Teresa Farrell 2017-04-05 01:37:11
When you’re visiting the village of Alexandria Bay this summer, take some time to step back in time and visit the Cornwall Brothers’ Store and Museum. Located on the waterfront in downtown Alexandria Bay, this historic treasure is a museum housed in an 1866-era building that once served as a general store and is filled with treasures that tell the tale of life on the river in the past. The Cornwall Brothers’ Store is the last remaining riverfront property in Alexandria Bay to remain untouched by time. In 1839 proprietor Azariah Walton and his son-in-law Alexandria Hamblin began selling lumber, timber and soap-making supplies here. Alexandria Bay, with a population of only 300 residents at the time, had only one other store. After a fire destroyed the original building in 1865, the stone building that still stands today was erected. Cornwall Brothers Store & Museum. Photo credit: Jerrye and Roy Klotz, Wikimedia. Andrew Cornwall bought the store from Walton in 1877 and soon employed his four sons, giving the Cornwall Brothers’ Store its name. By this time, commerce and tourism in the area was beginning to heat up. The Thousand Islands region experienced its own golden time during the Gilded Age, around the turn of the twentieth century, when the wealthy and affluent flocked to the area to build sprawling mansions and palatial estates on the shores of the St. Lawrence River and islands. This era produced a boom for the local villages, which thrived under the attention of these well-to-do part-time residents. At one point, trains would arrive here daily during the summertime months, carrying with them the elite members of New York City society. This meant more business for everyone in town, including the Cornwall Brothers’, whose business thrived until the Great Depression drew this era to an end in 1929. The former store was used as a post office and customs station for a short time, but eventually fell into disrepair and sat, abandoned, until 1973. The town’s mayor at the time opted to organize the Alexandria Bay Historical Society for the express purpose of saving this standing piece of history. The group purchased the building for one dollar, and set about creating a museum. The Cornwall Brothers’ Store is the last remaining riverfront property in Alexandria Bay to remain untouched by time. There are plenty of artifacts and exhibits, some seasonal and some permanent. Among the displays are exhibits that tell about the history of boat-building, a time-honored tradition in a place that’s built on and around the water; duck decoy carving, a popular and lucrative industry in an area that has a history of hunting; and the War of 1812. There are also displays of household goods, vintage clothing, Thousand Islands memorabilia, turn of the century hotel, steamship and steam yacht photos and documents, vintage post cards, collectibles from island homes and works by renowned 19th and 20th century Thousand Island artists. A vintage St. Lawrence River skiff and a restored early motor boat salvaged from a muddy river bottom are featured on the first floor. Outside, about fifty feet into the waters of the St. Lawrence, lies the wreck of a ship called the Islander, and in 2017, the museum will be adding a display dedicated to the life of the ship before it wrecked, complete with video footage of a diver exploring its remains. For those wishing to relax and enjoy a St. Lawrence day, the wicker chairs on the deck facing the river offer a spot to sit and do just that. The property includes a gift shop with historic books along with local souvenirs. The Cornwall Brothers’ Store and Museum is also home to a variety of events throughout the summer season. Local storytellers frequently stop in to give talks on various topics. A historic architecture talk and tour is also scheduled for the summer, when visitors can board an Uncle Sam boat to take a look at the historic homes along the river. The store also hosts Victorian Tea, where visitors don their best hats to sip tea and snack on finger foods and desserts at the fabulous Casa Blanca, the magnificent summer home of the Amsterdam family on Cherry Island. The island overlooks “Millionaire’s Row,” where many of the biggest names of the gilded age chose to build their summer homes. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore this gorgeous Victorian home. Keewaydin State Park. Photo credit: John Farrell. Plan a visit to the Cornwall Brothers’ store this summer. The store and museum is open during the summer months; for more information, including specific operating hours and details on upcoming events, visit www.visitalexbay.org or check out Cornwall Brothers’ Store on Facebook. 1000 ISLANDS A Attractions B Boating F Food/Dining L Lodging P Partner S Shopping Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina A 31 Holland St., Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 800-955-4511 800-955-4511 www.bonniecastle.com C-Way Resort L 37093 NYS Route 12, Clayton, NY 13624 866-CWAYRST (292-9788) 315-686-4214 www.cwayresort.com Capt. Thomson’s Resort 45 James St., Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 315-482-9961 800-253-9229 www.captthomsons.com The Chez Paris Restaurant F 24 Church St. , Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 315-482-9825 Clipper Inn LF 126 State St., Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-3842 www.clipperinn.com Cornwall Brothers Store & Museum AS 36 Market St. Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 315-482-4586 www.alexandriahistorical.com Coyote Moon Vineyards SF 17371 County Route 3, Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-5600 www.coyotemoonvineyards.com Pinehurst on the St. Lawrence L 20683 Pinehurst Rd., Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 315-482-9452 www.pinehurstcottages.com Realty USA P 712 James St., Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-4000 www.christensenrealty.com Riveredge Resort L 17 Holland St., Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 1-800-365-6987 www.riveredge.com 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel L 200 Riverside Drive, Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-1100 www.1000islandsharborhotel.com 1000 Islands “River Rat Cheese” S 242 James St., Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-2480 www.riverratcheese.net Tibbetts Point Lighthouse Historical Society A 33435 Co. Rt. 6, Cape Vincent, NY 13618 315-654-2700 www.capevincent.org/lighthouse Uncle Sam Boat Tours A 45 James St., Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 315-482-2611 800-253-9229 www.usboattours.com Wood Boat Brewery F 229 John St., Clayton, NY 13624315-686-3233 www.woodboatbrewery.com Sunset fishing on the St. Lawrence. Photo credit: John Farrell. Freighter approaching the Thousand Island Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. Photo credit: John Farrell.
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