The Village of Albion (population 6,000) is nestled along the Erie Canal between Buffalo and Rochester. The area was first settled around 1809, and the village was incorporated and became the county seat of the newly formed Orleans County in 1826. Albion was selected because of its location along the canal, which connected the Great Lakes with the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean in 1825, revolutionizing commerce and transportation and turning the state in an economic powerhouse.
Albion contains one of the most intact historic commercial corridors in New York, with buildings dating to 1827. The wealthy, bustling community invested heavily in architecture, creating massive three-story buildings, many out of the famed Medina Sandstone quarried in and around Albion. This excellent building material is found in Buckingham Palace, the New York State Capitol building, and in private mansions throughout the northeast.
Each year, thousands of tourists bike, boat, and walk the Erie Canal or travel nine miles up Route 98 from Albion to Lake Ontario. The Albion Main Street Alliance recently teamed with the New York Governor’s Council and the State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport to generate a tourism marketing plan, with a focus on heritage and agricultural tourism, and established the 98-Corridor Coalition with the Orleans County Tourism Department and the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. This coalition has produced new promotional materials including regional maps highlighting heritage and agricultural tourism activities and a new Web site.
The village works with the Albion Main Street Alliance to generate opportunities to live, work, and shop Downtown and attract tourists to two National Register Historic Districts and a historic cemetery. Albion became a Certified Local Government in 2009 and continues to advocate for economic revitalization within the context of historic preservation. In three years, this public-private partnership has resulted in a net increase of 11 new businesses, more than 25 new jobs, and nearly $600,000 in private investment in building renovations.
Activities in partnership with the Albion Central School include a “Walk the Canal” program and a service learning class through which 7th graders researched and cared for a forgotten cemetery connected with the Albion Poorhouse. A monument and interpretive sign now commemorate the site.
The town of Gaines, which includes a portion of the Village of Albion, contains the Cobblestone Museum, an important tourism destination. More than 90 percent of all known remaining cobblestone buildings, a distinctive regional style, are found within a 100-mile radius of Albion, and several are owned and maintained by the museum.
Designated a Preserve America Community in May 2012.