Corning's Gaffer District's Historic Walking Tour
Welcome to Corning's Gaffer District! What's a gaffer? That's a question we are often asked by visitors and locals who visit our downtown business district. A gaffer is a master glassblower and our name is a tribute to Corning's glass heritage.
The city of Corning originally developed as a huge lumbering region The Chemung River provided the necessary transportation and in 1851 the rapidly growing community was incorporated as the City of Corning.
The central thoroughfare where you are standing was given the name of Market Street.
Before 1855 most of the buildings on Market Street were wooden. However, frequent fires resulted in the rebuilding of the street using predominantly brick and stone. To meet the demand for a fire-proof material, the Corning Brick Works was established. The Victorian love of ornamentation prompted the addition of terra cotta to the product line. This natural bricklike material could be easily molded into any decorative pattern or shape. Many unique examples still exist today on Market Street.
The growth of the railroad and the city's connection with the Erie Canal attracted the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company to move here from New York City in 1868. With the move the company took on the name of the town to become Corning Glass Works, today known as Corning Incorporated.
Corning's Gaffer District is honored to dedicate our Historic Walking Tour to the memory of Mary Ann Sprague. Mary Ann, and her husband Ted, were historic preservation enthusiasts as well as an instrumental force in the restoration of several buildings on Market Street. Most recently Mary Ann donated the Henkel Block Building, located at 72 E. Market Street, for development. She was proud of her community and relished in the documentation of its history.
Now let's begin our tour.