The Town Board has decided to designate the lower landing area of Artpark as a historic landmark.
The action was taken after the board received a letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior asking for the board's assistance. The move brings the area, also known as the Lower Landing Archaeological District, closer to becoming recognized as a place of national significance because of the history, architecture, archaeology and culture found within the park.
In a 5-0 vote, the board decided to make it a historic landmark after receiving a letter from Carol D. Shull, chief of the National Historic Landmarks Survey. The designation would be added as a boundary expansion to the Old Fort Niagara National Historic Landmark in Youngstown, which would be renamed the Colonial Niagara Historic District. Old Fort Niagara was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
A historian from the National Historic Listings Survey said she believes the area has a good chance at becoming a landmark. "It's part of the whole story of Fort Niagara there at the mouth of the river. . . . Having seen the documentation, it's a pretty worthy site," said Patty H. Henry, who added that the portage around the falls was a way to transport goods.
Partly because of the many archaeological effects that are under the parking lot there, Ms. Henry said the survey team found it to be a good choice. Because the pavement literally caps off the area, the artifacts underneath are preserved.
A study done in 1992 by Robert Grumet of the National Park Service in Philadelphia concerning contact between European settlers and Native Americans was part of the reason he nominated the site, said Ms. Henry.
Paul J. Brucato, historian for the Village of Lewiston, said that although he was not aware of the attempt to designate the lower landing's archaeological district in such a way, he said there are three places in the village that have already been placed on the National Register, and all in 1974. They include the Indian Mound, a burial ground for Indians; the Gulley, or the Landing Site; and the Frontier House, located at 460 Center St. The latter currently houses the McDonalds of Lewiston. The Indian Mound and the Gulley can both be found in Artpark.
Village Mayor Richard F. Soluri said of the potential designation, "I think its fantastic. There's no doubt there's a lot of history in Artpark. . . . We're always happy when anything in our area is recognized as historic or significant."
In order to attract more tourists, Soluri said that the state and Artpark and Co. would have to capitalize on the designation. "I just think it's just one more interesting area within the Lewiston area for people to consider."