Windsor Village Historic District
The Windsor Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The village of Windsor, located in Broome County approximately fifteen miles to the east of Binghamton on Route 17, is nestled on the west bank of the Susquehanna River. The area is located on the Appalachian Plateau near the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The village is surrounded by forested hills and an agricultural district.
Encompassing a triangular area located in the center of the village, the Windsor Village Historic District comprises eighty buildings and two landscaped areas, the Village Cemetery and Village Green. The Windsor Village Historic District includes the following properties: Academy Street, all properties north of Chapel Street; Chapel Street, south side, all properties between Main and New Streets, and north side, all properties from Main Street west to, but not including, Klumpp Park; Church Street, College Avenue, Dewey Road, and Elm Street, all properties; and Main Street, east side, all properties from Chapel Street north to Number 40, and west side, all properties between Chapel Street and Occanum Creek. This boundary includes the core of the business district and many older residential streets, but excludes residential areas which have lost their historical integrity.
Included within the Windsor Village Historic District are structures representing a variety of functions and styles, the oldest building dating from ca.1810. The buildings are similar in scale and nearly all are simple, local adaptations of architectural styles popular during their respective periods of construction.
The business district is concentrated along the south end of Main Street. Most of the commercial structures are of brick, a material selected to withstand fires, such as the two which destroyed large sections of the business district in the late nineteenth century. Commercial buildings are most densely clustered on the east side of Main Street along the edge of a steep bank which divides the area from the floodplain of the Susquehanna River.
Sloping down towards the business district is the Village Green, with its two churches on the western corners and a centrally located bandstand. Situated adjacent to the Community House, the Green continues to serve as the focal center of the Village and is important as a social gathering place.
Residential neighborhoods are located to the west and along the north end of Main Street. The residential streets are spacious and lined with mature trees. Homes are set well back from the street on generous landscaped lots. The typical domestic structure is of wood frame construction with clapboard siding. Although various architectural styles are represented, the Greek Revival style is most characteristic of the Village. The style is particularly prominent because of two important groupings of Greek Revival buildings — on and around the Village Green and at the northern entrance to the Windsor Village Historic District.
The Windsor Village Historic District is a cluster of properties which illustrate the historical development of a village in eastern Broome County and the adaptation of architectural fashions there. Settled primarily by natives of Connecticut during the early nineteenth century, Windsor evolved from a lumbering and agricultural economy to one based on manufacturing and commerce. The diverse architectural styles of Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, 19th-century vernacular, Queen Anne, Second Empire, and Colonial Revival reflect the evolution of styles in a rural New York village as it developed over more than a century and a half.
The village of Windsor, originally called Oquaga, was settled in 1876 at a point one and one-half miles upriver from the present site on lands known as Onaquaga. Onaquaga, a large Indian village situated on a major Indian trail, was probably the southernmost settlement of the Iroquois Nation and as early as 1748, was the site of a New England missionary outpost. During the Revolution the area was employed as a military and prison base for Iroquois Chief Joseph Brant. When the Fort Stanwix Treaty Line was rescinded following the Revolution, settlers began arriving to establish homesteads.
In ca.1789, David Hotchkiss purchased ten northern lots of Allison's Class Right Patent, and in 1820 had the present Windsor village acreage surveyed for subdivision. Hotchkiss, a settler from Connecticut, developed the village after New England models. He established the Village Green as a public square and assisted in the construction of a meetinghouse upon the site. In 1803, Hotchkiss entrusted the green to the Presbyterian Church. To this day the green remains the focal point of the village and historic district, and is the only such green in Broome County.
During the early 1800s, mills, homes, and businesses were established at both the village and Oquaga sites. In the early 1830s, Elias Whittemore, returning to his home in Windsor from a term in Congress, built an elegant Greek Revival house, the present Community House, and coaxed business interests from Oquaga to the southern settlement. Relocation of the post office to the present village completed the municipality's move.
The Windsor Village Historic District still conforms to its original plan as begun by Hotchkiss and developed by Whittemore. The business district remains at its original location, with the Williams Building/Ford House (ca.1810), Woodruff Store and House (ca.1840), Community House (ca.1833), and Windsor Inn Apartments/Windsor Inn (ca.1836) as evidence of its early origins. Many Greek Revival-style homes built by village forefathers have been preserved, as well as the original street layout.
During the 1840s lumbering, the prime cash crop, was on the decline and agriculture grew in importance. Mills, tanneries, and some hand manufacturing of boots and shoes contributed to the village's economic base. Small industries such as carriage and wagon making and an iron foundry flourished along north Main Street. Three of the four Greek Revival-style homes which line Main Street and are included in the Windsor Village Historic District were built by owners of these early enterprises.
By the end of the 1850s, whip manufacturing became the major industry, bringing about the village's greatest economic boom. While the three whip factories were in operation many of the more elegant nineteenth-century dwellings which are a part of the Windsor Village Historic District were constructed by whip factory owners or employees. The Windsor Zion Episcopal Church, a Gothic Revival structure of noteworthy architectural design, was built in this era from plans attributed to Richard Upjohn. During this period of prosperity, the present brick commercial structures were constructed along south Main Street upon the sites of earlier business enterprises which were destroyed by fires during the late nineteenth century.
As the automobile replaced the horse as the transportation mode, whip manufacturing began to decline, though the last and smallest whip works, housed in the present Carpenter Building and a part of the Windsor Village Historic District, did not close until 1945. Dependent upon this industry, the village also began to decline as the whip manufacturing era came to a close. As labor opportunities expanded elsewhere, Windsor became a bedroom community for the larger metropolitan area of Binghamton. The effect of these changes was de facto preservation of a significant concentration of historic architecture which represents the core of the village and its evolution. The quality, variety, and interrelationship of buildings within the district makes the Windsor Village Historic District a significant area deserving attention, preservation, and protection.
Broome County Towns' Historians. Historical Essays on the Sixteen Towns of Broome County.
Deeds. Filed in the Broome County Clerk's Office, Binghamton, New York.
Hinman, Marjory B., and Osborne, Bernard, comps. Historical Essays of Windsor. Windsor: Town of Windsor, 1976.
Montillon, Eugene D. Historic Architecture in Broome County, New York and Vicinity. Binghamton, N.Y.: Broome County Planning Department and Broome County Historical Society, 1972.
Schiller, Louise. Windsor the Village with a Green. A Study of the Landscape. Master thesis. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 1978.
Seward, William Foote, ed. Binghamton and Broome County, New York: A History. 3 vols. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1924.
Smith, H.P., ed. History of Broome County. Syracuse: D.Mason and Company, 1885.
Wilkinson, J.B. The Annals of Binghamton of 1840. Binghamton, N.Y.: Cooke and Davis, 1840; reprint with An Appraisal, 1840-1967, by Tom Cawley. Binghamton, N.Y.: Broome County Historical Society and Old Onaquaga Historical Society, 1967.