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Moravia Village

Moravia Village Hall is located at 48 West Cayuga Street, Moravia NY 13118; phone: 315-497-0287.

Beginnings [1]

The village of Moravia rests at the southern tip of Owasco Lake in Cayuga County, New York. This region of central New York once belonged to the Algonquin Indians until the 1300s when the Iroquois Nations seized it. It then became the home of the Seneca and Cayuga tribes. One of their burial grounds is believed to be located at the present day Indian Mound Cemetery, just east of Moravia. During the Revolutionary War, the promise of land was used to attract men into the army. In 1782, the State of New York set aside 1.8 million acres of land in central and western New York for Revolutionary War Veterans. The Military Tract was divided into 28 townships, six square miles each. Some of this land was settled by veterans but much of it was sold to speculators. A case in point is the first white settler in Moravia, who is reported to have bought the land from a speculator.

Settlement in Central New York began in earnest in the 1790's. Moravia, became attractive to settlers because of the availability of significant natural resources. The land was fertile for farming and raising live stock and trees were plentiful for fuel and building material needs. Just east of Moravia, in Montville, the Goodrich and Pierce Creeks converge to form Mill Creek which rushes down the hill to Moravia. This provided another natural resource which became very important to the village's early development, water power. The early settlers harnessed the power from the creeks and established several mills for various industries.

The first settlers in Moravia, originally known as Owasco Flats, were from Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and Vermont. A speculator by the name of Ten Eyck, reportedly gave 100 acres of land to John Stoyell, the first white settler and a veteran of the Revolutionary war, on the agreement that he would, in turn encourage settlement in the area. In 1789, Stoyell settled in what is now the northern end of the village but sold off lots along Main street between Cayuga and Church Streets, and along West Cayuga, Aurora and Church Streets. This area exhibits the earliest architecture in Moravia.

There are few intact examples of architecture in the village which reflect this initial period of settlement. Portions of the Morse farmhouse and the Cotton Skinner House may contain remnants of early cabins built in the 1790's or early 1800's. However, several intact houses from the c.1810-1830 period are indicative of the architectural traditions and practices typical of permanent construction in New England during these years. John Stoyell built his house near the corner of North Main Street and Oak Hill Road. This structure reflected the Federal style houses prevalent in his home state of Connecticut. Although this house still exists, many alterations have compromised its integrity, leaving only the general massing to indicate its significance. John Stoyell wielded a great deal of influence in Moravia. Besides being a wealthy landowner and farmer, he also became a mill owner, town supervisor, and Justice of the Peace. This influence shaped the physical and economic development of the village.

  1. R. Ann Safley, Historic and Architectural Resources of the Village of Moravia NY, nomination document, 1992, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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