NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: 'Drawn from Nature' with a key


There is an image of early Lockport that may be familiar to many people but some of the names associated with it may not be. In fact there are several similar but slightly different versions of this image attributed to various artists.

The first, dated 1830 and “Drawn from Nature” by W. Wilson, appeared in the History of the New York State Canal System published in 1906. Another, almost identical image, is a lithograph by J. H. Bufford that was based on Wilson’s drawing. It is dated 1836.

The image accompanying today's Niagara Discoveries is from the 1878 History of Niagara County and is labeled Winsor Del. It is based on the Wilson drawing but a key has been added to identify some of the buildings in the picture. Although the print is dated 1836, some of the structures may have been built after that date and replaced buildings that were originally there.

Here is a brief description of the identified structures in the image.

Aunt Edna Smith Place — Aunt Edna was married to Dr. Isaac Smith. They were Quakers and came to Lockport in 1821 in anticipation of the locks being built there. The couple knew that the canal workers who would soon be arriving needed not only medical care, but also kindness and respect, which the Smiths provided for them.

Geo. W. Rogers’ Res. — George W. Rogers came to Lockport in 1820 at age 19 and set up a blacksmith shop on Buffalo Street. After the canal opened in 1825, he went into the hardware and grocery business with his brother and later was a director of the Canal Bank, the first bank in Uppertown. He built the house that is now the Kenan Center in 1859 and his brick residence at 91 Main St. became the home of the Lockport Daily Journal in the 1860s. He died in 1877.

Berkshire Blook (Block) (Canal Bank) — There was a Berkshire store located there but no information on what it sold. The first bank that opened in Lockport was in Lowertown in 1829. Ten years later, the Canal Bank was opened at 77 Main St., a building that Lyman A. Spalding had erected in 1836. The Canal Bank moved to the Safford Building in 1845 and then to 14 Main St. after the fire of 1854. Two years later, it became the Niagara County Bank (later the Niagara County National Bank).

Spalding Saw Mill & Foundry — Lyman A. Spalding, also a Quaker, came to Lockport in 1822, operating a general store and eventually working his way up to prominent businessman, landowner and abolitionist. In 1825 he built a saw mill on the hydraulic race that ran along the south side of the canal. He married Amy Pound in 1834.

Spalding Grist Mill — As early as 1824 flour mills were in operation along the canal taking advantage of the water power provided by the mill race. Lyman Spalding erected several flour mills over a number of years. As one mill would burn to the ground, another would be built in its place. Spalding died in 1885.

Joseph Center’s Block — Center was an attorney, judge and Justice of the Peace in Lockport from the 1830s through the 1850s. He was also a founding member of the Republican Party in Niagara County. He owned a brick store at 3 Main St. known as the Center Block where his law office was on the third floor. He sold the building in 1852.

Eagle Hotel — This was built in 1832 at the intersection of West Main and Canal streets in front of the big bridge. It was a three-story stone building and was the main stage coach stop in Lockport. In 1853, the name was changed to Tremont House and a year later it was destroyed in the fire of 1854. It was rebuilt as the Judson House and later became the Kenmore Hotel and then the Lox Plaza and was torn down in 1966. It is now the site of the Lockport Municipal Building.

Safford’s Hall — This was located at the corner of Niagara and Canal streets on the Big Bridge (where Lockport Fire Department is now). Charles Safford was a miller and was Niagara County Coroner in the late 1830s. He built a three-story brick commercial building and used the third floor as an entertainment hall. The Canal Bank moved to that location in 1845. The building was destroyed in the fire of 1854.

Jonathan Ingalls’ Warehouse — Ingalls came to Lockport from New Hampshire in 1833 and later purchased the Rogers & Brown warehouse at the base of the locks and opened a storage and forwarding business. He also owned the rights to a mineral spring and sold “the best article of mineral water.” He left Lockport in 1850 for Wisconsin.

Locks — Originally built 1822-1825; enlarged in 1842.

M.E. Church — The Methodist Episcopal Church was built at the southeast corner of Church and Niagara streets in 1830 (where Zimmie’s is today). It was one of four churches damaged or destroyed in the fire of 1854. A new church was built on the same site and dedicated in 1859. In 1928, the congregation moved to the new Emmanuel Methodist Church on East Avenue and this church was torn down.

Woodward Building — This building may have been the store of Wareham Woodward. In a memoir, his son, Corodon, remembered that his father had a “lower grocery down on the towpath,” which is where this is in the picture. Woodward, who came to Lockport in 1820, also had a grocery at Main and Transit and later built the Pavilion Hotel on the same site. By the mid 1840s, he had left the village of Lockport and opened a hotel in the town of Lockport.

Presbyterian Church — This was the first denomination to establish a church in Lockport after the Quakers. Their first place of worship was on Court House Square and in 1832 they built a new brick church at Church and Ontario streets. This was one of the churches destroyed by the fire of 1854. The stone church that is still standing today was built at the same location in 1856.

Court House — The first county court house was built in Lockport on Niagara Street near Hawley Street and opened in January 1825. The original building included a jail, but that was removed when the new jail was built in 1842. A new county court house was built across the street in 1886 but the old one was still in use until it was torn down in 1960.

Hydraulic Canal — This opened in 1824 to divert surplus water at the top of the locks to the canal below for use as a power source to operate the various mills built on the south side of the canal. By the time of the building of the Erie Barge Canal in the early 20th century, the mills were using electricity and part of the mill race was destroyed in the construction.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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