NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: The Painted Post hotel

This undated map shows the Painted Post lot. Crapsey and Johnson roads were added to the map to show the location of the Painted Post lot on Stone Road in the town of Lockport.

Last week, Niagara Discoveries looked in on Wareham Woodward’s Hotel on Stone Road. The establishment garnered both positive and negative attention in the local press. Many parties were held there and farmers liked to meet at the hotel to show and sell their livestock and produce. It was also the half-way point between Lockport and the Warren’s Corners Grange.

Over the years, the names of the proprietors changed but Wareham Woodward was the one in charge. The federal censuses for 1850 and 1860, as well as the New York State censuses from 1855 and 1865, list Woodward as “Inn Keeper” or “Hotel Keeper.” In 1870 Woodward is listed in the census as “Claim Agent” but the hotel is still identified as the “Woodward Hotel” on the 1875 Niagara County atlas.

In September 1879, the Lockport Daily Journal reported “Painted Post Hotel Destroyed by Fire.” It was suspected as arson but Woodward had it insured for $1,300. He must have quickly rebuilt because less than six months later, “a large Washington’s Birthday party was given at the Painted Post Hotel last night.” A few days later however, the same newspaper described the party as “the scene of a most disgraceful row and fight” and that the citizens of that locale have “united in a protest against the granting of a license to sell intoxicating drinks at that place.”

By the early 1880s, Woodward was 80 years old. His wife Lucinda had passed away in 1867 and his son Chauncey died in 1877, at the age of 43. He was living with his daughter-in-law, Alzora, and his granddaughter, Bernice, in the large brick house that Chauncey Woodward had built in the 1860s on Upper Mountain and Cambria roads, which is still there today. In August, 1886, Woodward ran an ad in the Lockport Daily Journal, “Hotel and grounds for sale or rent, Painted Post.” He must have still owned the farm on what was now called the Stone Road because on March 16, 1888, Wareham M. Woodward died there at the age of 86. He was buried in the Budd Cemetery on Budd Road in the town of Cambria.

In a tragic footnote to this story, in July, 1889, Alzora Woodward’s daughter, Estella Crist, and her children, were visiting from Springfield, Mo., when 5-year-old Clara Crist died suddenly of what was described as “brain fever.” Her grandmother, already in poor health, died the same day at the age of 55, from the shock of Clara’s death. A joint funeral was held and they were buried together in the Budd Cemetery.

Following Wareham Woodward’s death, his two surviving children sold the Painted Post property to Edward Hatt, Lucinda Woodward’s brother-in-law. He sold it almost immediately to Augustus Sherman, who owned it for 10 years before selling it to Kate Ashford. A 1903 newspaper article relates that Augustus’ son Joseph “was formerly the proprietor of the Painted Post Hotel.” Joseph’s wife, Jessie, was the daughter of Arthur Ashford, “former proprietor of the same place.” In 1899, Augustus Sherman sold the property to Kate Ashford, wife of John W. Ashford who was the son of Arthur Ashford and brother of Jessie Sherman. John and Kate Ashford had also operated hotels in Royalton and Cambria before acquiring the Painted Post Hotel in 1899. Their ownership was short-lived and they sold the property to Fred E. Washburn in 1901. At this point, the structure ceased to be a hotel and became a private home.

Although the hostelry was known as the “Painted Post Hotel” for most of its existence, that name does not show up on any known county maps or atlases. It was always referred to as “Woodward’s.” However, maps used in subsequent real estate transactions, even well into the 20th century, refer to the property as the “Painted Post Lot.”

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

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