If the name Elia sounds familiar, it may be because the family has been prominent for decades in Niagara County and includes a construction magnate and one mayor.
MaryEllen Elia, the state’s new education commissioner, is married to Albert Elia III, whose father was patriarch of the Elia family and ran one of Western New York’s largest construction companies based in Niagara Falls.
The father and his three brothers co-owned what began as the Albert Elia Building Co., which was incorporated in 1947. The company became Sevenson Environmental Services in the late 1970s.
Their father – Albert III’s grandfather – was a prominent architect in the Falls.
The family’s company worked on high-profile construction projects including Erie County Medical Center, the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Niagara Falls Public Library, and dormitories and buildings at a variety of State University of New York campuses – including the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, as well as Alfred, Fredonia, Geneseo and Oswego colleges. The company also worked on Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and several Falls schools.
It was also involved in the 1969 dewatering of the American Falls and roadwork in Nicaragua after a 1972 earthquake.
Sevenson’s business has focused on environmental cleanup projects since it handled the remediation of Love Canal.
But the family is known for more than just the construction business.
Albert Elia III’s aunt, Irene J. Elia, was Niagara Falls’ first woman mayor. A Republican, she held office from 2000 through 2003.