BeeLines - November 9, 2017
By Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Town & Village Historian
A Historic Building Sign Mystery is Still Unsolved! Can YOU Help Solve It?
“Did you hear? The building where ‘Flowers by Connie’ used to be, is being sold!” Your Westfield Historian was, again, surprised by a local resident’s questions about the latest rumor about town. “Flowers by Connie” was located at 23 East Main, where the Sport’s Card Memorabilia Store is now, and most of that building is owned by the proprietor of that store.
“Well, no!” I replied, as we discussed what had been shared, and clarified just what location is allegedly being purchased. It turns out that the location being sold is actually at 25 East Main (and probably the small storage building across the back alley attached to the building), which is only the approximately ¼ portion of the building at 23-25 East Main, most recently Parkview Antiques, owned and operated by Rose Morse.
Being one of the older extant buildings in the business district block on Main Street, between North Portage and Market streets, it was built in 1843-1845, by William R. Morse, and designated as the Union Block, as shown on an illustration in the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas. At that time, the IO-OF had its club rooms and hall on the second and third floors, where a hundred years later were housed the Masonic rooms. (Please refer to image with this article.) Rose Morse’s late husband’s family are descendants of William R. Morse.
Before 1909, the Main Street addresses on this north side of the street were numbered consecutively starting with #1 Main at the corner of North Portage where the 1872 Spencer Block housed the Corner Drug Store. 1 East Main is now (1970-2017) Executive II Barber Shop.
In the Union Block in 1867, where the Sport’s Card store is now (2017) located (23 E Main), was W. R. Morse & Co. at 14 Main Street, and at 15 Main Street, now 25 East Main, was D. Rockwell & Co.
According to Rose Morse, former proprietor of Parkview Antiques at 25 East Main, when the Union Block building was first built, there was a rather large metal sign mounted on the building that identified William R Morse as the builder, and which listed the dates of construction as 1843-1845. It is not known when the sign was removed from the building, but Rose Morse saw this sign several years ago, when it was stored in the Masonic Rooms above her store. When the recent (c. 2012) purchaser of most of the building and Morse went through the entire building from basement through the third floor, they were unable to locate the sign. Inquiries of various local historians have found no sign, nor has anyone been contacted who can recall what may have become of the sign when the Masonic Lodge vacated the building.
In a recent phone conversation with Rose Morse, she confirmed that the sign is still missing. Furthermore, she feels strongly that the sign, when located, should be mounted again on the historic building, to honor the memory of one of our early prominent Westfield businessmen. As a side note, William R. Morse (1810-1881) is buried in Westfield Cemetery, section B2, with a fine grave marker.
Considering that the sign is/was one of the oldest remaining of such items, if any reader knows of the location of the sign, and/or could even provide it to be preserved by the Westfield Historian, Patterson Library, or Chautauqua County Historical Society Museum at the McClurg Mansion, please contact the Westfield Historian at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (716) 397-9254, with this information. Thank You! We will be delighted and grateful for the resolution of yet another local history mystery.