NIAGARA FALLS – A relic from before the American Revolution that must be moved because of a road construction project is one step closer to finding a new home.
The New York Power Authority has pledged to pay for a study of how much it will cost to relocate what’s known as the Old Stone Chimney, a two-story hearth that was part of French and British forts here.
Mayor Paul A. Dyster said Wednesday he received a letter from Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones that states the authority will fund engineering work that would examine all phases needed to move and reconstruct the chimney, whose fate has recently seen a resurgence in public interest.
“I think everyone in the community should be happy that NYPA is stepping up to the plate and doing everything that needs to be done to move the project forward,” Dyster said.
The long-forgotten chimney stands behind a vacant Buffalo Avenue warehouse in an embankment of the Robert Moses Parkway, near the John B. Daly Boulevard exit.
Built more than 260 years ago and disassembled, moved and reasssembled twice before, it has to be moved again because construction work to reconfigure that section of the parkway is scheduled to begin in October.
The city wants to move the chimney to Power Authority land on the upper Niagara River known as the “spoils pile,” just east of the Adams Slip where its ice breaker is docked. The letter indicates the Power Authority’s support for that location, Dyster said.
In the letter dated April 11, the authority said the engineering work will generate cost estimates for dismantling, moving and reconstructing the chimney on the new site, as well as site preparation: a new foundation, access road, turning lane and parking area, according to Dyster.
Supporters, who feared that without plans for relocation the chimney would be taken down, believe it deserves a more prominent location, one that would allow stories to be told about its history.
It stood at the upper landing of the Niagara Portage, part of the trade route that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the upper Great Lakes.
The route’s importance diminished once the Erie Canal was built, but remains a good opportunity to boost heritage tourism efforts in the area, supporters say.
The design documents for the Robert Moses Parkway work – a project involving an agreement among the city, USA Niagara Development Corp., the state Department of Transportation and state parks – indicated funding was in place for the relocation of the chimney. Dyster said the Power Authority, which owns the land where the chimney currently stands, is apparently willing to move the project forward.
Once the move is completed, there would be another phase to enhance the historical interpretation at the site, Dyster said.
Until earlier this month, it was believed that the chimney was on city-owned land and was the property of the city. Power Authority officials recently told the city they discovered the part of Porter Park where it stands had been conveyed to the authority.
The authority opposed an effort to have the city’s Historic Preservation Commission designate the chimney a local landmark because it is going to be moved.