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Project Overview

Charles the Mule is an art and history education project spearheaded by former Museum Director, Simon Devenish.

The goal of the project was to install a unique piece of art in Spencerport which acts a springboard for Spencerport history education.

Much of the credit goes to Michele Jenco, the mural artist, who spent hundreds of hours on this beautiful piece of art.

Mural Description

The mule itself is a reference to Spencerport’s role as a canal town. Mules were one of the animals which walked along the towpath for much of the 1800s towing boats through Spencerport. The towpath is still located across the canal from where Charles is located.

The mural’s main colors of yellow and blue are a connection to the colors used within the Spencerport Central School District.

WCTU Fountain

This image depicts part of the Women’ Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) water fountain which used to sit outside of the former village building, originally the home of the Village Fire Department and the Ogden Farmer’s Library. 

This was at a time when Ogden was a dry town.  The union was trying to encourage townfolk to drink water. 

Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Trolley

The Rochester Lockport and Buffalo Railroad operated from 1908 until 1931.

The Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum operates out of the restored Spencerport trolley station which used to sit down the hill from the current Museum location.

Much of the trolley line from Rochester to Lockport, ran parallel to the Erie Canal. When traveling through the village, the trolley separated from the canal near Trimmer Rd, ran along West Avenue, crossing Union St, continuing along East Avenue where it came back alongside the canal once again.

The Bank of Spencerport

The Bank of Spencerport started in 1908. Its facade was added in 1925.

The center section of this facade was originally part of the facade of the Union Trust Company building in the City of Rochester.

As the story goes, the facade was moved to Spencerport in 1922 and lay on the dirt road (Union Street) for three years until it was erected in 1925. Today, dirt can be seen on the pillars, likely from this time.

Telephone Poles and Banner

The Ogden Telephone Company (OTC) was part of Spencerport’s history from 1907. Many local residents worked at Ogden Tel.

Donald and Maxine Davison purchased Ogden Tel in 1942 and grew it over many years, eventually buying Hilton Telephone Company and merging it with OTC. They also expanded their service into North Chili.

OTC was independently owned from its beginning until 1997 when it was sold to Citizens Telecommunications Company which was later named Frontier. Frontier still operated from this building on West Avenue.

While the name is no longer actively used, the Ogden Telephone Company business remains active.

The banner makes reference to years when the Town of Ogden (1817) and the Village of Spencerport (1867) became incorporated.

NY Central Railroad Train

The section of the Lockport and Niagara Falls Railroad which stopped in Spencerport opened in 1852. IN 1853, it was consolidated in the New York Central Railroad (NYCRR) and became the Falls Rd Branch of the NYCRR.

This branch mostly ran parallel to the Erie Canal and the Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad.

The Spencerport train station remains where it has was originally constructed, along Martha Street. This building has been the home for many different businesses since the train line stopped operating.

Village Church Spires

Church Spires are commonplace in the Village of Spencerport, each with its own distinctive style.

The three churches featured here are the three you see in when in the village center.

Left: First Congregational Church (Church St)
Center: United Methodist Church (Amity St)
Right: St John the Evangelist Church (Amity St)

If you look closely at the mural, you can see the second (shorter) spire from the United Methodist Church.

The Red Onion

The term Red Onion originally refers to a bar in the Town of Gates. As the story goes, the “Red Onion” was a popular place, especially in a time where the Town of Ogden was a dry town.

Local firefighters were among the many people who frequented this bar. When it came time for the Spencerport firefighters to name their Firematic Drill Team, the name “The Red Onions” was adopted.

The bar is no longer around but “The Red Onions” are continue to race in competitions across Western New York.

Ogden Presbyterian Church

The Ogden Presbyterian Church was the first church building to be constructed within the Town of Ogden.

The Ogden Presbyterian Church was formed in 1811 and was believed to have operated out of school houses and homes prior to constructing a church building in 1823.

The church building still stands in an area often referred to as Ogden Center, as this is where the Town of Ogden was first established. When the Erie Canal was constructed, houses and businesses started being constructed near the canal.

This church sits on the corner of Union St and Ogden Center Rd.

Flaming Outhouse

Long time residents of Spencerport can tell the tales of this now historic Halloween tradition.

Unknown Spencerport residents would place an outhouse on Union Street and light it on fire. It is said that outhouses were also floated on the Erie Canal.

This tradition lasted several decades until in 1985, the culprits were caught by police and the tradition was ended.

Corn, Vinegar, Coal and Lumber

Corn, vinegar, coal and lumber were all grown or produced in this area.

A coal and lumber yard, run by the McCabe family, along with large independent cider vinegar and evaporating plant, run by W. T. Pettengill & Son once operated from the present day Tops Plaza.

Corn and lumber are still a key part of Ogden industry today.

Matheos’ Sundae

Matheos’ Icecream was an institution based in Spencerport for many years.

The Matheos brothers started business in the 1910s which operated within the Village of Spencerport for approximately 60 years.

Their original icecream store currently houses Splatters Pottery Studio, the warehouse now houses McColley’s Restaurant.

The newer factory and store now houses Fowler’s Wine and Spirits, Brindle Haus Brewing as well as numerous other businesses.

Stack of Books

This stack of books represents the stories history of the Ogden Farmer’s Library. It began in the home of early settler George Willey in 1815. Other farmers also housed a collection in their home.

It found a home in 1906 upon the completion of the Village Building, sitting on the second floor about the Village Fire House.

It moved throughout the village over the years, including int he basement of the present day Village building as well as at 14 Amity St.

In 1992, it moved to the current Town Hall, two miles south of the village near where it started over 200 years ago.

Fairfield Cemetery

Fairfield Cemetery, located in the center of Spencerport, is named for the former settlement of Fairfield.

This is a name used in the early settlement days of this area, prior to the Town of Ogden being established in 1817.


The fireworks represent the Antonelli Fireworks Factory. This factory was on Big Ridge Rd near the present day BOCES.

It is alleged that they were producing subpar fireworks which caused the explosion.

Spencerport Municipal Electric

These lamp posts are a reference to Spencerport’s history as a Public Power Community.

Spencerport Municipal Electric has been responsible for providing power to the village for over 100 years.

Both of these lamp post styles are in operation today.

Matheos’ Icecream Sign

One of these distinct signs is part of the Museum’s collection.

This sign once stood outside the original ice cream store on the corner of the Union St and Amity St, where Splatters Pottery Studio is located in present day.


Western NY is known for producing and exporting a wide variety of apples. Cider and cider vinegar were also produced in this area.

Ogden, a country town is no exception. Apples are still widely grown in this area.

Cider Barrels

Cider barrels would be seen alongside the Erie Canal in numerous locations in Western New York.

Whilst it is no longer transported along the canal, cider production still exists in this area.

The Spencerport Bandit

The Spencerport Bandit is a part of Spencerport’s recent history.

On August 24th, 2022, a cow, alter named the Spencerport Bandit, got loose from a local farm and was on the run for 3 long months.

It was sighted in the Towns of Parma and Greece and in many locations within the Town of Ogden.

It was eventually found in mid November. It was extremely injured and it is believed to have been euthanised.

The Charles Church Building

This building, referred to as the Charles Church building was one of the earliest buildings operating in the Village of Spencerport.  It was built in 1826. 

This mule is named for Charles Church, the proprietor of a store and hotel which operated out of this building. 

This building sat beside the canal for many years. It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1970s.

Canal Bridge

This image is of the original canal bridge, which carries Union Street across the Erie Canal.

The original bridge was made primarily of wood. As the canal grew, this wooden bridge was modified to allow the bridge to be manually lifted, on the north side of the canal, using ropes and pulleys.

This bridge was demolished in 1912, to make way for the steel mechanical lift bridge which still remains today.

This image also makes reference to Ogden Telephone Company. Phone numbers in this area used area code 77.