Before the formation of Central Avenue, formerly called Railroad Street, a building stood on Main Street at what would become the street entrance. The first structure we can date there is from 1841 which is the earliest I can find a business under the auspice of J.C. Pomeroy & Co., dealing in dry goods as the “Cortland Exchange” in the “new white building one door north of Wm. Elder.”
James C. Pomeroy had previously been in business with William Elder in the building next door, at the location of modern-day 35 Main Street, but partnered with H.P. Goodrich and William E. Taylor to form this new venture. Taylor left the business in 1842, then Goodrich too split from Pomeroy in 1843.
In the meantime, next door at no.35, William Elder had partnered with his son-in-law Lemuel S. Pomeroy (James’ brother) in producing and selling boots and shoes, but in 1843 Elder’s share was bought out by J.G. Northrup. “For several years, Northrup was at work in his spare time upon a model of some machine which he kept in the work room of the shoe shop. It was a mystery to his friends what it was, and he didn’t tell. Mr., Elder used to joke him about his “pancake turner,” but the scheme proved a success and Mr. Northrup made a great deal of money out of the new power printing press which succeeded the hand presses mostly in use,” (Cortland Standard, 12/19/1905). In January of 1844, H.P. Goodrich took over the store of Pomeroy & Northrup. Tracing all this exchanging of business proved rather dizzying, especially with two Pomeroy’s in play!
In September 1845, J.W. Sturtevant & E.H. Doud took up business in “the old Pomeroy stand,” keeping at first to the “Cortland Exchange” name. They remain in the spot until the businesses swap around once again, with the boot and shoe business taking over Sturtevant and Doud’s location under the auspices of William Fisk & J.B. Horton, while Sturtevant, Doud & Co. (including Emmet A. Fish) shift next door to no.35. Sturtevant, Doud & Co. “was favorably known throughout the county and was one of the most successful and honorable [businesses] in the history of Cortland. In 1869 Mr. Doud retired and his place was taken by Calvin P. Walrad, the firm name being changed to Sturtevant, Fish & Co. It remained thus until February 1871 when Mr. Sturtevant retired,” (“History of Cortland County,” H.P. Smith) and the business simply became Fish & Walrad. They remained at no.35 until 1879 when they moved to the new Schermerhorn block, succeeded in the old spot by a saloon.
Back next door, Fisk was conducting the boot & shoe business alone in 1863 until Dickinson & McGraw took over. They remain in the same location for two decades, with other businesses coming and going in the upper floors. In one photo we see indications of a harness maker in the building, as well as the sewing machine sale and repair business of M.L. Decker. In March of 1884, the Wickwire Bros., who at that time were still manufacturing on Main Street, negotiated with owners of the land for the opening of the street from Main to Church Street which would enable easier access to the railroad. While the project faced opposition, it moved forward so that in August Dickinson & McGraw moved into the Wickwire block and their old structure was purchased by Ives & Schermerhorn and moved to 7 North Main to be rented as a business, and Railroad Street was formed.
In the remaining building at no.35, the tavern spot was taken over by the Women’s Temperance Christian Union, with other rooms utilized by a photographer and barber. The photography studio was first operated by G.I. Page, then came under the ownership of G.I. Pruden and Lyman Jones under the name “Evans’ Branch Gallery.” The spot was taken over next by C.H. Overton, succeeded by J.W. Mason and G.E. York, then by G.E. Butler.
The ground level was used by various businesses including:
J.E. Briggs & F.J. Peck – fancy goods, succeeded by G.H. Ames & Co. (1893-1899), then Walters Shoe Store.
In 1915, growth of the city and of the National Bank (then located at the northeast corner of Main and Court Streets) prompted construction of a new building. The old business block at no.35 that had stood for about 75 years was taken down and the handsome new Classical-Revival style bank was erected in its place out of Indiana limestone. On December 29, 1936 the National Bank merged with the 2nd National Bank (69 Main Street) to form the First National Bank of Cortland, and in 1938 the building was enlarged and renovated. Once the First National moved to the site on the southeast corner of Main and Court Streets (now NBT bank) in 1957, the bank was used by Stauber Drugs, then in the 1970s as a nightclub, and United Way used it starting in the 1980s.
Most recently, the building once again underwent renovations to become The Vault: Grand Venue on Main.