Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

February 15, 2014

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Masonic Building site has lengthy history

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The southeast corner of Main and Cottage streets, where the red brick Masonic Building stands today, started out very early as a prime site of real estate when Lockport was in its infancy. It was just a stone’s throw away from the natural gorge where the Flight of Five Locks were being constructed in the early 1820s. 

The first structure to be built on the site was the Cottage Inn by Joseph Landon (giving Cottage Street its name). It became the hub of activity in the small village as surveyors and engineerers gathered there to discuss the immense project then taking place just a few yards away. After the opening of the canal in 1825, the Inn served as a place for travelers to stay while in Lockport. For a short time in the late 1820s the Inn was operated by Seymour Scovell, who later moved to Lewiston and left his mark on that village as well.

By 1836, a brick building had been built on the site by a man named Rawson and one of the storefronts was leased to G.W. Merchant of Merchant’s Gargling Oil fame. For the next ten years, Mr. Merchant perfected his formula that was “Good for Man and Beast,” until he needed a larger space to continue his work. 

The building was next occupied by another druggist, J.H. Curtiss. His business did well until a fire in 1850 destroyed the building and its contents. Lockport historian Joshua Wilber listed the offices that were ruined by the fire, including “the Village Clerk, Wm. Park … Myron H. Davis, Justice of the Peace … [and] the Niagara-Democrat [newspaper].” Wilbur was personally affected by the fire as he had a room on the fourth floor of the building. The Ringueberg Brothers store and the “establishment of J.G. Lewis” were also damaged in the fire. 

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