One of the first developers in Lowertown (Lockport) was Joel McCollum, who bought a large tract of land there and laid out streets and lots as early as 1827. He first opened a general store in 1826 in upper Lockport and by 1827, he and a few other men purchased 300 acres of land around the locks from Nathaniel Comstock, with the hopes of prospering from water power generated by the Flight of Five.
In the 1820s, most of Lockport was covered with virgin forests except the immediate area near the Erie Canal, a narrow strip of land reserved for a state highway (Market St.) and two or three small clearings. In 1828, McCollum built a small frame house for his family at 301 Market Street. It was described as the second home to be built in Lowertown. After a few years in the house, McCollum built a brick mansion at the corner of Market and North Adams streets that became known as the Washington Hunt House. The old frame house was converted to a grocery store operated by Sidney Cross, James Duncan and others.
Mr. McCollum gave up his store in upper Lockport and concentrated his development efforts in Lowertown. He was one of the original proprietors of the Cotton Factory, known originally as the Lockport Manufacturing Company. It was one of the first large industries in Lockport and employed upward of 200 men. About 1830, Joel McCollum built the old brick block between Exchange and Chapel streets known as the Exchange Block.
In 1829, McCollum was appointed a judge for the Court of Common Pleas for the Village of Lockport, a post he held for fifteen years. In the same year, he became the vice-president of the newly organized Lockport Bank at Market and Chapel streets. In 1834, McCollum diversified his business interests to include the Lockport and Niagara Falls Railroad and at the same time began buying large tracts of land in Michigan to build the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad. In the 1840s, McCollum split most of his time between his interests in Michigan and Lockport, but eventually returned full-time to Lockport in 1865. After his death in 1868, Joel was buried in Cold Spring Cemetery in a family plot. Two streets in Lockport perpetuate Joel McCollum’s memory, McCollum Street and Ann Street. The later is named after his adopted daughter who died in 1844 when only 16 years old.
Joel McCollum was the great uncle of Mrs. Josephine Carveth who resided in the family’s cut stone mansion on North Adam Street built by Joel in the mid-1830s. Today, Josie Woodbridge carries on the McCollum family tradition with property located throughout Lowertown
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094