The oldest building in Oswego is the stone structure on the Fort Ontario bank just North of the present administration building. [*] The building is part of the first stone lighthouse built in 1821 upon the high bank on the East side of the river mouth, South of the old one company post at Fort Ontario. A new modern wing has been added to the old stone house and is still occupied.
The first residence in Oswego was brought here in 1797 by Neil McMullin who was a merchant in that city who had the house framed before leaving to settle in this city. This home has long since disappeared. In 1802 Benajah Boyington built the first warehouse on the West side of the river and Archibald Fairfield became the first forwarding merchant, salt from the Onondaga Springs being the most important item of commerce.
In 1803 Matthew McNair, having engaged in the forwarding business, built the first schooner and the following year built another. From that time shipbuilding became the leading interest of Oswego. Warehouses were built along the West bank of the river, but they have all disappeared except the former Northern Transportation Company building at West Seneca street, now used as a naval militia boat armory.
One of the oldest buildings remaining in Oswego is the old Cooper home in West Second street, just South of Van Buren street. The old residence was constructed by cousins of James Fenimore Cooper, the great American writer, who loved to visit the beautiful home on the bank of the Oswego river near its mouth.
A tablet on the building placed by the Oswego Historical Society records that in a room on the second floor facing the lake and river and the oldest stone lighthouse he wrote part of his famous "Pathfinder. " The great novelist became familiar to this territory during his six years of naval service. he had a brother, William Cooper, who lived in Oswego around 1813 and built a war vessel along original lines of a floating battery. He induced the Federal government to invest $16,000 in the enterprise. On completion of the craft, sail was set for Sackets Harbor. After a few miles of struggle with the waves, and when off the coast to the eastward of Oswego, the wind having increased, the battery became unmanageable and promptly went to pieces.