Hornellsville was the name of a town and a city in Steuben County. Both were named for an early settler, George Hornell. From the 1850s, Hornellsville became a regional rail center with a major repair facility. Prosperity followed; by the 1880s the small city boasted three opera houses (above, the Shattuck Opera House), hosting national freethought conventions and lectures by Mark Twain, Robert Green Ingersoll, and many others.
The city changed its name to Hornell in 1906. The surrounding town retained the name Hornellsville.
After a railroad merger in 1960, the Hornell repair facility closed. Arguably, the local economy never recovered. The city retains only half of its 1960 population.