Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

May 17, 2014

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Charitable institutions had early start here

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Ever since the 1820s Niagara County has supported efforts to assist the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged among its citizens. Beginning in 1828, when a tract of land was allotted on what is now Niagara Street Extension (across from the present-day Niagara County Sheriff’s Department), the area has offered a variety of both public and private institutions for those in need. Today, let’s examine some of the many benevolent organizations that were founded by individuals, agencies and government organizations to improve the lives of the downtrodden of Lockport and Niagara County.

The first Niagara County Poorhouse was constructed in 1829, of wood. Four years later a stone structure was completed on the north side of Lower Mountain Road (now Niagara Street Extension) between Sunset and Gothic Hill roads. Over the years the building was expanded and children attended school right on the premises. In 1875, children were removed from the Poorhouse and sent to the Home for the Friendless, first located on High Street and later moved to Wyndham Lawn, on Lake and Old Niagara roads, in 1892.

Also in 1875, all the residents who were mentally ill were sent to state institutions. The stone structure continued to serve as the County Poorhouse until 1915, when the new Davison Road facility was opened. The buildings were torn down and the site was abandoned. A cemetery that was established on the property has recently been found and restored.

By 1912, the Niagara County Poorhouse was overcrowded and unsafe. On Jan. 7, 1915, the new Niagara County Infirmary on Davison Road opened “for reception of inmates.” As the need for space increased more buildings were constructed. A hospital and a cemetery were also on the property. The facility was used until the 1960s when it closed and many of the buildings were torn down.

The Niagara Sanatorium was opened on Upper Mountain Road in 1920. It was first used for the treatment of tuberculosis. Over the years other structures were added, including a nursing residence and a children’s building. When a cure for tuberculosis was found in the 1940s, the facility shifted its focus to a multi-care hospital and the named was changed to Mount View. It later became a skilled nursing facility and closed in 2008.

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