Richard Ray Ward House
Written and narrated by Kaidin Phelan, Cooperstown Museum Studies Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta, Researched in 2023.
Welcome to the Richard Ray Ward House, located at 721 East Main Street.
Built in 1860, this Italianate style house showcases a flat roof that was popular during its time. This design allowed the building to collect water in a cistern on the second floor, which was then used in the house’s gravity-fed plumbing system. Additionally, the long porch, wide eaves, and decorative molding are characteristic of the Italianate style.
Interestingly, while the house is named after its original owner, Richard Ray Ward, it was actually constructed by his son, Alvah. Richard never visited Little Falls, but Alvah, born around 1810, was a well-known businessman in the area. From 1884 until his passing in 1906, the house was owned by Herkimer County District Attorney and Judge Eugene Sheldon and wife Frances. After that, it was purchased by another prominent Little Falls businessman, Daniel Cunningham, who unfortunately died in a car accident in 1936. Cunningham utilized the house as an office for his wholesale grocery store, Cunningham-Hall, and later it served as the Cunningham Tourist Home and Park Gift Shop, the Timothy Sheehan Funeral Home, and Grandma’s Gift Shop.
Throughout its history, the Richard Ray Ward House has been a cherished part of the Little Falls community for over a century. It reflects the architectural style of the area and the many significant families and businesses that have called it home.