Reverend Samuel Orvis’ lecture at Washington Hall on anti-slavery.

“Washington Hall was built at the northwest corner of West Mill and South Ann Streets at Little Falls by S. W. Stimson, and was dedicated to free speech, anti-slavery, and temperance.”

March 2, 1849, Cooney Archives

Washington Hall -Corner of West Mill & South Ann Streets, Little Falls, New York| 1842-1958

Washington Hall -Corner of West Mill & South Ann Streets, Little Falls, New York| 1842-1958


According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY…On June 12, 1842, Washington Hall was built at the northwest corner of West Mill and South Ann Streets at Little Falls by S. W. Stimson, and was dedicated to free speech, anti-slavery, and temperance. Many famous people entertained here, including Jenny Lind, Tom Thumb and the Abolitionist, Abby Kelly. And for a time, Catholics and Universalists held services here. After the Skinner Opera house was built on Main Street its popularity declined, and in 1853 it was converted to tenements.”

A life size portrait of George Washington hung in the front hall of Washington Hall, greeting all who entered. The building was known by many names over the years, such as: the Getman House; the Vrooman House; the Wells House: and the Phoenix. In 1842, the old Octagon Church was razed and the Catholics used this hall to hold their services until 1847, when the first St. Mary’s Church, being a structure built from wood, was completed on the corner of Main and John Streets.

According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY…” On March 21, 1844, a Leap Year Ball was held at the Washington Hall.”

Stimson sold Washington Hall to Peter J. Casler on the 26th of March in 1855 for $1,600., being $600. more then what he paid for it back in 1842.

According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY…” On April 10, 1885, the Washington Hall property was undergoing extensive repairs preparatory to being turned into a hotel. The old cupola and the veranda on the side of the building have been removed.”

The Washington Hall was razed in 1958.


Samuel W. Stimson SR was born in Greene County, New York in 1799. His wife, Almira Adams Stimson, was born in 1803 in Albany County, New York. Samuel and Almira had ten children throughout their marriage, namely: Emma in 1828; Mary in 1830, Emily in 1832; Charlotte in 1834; Almira in 1836; George in 1839; Edward in 1841; Eliza in 1844; Samuel Westlake JR in 1846: and Nathaniel Adams in 1950.

Samuel SR, who went by the nickname Major, worked for over 16 years as a Supervisor for the Poor House and his last years were spent raising horses. His daughters, Charlotte and Eliza, were teachers within the village schools. His son George worked in the manufacturing of horse clothing, painting and as a hand in the Armory. His son Samuel Westlake JR worked as a horse trader, as a postmaster in the Herkimer Post Office from 1889-1894, the Village of Herkimer’s President in 1898, and as a real estate agent. His last son Nathaniel, worked as a postal clerk and received a patent on the 24th of July in 1904, for inventing a machine that automatically folded the printed destination slips for the postal mail bags.

Samuel Westlake Stimson was one of the founding members of the Herkimer Lodge of the Free Masons, Lodge No. 276 on the 24th of January in 1857. There are two village streets in Herkimer that favor the name, being Stimson Street and West Lake Ave, which was known as Westlake Avenue in the early 1900s. He died from heart disease on the 5th of May in 1877. Elmira’s death took place in 1883. They are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Herkimer, NY.


In 1848, Stimson moved his family to Herkimer, New York from Little Falls, and built a three-story mansion on the east side of North Main Street, being in the present-day area of Johnson’s Carpets Plus Color Tile. The property stayed in the family for sixty-eight years. Eliza, being the last surviving sibling, sold 220 North Main Street to T. Palmer Griswold for $15,000. in September of 1916, with the stipulation that she could remain there until her death.


After moving to Herkimer, Stimson became proprietor of the Waverly Hotel, widely known today in the Mohawk Valley as the General Herkimer Hotel, which was one of the oldest hotels in Herkimer, New York. The first inn, known as the Whiting Tavern, was built on this lot in 1800, being 248 North Main Street and was destroyed by fire in 1858. A wooden hotel was immediately built and went by the name of the Waverly Hotel. The hotel had doubled in square footage by 1911, with a brick addition having been built to the rear of the building. Also to the rear of the hotel, was the Eugene Thomas Garage that serviced Buick and Ford cars. The 1858 Waverly Hotel was rebuilt in brick sometime before 1936, when the name was changed to the General Herkimer Hotel. It was razed in 2015.


One of the former rooms in the early days of the General Herkimer Hotel, went by the name of “The Tuger Room.” Miss Margaret Tuger (1864-1939) a beloved principal, from 1891 through 1939 of the South Side School at Herkimer, NY, resided at the Waverly Hotel for twenty-nine years, whilst owning the Tuger family home in Baldwinsville, NY. Tuger was the daughter of immigrant parents from Hambach , Germany,. Her father, Adam, was mortally wounded during the Civil War, which he entered two months prior to her birth. Without having known her father, she spent her teaching career of fifty-eight years, from the age of sixteen, advocating for foreign born children’s Americanization and their parent’s naturalization. When Tuger came to Herkimer in 1891, the school had 200 students and 4 teachers. By 1923, the school had grown to over 1,000 students, with the school being renamed to the Margaret Tuger School in 1932, in Margaret’s honor.

Father Gustave Purificato, the Catholic priest who Margaret prayed with every morning before school, performed her Last Rites on the morning of the 5th of October in 1939. After leaving Margaret, Father Purificato went on his way to St Anthony’s Church to officiate the morning wedding ceremony of Luigi Giuseppe D’Ambrosio, while Margaret slipped away.

D’Ambrosio was an American champion boxer who held the World Lightweight Title for 1939 & 1940. He used the alias of Lou Ambers to box under, so his mother wouldn’t know that he was fighting to earn money to supplement the family’s income and also because of discrimination for being Italian. D’Ambrosio was a special student of Margaret’s, who came from a large Italian immigrant family. Margaret followed his career closely and attended a few of his matches, which the “Herkimer Hurricane” had planned to stop in to see her after his wedding breakfast. Sadly, he was to late to say his goodbyes.

• Development of Little Falls. A brief account of conditions and happenings which compelled the settlement and development of this city, with some reference to present conditions by Little Falls, N.Y. Centennial Organization. Publicity and Historical Committee 1911
• Herkimer’s Government – the Basloe Library…/Herkimer-Sesqui...…/littownprofile.html
• Historic Newspapers
•History of Herkimer County, New York: Illustrated With Portraits of Many of its Citizens by George Anson Harding | Page 242
• LOOK BACK: Historic Main Street in Herkimer By Susan Perkins…/look-back-historic…/510159007/