Welcome to Friendship!
Welcome to Friendship, NY, a little town on Interstate 86 in Allegany County, bursting with New York State history.
One of the first things I learned that’s unique to Friendship is that it is one of the only towns in New York State with two original firehouses on the same main street. The Wellman Firehall and the Corbin Hose Co. built in 1902, which is currently under review for a National Register of Historic Places nomination. The League came to town to visit with the local historians and some of the invested community members to explore the Corbin building and additional significant sites and structures that Friendship is home to. Turns out, the whole of Friendship is ripe for a survey and we’re so eager to help them in achieving not only a building listing but hopefully one for the entire district.
One thing that might draw you to Friendship is its name, but it hasn’t always had such a friendly reputation. Prior to its incorporation in 1815, Friendship was an area designated for… settling disputes. The inhabitants of the hills and the valleys were arrayed one against the other, and disputes frequently led to personal combat, leading to the land being called “Fighting Corners.” Local manufacturing didn’t help. The presence of five or more makers of whiskey did much to slow down the pace of development and progress. On any given day, hordes of men could be seen around the places where the liquor was sold, engaging in fights, wrestling or running horses. Years later as settlement increased, the differences and animosities between “the hill folk and the town folk” of the past were resolved and friendship prevailed; and in honor of this period of reconciliation, the name “Friendship” was given.
Friendship marked its Bicentennial in 2015 and celebrated appropriately with a grand parade down Main Street. The parade was the perfect debut for Miss Daisy, the pride and joy of Friendship. She’s the only functioning horse-drawn steam powered fire pumper in New York State (and the only Silsby east of the Mississippi). She was originally built in 1881 and painstakingly restored in 2015 in time for the Bicentennial reveal, drawn by horses and everything.
This town has been touched by just about every significant movement or period you can think of. Friendship played a strong role in Underground Railroad and Abolitionism. It was home to the notable Baxter University of Music until 1883. Friendship also had an early hand in women’s suffrage, and was called home by many influential women and entrepreneurs.
Next time you find yourself on a road trip on I-86, you might want to pop into this quaint, historic town. It'll be no surprise once you get there that Friendship is aptly named.