Niagara Gazette

February 19, 2014

EDITORIAL: Chimney should stand tall in the city

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — You could argue that the Old Stone Chimney has already been lost in the shuffle.

Standing amid brush and debris off the Robert Moses Parkway, near John B. Daly Boulevard, we’d guess not many passing motorists — or city residents — now it’s even there, or the history it represents. We doubt very many people know it’s considered the oldest structure in the city.

The structure, which once heated a French military barracks and a home owned by the descendants of Augustus Porter, dates back to approximately 1750. It’s already been moved twice from it’s original spot. The chimney was moved to its current location in what was then Porter Park in 1942 to make way for the expansion of Carborundum Co.’s facility expansion. The park was largely overtaken by the New York Power Authority in the late 1950s and the berm of the parkway was built around the chimney, leaving it largely inaccessible as it sits today.

And with work moving forward on the southern portion of the Robert Moses Parkway, it will have to be taken down again. What happens from there is anyone’s guess.

Fortunately a group of Falls residents and history enthusiasts are working to make sure the Old Stone Chimney is erected again — in a spot where history enthusiasts can better find it.

A meeting on the chimney’s fate drew a crowd of about 50 people Monday night. It was organized in part by Christopher Puchalski, a member of the Niagara Portage Old Guard. The group is dedicated to promoting heritage tourism, particularly through Portage era related stories.

Puchalski, who helped to organize the meeting, said the group’s first goal is to ensure that the chimney is moved to a permanent location, but he sees the moving of the hearth as a possible springboard to launch greater heritage tourism projects as well.

There have several efforts over the years to have the chimney moved but they’ve all come up short. This time is a bit different, though.

Mayor Paul Dyster said the time is right to see the project through and that he believes no one involved would want the chimney to be crated and stored. He said New York State Parks and the New York Power Authority lent support to the project last week.

It’s definitely looking like the time is right for the Old Stone Chimney to rise again — in a spot more befitting its historical status.