Historic East Aurora
And it is, too. Many places call themselves historic, but few the size of East Aurora offer as many historic attractions.
East Aurora village, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1999, boasts two National Landmarks: the Roycroft Campus and the President Millard Fillmore Home. There are locally-operated museums associated with each.
The Roycroft Campus consists of 14 buildings located on South Grove and Main Streets. It is the location of the Roycroft Shops, an important center of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the turn-of-the-century. Founded by writer-philosopher-businessman Elbert Hubbard in 1895, the Roycroft Campus gained National Landmark status in 1986.The Roycroft Campus Corporation recently purchased the Copper Shop and there is a letterpress printing exhibit and gallery there.
The Roycroft Inn, which includes the original Roycroft print shop, was completed in 1905. Some writers of the time noted that it was built to "accommodate Hubbard's admirers". The Inn is owned by a non-profit organization and recently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration. It is an operating Inn and restaurant.
Another important structure is the Roycroft Chapel, which now serves as the town hall and is open to the public. A museum of town history, as well as the town historian's office, can be found there today.
The print shop is now home of the Erie County Farm and Home Center. While now housing offices, some of the original Roycroft woodwork is still visible in the halls and stairways.
Another original Roycroft building which was originally a blacksmith shop and later the site of the copper shop is currently the Roycroft Campus Corporation is restoring the structure. Along with contemporary craftsman-produced work and gifts, there is a working printing display.
The Roycroft book bindery and furniture shop, a large frame structure, now houses a pottery studio, a series of antique shops, art gallery and frame shop.
A few blocks from the Roycroft Campus on Oakwood Avenue is the Elbert Hubbard Museum, an extensive collection of Roycroft arts, crafts and books and many one-of-a-kind items from the Roycroft era.
President Millard Fillmore's home is another East Aurora National Landmark. It is one of the few surviving presidential homes actually constructed by the president. Built in 1825 by Fillmore, the "New York State Colonial" cottage has been restored and furnished as it might have appeared in that era. Some of Fillmore's furnishings are included in the collection. The Fillmore House is operated as a museum. Flower and herb gardens are featured at the home on Shearer Avenue.
In the third quarter of the 19th century East Aurora was known as "the world's trotting nursery." Race horses were raised and trained here in large farms operated by Cicero Hamlin, the Jewetts and the Knoxes. The "world's only one-mile covered race track" was of national interest, and "Mambrino King," judged the world's most handsome horse, was shown to thousands of visitors.
Aurora's "horse era" is celebrated during Racing Day, the last weekend in July. Physical reminders of the era include the Hamlin Farm judge's stand, now preserved on the Aurora Park Health Care Center grounds; Mambrino King's burial site historic marker on North Willow Street and a judge's stand and original Jewett Farm structures on Grover Road in the Town of Aurora.Copyright 2000, East Aurora Advertiser