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The southern and western parts of McKean County were the last to be settled, since they were inaccessible by water. In 1856, Thomas Leiper Kane visited the area and two years later, after his father's death, took up the challenge of developing it. Kane was an avid reformer and a man of principle who resigned a high paying position as a U.S. commissioner because he refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. His wife, Elizabeth Dennistoun Wood Kane, was an early graduate of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, and his older brother was a well-known Arctic explorer. In McKean County, Thomas Kane built a sawmill, commissioned roads and railroads, sold land to Swedish settlers from southern New York, and planned farms. During the Civil War, he commanded the local woodsmen of the Bucktail Brigade. Afterward, he returned to McKean County nearly broken, financially and physically. He built a lumber business and later made a fortune with the discovery of oil.

Architecturally, the town of Kane has several highlights, especially the Kane Memorial Chapel ( MK18) and the former First National Bank of Kane (1895; 67 Fraley Street). The outstanding feature of the three-story buff brick former bank is the round entrance arch ornamented with geometric designs, reminiscent of the “Golden Door” on the Transportation Building designed by Adler and Sullivan for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The interior is crafted with the same opulence and now houses a law office.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.

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