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Belmont Building Culminates 150 Years of Allegany History

From the Hornell Evening Tribune, November 18, 1976

Transcribed by Crist Middaugh

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Belmont Building Culminates 150 years of Allegany History

Belmont - The cornerstone laying ceremony Friday afternoon for the new Allegany County Office Building will be another landmark in county history.

Allegany County was established in 1806. And because of the influence of Philip Church, the county seat was located in Angelica where he had built his home.

In a move to make this location more central, Church persuaded the New York State Legislature to annex five townships from the west side of Steuben County on March 11, 1808. On this same date, Allegany County was authorized to raise 1,500 to build a courthouse and jail.

The jail and clerk’s office were built soon on the Park Circle in Angelica. A lack of a tax base, however prevented courthouse construction. Supervisors met at the nearby home of Moses VanCampen, county treasurer.

A courthouse was completed in Angelica in 1823. The jail was condemned in 1849 and a new one built.

In 1857 a movement began to transfer the county seat to transfer the county seat to Phillipsville, Belvidere or some point on the New York and Erie Railroad. An act passed in 1859 directing construction of a courthouse on Table Knoll in Belmont. Charles Whitney was the builder of the project reportedly costing $150,000.

Controversy about the seat of government however, remained unsettled. Court sessions alternated between Belmont and Angelica until 1892. A new jail, was built in Belmont in 1982, was enlarged in 1910. A surrogate’s office, the former county highway building, also was built in 1910.

The county poorhouse and infirmary were built on the Turnpike Road in Angelica in 1831. Following a disastrous fire in 1921 the building was rebuilt at a cost of $120,000. In 1968 it was converted to office space for the Department of Social Services and added departments such as health. These now have been moved into the Office Building and the Angelica property is expected to be offered for sale.

The present courthouse was built in 1937 at a cost of $217,000. Financing was done through the purchase of 15-year bonds at 2.4 per cent interest and the final payment was made March 28, 1952.

County historian William Greene said the blood bank program was first started at the courthouse in the 1930’s.

Remodeling of the courthouse to provide more space for the courts will begin later this month.

The four-story office building recently completed at a cost of about $3,960,000 houses the Allegany County Jail on the top floor.

With completion of the building, all departments of the county government now are located either in the courthouse or in the office building.

The highway building will become the home of Allegany County Extension Servie. The house on Court St. used by the Planning Department will become the home of the Office for the Aging.

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