebuild in the 1970s; and Niagara County Community College Culinary Institute and Niagara Falls International Airport Terminal in the early 2000s.

Johnson Building Co. also constructed several recognizable hotels throughout the county, including the old Imperial Hotel and Howard Johnson in Niagara Falls, Sheraton Park Motor Inn in Lockport, Summit Inn along Niagara Falls Boulevard, and Treadway Inn (now Niagara Riverside Resort) on Buffalo Avenue.

In addition, Johnson Building Co. has completed a variety of construction projects with the New York State Power Authority throughout its history and is currently under contract with several modernization projects at the Niagara facility. The company also undertook several projects in recent years at the Lewiston-Porter Central School District campus, including concession and maintenance buildings, and its district office.

Today, Johnson Building Co. is located at 6638 Mooradian Drive, Niagara Falls, and employs approximately 30 people between the corporate office and in the field. For more information, visit www.wsjbuilding.com.

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