14 Main Street

Crown City Touring- Main Street

14 Main Street

Cortland, New York 13045, United States

Created By: Cortland County Historical Society


The history of Cortland’s #14 Main Street overlaps somewhat with that of #12. The two addresses were once part of one property with a residence at #12, and #14 acting as an office. In the 1850s, the office was used by attorneys Robert O. Reynolds and Hiram Crandall. In 1858, Dr. Theodore C. Pomeroy (1817-1897) purchased the house and lot. Dr. Pomeroy kept a drug store in a place called “Apothecary’s Hall” located in the area of where the current Newberry Building stands (#43-47). Less than ten years later, he appears to lose the property in order to pay off debts. Julius A. Graham subsequently bought it from the H.J. Messenger estate in 1868 and conducted renovations to #12 to turn it into a business block in 1895.

Meanwhile, #14 came under the ownership of Jerry H. O’Leary (1855-1925) and John F. Dowd (1958-1923) who formed a partnership around 1882 and opened their American hotel. At this time, I suspect they would have replaced the A-frame structure that shows up in an early photograph, with a flat-roofed building. In 1885, they added an additional story that would allow for a dining room and sitting rooms on the second floor, and presumably rooms for guests to stay were located on the third floor. The ground floor was used as a billiards and saloon.

In 1891, O’Leary retired from the firm and Dowd continued under his own management until 1918. Dowd was also a charter member of the Emerald Hose Co. No.4 and was elected chief of the Cortland fire department in 1887.

Highlights of the American Hotel over the years:

1886- The parlors of the American Hotel were used as a meeting space for organizing a ball club to be known as the “Cortlands.” The team included players such as Ira Dexter, Hugh Corcoran, and Dennis McCarthy.

1893- A bet was made one morning in the American Hotel between Mr. Martin Cahill and Mr. M. Wadsworth when the latter bet the former that he could not drink two quarts of milk in five minutes. Each man put up ten dollars (over $300 in today’s money!) and Mr. Cahill drank three quarts and one and one-half pints in the allotted time, took his money, and went to bed (although I suspect he might have made a quick exit for different reasons).

By 1907, a bowling alley had been added onto the rear.

After Dowd retired his business, the building was used for the following:

1920s- John Hull, chiropractor; Goody Shop (Areva M. Mott)

1930s- The French Shop, furriers; the Goody Shop (James G. Zaharis & Louis E. Cuneo)

1940s-1960s- Payne Bros. office supplies, Harry Sedaris rooming

1970s- Turkey Inn

1975- Yen-King Restaurant

1980s- Kam Sing Restaurant

1986- Szechuan Dynasty

The structure was condemned in 1994, and demolished in 1999. If you look on the side of the Community Restaurant today, you can still see some lingering signs of its neighbor of old.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Crown City Touring- Main Street


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