On Tuesday, October 8th, from 5 to 7 p.m., the History Center will be dedicating a new Orientation Room in the Outwater Building at 215 Niagara Street. The room is in the former Victorian Parlor, which had been in place since the museum opened in 1955. In addition to a short introductory video, a collage of historic Niagara County images and a box of hands-on toys for children, there will be a binder relating the history of the property with photos, maps, newspaper articles and text.
For those who can’t make it to the opening, here is a brief history of the property that is now home to the Niagara County Historical Society (hereafter NCHS).
The property was first purchased from the Holland Land Company in 1822 by Almon Millard, an early resident and the first elected sheriff of Niagara County. It was part of 400 acres he had purchased when Lockport was still in the town of Royalton and did not yet have a name. Over the next 40 years, the property was bought and sold numerous times.
In 1852, a young man from Ogden, Windsor Trowbridge, came to Lockport with his family. He was a brick maker by trade and in 1855 he was working at that occupation. In the 1862-63 Lockport City Directory, Trowbridge is listed as “brick maker, h. Niagara st., west of village.” It does not say where the brickyard was but there had been a brickyard in the vicinity of North Park School since at least the 1850s. As for his house on Niagara Street, he was either living on another property or perhaps renting a house on what is now the NCHS property. In 1863, Trowbridge purchased the parcel from Hiram Smith for $275. Shortly after acquiring the Smith property, Trowbridge built himself the large brick house that is now the Historical Society’s main building.
Trowbridge did not keep the house very long, selling it in 1867 for $4,300 to “Eliza Jane Mackey, wife of Barnett Mackey.” Windsor Trowbridge built another house on what is Windsor Street off of Prospect Street and operated a successful fruit and vegetable farm there for many years. At about the same time he sold his Niagara Street house, he also sold his brickyard on Trowbridge Street to Aaron Mossell, the African-American businessman who worked toward the integration of the Lockport schools in the 1870s.
Barnett Mackey was born in 1810 in New Jersey and came to Royalton as a teenager. He returned to New Jersey and married Eliza Jane Mericle (born 1814) in 1836. They remained there for a number of years before settling on a farm at Slayton Settlement and Dale Roads in the town of Lockport in 1843. They had five children, including daughter Mary, born in 1839. Mary was educated at the Phipps Academy in Albion, and in 1860 she married David Scott of Cambria. Four years after her parents moved into 47 Niagara Avenue (the original number and name of 215 Niagara Street), her father, Barnett Mackey, died suddenly of heart failure at the age of 61.
Eliza Jane Mackey continued to live in the house through the 1870s but put the property up for sale in 1879. The ad in the Lockport Daily Journal read, “For Sale: The Brick Dwelling at 47 Niagara Avenue … the lot is 110 front by 165 deep, with Brick Barn and Carriage House with a large variety of fruit and ornamental trees, good well and cistern.” A year later, Mary Scott bought it from her mother for $4,000. She and her husband David moved there in 1882.
Before moving to Lockport, David Scott had a farm on the north side of Upper Mountain Road just west of Blackman Road. An illustration of the property appeared in the 1878 History of Niagara County. A very detailed article describing the barns on the farm was printed in the Lockport Daily Journal in 1877. It noted, “these barns are among the best in the county, and probably no barn [farm] in the county of one hundred and fifty acres can boast of anything to compare with them.” Unfortunately, the house, and some of the barns on the south side of the road, are gone, but the barn complex on the north side is still there.
David and Mary Mackey Scott had only one child, Luella, born on their Cambria farm in 1863. Eliza Jane Mackey lived in Lockport until her death in 1890. Mary Scott died in 1901and David Scott in 1910. At this point, Luella Scott became the third woman in her family to own the house at 215 Niagara Street.
NEXT WEEK: Luella Scott and Dr. Samuel Outwater.
Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.