NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Woodward hotels in Lockport

The 1852 Niagara County Map shows Wm. M. Woodward Hotel on the Lockport and Warrens Corners Plank Road.  

In the 19th century, the village (and later the city) of Lockport had many hotels that, although long gone, are still remembered or at least known by many people. The town of Lockport also had its share of hotels but the majority of them can no longer be recalled by most residents. One of these hotels was located on what is now Stone Road where Sunset Road ends. Both of these roads had different names previous to their present designations. Sunset Road was originally Crapsey Road, named for Moses Crapsey whose stone house still exists just south of the Niagara Street extension. The name changed in about 1957.

At various times in the early 19th century, Stone Road was called the Lewiston Road, the Batavia Road and the old Niagara Road. It was part of the route of the old Lewiston Trail that led from Geneseo to Lewiston. This was the trail that the Seneca used to get to Fort Niagara after the Clinton-Sullivan campaign of 1779 which destroyed their villages and crops. It was also one of two trails that were used by the residents of Lewiston who were fleeing the British and their Indian allies during the War of 1812 (the other trail was the Ridge Road, now Rt. 104). In 1851, a turnpike, the Lockport and Warren’s Corners Plank Road (hereafter L&WCPR) was built and a toll was charged to use the road. The toll gates were at the foot of Rattlesnake Hill and near Johnson Road. This road was in use for about 50 years, until 1902, when crushed stone was laid down for the road bed instead of planks. Those who wished to avoid paying the toll could “shun the pike” and use the Shunpike Road to get into Lockport.

Although it may not have been considered a major thoroughfare, the L&WCPR was a convenient route between Lockport and the communities northwest of the city. At about the mid-point between Rattlesnake Hill and Warren’s Corners, a hotel was located on that road as early as 1850. At that time it was Woodward’s Hotel.

Wareham Morse Woodward was born in Vermont in 1802 and came to what is now Lockport as a young man in about 1820 with his father Roswell Woodward. In 1830, he married Abigail Richardson in Lockport and their son, Corodon Roswell, was born a year later. Abigail died in 1833 and Woodward married again, this time to Lucinda Adams, and two more children were born, Chauncey (1835) and Mary Selina (1842); in addition, a local orphan, Helen Marion Parker, was adopted by the family.

Woodward was the Captain of the local militia in the village. The family lived in a house on Ontario Street near Lock Street, next to the Richardsons, his former in-laws. The site is now occupied by the Dale Association. Around the corner on Lock Street, Woodward operated a grocery business and a bakery. His son Corodon remembered that he also had a “lower grocery down on the towpath.”

Woodward, with his brother Chauncey, built the Pavillon Hotel at the southeast corner of West Main in 1840. In the mid-1840s, the family left the village and moved onto a farm on the Lewiston Road (soon to be the L&WCPR) near Johnson Road for Wareham Woodward’s health. His eldest son, Corodon, worked at his Uncle Chauncey’s grocery/hotel in the village and later moved to St. Louis.

At some point after moving into the town of Lockport but before 1850, Wareham Woodward began operating a hotel on the Lewiston Road. On the 1852 Niagara County map, it is identified as the “Wm. M. Woodward Hotel.” In 1860, it was the “Western Hotel.” This name was short-lived and it was soon known as the “Painted Post Hotel.” For about the next 20 years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, it was known by that name as well as “Woodward’s Hotel.”

It is somewhat amusing that in Corodon R. Woodward’s “Recollections, Reflections and Collections of Seventy Years,” he reprinted the section on “How to Keep a Hotel” from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. For those who are familiar with the song “Master of the House” from the musical Les Miz, the description of the innkeeper is not exactly inviting. Hopefully the younger Woodward was not implying anything about his father’s establishment in the use of this passage. Next week, we will look at some of the activities and entertainments that took place at the “Painted Post Hotel.”

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

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