Mongtomery Shoe store located next door to Memories on the East side of North Main is one of the oldest shoe stores in New York State.
The business was first established by Mr. John Warwick Montgomery who partnered with J. C. Hurlburt and Harvey Tuttle to manufacture shoes over 150 years ago. Montgomery, within a year, purchased the total interest and purchased a wooden building from Mrs. Jennie Frank Greene, a sister of Augustus Frank on Main Street. After the wooden structure burned in the block fire of 1876, he started to carry ready-made shoes in his new brick store built shortly after the fire. The facade of Montgomery's Shoe Store on North Main today is essentially the same as it was when first constructed in 1876. The store is located on the site of J. W.'s original, wooden store and is one of the oldest shoe stores in New York State.
Recognized as a pioneer dealer in footwear, J. W. Montgomery began business in the days when it was necessary to drive to Rochester for stock materials for the making of boots and shoes. He kept a number of shoemakers employed and his custom-made productions were appreciated throughout a wide radius of the surrounding country. The business prospered and he added variety to his stock. By the turn of the century, he offered a very large and up-to-date shoe business which was conducted by his son, John A. Montgomery.
J. W. Montgomery's arrival in Warsaw and business operations correlated with the spectacular growth and development of Warsaw up to around the turn of the century.
Mr. Montgomery was a remarkably successful man. By his own industry and ability, he raised himself to a position of affluence and honor while also devoting much of his time to public service. He was one of the first excise commissioners in Warsaw. As a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church, he served as President of the Village and Village Trustee.
Mr. Montgomery had four sons: E. T. Montgomery became Treasurer of Wyoming County, Chairman of the Republican Committee and owner of one of several lumber yards in Warsaw.
His sons J. Frank and C. H. formed the firm of Montgomery Brothers. They sold coal, feed, baled hay and straw and also conducted a first class livery. They handled baled hay in carload lots and did an extensive trade in this region of the state.
John A. Montgomery continued in the shoe business on North Main Street leaving the business to his son, Lawrence, until the business was sold in 1965. The store continues today under the Montgomery name and is operated by Ed Jordan. He believes its history should not be forgotten as he offers quality shoes in the tradition established by J. W. Montgomery.
The pioneer shoe maker was born at Ballywoodock, Parish of Donegore, County Antrim, Ireland, May 4th, 1827. Though his parents were farmers, John walked three miles daily to attend a village school in Ireland.
At 16, he was apprenticed to a shoe maker. After four and one-half years learning his trade without compensation and a couple of lean years of work experience, John W. decided to come to America. He left Belfast on April 4, 1850 and arrived in New York City six weeks later. Leaving New York, he took another boat on the Hudson River to Troy and stepped aboard the New York Central railroad headed for Attica. From Attica, he walked to Orangeville. Two days later, he arrived in Warsaw on May 16th, 1850, a few days after his 23rd birthday. Joseph C. Buxton accommodated his entry into the village until he started business life in the employ of Mr. Isaac C. Bronson. Twenty months later, he formed a shoe-making partnership with Mr. Hurlburt and Mr. Tuttle.
The Rev. J. E. Nassau officiated his marriage to Miss Anna Crawford on February 9, 1860. Of their seven children, four sons survived to become business leaders in Warsaw around the turn of the century.
The Warsaw Historical Society has the shoemaker's bench and tools on display at the Gates House Museum.