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Visiting historic Lewiston, New York: the former Episcopal church and Cornell House at Plain and Niagara Streets

Updated on May 3, 2011
State flag of New York
State flag of New York | Source
Former Episcopal church, Lewiston, New York
Former Episcopal church, Lewiston, New York | Source
Cornell House, Lewiston
Cornell House, Lewiston | Source
Map location of Lewiston, Niagara County, NY
Map location of Lewiston, Niagara County, NY | Source

Some fine properties at an historic intersection

In New York's historic Lewiston, the building of the former Episcopal church, originating from 1835 at the intersection of Plain and Niagara Streets, at the southeast corner, serves as the Lewiston Historical Museum.

Guided walks from Lewiston Historical Museum

The Museum, house in this noted former church building, was founded in 1973. Among the activities which are sometimes organized from this facility are guided walks around Lewiston's historic district, which contains many interesting, aesthetically pleasing and historically important structures.

Remembering the 'Cibola' steamship

At the museum there is a display panel relating to a local tragedy in 1895, when the steamship Cibola, built in 1888, with a capacity of 1200 passengers, caught fire, killing a crew member; it them drifted downstream and ran aground. The steamship's anchor is on display outside the museum, here, at the former Episcopal church.

The Underground Railroad

Particularly in the years prior to the American Civil War, some churches at Lewiston were involved in harbouring fugitives on the Underground Railroad. What was formerly the Episcopal church was one of these churches. It was noted, also, that a substantial proportion of the citizens of Lewiston sympathized with the Railroad and maintained a code of silence in the face of visits of slave-catcher groups. A crossing point to refuge in Canada was situated less than a kilometre away from this intersection of Plain and Niagara Streets, and at this point a monument was unveiled in 2009.

Remembrance of President William McKinley

On display outside the Historical Museum is a panel which refers to a trolley trip which President William McKinley took to Lewiston, in 1901. On that occasion he is believed to have been stalked by his assassin who, later the same day, caught up with him with fatal consequences at the Pan-American Exposition. The panel gives a representation of the red trolley on which the President rode on his grim, last journey.

Cornell House

Also at the intersection of Plain and Niagara Streets, but on the northeast corner, is a picturesque and historic property known as Cornell House. The plaque outside the house indicates that the property was erected in 1860. This house was home to Benjamin Cornell, among the most prominent of local merchants. The family owned a number of properties in Lewiston.

The Cornell family was originally from Rhode Island, from whence also came the Ontario branch of the family which settled in Scarborough: Canadians familiar with Ontarian historic properties will recall Cornell House, location of Scarborough's Historical Museum. Ezra Cornell, a relative of the Lewiston Cornells, was the founder of Cornell University.

Also worth seeing

First Presbyterian Church, Lewiston (distance: 0.2 kilometres); this 19th century, Greek Revival building on Cayuga Street was also associated with the Underground Railroad.

Frontier House , Lewiston (distance: 0.1 kilometres), probably Lewiston's most well known historic property, this former hotel dates from 1824.

Freedom Crossing Monument , Lewiston (distance: approx. 0.7 kilometres); this impressive monument was unveiled in 2009, and stands on North Water Street, close to the banks of the Niagara River.

Broderick Park , Buffalo , New York (distance: approx. 36.8 kilometres) has poignant memories of the Underground Railroad.

The US Post Office, Niagara Falls , New York (distance: approx. 12.5 kilometres) is a striking building dating from 1904-1907, which was designed by James Knox Taylor in French Neoclassical style, with Beaux Arts details. It is situated at the intersection of Main Street and Walnut Avenue. The American Falls themselves are of course an outstanding visitor attraction.

Niagara Falls, Ontario , Canada (distance by road: approx. 14.9 kilometres); the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. may be viewed from the particularly suitable location known as Table Rock Point.

Bergholz , New York (distance: approx. 18.3 kilometres), at Wheatfield, became a German settlement in 1843, and has the Das Haus historical museum.

For your visit, these items may also be of interest


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