Originally part of the Town of Clarence, the Town of Lancaster was established as a separate government by an act of the New York State Legislature in 1833. The southern portion of the Town of Lancaster was taken in 1857 to form much of the new Town of Elma. Other land for the Town of Elma came from the Town of Aurora. Within the Town of Lancaster there are two villages. The Village of Lancaster was incorporated in 1849 and the Village of Depew in 1894. Depew straddles Transit Road and extends into both the Town of Lancaster and Cheektowaga. The Town of Lancaster is located approximately eleven miles east of downtown Buffalo. About thirty-seven square miles in area, the Town is approximately six miles wide on all sides. It is bounded on the north by Wehrle Drive, by Townline Road on the east, by Hall Road on the South and by Transit Road on the west.
In the early 1800’s Native American Seneca Indians were joined by settlers from New England. Many became successful farmers and merchants as time went on. They were joined by Germans and Dutch and later by immigrants from eastern Europe and Italy. Five major railroads, including New York Central, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley and West Shore Railroads all crossed through the Town of Lancaster. Rail lines are still active today.
The “little red schoolhouse” on Bowen Road and William Street was constructed in 1868. The one room schoolhouse was built of locally-made brick and was heated by a pot-bellied stove in the center of the room. Each desk has its own ink bottle hole. The school was in operation until 1948. A fire in 1968 destroyed the roof and building interior. With a goal of restoring the building and preserving its history, the Lancaster Historical Society was formed in 1973. Work was completed in 1978 and the school continues to be open to the public to date.
Twelve buildings in the Town of Lancaster have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eleven of these are found along Broadway in the Village of Lancaster Historic District. The other is the Hull House on Genesee Street in the Town of Lancaster.
Lancaster is a town in the northeastern area of Erie County, bordered to the north by Clarence, to the east by Alden, to the south by Elma and to the west by Cheektowaga. Included in the town is a village also called Lancaster and half of the village of Depew (which the town shares with Cheektowaga). Lancaster has several parks and historical buildings, including the oldest stone structure in Erie County, the Warren Hull House. The town has evolved from a small town to a bustling suburban community, with rapid growth starting in the early 1990s.
The eastern section of Lancaster still retains somewhat of a rural character. Many of the streets in the village of Lancaster are very large and wide, lined with old and tall trees. This is where you’ll find the Lancaster Opera House, built in 1894 and still the focus of downtown because of its size and clock tower. The town also has a racetrack for stock- and drag racing.
The Lancaster Opera House is perhaps the most significant building in town and still hosts plays and musicals. The building also houses Lancaster Town Hall. The town has several historic buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Warren Hull House, the Lancaster District School No. 6, the Clark-Lester House and the Liebler-Rohl Gasoline Station, which operated as a gas station until the 1960s and now houses an ice cream parlor.
Recreation & Entertainment
The Lancaster Opera House, in a 19th century building, still hosts plays and musicals. Elegant Builders Raceway Park is the place to go for drag racing and stock car racing. Lancaster has several parks and waterways for outdoor fun. Some of the biggest annual events are held in the village of Lancaster, including a Fourth of July parade, the Taste of Lancaster food festival and the Lancaster/Depew high school football game, which dates back to 1919. Lancaster has two large movie theater complexes: Flix Stadium 10 and Transit Center Stadium 18, both of which are on busy Transit Road.
Transportation & Traffic
The New York State Thruway runs east-west through the town of Lancaster. Other major highways include Route 20 (also known as Transit Road and Broadway) and Route 78, which run north-south, and Route 33, which goes east-west.