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Tuscarora building lost in fire

The Tuscaroras' old Council House, a former gathering place for the Indian nation, was destroyed by fire Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the 2000 block of Mount Hope Road at about 1 p.m., and police closed the roadway at Walmore Road for several hours as firefighters battled the blaze.

Firefighters who were fighting the fire from inside the Council House were called out as the walls began to cave in on the 100-year-old, Mission-style clapboard building, Lewiston Police Chief Christopher Salada said. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation late Wednesday.

Interim Niagara Wheatfield School Superintendent Kerin Dumphrey said the old Council House is about a quarter mile from the district's Tuscarora Indian School, but the fire did not affect the school.

In the 18 years he has been with the district, Dumphrey said, he has never seen the old Council House used. Recreational and other events instead have been held at the school.

"It was the original school," he said. "In fact, my father played basketball there many, many years ago. It was originally built as mission church, then it became a school; then, when they built the new school, it was used for meetings and dinners, and for sports events."

Dumphrey said it has been reported that many years ago, when Bob Dylan and Joan Baez came to the Niagara Falls Convention Center to perform, they also visited the old Council House to have dinner with the Tuscarora people.

"That was the meeting house for the people," Dumphrey said. "Now they have their new Council House," a 35,000-square-foot Tuscarora Nation House, which opened last summer on Walmore Road. "It is beautiful," he said. "A real gem."

Volunteer firefighters from Lewiston Company No. 1 were joined by volunteers from Pekin. A crew from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station also helped.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com