Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Erie House

One of the canal sites you can visit in Port Byron is the Erie House. Here is a little back ground.

The Erie House was a hotel and tavern on the canal. It can be seen in the background of the period photograph of the boat in the drydock. Located near by was a blacksmith shop and mule barn.

It was built in 1894 by Peter and Salvator Van Detto and operated until the canal closed (really moved to its new location) in 1917. It had the secondary role as the center of Italian activities in the area, since the owners were from Italy (by way of Rochester, NY). Peter was a leader in that emigrant community and owned farms out in the mucklands. After Peter, the father, moved to Montezuma, the mother, Adelina, and daughters, Marie and Theresa, continued to live in the house until their deaths. Remarkably, very little was changed in the house or the old black smith shop and mule barn, and to this day, one can see mule tack and hay in the barn from 1917.

The house and other buildings were purchased in 1994 by the State Council on Waterways. It was the intention of SCOW to create a historical site, telling the story of the canal, nearby Lock 52 and the life of the Italian community. A couple years later the house and buildings were purchased by the Canal Society, who had the same goals.

Since that date, much planning and study has been completed, but little physical work has taken place. (Fall 2010 update) The barns and blacksmith shops were raised up off the ground and the lower sections of the buildings were rebuilt and stabilized. There is construction fence around some of the property now.

You are allowed to park near the building and have a look around.

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