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Niagara Falls Reporter Helps Save Carriage House

By James Hufnagel

The Carriage house has a new tarp on the roof to protect the building from further damage.
"DeVeaux College, situated in a quiet yet conspicuous spot near the whirlpool, below Niagara City, is to be opened for the reception of pupils May next. The grounds are ample for all the purposes of such institution, and are to be improved, so as to make it one of the most beautiful spots in Western New York." - Niagara Falls Gazette Weekly, April 8, 1857.

Chalk up another one for the Niagara Falls Reporter.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation lived up to the "Preservation" portion of its name by placing a large protective tarp over the DeVeaux Woods Carriage House last week. The building's roof has been deteriorating to the extent that the interior of the building was at risk of irreparable damage.

State Parks' action provides a stop-gap measure to buy more time for the community to arrive at a more permanent solution for the historic structure that State Parks originally wanted to demolish.

Readers of the Reporter may recall the five-part series appearing in this paper two years ago, sounding an alarm on the imminent demolition of the stately brick edifice built in 1863, the year Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. The Carriage House is one of only two remaining buildings from that era (the other being Schoellkopf Hall) still standing in DeVeaux Woods State Park. The Carriage House was originally built to accommodate horses and buggies for a private boys’ school that once graced the north end of the park.

The DeVeaux School was founded by Samuel DeVeaux, one of Niagara Falls' most accomplished and distinguished citizens. DeVeaux was a businessman, legislator, superintendent of schools, postmaster, and a judge. The school was the result of DeVeaux's bequest to found "a benevolent institution to train and support orphan and destitute children."

The campus was subsequently repurposed as an academy for boys and was attended by hundreds of local residents for over a century.

In 1883, the Carriage House was converted into a fire house, manned by students, and led by headmasters trained by the Niagara Falls Fire Chief.

One of the only old-growth American forests in an urban setting, DeVeaux Woods State Park is characterized by its 150-year-old trees. It has long been the goal of naturalists to reunite this unique landscape with that of the Niagara Gorge, creating another tourist destination accentuating the Niagara Greenway and Niagara Falls National Heritage corridor.

While it is easy to blow our own horn and take credit for "saving" the Carriage House (literally one week before it was scheduled to be bulldozed), the fact is that following our articles, a number of community leaders worked vigorously behind the scenes over the past two years on behalf of saving the storied structure that serves as a portal to our local heritage.

Among these leaders are Mayor Paul Dyster, City Councilmembers Sam Fruscione, Bob Anderson, Glenn Choolokian, Kristen Grandinetti, Charles Walker, city historian Chris Stoianoff, Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak, Patricia Merino, Joan Johnson of Friends of Niagara Parkland at DeVeaux Woods, Elaine Timm, Mary Anne Rolland, the Niagara Falls Preservation Commission, Vonda Longin, Lewis Buttery, Marge Gillies, Anne Smith, Kayla Tubinis, Rick Crogan and Cathy Marie Buchanan. Additionally, there were numerous concerned citizens writing letters and making phone calls to help save the structure as well.

Special thanks are also due to the Niagara Falls Public Library for their efforts to preserve and make available to the public the historic resources of Niagara Falls.

A 2013 commemorative calendar has been created to help raise money for the Carriage House renovation. The calendar features photographs of Judge DeVeaux, striking depictions of the buildings of DeVeaux campus, a pre-Civil War photo of DeVeaux graduates, and the earliest known image of the Carriage House from an 1877 woodcut.

A limited edition of 100 calendars has been produced and you can purchase one by sending a check for $15 to Ms. Patricia Merino, c/o The Niagara Falls Reporter, P.O. Box 3083, Niagara Falls, NY 14304.

Saving the Carriage House shows that when we stand firm, combine and work together to voice our opinions, good things certainly can happen.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Jan 22 , 2013