Niagara Gazette — As I mentioned previously, much of the research I use for these columns was gathered by local historian and genealogist, Pete Ames, who has been kind enough to let me sort through it and attempt to put it together into one document. One of the pieces on this location was a short story written by Miss Louise B. Mosher daughter of the Rev. Phillip Wheeler Mosher, D.D., and Rector of St. Peter’s Church from 1887 through 1932. It is titled “Life with Father – 228 Second Street.” Miss Mosher lived with her parents in the Rectory which she described as “a very comfortable, gracious home, with an open fireplace in every room. The house was lighted by gas. There was no telephone, no automobile, no secretary, nor any assistant.” She does mention “Joe” a “jack of all trades” who took care of everything including the “ringing of the bell.”
She tells us that “Niagara Falls had been a small village and in 1897, there were still wooden sidewalks and muddy streets.” She described the many thick woods and farms between what had been the small village of Niagara Falls and the village of Suspension Bridge (now the North End). The two villages merged in 1892 and became the young city of Niagara Falls. Her father performed weddings in the large front room and the fee offered by the groom would be handed back to the bride along with the marriage license and a blessing for their great happiness.
Her story described daily life of the times and she mentioned places some of us have never heard of. When William B. Rankin (who was a Warden of St. Pater’s Church) developed the idea of harnessing the power of the falls it brought industry to the city, along with young men in search of jobs and some prominent engineers. Rooming houses sprang up all over town with rooms for $2 a night. Across the street from the rectory, she noted that Mr. Hotchkiss and Charles Phelps each built an inn. The Marigold restaurant opened and served the best southern food in all of New York state.
Next time we will take a look inside the church itself.Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.