The “Old Stone Chimney” is the second oldest masonry structure west of the Hudson River in New York State. The only thing older is the French Castle at Fort Niagara.
Four buildings were attached to it: French barracks from 1750 to 1759, house built by the British occupied in 1760 and 1761 by a man named Duncan, from 1762 to 1796 by John Stedman and his brothers William and Phillip, from 1797 to 1804 by Jesse Ware, from 1806 to 1812 by Enos Broughton, by US troops in 1812 and 1813; a tavern from 1819 to 1822; a house built by Peter B. Porter from 1840 to 1880.
In 1942, Edward T. Williamss, Niagara historian said, “the Old Stone Chimney is absolutely the most unique and magnificent historic relic possible on the American continent, probably in the United States, and certainly in the state of New York. It is highly probably that no structure anywhere in America has a status such as that.”
Here is a list of famous people who spent time in one of the buildings attached to the Old Stone Chimney:
1. Philippe and Daniel Joncaire, the men who built it.
2. Pierre Pouchot, the French commandant of Fort Niagara in 1759
3. Sir William Johnson, in charge of Indian affairs for the British king.
4. John Stedman, took care of the Niagara Portage for the British army; gave Goat Island its name; survived the Devil’s Hole Massacre
5. Captain John Montressor, built Fort Erie for the British, built the tramway in Lewiston (the first “railroad” in America).
6. Israel Putnam, famous in the American Revolution.
7. British General Bradstreet
8. George Clinton, New York’s first governor.
9. Charles Lee, second in command under George Washington.
10. General John Graves Simcoe, the first governor general of Upper Canada (later Ontario).
11. General Sir Isaac Brock, killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights.
12. De Witt Clinton, governor of New York who built the Erie Canal.
13. Red Jacket, the famous Seneca orator and leader.
14. Lafayette, the Frenchman who supported the United States in the American Revolution.
15. General Winfield Scott, American hero of the War of 1812.
16. Tomas Moore, poet who wrote about the Falls.
In 1891, a song about the Old Stone Chimney was written by Thomas Vincent Welch, the Niagara Falls businessman and leader who founded Niagara Falls State Park. That song should still be sung by all the people who love the great history of Niagara Falls!
The following excerpt is taken from Daniel M. Dumych's "Niagara Falls, Vol. II" (text only - Photos courtesy of The Niagara Falls Public Library Local History Department):
E. Dent Lackey, mayor of Niagara Falls from 1963 to 1975. Mayor Lackey, an outgoing, ebullient man, was elected on a campaign that called for urban renewal, the re-establishment of the city as a tourism capital, and industrial expansion. Under Lackey's administration, the city actually came to lose much of its industry. Many of the city's factories were built late in the last century and early this century and companies chose to relocate their works instead of rebuilding them. Tourism, too, would falter even more during the Lackey years. Throughout the 1960s, Falls Street deteriorated and tourists lured by the flash and glitter of Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ontario. City residents, too, abandoned Falls Street, choosing to shop at plazas near the edge of town instead of supporting Falls Street businesses. Lackey and other city leaders felt that there was only one answer for Niagara Falls's ills - urban renewal. By the early 1970s, much of the south end resembled war-time Europe. The properties had been cleared - an yet, there were no takers. The city waited in vain for a return to prosperity.
On a personal note, my father referred to E. Dent Lackey as the "(expletive) on the white horse," as do many of the people still to this day who lived in Niagara Falls at the time when Urban Renewal took place. Many still hold Mayor Lackey responsible for what became (or what didn't become) of Niagara Falls in the aftermath of Urban Renewal.
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