For over 150 years, the village pier has provided public access to Cazenovia Lake at the west end of Albany Street. In 1850, John D. Ledyard donated lakefront property to the village and financed the construction of the original pier.
By 1885, the pier had fallen into disrepair, catching the attention of L. Wolters Ledyard, son of John D. Ledyard, who described its condition as “much racked and broken” (Cazenovia Republican July 30th, 1885). An avid sailor and proponent of village beautification, Ledyard launched a campaign to enhance the waterfront. Unable to enlist the support of his fellow Cazenovians, Wolters Ledyard took the financial burden upon himself. Through his generosity, the pier underwent a series of improvements, including an extension in 1886 that connected the existing stone pier to a more substantial landing pier via an attractive bridge. A new boat livery office and bathhouse were added the same year.
In 1873, L. Wolters Ledyard began hosting a series of seasonal parties that he called “Lake Fetes.” He opened the grounds of his lakeside home, The Oaks, to the public, hired an orchestra, and encouraged boat owners to decorate their vessels with lanterns. In later years, bonfires could be seen from the water as additional landowners joined in the festivities.
1875 marked the launch of the steamer Parmelee, the first of a fleet of public steamboats to run on Cazenovia Lake. Privately owned and operated, these vessels tied up at the pier on their daily runs. Additionally, a tugboat and barge owned and run by Joseph F. Crawford carried people, as many as two hundred people at a time, to the picnic grounds at Beckwith’s Bay and the Lake View campgrounds at Owera Point. Wolters Ledyard and other prominent townspeople complained that the noise, smells, and hoards of outsiders associated with the steamers spoiled the lake’s tranquility. In 1889, the last steamer, the Monett, made its final run.
For further reading:
Lambertus Wolters Ledyard’s editorial in the Cazenovia Republican (“Our Public Property” July 30th, 1885)
The Story of an Upland Community. 1977. Grills, Russell A. Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, Inc.