Sites Represent Varied Histories, Including a Puerto Rican Casita in New York City, a Historic Firehouse on Long Island, a Catskills Summer Camp for Black Children From Harlem, a Lake Champlain Home of a Film Industry Pioneer, and a New Historic District Featuring The Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended adding sixteen properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The nominations include a Puerto Rican casita in New York City, a historic firehouse on Long Island, a Catskills summer camp for Black children from Harlem, the Lake Champlain home of a film industry pioneer, and a new historic district featuring the Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.
"These nominations showcase the New York spirit of innovation, adaptation, and community building that has existed for generations and continues to inspire us today," Governor Hochul said. "Adding these sites to our historic registers broadens our understanding of New York history and encourages us to learn more about our diverse, collective past."
State and National Register listing can assist owners in revitalizing properties, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and incentives, such as matching State grants and federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "We are passionate about preserving and promoting New York's historic fabric so that we all might have connections to the past that help ground us in our understanding of what it means to be a New Yorker. With each nomination to the State and National Registers, we are not only providing access to resources that can help these sites have a future, but we are expanding our inventory of sites that can tell a more complete story of the New York experience. This slate of nominations highlights some of the under-told stories New Yorkers want to know more about and helps remind us that there are so many more stories to be told."
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Daniel Mackay said, "At the Division for Historic Preservation, we are committed to supporting New York's remarkable historic resources and we work on various projects throughout the state, including designations to the State and National Registers. We have seen opportunities for state and federal tax credits drive local preservation efforts and encourage investments in communities of all sizes. Historic resources are now being recognized as cultural and economic assets, which help ensure their longevity into the future."
New York State continues to lead the nation in use of historic tax credits, with $4.5 billion in total rehabilitation costs from 2017-2021. Since 2011, the historic tax credit program has stimulated over $12 billion in project expenditures in New York State, creating significant investment and new jobs. According to a report, between 2017-2021 the credits in New York State generated 69,769 jobs and generated over $1.3 billion in local, state, and federal taxes.
The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects, and sites significant in the history, architecture, archaeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are more than 120,000 historic properties throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities, and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.
Once recommendations are approved by the Commissioner, who serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed by the National Park Service, and, once approved, entered on the National Register. More information, with photos of the nominations, is available on the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.
The Alpine, Greene County - Located in the Catskill Mountains on a rural mountain highway in the small village of Haines Falls, this Queen Anne style lodging house was built around 1905. The building exemplifies the small, family-run summer lodging house that was associated with Catskills tourism and was an economic lifeline for many farming families. Not only did income from boarders offset seasons of poor agricultural yield, but the larger hotels in the area were also a market for eggs, butter, and meat. Numerous local families expanded their farmhouses into boarding houses while others had new ones built. Although originally built as a small boarding house, the Alpine expanded in size with additional wings and a gambrel roof, two features that were often added to accommodate more lodgers. Once able to host up to thirty-five guests, the Alpine was among the last boarding houses in operation in Haines Falls (through 1963) and is now one of a diminishing number of surviving boarding houses built during the height of the Catskills summer resort era.
Clark Witbeck Co. Warehouse, Schenectady County - The Clark Witbeck Co. Warehouse, located in the city of Schenectady, is architecturally significant for its façade made entirely from sheet metal. Built ca. 1904, the building's ornate sheet metal design, applied to an otherwise plain warehouse, is a rare regional example of this type of architectural feature, which was popular between 1870 and 1930. Established in 1870, Clark Witbeck Co. was a major wholesale hardware firm specializing in railway and mill supplies, a niche market that benefitted from close business relationships with Schenectady-based industrial giants General Electric and American Locomotive Co. (Alco). The company's history is directly related to Schenectady's meteoric rise from a modest canal town to an industrial powerhouse as it found success providing industrial tools and building materials to Schenectady's busy businesses and retail sales to the rapidly growing population. In 1960, the Daily Gazette newspaper bought the warehouse and used it as its printing plant until 1990. In 2020-2021, the building was rehabilitated and reused to house apartments and public event space.
Fairview Manor, Columbia County - Also known as the Alonzo & Mary E. Flack House, Fairview Manor is a large, two-story, brick masonry house located in Claverack. Built ca. 1870, the house epitomizes the high-style architecture favored by elite New Yorkers in the Hudson Valley, is highly significant in the context of Hudson Valley Picturesque architecture and is clearly the work of a master architect. Although the architect is not documented, Fairview Manor shares many similarities with the designs of other houses associated with Calvert Vaux, such as its complex massing, asymmetrical plan, and extensive, sophisticated architectural ornament. Vaux was one of the foremost architects in the United States by 1870, due to his significant work with both Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted, and was the architect for Frederic Church's Olana, which was being built at the same time only a few miles away from Fairview Manor. Although it was damaged by a fire in 1998, the house retains many significant features. Considering the limited resources available for the identification and documentation of Vaux's architectural record, this discovery, identification, and analysis of Fairview Manor- another domestic design most probably by Vaux- marks a major contribution to the scholarship on this influential American architect.
St. James Firehouse, Suffolk County - Originally built in 1923 and designed by Lawrence Smith Butler, this vernacular Arts and Crafts style volunteer firehouse is in the hamlet of St. James, in the town of Smithtown. The St. James Firehouse falls within the St. James Historic District (NR Listed, 1973) and this nomination intends to update the record and recognize this building for its architectural and historic significance within the village. For one hundred years, the building has operated as a firehouse and community gathering space. The firehouse's original design and subsequent expansions demonstrate a remarkably cohesive Arts and Crafts influence, with nods to Beaux-Arts style in the structure's balance and symmetry. In addition to its architecture, the firehouse represents the important role the volunteer fire department played in the community, both for providing critical fire protection and promoting camaraderie through social activities and entertainment. In addition to the firehouse, the nomination includes the 1972 Colonial Revival style garage, which is used for storage and office space.
All Souls' Church Summer Camp Historic District, Sullivan County - Located in the town of Liberty in the southern Catskill Mountains, All Souls' Church Summer Camp was established in 1954 to provide summer camp experiences for Black children in Harlem who were excluded from or unable to afford other summer camp options available to children living in New York City. Spearheaded by All Souls' Church leadership and supported and maintained over the years by donors and the congregation, the camp had many features found in other summer camps from the period- it was relatively close to the New York City urban area, was in a mountainous natural setting, and provided the opportunity to experience the outdoors. Originally a farm and later a small rural tourist resort, the camp complex is a good example of the evolution of properties in this part of New York State that grew and developed to meet the changing needs of urban vacationers. As a summer camp for children, the site adapted and added features to function, such as a dining hall, craft building, library, bunkhouses, group sanitary facilities, assembly and play areas, a lake, a swimming pool, and, as a religious camp, a chapel. As an organization with limited resources, All Souls' Church's purchase and adaptation of an existing resort facility was an economical decision and it retained elements of the property's past purposes that are still identifiable today.
Webutuck Agricultural Valley Historic District, Dutchess County (NY) and Litchfield County (CT)- The district is in the town of Amenia (NY), with a small section in the town of Sharon (CT). Encompassing a rural community of about twenty farmsteads and three small hamlets- Leedsville, Amenia Union, and South Amenia- the 3,800-acre district represents the valley's evolving agricultural and cultural history since the establishment of the Amenia Union Cemetery in 1735. This period includes the settlement, agricultural and architectural development of the area, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century romanticization of the rural landscape, and the decline and revitalization of agriculture during the twentieth century. The district embodies the patterns of agriculture in the region, which, during this period, was an evolution from wheat-based subsistence farming to dairy-based market farming and then genteel stock farms specializing in things like horses, trees, and organic produce. The architecture represents over two hundred years of settlement. In addition, the district served as an inspiration and the gathering place for poets, writers, literary critics, and naturalists at the height of the Romantic Movement. As a remote rural community, Webutuck Valley has experienced periods of progress, decline, and revitalization, and its most recent revitalization has been sparked by city dwellers seeking affordable and historic country retreats.
Bates Christian Church, Schoharie County - The Bates Christian Church, now known as the Bates Congregational Christian Church, was built in 1859 in the small hamlet of Bates. It is a distinctive example of nineteenth-century rural religious architecture in Schoharie County and is noteworthy for its meeting house form and simplicity. The church was built in the Greek Revival style, which was a dominant architectural style in Bates as well as surrounding hamlets. As the only remaining community building in the hamlet, it is significant to local and regional history.
Camp Veery, Herkimer County - Nestled within the forested landscape of Big Moose Lake's Echo Island, the main camp, boathouse, and icehouse of Camp Veery all embody the tradition of Adirondack Rustic architecture. Built in 1901 by wealthy Oswego businessman Theodore Page, the summer camp reflects a style characteristic of vacation homes in New York's Adirondack region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that were known as "Great Camps." Camps such as this were built as seasonal recreational retreats for wealthy urban owners seeking privacy in remote locations and they were designed to blend into the rugged woodland settings with their materials and ornamentation. Camp Veery is architecturally and historically significant as an example of this type of structure but is also a fine example of palisade style construction that is seen throughout Big Moose Lake. Between 1875 and 1905, more than fifty buildings at Big Moose and Twitchell Lake were constructed using this vertical half-log construction method. Developed when there were no sawmills in the area, builders were able to saw logs in half and place them on end to form walls- which was more efficient and finished than a traditional horizontal log cabin. While there are examples of palisade construction in the Adirondack region, Big Moose Lake is the only place where there is a settlement defined by this type of architecture.
New York City
Casita Rincón Criollo, Bronx County, Puerto Rican Casitas of New York City - Casita Rincón Criollo is a small cultural landscape in the Melrose neighborhood of the South Bronx. Originally created ca. 1976 and now owned by the New York City Parks Department, it was relocated in 2006 and is also known as "La Casita de Chema" after founder and renowned master casita builder Jose Manuel "Chema" Soto (1945-2015). In its new location, Casita Rincón Criollo is one of the city's oldest, largest, and longest-surviving casitas. The site includes a centrally located two-room casita house surrounded by synthetic turf, over fifteen raised garden beds, a wood stage, a shed, and a semi-enclosed fogón (kitchen). Many of the plants have been deliberately cultivated to evoke the fauna of Puerto Rico. In addition, it is considered the center of traditional Puerto Rican music in New York City and is one of the most important centers where the renaissance of two traditional Puerto Rican musical genres, bomba and plena, are taking place. The casita is one of 28 identified in a recent survey. This survey and associated Multiple Property Document, funded by an Underrepresented Community grant from the National Park Service, will significantly help increase the representation of sites associated with Puerto Rican history in New York in the National Register.
Halfway House, St. Lawrence County - Also known as the Foote-Legge-Stocking Tavern, the Halfway House was built ca. 1807 in the town of Lisbon to facilitate mail delivery between Canton and Ogdensburg. Located on an important stagecoach route, it was a vital commercial and social hub for merchants, travelers, and residents and served as a place for church services, political gatherings, court proceedings, dances, and more. The building's architecture reflects Federal style influence, a style that dominated the American architectural landscape from about 1780 to 1830, and common in structures designed by builder Stillman Foote. The interior has strong Federal details, including the layout, wainscot, wood paneling, trim, and finishes. An interesting architectural feature is the hand-hewn canted purlin post framing with a continuous plate and polygonal ridge beam, which is an unusual framing system for houses in western and northern New York built during this period. The Halfway House is a rare surviving example of a combination of residence and "public house" that reflects the evolution of the house from mail stop and tavern to residence.
Kessel Park Inn, Essex County - Located on the west shore of Lake Champlain in Port Douglas, Kessel Park Inn is a historic property associated with early twentieth century motion picture producer Adam Kessel Jr. which includes a main house, carriage house (now private residence), ice house/hen house (now private residence), pump house, and a metal signal tower. Kessel purchased the property in 1912 and used it as his primary residence until his death in 1946. While Kessel and his family did not live at the Craftsman-influenced Kessel Park Inn year-round, it is likely they lived there for most of the year and that he conducted business from the property. Adam Kessel Jr. was actively involved in film production from 1909-1920 and his contributions to the early film industry in the United States are significant: he established and partnered with numerous early studios, serving as a founding director of companies like Universal Pictures (which became Universal Studios); provided opportunities for some of film's greatest early actors, including Charlie Chaplin; pioneered popular comedy and western genres; advanced film technology, editing, and production; and initiated the development and distribution of large individual film posters that continue to play an important role in film advertising today.
Village of Hammondsport Historic District, Steuben County - The Village of Hammondsport Historic District is a cohesive collection of almost 450 architecturally intact resources spanning from 1823 to 1975, including residential properties reflecting Victorian, Queen Anne, Classical Revival, and Craftsman styles, as well as kit homes with American Foursquare design. The history of the village, which is located on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region, is deeply connected with the history of the Erie Canal and the historic wine industry, both with roots to the 1820s. There is a common visual theme of wine and grape motifs referencing the area's history of wine production and reflecting the village's tourism industry, which continues today. The village was also the manufacturing site for Hammondsport native Glenn H. Curtiss's refinement and production of aircraft. Curtiss is credited with developing and successfully testing the first seaplane in 1911. The Curtiss Aircraft Corporation held test flights for its aircraft on Lake Keuka from 1910-1916, and a flight school was established locally to train test pilots. Both the wine and aviation industries in this village had an enormous impact on New York's economy and made significant contributions to American cultivation, industrial, and military history.
Western New York
DL&W Train Shed, Erie County - The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western (DL&W) Train Shed is a long, narrow, rectangular double-deck train shed that was built in 1917 as part of a four-building railroad terminal complex located in a dense commercial district in downtown Buffalo. The shed is the only remaining structure from that complex and is not only a rare example of a Lincoln Bush-style Train Shed in New York State but also one of the oldest examples remaining extant nationwide. Patented in 1905, the Bush Train Shed offered an economical alternative to large-span glass train sheds, with a roof exhaust system designed to discharge smoke above the trains which helped to increase the lifespan of the building, reduced the cost of maintenance, and improved the quality of air for passengers. The design was an important development in twentieth-century railroad facility technology and represents an innovative use of reinforced concrete and steel. The DL&W Train Shed was determined National Register Eligible by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1982. Currently, the building accommodates light rail trains on the first floor for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).
Lakewood Village Hall, Chautauqua County - Lakewood Village Hall, also known as the Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building, is a modest Craftsman-style municipal building originally constructed in 1915. The building is significant for its long association with the establishment and expansion of Lakewood's civic and municipal services- including serving as the home for the Lakewood fire department for eighty years- and has also been a location to host community meetings and events. Throughout its over one hundred years of use, the building has undergone renovations and additions to address the changing needs of the community. It reflects the village's evolution from a temporary destination for vacationers to a formally established suburban enclave in the twentieth century. The building currently houses governmental offices, the Lakewood Police Department, and the Lakewood History Museum.
Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church Historic District, Erie County - Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church Historic District (commonly referred to as OLV) in Lackawanna is a large, historically associated complex of twelve contributing resources - religious, educational, office, medical, and other buildings- built in stages between 1857 and 1978. The Our Lady of Victory Basilica, which forms the core of the district and draws thousands of tourists annually, is a stunning, massive, Beaux Arts-style church that is unparalleled in size, scale, style, and opulence in Western New York. Built between 1921-1926, the building is adorned with elaborate Baroque-inspired murals, sculptures, and colorful stained glass. Construction of the basilica was spearheaded by Father Nelson H. Baker, who, after taking over parish leadership in 1882, overhauled and expanded an existing orphanage and led efforts to establish a hospital and elementary school. Known locally as "Padre of the Poor," Father Baker was a major local figure in the social and religious history of Western New York and familiar to Catholic communities throughout the United States. In 2011, he was designated as Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI, which is the first step towards sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. The variety of building functions and architectural styles in OLV Historic District today represent the evolution of a major religious institution as it adapted over time to meet the needs of its parishioners and the community at large.
Wood and Brooks Company Factory Complex, Erie County - The Wood and Brooks Company Factory is a four-building complex- which includes the main factory, ivory vault, lumber storage building, and garage- in the town of Tonawanda. The factory's location provided close access to electrical power, rail transportation, and workers, all of which gave Wood and Brooks operational advantages that led to rapid growth. Wood and Brooks became one of the most important manufacturers of ivory piano keys and actions in the United States and played a significant role during World War II as a subcontractor for military production of the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP). The factory is an intact representation of a manufacturing facility designed and built in the first half of the twentieth century and is a good example of evolving industrial architecture and engineering trends. With initial construction in 1902 and subsequent expansions over the next six decades, the factory includes an early post and beam mill style building, as well as examples of reinforced concrete construction, which both helped create an environment that manufacturing facilities needed: features designed to prevent and contain fire, a sturdy open plan, high levels of daylight, and natural ventilation. The reinforced concrete additions to the factory complex were constructed by H.C. Turner of Turner Construction, a pioneer of multi-story reinforced concrete buildings and structures in the northeast in the early twentieth century.