Enjoy the history of Elma by visiting the Elma Museum Complex in the Village Green Park, which includes: Hurd House Museum, Hurd & Briggs 1846 Sawmill, Farm Barn, and Northrup Mill Wheel outbuilding, located at 3011 Bowen Road in Elma New York, in Erie County, which is less than 20 miles East-South-East of Downtown Buffalo.
It was in 1846 when Clark W. Hurd built his home in a settlement that would later known as Elma. Mr. Hurd would become an important figure in the founding of our great community.
In March of 1857 a spirited meeting was held in his home to form the Town of Elma. It was in this home where Elma's first town officials were decided. P.B. Lathrop was elected first Town Supervisor.
Clark W. Hurd lived to be 87 years and died on January 6, 1894. The home was used by the Hurd family until the death of Harriet Hurd Rowley in 1913. Mrs. Rowley bequeathed it to the Elma United Methodist Church for use as a Parsonage. For many years it housed 12 pastors and their families. A new parsonage was built on Rice Road in the town, and in 1983 the church could no longer maintain the home. It was thought that "Hurd House would need to be demolished."
Newly-elected Elma Historical Society President Ken Schaff received a call from Town Historian May Charlotte Yacobush informing him that the church had planned to demolish the historic home. "This was not just another house. It's the most historically significant house in Town of Elma, " said Mr. Schaff. Long hours and a vision of a Town Museum were the earmark of the project that took four years to complete. While the Town of Elma had an established historical society and a collection of artifacts & documents, it had no museum.
The Elma United Methodist Church offered to sell the home to the Elma Historical Society for the sum of $1.00 on the condition it be moved off of church property. The only location would be Jackman Park which was 700 yards to the North on Bowen Road. The problem with that idea was that the land was donated by Warren Jackman in the early 1900's to be used for park purposes only. It would take an act of the New York State Assembly and Senate to pass a bill and send it to Gov. Mario Cuomo for his signature to allow the Elma Historical Society to move the Hurd House to Jackman Park.
Working with local government officials was required, including Assemblyman Vincent Graber; Senator Dale Volker, and Gov. Mario Cuomo, to secure Jackman Park as the site for the Hurd House. In April 1984, Gov. Mario Cuomo approved and signed Senate Bill No. 7428-A allowing the Town of Elma to sell or lease to the Elma Historical Society Jackman Park for the purpose of establishing a Town Museum.
On May 6, 1985 Elma-based house movers Walter S. Harthoff & Sons moved Hurd House 700 yards to the North on Bowen Road to Jackman Park. Cold, rainy weather made the task a tricky one that took over 10 hours. On September 18, 1988, on a warm sunny day, the Clark W. Hurd House was formally dedicated to the residents of Elma, and it was ceremoniously turned over to the Town of Elma to serve as a Town Museum for generations to come.
Today, the Hurd House is a great place to enjoy and study artifacts that date back 4,000 years from our area. The Research Library is the place to study our founding fathers, and the residents who once lived here.
In 2020 the Farm Barn was enlarged to double its size. Elma was and still is a farming community, and the Farm Barn honors that agricultural history with its mix of artifacts.
Here's a small sample of what the Farm Barn offers: a rare Elma-made carriage from the Jerge Blacksmith Shop; poultry-raising equipment (such as a rare wooden incubator) made by Buffalo-base Cyphers Incubator Company (which had a 50-acre Research Farm on Bowen Road); old Post Office equipment; a Wiard one-horse plow made in Batavia; unique hand tools of every sort; an 1880-era Fire Bell from Springbrook Fire Department; a high-wheeled bicycle; haying machinery & tools; and so much more. See photos for examples.
Allow one of our docents to explain the significance of some of the unique items in the Farm Barn. You won't be disappointed.
Located next to the Sawmill is the restored Springbrook (a.k.a. Northrup) Mill Wheel and Post Outbuilding. This large mill wheel with center post is of the cider-mill style of a power.
When in use, the upright post would have been turned by a water wheel or turbine, or by a horse or horses, on the lower level of the mill building. The post's rotational power was sent up to the next level in the Sawmill or Grist Mill to turn the large attached mill wheel, which has straight-cut bevel gears set around the edge.
Very few mills used this style of cider-mill power, so it's a rare sight to see one still in existence. Don't miss out on seeing what may be the only surviving cider-mill-style mill wheel and post.
HISTORY LESSON ON POWERS: A Power is also called a horse power (two words) or an animal power. Before steam engines became commonplace, powers were used to operate machinery, such as threshers, saws, feed cutters, and much more. Early horse powers could have horses walking in a circle, or walking on a treadmill type of device (referred to as a treadmill or railroad horse power).
This Sawmill is discussed on a separate webpage.
Location of Elma Museum Complex in Elma Village Green Park
The Hurd House being moved 700 yards North on Bowen Road to its current location in May 1985 by Elma-based house-moving firm Walter S. Harthoff & Sons
Hurd House Museum as it exists today with Ford Model A owned by a Society member parked in front
Inside The Farm Barn: a wooden incubator heated with kerosene built by the Cyphers Incubator Company of Buffalo, NY
Inside The Farm Barn: Carriage built in the Jerge Blacksmith Shop on Bowen Road in Elma
1844 Springbrook/Northrup Mill Wheel & Post Outbuilding
Please note that the post is situated on its side