Nursing Facility Started in Elegant Home in Lockport
Briody Health Care Facility, now located on Lincoln Avenue in Lockport, was once housed in one of the city’s oldest and most elegant homes at 109 Niagara Street. In 1822 when the village of Lockport was in its infancy, a young twenty-two year old lawyer by the name of Hiram Gardner arrived here from New England to start a law practice and carve out a new life in the wilderness of Niagara County. Young Gardner quickly moved up the legal ladder becoming Justice of the Peace in 1823, Associate Justice of the Court of Pleas in 1825 and was made a Master of the Chauncery in 1827, thus attaining the title of Judge Hiram. A year later he returned to Vermont to marry his sweetheart, Sarah Scovel, and bring her back to Lockport. He had built a large, well-appointed home at the northeast corner of Niagara and Hawley Streets, to be near the judicial center of the village.
The Gardner House, as it was called until it became Briody’s in 1946, was surrounded by manicured lawns and gardens and enclosed by an ornate iron fence. A carriage house and garden structures complimented and enhanced the grounds. The house itself was a showplace. Seven fireplaces, all decorated with different artistic flourishes, graced the family quarters, while two standard fireplaces in the basement provided heat and cooking areas for the servants. The house also boasted high ceilings, hardwood trim and moldings, and a spiral staircase with a glass dome over the s econd floor landing. The Gardners had two children, Mary, who married J. Carl Jackson of Jackson and Son Lumber and later worked for Merchant Gargling Oil, and Anna who married Ashley Smith.
Judge Gardner’s legal and political star continued to rise. He was appointed Surrogate Judge in 1831 and five years later was elected New York State Assemblyman. While in the Legislature, Gardner was on the committee to revise the New York State Constitution not only once, but twice and served as a Presidential Elector for the 1836 election. He returned to Niagara County in 1847 to serve as a County Judge and was appointed as Canal Commissioner in 1858. He continued to reside at his home in Lockport until his death in 1874. In the 1880s, his widow added a seven-room addition to the house for new servants quarters. She continued to reside there until her death in 1903. Sometime in the early 20th century the lot to the west was sold and a house was built on that corner. Anna Smith and Mary Jackson lived in the original house until their deaths in 1923 and 1932, respectfully. At that time the house was sold Dr. Joseph C. Healy. Dr. Healy removed the 1880s addition and the carriage house.
In 1946, the property was sold to Mrs. Edna Briody who opened up a nursing home in the house to accommodate 28 residents. In 1972 Briody’s moved to Lincoln Avenue and the house was sold and converted into four apartments. In recent years the house has declined into a state of disrepair. The once elegant home, with the seven unique fireplaces, is now just shadow of its former glory.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094