Business

Downtown commercial section in 1832 detailed in the drawing

An image from the December 29, 1928 edition of the Elmira Star-Gazette depicts the downtown business section in 1832.

The attached image shows the business section of Elmira in 1832. The area is between Baldwin and Lake Streets, on both sides of Water Street. The drawing was made from the south end of the Lake Street Bridge.

Prominent businessmen Stephen Tuttle, John Spicer and Robert Covell built the first bridge in 1824. It sank considerably in each span after a short time, and once a herd of cattle broke the first span during high water. The antlers and the cattle flew off, quite well mixed. There were three pillars next to the abutments, one in the center of each channel and another on the island.

The bridge stood for 16 years, being badly damaged in 1840 by the “Great Fire”. A covered bridge replaced it.

In the drawing, the spire of the Presbyterian Church is marked “X”. This was the first Presbyterian church erected at the corner of Baldwin and Church streets. The church was built under the pastorate of Reverend Henry Ford. Prior to this time, his church had worshiped in the courthouse.

The building marked No. 1 was the haberdashery and general store of Albert A. Beckwith, who served as the first sheriff of Chemung County in the first election after our county separated from Tioga County. His store was on the river bank, opposite the Rathbun House (where the bank of the Chemung Canal now stands). ‘Widow Wells’ occupied No. 2, a wooden building run as a boarding house.