Description of Historic Place
Cummington Square is an urban public park dating back to approximately 1800. It is centrally located in the former village of Chippawa's business district at 8191 Cummington Square between Bridgewater and Main Street. Surrounded by 19th and early 20th century buildings that still face the Square, the rectangular-shaped park is delineated by streets on all four sides and is a level plot of ground covered with grass and crossed by concrete pathways. A large octagonal bandstand and war memorial (including a flag pole and surrounding fence) occupy the square.
The property is designated by the City of Niagara Falls under By-law 2006-142.
Cummington Square is associated with Thomas Cummings, a founding father of Chippawa and community leader. Thomas Cummings received two hundred acres of land on the south side of Chippawa Creek in 1784 for his military services. In 1802 he increased his holdings and established himself as Fort Chippawa's first merchant. The Cummings family (including his son James) is reported to have set aside this land for a public square, which was first named Pelham Square after Charles A. Pelham, the M.P. for Lincolnshire, 1792. The Cummings family also intended to dedicate the lands to the municipality as a site for a Town Hall, but this plan never materialized. As settlement quickly increased, the square became known as Market Square. The square was renamed Cummington Square after James Cummings' death in 1878, in honour of both Thomas' and James' contributions to the early economic development of Chippawa. The square has since been used to honour citizens who have fought and lost their lives in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
Cummington Square is a representation of the earlier days in Chippawa when it was a booming terminus at the southern end of the old Portage Road and the First Welland Canal. For over 200 years, the square has served as an important local landmark. Its central location between historic Bridgwater Street and Main Street (and in close proximity to Portage Road) highlights its function as a focal point and gathering place. As such, early development of the surrounding area resulted. Cummington Square is part of a large collection of heritage sites in the area of Bridgewater Street, Main Street and Portage Road.
As the primary social and community gathering place it encouraged social interaction of residents and tourists. Today, Cummington Square serves as a place for special events and summer concerts, with a re-creation of the 1920's bandstand for outdoor musical activities.
Sources: By-law No. 2006-142 Schedule “B”: Reasons for Designation, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 2006; “Cummington Square”, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 2006
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of Cummington Square include the:
- octagonal bandstand, a re-creation of the original 1920's bandstand, symbolic of the musical activity that has taken place here since the original bandstand was erected
- war memorial flagpole and surrounding fence, commemorating soldiers who lost their lives in World War I and II, and the Korean War
- central configuration of the square, providing a focal point for the surrounding business district
- location between vital transportation links such as Portage Road, Bridgewater Street and Main Street ensuring easy and visible access
- proximity to other heritage buildings on the surrounding streets
- function of the square as a gathering place for social and cultural activities