On the southwestern corner of Main and West Avenue was the Hiram Ellis store. On the 16th of November 1894 the property was deed to Mr. Ellis, who had previously purchased the hardware stock in 1891. On the property was a wooden block type building with two stores and a large hall known as Ellis Hall and then Arkport Opera House. This hall was used by the community as a center for many activities such as church fairs. The hall’s first use was on January 1, 1891, when the Ellis’ used it for a family reunion. (Mr. Ellis was one of 17 children.)
On January 28, 1899 “never in the history of the village were the people more upset when they heard church bells at midnight and cries of fire. The stores of Hiram Ellis and the Taylor Brothers were on fire. Both building were completely destroyed by the fire.” In October of 1899 the Flint Brothers put in a frontage of the new brick store for Mr. Ellis. This was a very sturdy brick building with two separate stores with no opening between. The outside was made of local brick. It took twenty-two loads to complete the job. The second floor covered the two stores making one large hall, renamed Odean Hall “odean” meaning: “a hall for music and drama.” The west end of the hall contained a stage with a drop curtain. The hall had a beautiful floor with matched maple wood and hand-turned woodwork. The dressing rooms were backstage. Both stage and the dressing rooms were lite by oil lamps with reflectors. The stage curtain was made of asbestos and had advertisements from local businesses and was attached to a large log roller, raised and lowered with much creaking. Folding chairs were used for stage performances. They were folded up for dances and socials. Two wooden stoves heated the hall. The hall was used until the Central School opened in 1937.
A wide outside enclosed stairway on the south side of the building lead to the hall and the ticket office. Inside the hardware side of the store was an enclosed stairway. Mr. Milton Stearns purchased the hardware store after Mr. Ellis and the other store sold groceries and miscellaneous wares. This store was ran by several people, the most noted were Cecile and LaGrande McCarthy who operated McCarthy’s Grocery Store from 1935-1961.
Main Street is the oldest street in the village and follows an old Indian trail. For many years it was the main north-south route through the village. This was changed in 1966 to the present Route 36. It is probably one of a few Main Streets in American that is dead end at both ends!
Sources of information:
Histories of Arkport, NY
Early Arkport, 1797-1830 (published 1981).
From Arks to Celery (published in 1982).
(Both books reissued in original form by the Canisteo Valley Historical Society – 2015
Arkport Bicentennial 200thAnniversary - 1997
This lady is making a pause at "The Rocks" in Hornellsville, on her way to Bishopville, back in 1915. Up here in 2020 we send bicentennial greetings to our Hornellsville friends, whose Town was created from Canisteo 200 years ago this year! Parts of the new Town were later set off to create Town of Hartsvile, City of Hornell, and a stretch of Fremont. Hornellsville has three incorporated villages (Arkport, North Hornell, and part of Almond), plus the unincorporated settlement of South Hornell. Arkport and Almond dams are both in Hornellsville, along with Almond Lake, Canacadea County Park, and a good stretch of the Finger Lakes Trail... not to mention Hornell Municipal Airport and the new St. James Mercy Hospital. Hornell and Hornellsville have been hit hard in the current COVID pandemic, which, as a reminder, is one reason we've cancelled our Arkport historic walk for next week. But like all of our Towns, Hornellsville has weathered many a storm before, and will win through many yet to come. Happy anniversary to Hornellsville.