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SUBMITTED by John R. Groves, E.R.I.E. (5-Jan-2010)

Hotchkiss Building is a Historic Treasure

The Council of Revision

…held the veto power under the state constitution. The five-man council was split with Justices Platt and Yates for the bill and Acting Governor Taylor and Chief Justice Thompson opposed. The deciding vote was held by Chancellor James Kent who was unconvinced of the wisdom of the project under the conditions of the time. In the middle of the heated argument over the bill. [Former Governor] Tompkins, who had been elected to the vice presidency in March, entered the council chamber. Speaking informally, he advised against the bill. "The late peace with Great Britain," he said, "was a mere truce, and the credit and resources of the State should be employed, not in great civil works like this, but in preparing for war." Chancellor Kent took immediate interest. Pressing Tompkins further, he brought from him the prediction that war would be resumed within two years. Instantly the Chancellor was on his feet. "Then if we must have a war, or have a canal," exclaimed Kent, "I am in favor of the canal. I vote for the bill!"

Dewitt Clinton’s Memorial Speech in 1816, a year before the actual digging of the 1825 canal
“The whole line of canal will exhibit boats loaded with flour, pork, beef, pot and pearl ashes, flaxseed, wheat, barley, corn, hemp, wool, flax, iron, lead, copper, salt, gypsum, coal, tar, fur, peltry, ginseng, bees-wax, cheese, butter, lard, staves, lumber and the other valuable productions of our country; and also with merchandise from all parts of the world. Great manufacturing establishments will spring up ; agriculture will establish its granaries, and commerce its warehouses in all directions. Villages, towns, and cities, will line the banks of the canal, and the shores of the Hudson from Erie to New York. The wilderness and the solitary place will become glad, and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
The Village of Lyons came into being as a direct result of our historic Erie Canal

The Village of Lyons is a direct beneficiary of the original New York State’s plan to build the Great Erie Canal. When opening it was often referred to as "The 8th Wonder of the World".  Throughout the historic Erie Canal era passed the people, the goods, and civilization that literally built our nation, and guaranteed our Manifest Destiny

Today--not unlike the uncertainty of the early 19th century--Lyons has the chance to set into motion for generations to come a remarkable example of early Canal enterprise. Beginning in 1839 in Phelps, New York and moving to Lyons in 1841, the H. G. Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company of Lyons used the original 1825 canal. In later years the Enlarged Eric Canal provided its window to the world. In continuous operation for nearly 150 years it was eventually sold to a firm in Indiana. The offices, shipping areas, and laboratories of this historic company still remain. Its permanent preservation is not only essential, but interprets the very history of the Village of Lyons, both locally and internationally.

H.G. Hotchkiss Building during Peppermint Winter Wonderland in December 2009

Hand-painted sign for the "Peppermint Office" at the H.G. Hotchkiss Building

Inside the Bottling Room with Dick Kelley during an August 2009 tour of the Hotchkiss Building

H. G. Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company of Lyons
  • Hotchkiss Building is placed on National Register of Historic Places
  • The Hotchkiss Building is the only building of its kind (mint industry) on the National Register of Historic Places, in the United States
  • In 1991, Anne Hotchkiss donated the building to Wayne County
  • Our annual celebration, 'PEPPERMINT DAYS', is a reminder of our mint heritage in Lyons, N. Y.*

National Register of Historic Places plaque on the Hotchkiss Building

Brand new Hotchkiss Peppermint mural on a float during Peppermint Days 2009
“When the canal connected the Hudson to Lake Erie its success was assured. Before its completion, over 2000 boats, 9000 horses and 8000 men employed on Old Erie, making its $7,143,789 price tag seem reasonable, as its toll collection went from $300,000 in 1824 to $600,000 in 1825. Clinton's Big Ditch was complete, its full impact on the state and the nation yet to be seen.”
Imagine the visitors and others coming to see this treasure here in the Village of Lyons. Imagine what such visits and tourism can mean to our village…as a great place to live… "Then if we must have a ruins or parking lot, or have a preserved historic treasure," exclaimed Groves, "I am in favor of the preservation. I vote for the bill!"

* Lyons Peppermint Industry by Richard Kelley Courier-Gazette, January 2002


The Hotchkiss Building is kept in season by the Lyons Heritage Society and other volunteer residents of Lyons

 Volunteer workers tending the Mint Garden behind the historic Hotchkiss Building in July 2009


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12 Comments to "Preserving Our Heritage"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    "We can't afford it" and "Where will they park" are the oldest lamest excuses for doing nothing.
    John Zornow

    Posted on Tue Jan 05, 08:48:00 PM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Please! Please ! It is not FREE MONEY!! It is Taxpayer money!!! Add up all the grants across the state that villages, towns, cities and school districts receive for things they want not really need and it is staggering. The shared services committee of the village, town and school district just received a grant for around $25,000 to study what they can do to share services!!! Why can't the shared services committee come up with the ideas isn't that what they are for, why do they need to use $25,000 dollars of our money to figure it out? Watch, they will pay someone to come and tell them what they should do and they won't do it. IT'S INSANE!!! and it's not just Lyons!!!

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 10:10:00 AM EST

  3. Anonymous Said,

    John Zornow and John Groves: This was a well written promotional ad for the purpose of convincing the public that LOCAL PROPERTY TAX DOLLARS need to guarantee this property for 25 years. Wayne County has had these grants since 2006 but CHOSE not to move forward due to costs and caveats. I now have copies of the grants plus the proposed legal agreement: Whether or not the Heritage Society can keep thier end of the bargain and cough up $3500 out of $5000 per year, the village taxpayers are on the hook for 25 years in maintaining and insuring the building and grounds. The Federal Government will keep an easement on the property for 50 YEARS!!!!

    As I've said before. We cannot afford this. Let private $ be used. Everyone posting on here promoting this, put up your money, mortgage your house, don't take it involuntarily from my pocket.

    A DeWolf

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 10:16:00 AM EST

  4. Videomark Said,

    Why is Historic Preservation Important?

    Historic preservation is the practice of protecting and preserving sites, structures or districts which reflect elements of local or national cultural, social, economic, political, archaeological or architectural history. Preservation has many diverse purposes and rewards, including the strengthening of local economies, stabilization of property values, the fostering of civic beauty and community pride, and the appreciation of local and national history. Historic preservation as a public purpose that advances the education and welfare of citizens, while providing economic and aesthetic benefits as well.

    Historic resources are defined as districts, sites, structures, objects or buildings that are greater than seventy-five years in age, and are significant in local, state or national history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture. History encompasses all cultures, economic classes, and social, political and private activities that form the background to the present.

    Perhaps it time to focus on what is really important to remember the preservation of history and memories. If you wonder why I have such a passion for history, perhaps you should watch this video of two Canalers on the Erie Canal. Richard and Glen passed right by the H. G. Hotchkiss building as they traveled down the old canal. They walked the tow path before us and it our duty to honor all they did. I have over an hour of their memories on video that could play in the Hotchkiss building. This video will give 4th graders and visitors a glimpse into the past so they will have a better understand of what the Erie Canal was like.


    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 12:07:00 PM EST

  5. Anonymous Said,

    You know, I'm all for preservation of our history and memories...if this building means so much to so many people, then buy it from the county and fix it up yourselves. Then prove me and everyone else who opposes this acquisition wrong - show me the thousands of dollars in increased revenue that the downtown will enjoy because of this building being refurbished. I hate to pop a bubble here, but let's keep some perspective on the situation. The Hotchkiss building is literally across the street from what really draws people to Lyons...the Department of Health & Human Services.

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 01:48:00 PM EST

  6. Anonymous Said,

    you have not explained how public dollars are being used when the building is being given to the village and was awarded grants to restore the building.

    look around in lyons, where were you when the nusbickle building on the corner of water and broad received a grant to make it into affordable housing? where were you when grants allowed the CASH bldg on Water st, (blue bldg) to be restored and utilized for apartments? The Smith Opera House was awarded grants for its restoration, this is how viable, structurally sound buildings were saved, restored and reused.

    Look at the lighthouse in Sodus, also restored with grants, were you up in Sodus fighting that restoration as well?

    were you fighting the grants that have been giving to the eastman house in rochester as well? have you nothing better to do with your time?

    The village of Lyons is moving forward in cleaning up, new businesses are popping up. Perhaps you haven't noticed the pub, beauty parlor and cafe on Broad St.

    Become part of the solution, instead of part of the problem that has plagued this village and town for the past 20 years.

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 03:34:00 PM EST

  7. Anonymous Said,

    #6 it is obvious you are not aware that THESE GRANTS ARE PUBLIC DOLLARS these aren't private funded grants they are tax payer grants. I also wouldn't use the nusbickle and cash buildings as shining examples of the use of tax payer money. also the new buisnesses you mentioned,all private money!! the problem in our state is to much taxes and it is going to get worse. so as you say be a part of the solution quit spending tax payer money on something that should be private financed.

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 04:00:00 PM EST

  8. Anonymous Said,

    Lyons will never prosper again as the monster is in the house!!!Walmart is down the way. It will steal your unique businesses then offer you a eight dollar an hour job with little benefits. The governer patterson is talking about this waste of tax money(grants). Republicans have a point about spend spend spend and some how a five dollar admission for lets say three hundred visitors will pay for all the needs. Please that is a large estimate anyway.
    Military no taxes? please everyone pays. Everyone does something for society that work. Heros yes, exempt no. Get a job!!!!!!!

    Posted on Thu Jan 07, 01:49:00 PM EST

  9. Anonymous Said,

    Given the history of Hotchkiss, and the plethora of supporters, will the Heritage Society now take over the Hotchkiss Building from the county and repair and maintain it? On this site and at the meetings there were well over 100 people with sincere interest in saving the Hotchkiss Heritage. With such high level of passion and interest, I sincerely hope private citizens step up and show that they weren't just talking out because it was taxpayer money being used, but because they really believed in preserving this. --Andrew DeWolf--

    Posted on Thu Dec 23, 08:18:00 AM EST

  10. Anonymous Said,

    Supporters of this worthwhile project will never give up...but they will remember who they can trust. History will show that a group of politicians dropped the ball on this.

    Posted on Fri Dec 24, 01:24:00 PM EST

  11. Anonymous Said,

    I assume your definition of supporter is someone who is all for spending taxpayers money(even those taxpayers who think it is a waste of money)and not raising it themselves.

    Posted on Fri Dec 24, 03:03:00 PM EST

  12. Anonymous Said,

    Look at the things we are cutting in our society. Education not for our lower end kids but, for gifted kids(Not the way to lead the world). Cutting Wayne county health office just to list a few. How does the Hotchkiss building become a priority over the needs of the people now in our time?
    To me this selfishness depicts our era and the miss use of tax money. This should be a private enterprise.

    Posted on Sat Dec 25, 09:53:00 AM EST


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