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Afton Village

Afton Village Hall is located at 105 Main Street, Afton NY 13730; phone: 607-639-1022.

Beginnings [1]

Numerous hamlets flourished in the town of Afton during the early and middle nineteenth century, but only the Village of Afton remains today. Its preeminence was established in the 1870s and '80s as a result of improvements in transportation. The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad arrived in the village in 1867, and in 1869 it was completed to Binghamton, a booming city already connected by rail with New York City, Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes. Soon thereafter, the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad became part of the huge Delaware and Hudson system, supplying Pennsylvania coal to the industrial cities of New England.

Also in 1869, a magnificent suspension bridge — the first toll-free bridge over the Susquehanna River — was built in Afton. This encouraged growth of the settlement west of the river, previously less accessible. The railroad and bridge immediately brought heavy passenger and cargo traffic to Afton, ending the village's long commercial isolation. In its new role as a regional transportation center, Afton developed a variety of mercantile and industrial enterprises and there was much new construction. New commercial ventures flourished including a weekly newspaper, a private bank, and new hotels to accommodate the influx of travellers.

A series of fires devastated parts of the village during these decades. Among them were the 1877 fire which destroyed the 1823 hotel called the Central House and the Great Fire of 1884 which burned for three days, levelling an entire row of frame shops and stores on the east side of Main Street. Imbued with a positive and progressive spirit, residents promptly cleared away the rubble and rebuilt. By 1895, Main Street was lined with brick commercial blocks exhibiting the eclectic historic styles then dominant in New York State's small towns. The hotel, (now the Afton Inn), was rebuilt but again suffered fire damage in 1898. Its present configuration dates from 1943, when the porches and tower were added.

Afton has changed little since it was incorporated in 1891. The village continued to prosper until the 1920s, but then declined in importance as the railroad gave way to automobile transport.

  1. Bryer, Lucy A., New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Main Street Historic District, Afton NY nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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