Village Historian

Charles Albee - Historian -  (315) 551-2052

The Historian’s office is located in the Chittenango Branch of the Sullivan Free Library. 

Hours: Tuesday, 3 pm-5 pm and Wednesday, 6:30 pm-8 pm.

Chittenango and the Telephone

Today, our wired telephones have been widely replaced by our cell phones. However, over 100 years ago, wired telephones were beginning to appear in people’s homes. The first recorded use of a telephone in Chittenango on February 2, 1878. On that date, a line between Cazenovia and Chittenango allowed people in Chittenango to hear singers in Cazenovia. On Sept 2, 1881, a phone line was installed between W. P. Maine’s store on Genesee St and his home on Lake St. During the 1880s, competing telephone companies, The Farmers’ Telephone Co. and Columbia Telephone Co., were established. Our Own Telephone Co. was organized in 1902 by Daniel Gates with the promise of better service. Following Daniel Gates death, Addie Gates Fowler, his wife, took over the operation of company. The switchboard was originally in Siver’s store (now the village parking lot), then to the house on the corner of Arch and Genesee St and finally to Mrs. Fowler’s new house at 271 Genesee St. New York Telephone acquired Our Own Telephone Co in 1929. 1939 saw the switching equipment moved to 293 Genesee St with the arrival of dial telephones in Chittenango. 1961 saw the arrival of direct long-distance calling and the metroplan which allowed calling of virtually all phones in the Syracuse metro area without toll charges. By 1978, Chittenango had fully electronic switching equipment. The original building was no longer needed and torn down. 

Siver’s store was in the building on the right. Benson’s Law Office is in the fire house today.

Corner of Arch and Genesee Streets

271 Genesee St today. Our Own Telephone’s switchboard was in the back of this house

1939 New York Telephone building, 291 Genesee, removed about 1980.

Current Verizon telephone building at 291 Genesee St. This building was built behind the 1939 building.

Route 5-Route 173 intersection:

The mill complex below was originally built by John B. Yates in 1824 as a woolen mill.  During the Civil War, it produced woolen cloth for Union Army uniforms.  Later it served as a cotton mill, onion warehouse, foundry, and cheese factory.  The small building in the front was used as a gas station after the other buildings were demolished in the 1940s. The final building was removed during road construction in 2008.  Today the property continues to have an auto-related use.



Location:  About 100 yards west of the Route 5/Route 173 intersection

Today, the Sun car lot and the next three houses are on the location of the Yates School.   The front part of the building was originally built as a hotel.  John B. Yates established this school as an academic school and as a vocational school.  Unfortunately, the vocational school aspect only lasted a few years but the academic programs survived.  The building was the village school until the opening of the Lake Street building in the 1920s.  The Yates School building was demolished in the 1930s and replaced originally by four houses of which three remain today.

Then (Circa 1900):


Chittenango Firehouses:

In 1841 fire struck the downtown Chittenango area but there was no fire department. As a result, the Village of Chittenango was incorporated in 1842 so that a fire department could be organized.  The first firehouse was built at the south end of today’s Stickles Park in 1844. 

The second firehouse was built in early 1880s at 234 Genesee Street. Following the completion of the second firehouse, the first firehouse was moved from the park to 216 Genesee Street where it stands today. The third firehouse was constructed in the early 1950s at 417 Genesee Street and

initially served as the seat of village government as well as the firehouse. In the early 1980s, the

village built new village government facilities and 417 Genesee Street’s sole use was as a firehouse

First firehouse [1844-1880s]

Second firehouse [1880s-1950s]

Third Firehouse [1950s-present]

201 Genesee St

This building was built in 1844 and used as a general store by Benjamin Jenkins and Perez Harrington. Both men served as postmasters around the Civil War era. Hatch & Costello and later Abner Hatch ran a store here in the early 20th century. In 1917, the building was purchased by the Sullivan Masonic Lodge #148 and the second and third floors were used for their meeting rooms. The first floor was the post office from 1928 to the mid-1980s. 1944 saw renovation to the building to provide better space for the post office. The current brick front was installed at that time. Since the post office left, uses have included an insurance office, a medical draw station, and offices of Environmental Compliance Management Corporation.

Circa 1900

Circa 1920

Circa 1945

Circa 1960