Every Thursday we have our very popular ‘Throwback Thursday‘, were we will post nostalgic pictures and information – from a different time of Seneca Falls. Many of the posts will reflect positive moments, or the ever changing history of Seneca Falls. We hope you enjoy our lookback and look forward to your comments.

March, 4th, 2021

February, 25th, 2021

It was opened in 1898 and called the Johnson Home for Women. Justus Johnson was the son of prominent Seneca Falls resident William J. Johnson. William Johnson’s work on the canal system brought him to Seneca Falls where he married Justin’s mother Angelina Chamberlain in 1855.

The Johnson residence still stands on Cayuga Street in Seneca Falls


The Johnson Home.

William Johnson was born on December 8, 1821 in Williamstown, Massachusetts, to David Johnson and Olive (Stodard) Johnson. The family removed to Frankfort, New York, where David died in 1825. At 14, William began studies in mechanics, and without completing a degree he began work as a contractor on public works projects.

It was his work on the New York State Canal System from 1849 through 1856 that brought him to Seneca Falls, New York. There he married in the summer of 1855 Angeline Chamberlain (died 1901), daughter of Congressman Jacob P. Chamberlain. The couple had five sons.

On October 11, 1875, Johnson returned to Seneca Falls after having been in New York City. He fell ill that afternoon and died hours later of unreported causes.
Johnson was remembered as being kind, personable, and frank. As a State Senator he was regarded as being well-versed in many subjects as well as a deft conversationalist. He was known as a jovial man, with a sharp wit and strong sense of irony.

The Johnson home soon became the home of Justus Johnson, who in the late 1800s was the founder and president of the National Exchange Bank of Seneca Falls. Justice Johnson realized that women did not have much in the way of security as they grew older so he created a trust and donated his home so that older women would have a place to live out their remaining years in comfort and without worry.

Seneca Falls was also gaining a reputation for social and religious reform. Abolition of Slavery and the Underground Railroad, the Temperance movement and women’s rights were among issues supported by local residents. On July 19 and 20, 1848 the first Convention on Women’s Rights was held at the Wesleyan Chapel on Fall Street in Seneca Falls. Organized by Jane Hunt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann M’Clintock and others, it was the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement.

Seneca Falls remained an industrial village well into the 20th century as the home of Gould’s Pumps, Sylvania and Seneca Machine.

In recent years Tourism has become the major industry in Seneca Falls. The Women’s Rights National Historical Park including the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Seneca Falls Historical Society, the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry and the Seneca Falls Heritage Area Visitors Center as well as local wineries, the Finger Lakes and beautiful scenery of the Central New York all attract visitors to the Village of Seneca Falls. The Village has recently received attention as the likely inspiration for the fictional village of Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s holiday classic movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Seneca River.

The first white settlers along the Seneca River arrived in the area in the late 18th century. They were part of Sullivan’s March and had seen the potential the area held. Water played an important part in the development of the area. Seneca County, when erected March 24, 1804, originally covered an area extending from the shore of Lake Ontario to just south of Ithaca; a distance of about 63 miles north to south and 11 miles east to west. It was divided into 6 towns: Junius, Fayette, Romulus, Ovid, Hector and Ulysses.

By 1818 canal locks were built along the Seneca River, allowing boat traffic to avoid the rapids. By 1828, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal had been linked to the Erie Canal, making transport of raw materials and finished goods easier and opening up the much larger market for items manufactured locally. On March 26, 1829, the Town of Seneca Falls was organized when the existing Town of Junius was divided in to four towns: Junius, Tyre, Waterloo and Seneca Falls.

Business and Industry was attracted to Seneca Falls by the rapids along the Seneca River and potential waterpower they implied. Tanneries, distilleries, mills, and factories of all types sprung up along the river. Landowners along the river became very successful by leasing water rights to a wide variety of industries.

The area originally known as Mynderse Mills officially became the Village of Seneca Falls when it was incorporated on April 22, 1831. Ansel Bascom was selected as the first President of the Village (Mayor).As early as 1841, the Rochester-Auburn railroad system opened the door to the world market for goods manufactured in Seneca Falls.



February, 18th, 2021

February, 11th, 2021

On the north side of the street the conflagration was checked by the walls of the Miller block, occupied below by West Bros., shoe store and above by the law offices of MacDonald Bros., and F. W. DeMott. Here the firemen working from the rear drenched the building and stopped the fire.

The burnt district covers fully three acres in the heart of the business section of the town. It struck, particularly, that part which held communication with the outside world. In the Partridge block was the Post office, the Western Union Telegraph office, the office of the American Express Co., the offices and plant of the Electric Light and Electric Railway Companies, and the printing offices of the Courier and the Reveille. In the Gould block, further down, was the Journal publishing Co., and on the north side was the Telephone office.

Fire! Fire! Seneca Falls in 1890.

At 3:30 yesterday morning, fire broke out in the rear of the Pew block on Fall street, and had made such headway when discovered, that the block was virtually in flames by the time the firemen were playing upon it. For a time they held the fire in check, and it was thought that it would be confined to comparatively narrow limits. Then the reservoir corner of Fall and State streets became exhausted, and while the steamer was changing to another supply, the flames made such headway that they became uncontrollable. Help was summoned from Waterloo, Geneva and Auburn, but before it arrived the Partridge block was in flames and the Opera House and adjacent blocks destroyed. The fire communicated to the Hoag house, and also extended northward among the wooden buildings in the rear of the Opera House, taking in the Norcott block on State street, the livery barns of D. M. Kellogg and the two dwelling houses of H. W. Knight.

On the south side of Fall street the fire extended to the Sheldon block, occupied by Todtman & Gladke. The solid brick wall on the west of this building checked its progress, and the pumps of Gleason & Bailey directly across the river, by deluging its rear prevented it from igniting.

The year that the Historical Society has on this photo is 1901. As far as we can see a Family by the name of Sinicropi owned the store then. Sinicropi is a very prominent name in Seneca Falls.

Red & White Food Store.

This Historical Building in Seneca Falls was the Red & White Food Store, located on Rumsey Street in Seneca Falls. Rumsey Street was named after John Rumsey, chief owner of the Rumsey Pump Company. Out of devotion to the welfare of his factory workers, he developed a residential area named Rumseyville in the then northwestern corner of the village. He had purchased this area from Dr. Hilram H. Heath in 1858.


February, 4th, 2021

December, 31st, 2020

Aqua Festival Float.

It’s 2021 Throwback Thursday series. Today we bring to you a float from the Aqua Festival. This float has the SMS members on it. They were founded in 1904 and still have members today. The organization is located today on 95 Ovid Street in Seneca Falls. SMS organization means Societa di Mutuo Soccorso. It was in a spirit of mutual assistance that a group of Italians organized within the Village of Seneca Falls in November of 1904. Then as now members of the organization assist one another in every imaginable way.

Spirit of Christmas.

Our final Throwback Thursday for 2020.

This an old advertisement that owner George Souhan had a Christmas Show at the Strand Theatre on Fall Street in Seneca Falls for the local children in town. Showing the true spirit of Christmas.

Free Candy and Free Milk.

Merry Christmas Everyone and Happy New Year!


December, 24th, 2020

December, 17th, 2020

Trinity Church.

This picture is the Trinity Church back in the early 1900’s decorated for Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Aqua Festival Queens.

This is the Aqua Festival picture of 1967 Aqua Festival Queen and Court.

Terry Hoover – First Runner Up
Miss Angelica Holtzer
Miss Peggy Estes, Second Runner Up


December, 10th, 2020

December, 3rd, 2020

1970 50th Anniversary
Women's Suffrage Parade

This picture is of a parade in 1970 in Seneca Falls. The Seneca Falls Historical Society observes the fiftieth Anniversary of Woman’s Suffrage.

Charles was born January 5, 1933. He passed on July 30, 2000.

Charles P. Agnello.

Charles lived in Seneca Falls, NY his entire life. While he was younger, he picked beans in the field with his family. His father Sam Agnello owned the fields and he also owned a grocery store on Fall street for many years.

Charles also owned his own business called A&K Roofing for many years until his retirement at age 65.

This photo was taken in Athens Greece, at the Parthenon in 1952. He traveled around the world while he was in the Navy and he also served in the Korean War from 1950-1954.


November, 26th, 2020

November, 19th, 2020

Thank you to Jim Clare who posted to our Facebook page the following information and link to a song – 

Jim Clare …until 1959, a passenger train, called the Black Diamond was the jewel in the crown of the Lehigh Valley RR line, and it ran through Seneca County on its runs from New York City to Buffalo.
I remember seeing that beautiful train with its famous passengers…(us kids only saw them through the windows, as the train flashed past)…but the Black Diamond is still a wonderful memory of bygone days.
Here’s a song celebrating the “most handsome train there ever was”.

The 4-4-0 "American" Locomotive

The 4-4-0 or “American” type locomotive was widely used in North America during the 1800’s. This wheel arrangement was well suited to the grades and curvature of the railroad of that time. Around 25,000 4-4-0 locomotives were built by companies including Rogers, Baldwin, Cooke and Mason. However, the design required the firebox to fit between the driving wheels which limited its firing (and thus steaming) capacity and by 1900 larger locomotives were needed.

Note: 4-4-0 type – means it has 4 leading wheels in front, 4-driving wheels in the middle & no (0) trailing wheels under the cab in back.

Homestead Grill

This is the old Homestead Diner in Seneca Falls on Fall Street, just across from the Gould Hotel.

Owned by Irving P. Jones (Irving also owned ‘Jones Restaurant’ at 13 Spring St, until 1928 before opening the Homestead)

Homestead was open from 1928 to the late 40’s – early 50’s.

Does anyone remember this or have any other information, we would like to hear from you ?

Thank you


November, 12th, 2020


November, 5th, 2020

In 1907 the Frontenac steamer caught fire and grounded near the east shore know as Dill’s Cove, about 2 1/2 miles of Union Springs. Five women and two children died.

Frontenac was sold for £1550 to John Hamilton in 1824, who persisted two more unsuccessful years before selling her for scrap at Niagara in 1827. Before she could be scrapped, she burned to the waterline due to arson. Parts of her engines were salvaged and used later in the Alciope on Lake Ontario and Adelaide on Lake Erie.

The Steamer Frontenac

This is the Steamer Frontenac landing at Park Dock, Cayuga Lake Park in Seneca Falls on July 26, 1907.

Frontenac was a steamboat, the first paddle steamer launched on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, in 1816.

Built in Ernesttown, Ontario, by American contractors for Kingston businessmen during 1816 at a cost of £15,000, she entered service in spring 1817. Frontenac conducted regular runs across Lake Ontario between Kingston, York (now Toronto), and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The round trip fare between Kingston and York was $18 ($12 one way) in cabin class.

Frontenac typically generated about 50 horsepower (using the original Boulton and Watt formula), which was too little for a ship of her size, and she was often outperformed by sailing craft. She rarely managed to make money in eight years; the provincial population was simply too small.

The Old Ovid Street Bridge.


October, 29th, 2020


October, 22nd, 2020

The Seneca Knitting Mill was built in 1844 and known through time as the Seneca Woolen Mills, Phoenix Mills, Geb & Souhan Yarn, etc., It ran continuously for 155 years, while the initial employees were almost strictly male, the tide changed and eventually the mill employed mostly women (operating the knitting machines, sewing socks together, etc.) it finally ended its career as a knitting mill in 1999 and is now the headquarters of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and Center for Great Women museum until it closed in 1999.

Woman working in the Seneca Knitting Mill.

For women, working in a knitting mill must have felt like a natural progression of moving into the workforce.  It is after-all sort of a hybrid of “women’s domestic house work” transferred to a professional setting. So, it seems the Seneca Mill location for the National Woman’s Hall of Fame is the perfect location to celebrate woman’s history of advancement, empowerment and achievements through time, and to also honor the woman laborers, who worked in the Mill.

ITT Goulds

This is the interior of Gould Pumps foundry, now ITT factory in early 1900’s.


October, 1st, 2020


September, 24th, 2020

Men working on Lower Fall Street.

This scene, facing south from lower Fall Street in front of the Armitage Building, was taking in the late 1800’s. Trinity Church can be seen in the background and you can see the cliffs on the far side of flats.


Definition of stereograph
: a pair of stereoscopic pictures or a picture composed of two superposed
stereoscopic images that gives a three-dimensional effect when viewed
with a stereoscope or special spectacles.

The main image is  a stereograph picture of several people walking the streets in Seneca Falls in 1890. When viewed through a stereograph the image appears 3D. Growth of the town has come along way since then.

Below this are 2 examples of stereograph viewers, which the Historical Society have on display and you are able to operate . We have an interesting array of both paper and glass slides.


October, 15th, 2020


October, 8th, 2020

McCartin Bros. Harness and Trunks

McCartin Bros. Harness and Trunks store was owned by Frank P. and Michael McCartin.

Exact dates of operation are unclear but it was founded somewhere between 1868 and 1874, closed 1891 – 1900.

Located at 86 Fall street, now the home of Parkers Grille & Tap House.

This photo was taken July 20, 1891 and gifted to the Historical Society by Mr. Frank P. McCartin.

High Wheel Bicycle
(also called a Penny Farthing)

We surely missed our lawn games this year because of Covid-19. Another picture from the 70’s, this is a picture of children being shown the High Wheel Bicycle (also called a Penny Farthing) we have here at the Historical Society.


September, 17th, 2020


September, 10th, 2020

Lawn Games at the Historical Society

We surely missed our lawn games this year because of Covid-19. This picture is back from 1970’s, kids playing in the back yard of the Historical Society near the Bee Hive.

Perkins Grocery Store

Perkins Grocery Store

This is Perkins Grocery Store on State Street in Seneca Falls, 1960. Other times it has been a Pizza Shop and a laundromat.


September, 3rd, 2020


August, 27th, 2020

The Falls

So many people ask when they visit, “Where are the waterfalls?”
To make the canal navigable for the modern, state-of-the-art barges, they had to straighten the canal, eliminating a series of locks, then flood this area to create a heavy-duty body of water. There was a drop of nearly 50 feet of between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes in a series of rapids which had been somewhat tamed by a smaller, five-lock canal built in 1815, (over time this became eleven locks) around which the town’s commerce grew up.
The creation of the new and straighter canal system created Van Cleef Lake in Seneca Falls, the actual date that Van Cleef Lake was filled was August 20, 1915.

Early Street Cleaner

This is an old street cleaner that was used in Seneca Falls. Check out all the unique features the sweeper has on it. We are hoping someone can identify the man in the picture. Looks like it is in front of the Presbyterian Church in Seneca Falls. The picture was found under a bed in a home in Ledyard NY..



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