April 1913: Erection of Ely Memorial Tower Considered by City of Binghamton but Never Built.

THE BINGHAMTON PRESS, SATURDAY EVENING, APRIL 12, 1913

View of the original Ely Tower built in 1893 and demolished by a wind storm in 1908. It stood for 15 years and gave Binghamtonians a great view of their city and surrounding countryside.

View of the original Ely Tower built in 1893 and demolished by a wind storm in 1908. It stood for 15 years and gave Binghamtonians a great view of their city and surrounding countryside.

Binghamton will finally begin this summer the erection of an Ely Memorial Tower to the memory of S. Mills Ely, who gave the city a valuable tract of land on the crest of Mount Prospect for a city park and built a concrete stairway leading from Prospect Street to the park.

When the park was given to the city a wooden observatory occupied the crest, and from its top a view of the entire country could be obtained, the village of Owego being discernible with a strong glass on a clear day.

The 'Gateway to Ely Park, referenced in the article. Photo CreditL Unknown

The ‘Gateway to Ely Park, referenced in the article. Photo Credit: Unknown

A tornado wrecked part of the tower, and later the remainder was destroyed by fire.

Mayor John J. Irving and Park Commissioner John Ring now are considering a plan for the immediate rebuilding of the observatory.

It is hoped the building can be completed early in the summer, that it may be available to the numerous picnic parties visiting the park this year.

This gateway was constructed on Prospect directly across from Oak Street.

NOTE: Gratitude to Bob Bullock for sharing this article and six pictures on Facebook’s Historic Binghamton public page on September 29, 2015.

 

December 1908: Ely Tower Demolished. Went Down in Wind that Swept Binghamton.

Ely Tower Demolished. Went Down in Wind that Swept Binghamton.

Among the damage done by the heavy wind at Binghamton yesterday morning was the destruction of the Ely Tower upon Mt. Prospect which has been readily seen off on the right by Lackawanna passengers as they approached Binghamton from the North.

This tower was 130 feet in height and from it five counties could be seen, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, and Delaware counties, N.Y., and Susquehanna county Pa.

It was erected in 1893 by S. Mills Ely from the lumber that he bid off at auction that had been used in the great temporary building in which the B. Fay Mills evangelic meetings were held in that city in 1892. The tower was put up as a memorial to these meetings and thousands of people ascended it each year to get the view.

A year and a half ago Mr. Ely presented to the city of Binghamton for a public park, the land that surrounded it and the tower was included in the gift. The structure cost $4,000 and the park commissioners carried an insurance of $2,500 upon it.

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society photo)

The tower was strongly guyed by four steel cables at its four corners. Only last week it was inspected and declared safe. The city of Binghamton greatly regrets the destruction of the tower. Whether it will be rebuilt is as yet uncertain.

The wind also unroofed the big building on the Binghamton Industrial Exposition grounds and partly removed the building from its foundations. The damage is estimated at $1,500. The wind in Binghamton reached a velocity of 42 miles per hour.

Additional Notes (by Andy Reistetter):

  1. Interesting that the article does not reference Broome County as in 1806, the present-day Broome County was split off from Tioga County. Today, it might be possible to see from Ely Park Golf Course–six counties–Broome, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, and Delaware counties, New York State, and Susquehanna County in the state of Pennsylvania.
  2. View of Ely’s Tower Binghamton, NY

    Very interesting in that S. Mills Ely did not go by his first name Samuel but rather by his middle name Mills… is this a tribute to or recognition of the last name of evangelic S. Fay Mills?

  3. The ‘a year and a half ago’ references the gift of 140 acres of land, including the tower, from S. Mills Ely to the City of Binghamton on June 3rd, 1907.
  4. The wind in Binghamton was referenced at 42 miles per hour. I wonder what was the wind speed of the gust or tornado that knocked down the Ely Tower.
  5. S. Mills Ely was born in Chester, Connecticut on October 24th, 1837 and came to Binghamton around 1859 at the age of 21 or 22. He died at age 71 on May 5th, 1909 after living in Binghamton a half of a century.
  6. Gratitude to Edward G. Brewer who posted this picture of this article on Facebook’s Historic Binghamton public page administered by Bob Bullock.