Cape Vincent NY, Historical Tour

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Cape Vincent

Historical Tour A French Heritage Community

Cape Vincent Historical Background Cape Vincent residents take great pride in the historic background of this area and in the heritage of their ancestors. Earliest history of this area dates back to the first Indian settlements in New York State. Traces have been found of an Iroquois prehistoric village, and it has been shown also that the Onondaga Indians claimed this portion of New York State as their hunting grounds. The first record of the white man’s visit to this immediate vicinity was in 1615, five years prior to the memorable landing of the Pilgrims. Samuel de Champlain and his compatriots on their expedition to the Iroquois country reached Lake Ontario near Kingston, Ontario, thus bringing the expedition within the water limit of the town. In 1664 the first white man -- Father Simon le Moine, a Jesuit Missionary – camped within the area which would become the township of Cape Vincent. Early in 1655, French Missionary priests, Father Chaumonot and Father Dablon, were here as missionaries among the Onondaga Indians. History shows that both England and France were endeavoring to monopolize the Indian trade and to extend their influence with the native tribes. The French established a fort at Niagara and the English established a fort at Oswego. Both the French and English built trading posts, established missions, and built homes in this area. Fort Haldimand was built on Carleton Island by the English, and government vessels were built on this island. Among the large landholders in the north country was James Leray de Chaumont who came to America in the late 1700’s. He is credited with supporting the American Revolution with much of his fortune. His holdings covered a large part of this area and included much of what is now the Town of Cape Vincent. The LeRay family owned and settled much of the land in this area, with most of the early deeds of the late 1700’s bearing the signature of Vincent LeRay. Familiar names then, as now, are Gosier, Docteur, Dezengremel, Mussot, Chavoustie, Favrey (Favret), Merchant, and Majo.


Abijah Putnam in 1801 became the first white settler on the mainland, naming the area Port Putnam. He started a ferry service to Wolfe Island from this settlement. In 1805 the settlement was moved two miles to the west and was called Gravelly Point. This name was changed to Cape Vincent by James Leray de Chaumont in 1811 in honor of his son Vincent. Due to the declaration of the War of 1812, it was necessary to have armed forces at Cape Vincent. There was no army post on the frontier in as much danger as Cape Vincent, since the enemy had a large force in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. At this time many inhabitants left for back settlements, but when the danger was over, many returned and the number of settlers steadily increased. By 1815, the LeRay family started building the “Stone House” for their summer residence. In 1818 the first Custom House was established. Cape Vincent Township was separated from Lyme in 1849 and included Grenadier, Little Grenadier and Fox Islands in Lake Ontario; Linda and Carleton Islands in the St. Lawrence River. The village of Cape Vincent was incorporated in June 1853 with a population of 1,218. Cape Vincent developed rapidly during the era of the early 1800's when the state road was extended from Brownville to this village. In 1848 sufficient stock was subscribed to warrant building a railroad from Rome to Cape Vincent, at a cost of $7,500 per mile. Then a large train shed, hotel, freight houses and wharf were built. The railroad was the main means of transportation to and from this village for many years. Lumbering, ice harvesting and shipping, hay and vegetable seed culture, boat building, dairy farming, blacksmithing, and pulpwood shipping by water and rail were among the businesses of the early years of Cape Vincent. In the latter part of the 19th, and early part of the 20th century, commercial fishing and cheese factories were important to the local economy. Cape Vincent has always maintained a high standard of education for its young people. History shows that one of the first schools of learning in the area was erected on Carleton Island in 1823. From then on many one-room schoolhouses were built throughout the area, the records showing that there were seventeen school districts in the Town of Cape Vincent in 1906. 3

The first of three Cape Vincent Newspapers, the Gazette, was published in 1852. The Cape Vincent Eagle was published from 1872-1951, when the final edition was printed. The first of three Cape Vincent Newspapers, the Gazette, was published in 1852. The Cape Vincent Eagle was published from 1872-1951, when the final edition was printed. As early as 1880, the "Thousand Islands" were being written about in a book published in Canada. Shortly after, Cape Vincent was becoming a popular vacation resort for down-state residents. At this time, it was recorded that: "In Cape Vincent may be found the best small mouth bass fishing among the Thousand Islands--here the surroundings are picturesque, the climate is mild and healthful.” By 1900 Cape Vincent was a "bustling town”. There were seven grocery stores, three meat markets, a bakery, two drug stores, five hotels, a paint and wallpaper store, a book store, two clothing stores, two general stores, a hardware store, and a jewelry store. There were also five physicians, three dentists, two lawyers, two undertakers, and several dress makers. Businesses included boat builders, hay dealers, photographers, monument salesmen, blacksmiths, milliners, tailors, draymen, and several livery stables. In 1968, local residents inaugurated a French Festival Day. This day has become an annual affair and is held on the second Saturday in July near Bastille Day. French Festival Day has grown each year since 1968, bringing thousands of visitors to Cape Vincent for the celebration which consists of many French booths, exhibits, costumes, French pastries, parade, band concerts and climaxed with a gigantic fireworks display in the evening. As you travel through Cape Vincent today your first impression is probably of the serenity of the village, or the friendliness of its inhabitants, or the beauty of the St. Lawrence River. Those of us who make our home here in the Cape Vincent area are very proud of all of these factors. We would like to introduce you to a few of the landmarks and other outstanding points of interest in our community.


Guide to Architectural Styles The following section briefly describes the most common architectural styles of buildings featured in this guide. Additional information on architectural styles can be found in the sources listed in the bibliography.

Federal Style: 1800-1840 The Federal style reached the United States following the American Revolution and soon became the most popular building style for the new nation. The Federal or “Adams” style takes its name from the three Adams brothers who had the architectural practice in England between 1760 and 1780. The Federal style encompasses all buildings that were constructed during America’s Federal period, between approximately 1790 and 1820. One variety of the federal style is the Georgian. The typical Georgian-plan house is five bays wide, two and one-half stories height, with a symmetrical façade and center entrance. Architectural styles and trends remained in use in this vicinity much later than their prototypes in New England. For example, Federal style architecture was common locally until the 1840’s but was rarely found in New England after 1820. Federal style houses are typically simple rectangular boxes two rooms deep, with unadorned, symmetrical facades and shallow, low-pitched roofs. Windows are often double-hung six-over-six sash, adorned with shutters and prominent lintels and sills. Paneled doors in the center of the façade are surrounded by sidelights and topped with elliptical fanlights. The Vincent Leray Stone House of 1815-1817 (page 13) is Cape Vincent’s grandest example of a Georgian Federal Style residence.


Greek Revival Style: 1820-1860 The Greek Revival style reflects America’s identification with the ideals of Greek democracy. The Greek Revival or “National” style, with its pared down simplicity and use of temple fronts was first popular for public buildings. The style gained popularity for residential construction when carpenters’ pattern books were published in the first half of the nineteenth century. The north country, settled after the War of 1812, has an abundance and great variety of Greek Revival houses. Front gable houses with one or one and one-half-story side wings were especially common on farmsteads built during this era. The style is identified by the bold, simple moldings and heavy cornice lines emphasized with wide bands of trim. Both gable and hipped roofs are common. Pilasters decorate corners and occasionally, facades. Rectangular transoms and sidelights are contained within prominent door surrounds. Enlarged frieze bands sometimes contain small windows for extra light. Maple Grove of 1838 (page 16) provides an excellent example of a large, gable ended Greek Revival structure. Gothic Revival Style: 1830-1880 The Gothic Revival style, first used for churches and mansions, grew out of the Romantic movement in literature, art, and architecture. Andrew Jackson Davis, a prolific architect, developed the picturesque style. The invention of the scroll saw also helped to spread the style resulting in its common reference today as the “Carpenter Gothic” style. Steeply pitched gables with decorated vergeboards continuing along eaves characterize residential structures of this style. Steep gables, either center or paired, are arranged asymmetrically across the façade. Windows vary in size and shape, but an arched window often graces the peaked gable. Elaborate porches and moldings are also employed. The St. Vincent of Paul Catholic Church (page 17) is Cape Vincent’s best preserved example of the Gothic Revival style religious structure. 6

Italianate Style: 1850-1880 The Italianate style, developed during the Picturesque movement, lent itself to commercial and residential architecture. Buildings, often of masonry construction, were modeled after rural Italian farmhouses. Cast iron and pressed metal, first employed during the period for building material, decorated commercial structures. Residential and commercial structures contain wide eaves, often supported by large single or paired brackets. Houses, nearly square in plan, have tall first floor windows and low roofs, sometimes topped with a cupola. Ushaped hood moldings may top first and second floor windows. The door often echoes the shape of the windows. Single-story porches flank the entrance or entire width of the façade. The E. K. Burnham House of 1870 (page 31) is a good example of an Italianate style residence. Second Empire Style: 1860-1880 Francois Mansard, a 17th-century Frenchman, invented a roof which allowed attics to be expanded into usable floor space. The style, considered modern it its revived form, gained popularity for remodeling. The General Delos Sacket House of 1875 (page 23), is an outstanding example of this style in Cape Vincent. A steeply sloping mansard roof with dormer windows identifies Second Empire style buildings. Other features are similar to the Italianate style. Despite the influx of French immigrants to the north country, few examples of the Second Empire style exist in the Cape Vincent area. Other “newer” styles evident in Cape Vincent are the picturesque Victorian styles (1860-1900), including the Stick, Queen Anne, and Shingle varieties, and the Colonial Revival style (1880-1910). The following pages will take you on a walking tour of the Village of Cape Vincent and its landmarks. We will begin our tour at the Cape Vincent Historical Museum. The tour will cover 2.5 miles. Please note that an asterisk (*) placed after the historical name of a landmark indicates that it is listed on the National Registers of Historic Places.


Cape Vincent Historical Museum The home of the Historical Museum is located in one of the oldest buildings in Cape Vincent. This venerable stone structure was used as a barracks to house soldiers during the War of 1812. Later on, the Forsythe Brothers manufactured ironwork for sailing vessels and cook stoves during its days as a foundry and machine shop. It also has served as a Town Barn and the Chamber of Commerce offices. In May of 1992 the Museum was dedicated. In 1996 , the previously used assessor’s office was replaced with a new wing for the Museum which includes a WWI ambulance, a little red pumper used to fight village fires, and an ice boat.

Leave the museum and travel two short blocks inland to Broadway (State Route 12E). Turn right on Broadway and across the street sits the …


Cape Vincent United Church * (First Presbyterian Society of Cape Vincent) This church is surrounded by Italianate commercial structures. The First Presbyterian Society of Cape Vincent was formally organized in 1832, at which time church construction began on a lot that was given to the society by Mr. LeRay. The building was completed by 1840. The original stone structure has been partially retained in the back section of the present church. In 1882 an ornate wooden front was added. This has subsequently been modernized.

Proceed across Point Street and at the corner of Broadway and Market Street find …


Monaghan’s Pub and Roxy Hotel * The Roxy Hotel, formerly the Jerome house, is historically significant as the only intact surviving hotel building from the period of commercial development of the village of Cape Vincent in the late nineteenth century The hotel was built in 1894 and was the center of the local tourist industry (as the headquarters of the St. Lawrence River Guides Association).

Continue east on Broadway one block to Real Street. Down Real Street towards the water was located the famous …


Cup and Saucer House The Cup and Saucer House was built by Count Real in 1818, one of Napoleon I followers, for occupancy by Napoleon in the event that he could be rescued from St. Helena. The house resembled an inverted cup placed in a saucer. The lower part was octagonal surrounded by piazzas and crowned with a cupola and tower. It was handsomely furnished with mirrors, paintings, and furniture brought from France. One room, especially fitted up, was intended for the Emperor, was always known as “Napoleon’s Room”, but Napoleon passed away. Theophilus Peugnet lived in the house when it burned in 1867. The site is now occupied by the community library.

Cross Real Street and proceed up Broadway. On the water side of the street are found some large wooden structures, known as … 11

Windy Bank circa 1870 (top left) The Woodruff House circa 1907 (top right) St. Vincent of Paul’s Rectory circa 1890’s (bottom left) The Peugnet House circa 1850 (bottom right) Some of these structures have changed appearance over the years, but most retain a good deal of original architectural fabric. Further up Broadway, you will enter the Broadway Historic District.

The Broadway Historic District contains three estate properties in the village of Cape Vincent built between 1815-1840 by prominent French émigrés. Located on the St. Lawrence River on the west edge of the village, the 22-acre district encompasses seven contributing elements five houses and two outbuildings. The first house in the District, found on the right is the … 12

Vincent LeRay Stone House * The Stone House was the earliest building in the historic district. It is two-story, five-bay Georgian style building of dressed regularly coursed limestone quarried on Carleton Island. In 1815, James LeRay de Chaumont had the Stone House built for his son, Vincent, for whom he named the village. The house was located across the street from the land office (no longer exists) and provided a local base for Vincent to oversee the family land business. The Stone House was a very large and refined building for the frontier settlement. In 1815, the year before the road to Watertown opened, Cape Vincent had only eleven houses.

Proceed up Broadway past a garage and another house and find the …


Stone House Servants Quarters In 1820, the LeRay family built the Servants Quarters adjacent to the Stone House to house the household staff. It is a one and one-half story frame residence adjacent to the Stone House on the north side of Broadway. It has a steeply pitched gable roof which flares out over open porches in the front and back. The porches, or galleries, stuccoed end walls, and casement windows in this building reflect the vernacular French Colonial building style found throughout Quebec and the Mississippi valley in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Across Broadway from the Servants Quarters sits the …


Stone House Farmhouse The original Stone House property extended south of Broadway and included the Farmhouse circa 1840, a vernacular two-story frame residence. Its L-shaped plan, deep cornice, and six-over-six windows were characteristic of the Greek Revival style. It had a wraparound porch and porte-cochere which were added circa 1890. An octagonal lattice gazebo and a one-story frame stable circa 1920 with a shallow hipped roof also contributed to the historic character of the property.

A short distance past the Farmhouse on the same side of Broadway is located …


Maple Grove When the LeRay family and many of the French Bonapartistes returned to France in the early 1830’s, Theophilus Peugnet purchased the Stone House and the Maple Grove parcel. He had Maple Grove built in 1838. Charles Smith, who actually constructed the house, purchased Maple Grove in 1847. Mr. Smith owned Carleton Island and was a locally prominent lumber merchant. Maple Grove is a Greek Revival style building and is distinguished by its two-story pedimented portico displaying a high level of detail and craftsmanship, notably in its doorway with engaged pilasters, transom, and sidelights. Travel back towards the village crossing Vincent Street to Kanady Street. Turn right on Kanady and travel two blocks, crossing Joseph Street, and on the right find … 16

St. Vincent of Paul Catholic Church * The St. Vincent of Paul Catholic Church was constructed in 1858 on land donated by the Smith family and with limestone given by Louis Goler. Prior to the construction of the church, services were held in the home of Jean Philippe Galband and Augustus du Fort. The Golers, du Forts, Grappottes, and Peugnets were all French immigrant families who formed a significant segment of Cape Vincent’s population at the time. Their names are represented on the stone monuments in the parish cemetery, which contributes to the historic character of the property. Turn left on Lake Street and travel two blocks until you reach Market Street (Rt.12E). Turn right and go south about .2 miles and on your right you’ll see …


The 1820 Market Street Cemetery James LeRay deeded the land for this cemetery to Henry Ainsworth and you can find graves dating back to 1820 until the late 1920s. Samuel Mills, a veteran of the Revolution is buried here along with fifteen veterans of the Civil War. As you enter the grave yard, you’ll notice a tall marker with the name of Chisholm. Four members of the Chisholm family drowned when The Wisconsin Steamer caught fire and sunk at the head of Grenadier Island in May of 1867. The Henry Ainsworth family and other prominent citizens such as James Buckley are also buried here. As you go back down Market Street you’ll notice a second cemetery behind the St. John’s Episcopal Church. This cemetery contains many historic carved stone monuments from 1852 through the early twentieth century, and includes citizens such as Otis Starkey and his family and General Sacket. Continue down Market Street to Joseph Street and on the corner on the right find the …


John Borland House * The John Borland House was constructed between 1818 and 1828 by John Borland on land which he purchased from Vincent LeRay. The small scale and simple form of the Borland House probably reflect the necessity for economy in this frontier village, which had only eleven houses in 1815. However, its restrained Federal details appear to reflect a measure of prosperity, probably resulting from increased trade due to the newly opened road to Watertown (1816) and Cape Vincent’s growing importance as an international port. Stuyvesant Fish donated the house to the village of Cape Vincent in 1937 to be used as a civic center. It has been known as the Community House from that time and has been rehabilitated as a community center and village offices. Proceed on Joseph Street to the next house on the left which is known as the …


James Buckley House * The James Buckley House was built circa 1846-1850. The house is named for its original owner, James Buckley, who with his wife, Tryphina, purchased the property in 1845 from James LeRay. Buckley was probably the owner of James Buckley and Son, manufactures of shingles, doors, and blinds. The Buckleys were active members of the community. The James Buckley House is architecturally significant as an intact representative example of a Gothic Cottage style residence. As the best example of this style in Cape Vincent, it reflects the new interest, after about 1840, in the picturesque styles that were quite different from the Neoclassical style and vernacular house types already prevalent in the town. Continue on Joseph Street to the intersection with Point Street. Across the intersection to the right is located the …


Otis Starkey House * The Otis Starkey House (circa 1820) is architecturally significant as a distinctive example of formal Federal style residential architecture in Cape Vincent. Distinguished by its stylish arcaded façade the Otis Starkey House is the only example of this type in Cape Vincent. Its twostory massing, three-bay side entrance plan, and formal fenestration are characteristic of many New England Federal style residences. The original owner was Otis Starkey, a prosperous merchant and banker, who served as Postmaster, Town Supervisor 1853, and Village President in 1856. He was also an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church and donated the land on which it was built. Proceed to Joseph Street one block to James Street. Turn right and travel on James one block to the intersection with Lake Street. Cross the intersection and to the right view… 21

Jean du Fort House * The Jean Philippe Galband du Fort House, built between 1818 and 1821, is architecturally and historically significant as a distinctive, intact example of vernacular residential architecture from Cape Vincent’s settlement period and the only building known to have retained elaborate original interior furnishing and decoration from the French Bonapartiste immigrants who settled in Cape Vincent after Napoleon’s downfall. At one time there were the unsigned oil portraits of Washington, LaFayette, Napoleon I, and Chauteaubriand, a marble mantle piece, a chandelier, and an ornate gilded mirror in the drawing room, which illustrated both the republican political views and cultivated taste of Jean Philippe Galband du Fort and Count Augustus du Fort, the original owners of the house. In France, J.P. Galband was a knight (Chevalier les Ordre Royales et Militaires), and held the Legion of Honor (Legion d’Honneur of St. Louis and Maximilian de Boviere) under Napoleon. Count Augustus du Fort served as a midshipman under Oliver Hazard Perry.

Continue three houses up James Street and on the right is the … 22

General Delos Sacket House * The General Sacket House is architecturally significant as an intact example of a Second Empire style residence and as the most refined, high style example in Cape Vincent. It is historically significant for its association with its original owner, Brigadier General Delos Bennett Sacket, a native of Cape Vincent. Built in 1872-75, the property reflects both the wealth and prominence of General Sacket and the influence of the Victorian era styles in the town during this period. General Sacket was born in Cape Vincent in 1822. He graduated from West Point in 1840, in the same class as General Sherman. He was appointed an Inspector General under the administration of U.S. Grant, a position he held until his death in 1885. General Sacket used the property as a vacation home, where he entertained General Sheridan and General McClellan among others. Proceed back down James Street and cross Lake Street to Joseph Street, then turn right and travel four blocks to William Street. Across the intersection and to the right view …


Henry Crevolin House Henry Crevolin’s red brick house was built in the early 1840’s. It is a vernacular structure with simplified Greek Revival styling. The Crevolins were loyal followers of Napoleon who migrated here after the Battled of Waterloo. Being accustomed to having servants, Madam Crevolin brought a personal maid, Therese Chauvelot, with her from France. She would eventually deed the house to her maid.

Turn left on William Street and travel one block to Broadway. Look towards the water and if the view is not obstructed by stored boats observe the …


Cape Vincent Railroad Station The last rail for the new Cape Vincent rail line was laid in the spring of 1852. A large train shed, hotel, freight house, and wharf were built at that same time. September 11, 1895, was a black day in Cape Vincent as the large train shed was totally wrecked in a windstorm that day. One year later another passenger station was built. It was eventually moved a short distance from its original site and renovated by F. Russell Fitzgerald. Today it serves as a marina office and supply store.

The railroad complex ran downriver along the waterfront to the right. Today new residences have replaced any signs of this important part of Cape Vincent’s development. Remnants of the old coal pier and silos can been seen, however, three blocks down river from Williams Street at the …


Cape Vincent Waterfront Park Cape Vincent is fortunate to have this shoreline recreation area for the enjoyment of the public. The land was donated to the Village by the Roger Mead family and the St. Regis Paper Company. The Village and community groups have cooperated to develop and beautify the park.

Proceed west on Broadway and on your right view the ….


Duvillard Mill (Cape Vincent Fisheries Station) * The Duvillard Mill is historically and architecturally significant as Cape Vincent’s only intact limestone industrial building, recalling a short-lived period of industrial development in the mid-nineteenth century. The mill was built in 1856 by Antoine Duvillard to house a stern-powered grist mill. A subsequent owner, George Grant, sold the building to the U.S. Government, for use as a fishery station in 1895. In 1906 alone, the fishery station stocked over 38 million fish in the St. Lawrence, greatly increasing the supply of game fish, particularly Whitefish. In 1965 the building was transferred to the state of New York and is currently operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation as a research station and aquarium. Continue on Broadway to Murray Street. Cross Murray and to the left is the site where once stood the 1809 log block house built by Eber Kelsey. It served as a hospital during the War of 1812 and thereafter as a school and town meeting house. It was moved around the corner in 1889 and is now part of a residence. In its place was built the …


Ainsworth-Rider Hardware Building * The Ainsworth-Rider Hardware Building, built in 1903, is architecturally and historically significant as a remarkably intact representative example of an Italianate style commercial building that reflects, by its large size and high level of embellishment, a Cape Vincent’s commercial prosperity in the late nineteenth century. The building originally housed a hardware store, a theater on the second floor, and probably housing or storage on the third floor. The theater was unique in the town and, along with the salons and hotels which operated in the village at the time, it served an increasing population of workers, sailors, and tourists who arrived with the expansion of transportation and trade. It is also the former Odd Fellows’ Hall. Across Broadway to the right can be found the …


Henry Ainsworth House The Henry Ainsworth House is an excellent example of early Greek Revival architecture and was built in the early 1820’s. It features a triangular gable with massive returns, a large frieze, and corner pilasters. The doorway also has pilasters and sidelights with an entablature above. The house is constructed of hand-hewn beams with interlocking joints and wooden pegs. Henry Ainsworth, the original owner of the house, was a very prominent citizen of the village prior to his death in 1841. Dr. Avery Ainsworth, Cape Vincent’s first physician, also lived here.

Next to the Ainsworth House sits the … 29

Cornelius Sacket House * The Cornelius Sacket House is architecturally significant as a remarkably intact outstanding example of a high style Colonial Revival style residence. The best example of the Colonial Revival style in Cape Vincent, it was built in about 1900 by Cornelius T. Sacket, the son of General Sacket. The house displays a high quality of design and craftsmanship and an abundance of refined detail, reflecting the longestablished wealth and prominence of the Sacket family. Its location on the river and its boat house and dock reflect the importance of recreational use of the river beginning in the late nineteenth century and continuing to the present. The Cornelius Sacket family sold the property in 1935 to Mr. Dean, who was a Director of the F.W. Woolworth Co. The property remains a residence. Next to the Sacket House on the waterfront is located the … 30

Erastus Burnham House The Erastus K. Burnham House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of Italianate style residential architecture in the village of Cape Vincent. Built in 1870, the high style and large scale of the house reflects both Cape Vincent’s mercantile prosperity in that period and the wealth and prominence of its original owner. Erastus K. Burnham, a wealthy grain dealer, merchant, and banker, was the original owner of the house. He also owned the only grain elevator in town and was president of the Bank of Cape Vincent. He served as the Village President and was an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church. In 1907 he sold the property to Mrs. Nellie Casler, the author of Cape Vincent and its History (1906). Cross Esseltyne Street and looking towards the water note the monument and flagpole of Veteran’s Park where twice a year the fallen solders of America’s Wars are honored. Proceed half a block further up Broadway and view on the left the …


Glenn Building * The Glenn Building is architecturally and historically significant as a remarkably intact example of a small-scale, Italianate style commercial & residential building that reflects Cape Vincent’s mercantile expansion in the late nineteenth century. Built circa 1887, it represents the combination of family home and business that was characteristic of small villages during the late nineteenth century. The Glenn Building is named for Mr. and Mrs. Glenn who owned it from the late eighteen hundreds, when Cape Vincent was a thriving international port and mercantile center for the surrounding area, until 1940. Mrs. Glenn operated a candy store in the storefront and Mr. Glenn sold paint in the building at the rear of the property. The storefront had been used for a liquor store since 1940 and most recently it is used as a seasonal gift shop. Continue to the end of the block to James Street, turn right and travel back to the Historical Museum. Just beyond the Museum on the water is the …


Ferry Landing The old ferries connected this wilderness community to civilization in Canada. They initially were powered by work horses walking on treadmills attached to paddles. These were eventually replaced by diesel engines. The ferry has been operated by one family, the Hornes, for over a century.

The view across the water is of Wolfe Island, Canada, where the ferry docks. Another larger ferry can take you from Wolfe Island to Kingston, Ontario. Many of the older established families of Cape Vincent were of Canadian (especially Wolfe Island) origin. The historic ice bridge from Cape Vincent to Wolfe Island allowed trade and travel to continue throughout the winter. US and Canadian Customs remained open, one on each side of the border.


Also in the waterscape is Cape Vincent’s Breakwall. In 1899, the town fathers wished to have a safer harbor protected from fierce storms from the northeast. Work was completed on the structure in 1906. One of the original lights on the Breakwater can be viewed in front of the town buildings located on the right as you travel out of the village about one mile up Market Street (12E). 34


This completes the Village Tour. We hope you enjoyed the tour and we thank you for your interest.

The basis for this Historic Guide is a booklet that was published many years ago by the Cape Vincent Improvement League. In order to provide wider public access, we have changed the format to be more suitable for the internet and included updated color photos. Over time, we will provide two additional sections to this booklet: “The Tibbetts Point Tour” and the “Countryside Tour”.


Bibliography  Bonney, Clair, French Emigre Houses in Jefferson County. Basel, Switzerland: Glaser and Weisskopf, 1985.  Cape Vincent Historial Society, Cape Vincent 1615 to the Present. Cape Vincent, NY, 1973.  Casler, Nelie, Cape Vincent and Its History, Watertown, NY: Hungerford and Holbrook Co., 1906.  Coughlin, Jere, Jefferson County Centennial 1905. Watertown, NY: Hungerford and Holbrook Co., 1905. 

Child, Hamilton, Compiler. Geographical Gazeteer of Jefferson County, NY. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Journal Company, 1890.

 Durant & Pierce, Compilers. History of Jefferson County, New York (1797-1878). Philadelphia, PA: L. H. Everts & Co.,1878.  Gould, Ernest. “French Gentry Aided Settlement of Jefferson County”, Bulletin of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Vol 7, No. 3, pp 810.  Haddock, John A., Compiler. Haddock’s Centennial History of Jefferson County, New York. Philadelphia, PA: Sherman & Co., 1894.  Hough, Franklin B. History of Jefferson County in the State of New York. Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1854.  Hungerford, Edward. “Old Houses in the North Country”, Country Life in America, Vol.24, pp 60-62.  Hutchinson, Ann E. Along the Trail and Into the Past. Watertown, NY: St. Lawrence-Eastern Ontario Commission, 1986.


Bibliography (2)  Johnson, Harold. “Story of Early French in Jefferson County”, Watertown Daily Times, August 18, 1947, np. 

Landon, H.F. The North Country. Indianapolis, IN: Historic Publishing Co., 1932.

Lane, David. “James Donatien LeRay de Chaumont 1760-1960”. Bulletin of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Vol 1, No. 4, November 1960, pp 3-14.

Ibid. “Old Houses of the North County”, series, Watertown Daily Times, 1939-1945.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to America’s Houses. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984.

Robinson’s Atlas of Jefferson County, New York. New York, NY: E. Robinson, 1888.

Wilder, Patrick. Seaway Trail Guidebook to the War of 1812. Oswego, NY: Seaway Trail, Inc., 1987.

 Daughters of the American Revolution. The American Monthly Magazine, Vol. 28. January – June 1906, pp 64-65.


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