Transcribed from the Wellsville Daily Reporter by Crist Middaugh.
By Robert J. Roberts
Alfred - This college community may not be the same after 1993.
That’s when the first fledgling businesses are scheduled to be shot out of the nation’s only ceramics incubator. If the Ceramics Corridor works like officials hope, this village could be transformed into a high-tech beehive.
But Mayor Carolyn Blankenship doesn’t expect the character of the village to be changed by sudden success.
“The new people will adapt to the way of life in the village,” she said. “I don’t foresee the village changing all that much. It’s going to grow, but I feel it still will be a unique little town with very caring residents.”
It all began with the shale and rock beds found in and around Canacadea Creek. The aluminous shale was considered to be among the best in the world, making superior products. The Terra Cotta Co. began manufacturing brick and tile 100 years ago. Today, passersby can see scores of red, clay-tiled roofs covering homes, barns and other structures in the Alfred Area.
But Alfred is more than the Village That Clay Built.
Its collegiate origin was the founding of Alfred University in 1836. It proved so successful that two state institutions - the School of Clay Works and Ceramics, and the state School of Agriculture - were spun off from it. Today there are, respectively, the State University of New York College of Ceramics and the SUNY College of Technology at Alfred (better known as Alfred State Collect).
Together, the schools have more than 6,000 students and a significant impact on area economy.
Another hallmark of Alfred is the strong presence of Seventh Day Baptists, who organized there in 1816. Some stores still close Saturdays and open Sundays in recognition of church tradition.
And if today’s students get blamed for raising a ruckus or two, it’s in keeping with the local history. One notable pre-Civil War incident involved the town militia using a cannon to quell a riot among fueling Irish laborers on the Erie Railroad.
Through it all, Alfred retains its charm.
“We came her 25 years ago, and were only going to stay here three years. We’re still here,” Blankenship said.
“It’s an excellent town to bring children. Where else can you walk out of your house and not lock the door? It’s a safe place; in spite of what people say about college students, they’re responsible people. It’s a very friendly town.”
As the community’s largest employer, the colleges have made an impact on all facets of Alfred life. For instance, Blankenship said, the 102-year-old A.E. Crandall Hook & Ladder Co. “probably has the most Ph.D.’s of any fire department in the state or country.”