Find us on Facebook

Boot scraper remains part of charm at DAR House

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This week I made a shocking discovery in Albion. There is an old boot scraper behind the DAR House in Albion.

I first encountered one of these last summer in Rochester at the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, which dates back to the 1820s.

I like historic hitching posts and carriage steps. Orleans County has a lot of these, perhaps more than anywhere else.

I’ve been looking for an old boot scraper around here. I thought if we had one it could tie into a possible hitching post-carriage step trail. I hadn’t seen any until I stopped by the DAR House on Wednesday. Mounted in a stone block by the back door stands a cast iron boot scraper.

“They are really old,” said Bill Lattin, the county historian. “These things go way back and you just don’t see them around.”

Lattin knew about the one at the DAR House. He has one at his historic cobblestone house, mounted in a curb. He also has a mobile boot scraper. His two, plus the one at the DAR, are the only ones he knows of in the county.

“They go back to a time when there were a lot of muddy streets,” Lattin said.

Folks back then would scrape off the mud, and sometimes manure, from their shoes before going inside.

The boot scraper at the DAR complements one of the finest buildings in the county.

The DAR House was first built in 1840 on North Main Street at the Linwood Street intersection. The house was enlarged by Orson Tousley in the mid-1800s. The Greek Revival building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tousley’s daughter Florence followed her father in owning the site. She married George Church, the son of Sanford Church, one of the most prominent people from Albion.

Florence was one of the founding members of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1925. She left the house to her son Sanford T. Church, who sold the house to Emma Reed Webster in 1929. She then donated it a few months later to the DAR, which remains an active local organization.

I did a Google search for boot scrapers, and found these interesting articles (click here and here). If anyone knows where more of these might be locally, send me an email at tom@orleanshub.com.