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 gallon including the jug. Soon the arks on the Tioughnioga River were carrying whiskey and potash south.
The Randalls’ business flourished and in 1823 they set out on new paths. Roswell went diagonally across the street and built the Eagle Store. The Squires Block, with its iconic clock tower, replaced it in 1883. William built the Randall Bank on the southeast corner of Main Street and Court Street. It later became the Chocolate shop and was destroyed by fire in the 1950s.
In 1835 a 3 1/2 story building, known as the Dayton Block, was built on the site. (image from 1855 map at Cortland County Historical Society, these old maps are wonderful!) It was the home of various businesses and the Cortland Democrat.
In 1880 a new foundation was dug and a fourth floor was added. The building then became known as the Keator Block – the name changes can be confusing. It was the home of the Cortland Savings Bank for a time around 1900. During the 1940s and 1950s, it housed several grocery stores (Mohican and Victory Markets).
In 1978 the building was totally remodeled to have a commercial business on the first floor and apartments above.