Hotel Oneida

Hotel Oneida
Hotel Oneida, at Main Street and Lenox Avenue in Oneida, New York, opened in 1927 and was a fixture of downtown Oneida for decades. It became an apartment building in 1982, sold at public auction in 2009 for a mere $25,000. By 2017, the town council received so many complaints about the decaying building, they threatened to tear it down. It was still standing when I drove by in the summer of 2018.

Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York

Forest Lawn Cemetery, at 1411 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, is a Victorian rural cemetery established in 1849. Over 161,000 former residents of the “City of Light” are interred within its 269 acres, including U.S. President Millard Fillmore and the 49 victims of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash. True to its name, Forest Lawn is also an important arboretum, with over 3,500 trees spread over its sprawling grounds. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Blue Sky Mausoleum

Modern architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed this unique mausoleum in 1928, but it wouldn’t be until 76 years later that his apprentice Anthony Puttnam would complete the project. The Blue Sky Mausoleum, called that because its crypts face the sky rather than each other in an enclosed structure, contains 24 burial vaults. It sits on a gentle slope overlooking a small pond.

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Diners of New York

New Jersey is often described as the diner capital of the United States, but in my opinion, New York out paces it by far. You won’t find such a large concentration of classic diners anywhere else. In 1895, Patrick J. Tierney, who coined the term “diner”, began a lunch wagon business that grew so fast it inspired him to begin manufacturing the mobile restaurants himself in his hometown of New Rochelle, New York. Two of his former employees went on to create the iconic diner manufacturers Fodero Dining Car Company and the Kullman Dining Car Company.

The DeRaffele Manufacturing Company took over the Tierney factory in New Rochelle in 1933 and continues to operate there to the present day. Two other New York-based diner builders were the Orleans Manufacturing Company in Albion, New York (only built three diners) and Ward & Dickinson in Silver Creek, New York. Ward & Dickinson operated from 1923 to 1940.

The Red Robin Diner, at 268 Main Street, is a classic Mountain View-style diner that originally opened in neighboring Binghamton in 1950 and moved to its present location in 1959. The 35-ton diner took two hours to move. Chris and Pat Anagnostakos ran the business for 37 years until retirement.

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Capture of Fort Niagara during the War of 1812

A daring British night attack during the War of 1812 quickly secured this old French fort at the mouth of the Niagara River.

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The Second Battle of Fort Niagara was fought on December 19, 1813 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and American forces commanded by Captain Nathaniel Leonard at the mouth of the Niagara River near Youngstown, New York during the War of 1812. The British night attack was successful, and the fort remained in British hands for the remainder of the war.

On December 10, 1813, U.S. Brigadier General George McClure decided to abandon Fort George on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, which the United States had captured in May. His troops burned the nearby village of Newark to the ground before retreating across the river. Filled with thoughts of revenge, British forces seized the initiative.

On the night of December 19, approximately 562 British regulars commanded by Colonel John Murray crossed the Niagara River under cover of darkness, about three miles south of Fort Niagara. They captured some American sentries who had been warming themselves by a fire, and obtained the watch’s challenge and password. From there, a British soldier feigning a Southern accent gained entry to the fort, and British troops rushed in.

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Bitter Veils of Solemnity

Monument to James and Sarah Schermerhorn and family in Cortland Rural Cemetery, 110 Tompkins Street, Cortland, Cortland County, New York. James A. Schermerhorn was a lawyer of Dutch ancestry. His father had been a banker, legislator, and one-time mayor of Rochester, New York. At least ten Schermerhorns are buried in the shadow of this lovely granite monument.

Cortland Rural Cemetery was established in 1853. Its drive is lined with wonderfully informative interpretive signs with information about prominent burials, interesting monuments, and the materials from which those monuments were made.

Battle of Plattsburgh Historic Sites

This decisive naval battle on Lake Champlain is celebrated as a pivotal moment in the War of 1812. A large monument towers over Plattsburgh, New York, where you can look out over the water and imagine the old wooden sailing ships locked in deadly combat.

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The Battle of Plattsburgh was fought from September 6 to Sept. 11, 1814 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and Captain George Downie and American forces commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Macomb and Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough on Lake Champlain and Plattsburgh, New York during the War of 1812. The battle was a major American victory. It stopped the British invasion of New York and led to denial of British territorial demands in the Treaty of Ghent.

In late summer 1814, the British planned to conduct a combined land and naval campaign down Lake Champlain, which had it succeeded, would have drastically altered the balance of power in the region. They gathered approximately 11,000 men and a fleet of four ships and 12 gunboats for the expedition. Opposing them were approximately 6,000 American regulars and militia and four ships and ten gunboats.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Macomb decided to make his stand at Plattsburgh, and sent troops north to harass the British as they advanced. Plattsburgh Bay allowed Commandant Macdonough’s ships to engage the British at close range, where the British would lose the advantage of their long-range guns. On the morning of September 11, the British ships HMS Chubb, HMS Linnet, HMS Confiance, and HMS Finch engaged the American ships USS Eagle, USS Saratoga, USS Ticonderoga, and USS Preble.

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DeRaffele Diners

In 1895, Patrick J. Tierney, who coined the term “diner”, began a lunch wagon business that grew so fast it inspired him to begin manufacturing the mobile restaurants himself in his hometown of New Rochelle, New York. Two of his former employees went on to create the iconic diner manufacturers Fodero Dining Car Company and the Kullman Dining Car Company. A third, Angelo DeRaffele, continued Tierney’s work in New York.

The DeRaffele Manufacturing Company, founded by DeRaffele and Carl A. Johnson as Johnson & DeRaffele, took over the Tierney factory in New Rochelle in 1933 and continues to operate there to the present day. Angelo DeRaffele started working for Tierney as a carpenter in 1921. When the Tierney company closed, DeRaffele partnered with company president Carl A. Johnson to continue manufacturing diners under a new name. DeRaffele took over full ownership in 1947.

I’ve visited DeRaffele diners in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Classic DeRaffele diners are typically flat and rectangular with stainless steel, striped exteriors with center entrances. More recent diners built on site have a distinctive three-tiered “crown” over the entrance.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Three Brothers Diner, at 242 White Street in Danbury, Connecticut, is a 1990 DeRaffele. I love the red-trim stainless steel exterior. The letters that spell “diner” on the sign change color. It is open 24 hours on the weekend and is a favorite of students from nearby Western Connecticut State University.

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