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This Week in Port Jervis History


On Monday July 5, 1886 the Soldiers Monument was unveiled at Orange Square in front of more than 10,000 people. At 5 PM, the Sussex Guards of Glenwood fired salutes from the Main Street Ball Grounds and the church bells were rung. Many visitors began coming into the town on Saturday and Sunday and Front and Pike Streets were decorated for the occasion. A parade of over eight hundred people from various companies, began after 11 AM, beginning at Jersey Avenue and ending at Orange Square. The square remained crowded all afternoon, while bands played in the square. The ceremony began at three and the first speaker was Reverend Samuel Wickham Mills. Lewis Eleazer Carr was the next to speak to the crowd, a prominent lawyer in Port Jervis. In 1864, while practicing in Buffalo, Carr lived with his friend and future president, Grover Cleveland. Erwin Gallatin Fowler, a local newspaper editor, read a poem, which he asked not to be published. After Carr's remarks, the drapery covering the monument was released to the cheers of the crowd. The monument, which was financed by Diana Farnum, is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Diana married George W. Farnum and they lived together on a farm in New Jersey until his death in 1853, at which time she came to Port Jervis. On October 8th, 1879, Diana married Henry Harrison Farnum. Henry had been having health issues for years, but in October of that year his health had deteriorated and he decided on his deathbed to marry his widowed sister-in-law, in order to leave more of his estate to his nephews, Diana’s children, Eli Purcel(l) Farnum and Peter Eli Farnum. Henry died just five days later and Diana remained at his house on Pike Street, just across from Orange Square. Diana bequeathed $8000 for the erection of the monument in Orange Square and her sons, Eli and Peter, each contributed an additional $1000. The forty-five foot high, sixty ton Quincy granite monument topped with a Westerly granite statue was designed by Eleazer Frederick Carr of the Quincy, Massachusetts firm of Frederick and Field, with adjustments made by Galen Bennett, of Port Jervis and it was sculpted by Edward King. The monument is topped with a color bearer holding an American flag and a sword and each side of the base has representations of the four branches of the military: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy.


This building on the far left was the last residence of Diana Farnum (now occupied by 152 Pike Street) and was situated across from Orange Square. The house was one of several buildings designed by Binghamton architect, Isaac Gale Perry in Port Jervis (including the Rev. Samuel Wickham Mills House at 47 West Main Street, the Deerpark Reformed Church and Parsonage 28-30 East Main Street and St. Mary’s Church 50 Ball Street).



On July 6, 1891, former United States Congressman, Charles St. John, passed away in Port Jervis. St. John started his own mercantile business in Port Jervis at the age of 21. Charles St. John was born on October 8, 1818 in Mount Hope. St. John went to school in Goshen and Newburgh. St. John became engaged in lumber and iron manufacturing and banking in Port Jervis. St. John was elected by a majority of five hundred votes to the Forty-Second Congress of the United States in 1871 and was appointed to the Committee on Railways and Canals. St. John served in Congress until 1875. In 1888, St. John built the High Point Inn. The High Point Inn would later become the manor of Anthony Rudolph Kuser, until he donated his land to the state of New Jersey in 1923. The building (pictured below) remained in a state of disrepair at High Point State Park and has since been demolished.





On July 8, 1889 a new railroad station (pictured above) was built at Port Jervis. The station would replace the original station, located at Pike Street, which opened on New Years Eve in 1847. The line had not yet been completed to Port Jervis at that time. The second Erie Depot was designed by George E. Archer and built by Delafield and McLane. It was built with Hudson River brick, Georgia pine and a slate roof. The depot was accessed through Jersey Avenue through a long hall in the newly renovated Brown Building. On December 26, 1890, the second Erie Depot caught fire. The fire broke out in the dispatcher’s room and destroyed the building within three hours, despite a quick response from the fire companies. The depot and the nearby Theatre Normandie in Delaware Hall (now the DH Smith Mercantile, then called the Goodale Building) were evacuated. A temporary ticket office would later be established in Herbert Kirk’s restaurant and a galvanizer’s shack was used as a baggage room. Part of Delaware Hall was used as a temporary depot until the current Erie Depot building was opened in February of 1892.


Drawing of the original depot on Pike Street from 1851 and photograph of the expanded station sometime after 1883.




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