Sep 15, 2015

The Cobblestone Museum

There are about 200 cobblestones houses near the shores of Lake Ontario. In fact, historians estimate between 75 and 90 percent of all the American cobblestone buildings are located within 100 miles of the Cobblestone Museum in Albion. The lake provided the stones.  They were there for the taking. Masons who no longer had work once the Erie Canal was finished provided the expertise.  It was a labor-intensive job.  The Cobblestone Museum has metal rings that were used to gauge the size of the stone.  Only four layers could be laid in one day because the mortar had to set before more layers could be added. After the Civil War construction of cobblestone buildings slowed when concrete became the preferred building material. 

The Cobblestone Museum is made up of eight historic buildings.  The museum’s welcome center is in the basement of the 1834 church, the oldest cobblestone church in North America.  The main part of the church has been restored with Victorian Country character. My guide, Georgia,
pointed out many interesting aspects of the church.  The collection basket was a velvet bag so that the coins would not clink when deposited.  Take note of the curtain on the bottom of part of the choir loft’s railing.  That way people would not be able to look up the skirts of the singers.  The decorative screen to the right of the organ hid the poor, sweaty youngster who had to pump the organ. 

Next to the church is the Ward House.  Horace Greely once owned the house but never lived there although he did visit on occasion. I always like to look at the kitchen items that were used years ago.  Just when I think nothing can surprise me my guide pointed out the cooling coffin in the parlor.  The concept of preserving the deceased increased in popularity during the Civil War when so many soldiers died far from home so the cooling coffin was invented. 

The 1849 cobblestone schoolhouse was in continuous use until
1952.  It is the only one-room schoolhouse I have visited – and I have been to many – where the grade of the floor gradually increased so that the students in the last row could see the teacher; and, the teacher could see them better. There were clever flaps on the ceiling that could be opened with a pulley during the hot weather. The cobblestone on the school is a façade. When the students went for a picnic on the shore of Lake Ontario they took baskets with them so they could collect stones that were then used to create the school’s façade. Teachers often posed riddles for students to figure out.  On the blackboard was: YYUR, YYUB, ICUR,YY4ME! 

Across the street are four other buildings: a blacksmith shop, print shop, harness shop and the Farmer’s Hall.  Joseph Vagg, the blacksmith who was also a wheelwright, was the last blacksmith on the Ridge Road.  The Farmer’s Hall has a variety of displays including a variety of butter churns including one that
was dog operated. In the entrance way there is a taxidermy collection by Carl Ackerly, the father of modern taxidermy, known for positioning his specimens in their natural setting. The Cobblestone museum also has a collection of outhouses in a variety of architectural styles such Federal and Eastlake.