DANSVILLE — Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, "Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?"
Despite all the changes that have happened over the years the foundation remains the same.
As you take a walk down Main Street you will notice that the tops of the brick buildings have footprints of what once was. The same could be said about any street in the historic village.
Genesee Country Express sat down with Dansville Chamber of Commerce President Barry Haywood as he took us back into the past.
Battle Street Brewery is nestling into what once was Dansville and Mount Morris Depot. Haywood recalls working there one summer in the shipping department for Blum Shoe Factory.
“My parents worked at Blum Shoe for many years, and I worked there one summer,” he said. “Blum Shoe would do shipping at the Dansville and Mount Morris Depot, so I saw it when it was operating as a railroad.”
“I remember they had the DLW above the castle on the hill,” Haywood continued. “There was a railroad up there, but now all the tracks are gone. They use to go to the castle by train from New York City, and the Jackson Health Resort would pick them up and take them to the water cure.”
Haywood said he would play band music on the roof of the castle in the 1950s.
“We did dance jobs on the roof of the castle in the early 1950s,” he said. “I was a musician in school, and got to go up there and play for the guests.”
Foster Wheeler was the big money maker in town, and is now part of the LMC Industrial Contractors. They handle a lot of steel products.
Haywood added the owner, Larry Mehlenbacher, lease out parts of the building to other businesses as well.
“This draws people to Dansville,” he said. “You can work at LMC, get groceries at Tops (or Save A Lot), insurance at State Farm, and eat at any of our great restaurants.”
Some of the most beautiful historic buildings are The Maxwell Block and K of C. The Maxwell Block use to be home of the Smith Meat Market, as well as many other unique stores. Now it is all walled up, and one wonders what exists behind those boarded up windows. The K of C was Knights of Columbus. Haywood said they had a large banquet room up there.
The Dansville Breeze did their press in the Maxwell Block before merging with Genesee Country Express.
The Blum Shoe Factory took up all of Spruce Street and Battle Street in its glory days. Now many other businesses are resting on the foundation of that history. Another ghost in Dansville’s past is the F.A.Owen Publishing Company. This building no longer exists, but it use to be where Pioneer Park is. F.A. Owen published an education magazine called “Normal Instructor.”
Haywood said he would like to see Castle on the Hill and King’s Daughter’s House be saved.
“It would be nice to see history be saved,” he said. “I wish we would’ve saved the actual Clara Barton House on Perine Street. It was an important part of our history.”
The Hyland Hotel use to bring in a lot of business, before it was lost to the past. Now the Community Bank sits on that part of our history.
The OM went under again, and Haywood said he remembers it use to be a great restaurant in the 1940s,1950s, and 1960s.
“I hope someone jumps on saving that too,” he said. “It was a Dansville icon in the 40s,50s, and 60s. It was an outstanding restaurant. People would come from all over to eat there.”
Haywood said in order to keep the history going the younger people in the community need to get interested.
Behind every brick, down every street, and inside every heart rests the true history of a beloved village and the people that built her.