Woodruff Street was accepted as a new street on June 8, 1885, and was named after Madison Woodruff. The second portion of Woodruff was opened from Maple Avenue to Madison Street and was accepted on August 1, 1910. Madison Woodruff owned the tract of land there and operated a pottery on Groton Avenue. Madison and his wife, Hannah Russell Woodruff, came to Cortland in 1831. He began work as a journeyman in the pottery of Sylvester Blair, the original stoneware manufacturer in the area. He worked for Blair for several years and in 1849, he began his own pottery business. He constructed a brick buildingRead More →

Myrtie (or Myrtle) Pearl Pennoyer was born on November 22, 1878, and immediately given up for adoption. She was adopted by George and Lydia G. Pennoyer and raised in Cortland. This little girl would live a long and productive life which touched both people who knew her and people who did not. George and Pearl had but one daughter, a little girl named Laura who would sadly die at 18 months. They raised a foster son and took in another child for a time. They opened their home to fresh air children over the years as well. Pearl was a member of the Twentieth CenturyRead More →

You’ve never heard of Fitz Avenue? It is now called West Main Street, and the name seems to have changed somewhere between 1908 and 1910. The original name might have been Meyers Street, at least there is a reference that says so. The 1896 city directory has Fitz Avenue, and the 1888 map of Cortland has Fitz Avenue, but I’m not sure what year it came to be called Fitz Avenue. So, what is the history of this street? Fitz Avenue was named after Fitz Boynton. We mentioned Mr. Boynton last week in our look at Copeland Avenue. At the time I wrote up theRead More →

Copeland Avenue takes its name from William S. Copeland, one-time proprietor of the Messenger House, the iconic hotel which used to sit on the corner of Port Watson and Main Street. Information on Copeland is scanty, but what I did find was that his former residence became the hospital when it had outgrown its buildings. William Copeland was born in Tully in 1819. Very little is written about him, but I was able to find that he married Harriet Emerson of Solon, in September of 1847. He kept a tavern in Solon for a time and eventually landed at the Messenger House in Cortland. AccordingRead More →

Stevenson Street was named after Troy native Theodore Stevenson. He came to the then village of Cortland in 1872 and quickly built a name for himself as a man who got things done. His first occupation in this place was selling fire insurance. He set up an office over the First National Bank in an office with Judge Crandall. He started out representing several different insurance companies and his business soon outgrew his first office. In 1876 he moved to 22 ½ Main Street where he kept office for many years. After 1884 Stevenson added life and accident insurance to his offerings, and eventually, heRead More →

The undated newspaper clipping I have been using as a guide to uncover more information about the names of our streets in Cortland was published around 1910 or later. It was based on the knowledge of H.J. Harrington and Theodore Stevenson (yes, more street names!). Today I discovered that there was an error for Rickard Street. The clipping states that Rickard Street was named by Elziver O. Rickard for his father, Israel Rickard. However, Israel was his uncle, and his father was George Washington Rickard. (Now I am wondering if Washington Street was named after George and not President George Washington, as it states inRead More →

Charles Street is a small, one-way street that runs parallel to North Main Street. It’s a residential street, and most of the time, you wouldn’t even use it unless you are visiting someone who lives there or there is a detour for street repairs on Clinton Avenue. However, Charles Street has some gorgeous old houses, though some need a little TLC. There are stories just waiting to be told about those houses and the people who built them! We’ll leave that for another day. Today we focus on Charles Wesley Collins, the man whom Charles Street was named after. Collins was born in Canastota inRead More →

Comando Avenue became a special place to me because my first husband’s grandparents lived there, and we visited often. It was there that I first heard that Comando Avenue was named after Judge Comando because he owned a lot of property in that area and rented houses to the Italian immigrants who were moving into Cortland during the early 1900s. I was always so curious about who this mysterious Judge Comando was! Fast forward to spring of 2020 when I found a Comando family scrapbook and some beautiful photos of Judge Albert Comando and his wife Dorothy. It seemed like a big project, though, soRead More →

The corner of Main and Port Watson Streets In 1812 the Randall brothers, William and Roswell, originally from Stonington, Connecticut, came to the little village of Cortland. The enterprising brothers immediately went to work and built a general store on the north corner of Main and Port Watson Streets. The brothers were astute businessmen. They painted the building yellow, and it was thereafter known as “The Yellow Store”. At first, Cortland was a market town but small businesses soon followed. The brothers established distilleries on South Main Street and they manufactured potash. At this time whiskey was a household necessity! It was 15⍧ a gallonRead More →