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Bainbridge Village

Bainbridge Village Hall is located at 33 West Main Street, Bainbridge NY 13733; 607-967-7373.

Beginnings [1]

The area between the Unadilla River and Chenango River was first opened to white settlers in the 1780's when Governor George Clinton purchased these lands from the Oneida and Tuscarora Indians. The town of Jericho, just west of the Unadilla River in the Susquehanna Valley was one of the first regions settled and, as the Susquehanna River was the major path of westward migration, grew quickly. Jericho's first church, the Congregational Society of Silicia, formed in 1793 and in 1798 began construction of a meetinghouse in what is now the village of Bainbridge. In 1802 they received a gift of land: two acres around the meetinghouse, part of which was to serve as a "public parade or common," the typical New England village green.

The rapid growth of the settlement in the early years of the nineteenth century depended in large part on the activities of a Saxon nobleman, Frederick Augustus, Baron de Zeng, who had come to America in command of Hessian mercenaries, but stayed to invest in the new country's toll roads and bridges. De Zeng acquired an interest in the Esopus Turnpike, which ran through the southern Catskills and terminated on the east bank of the Susquehanna River near the present village. In 1804-05, determined to extend the turnpike westward, de Zeng constructed the first bridge across the Susquehanna River and built himself a handsome residence on the west bank not far from the meetinghouse. Subsequently, de Zeng and his family built a post office and store, sawmill, gristmill, tavern and two more fine residences in the village. In 1813, the Esopus-Bath Turnpike was completed and Jericho firmly established. Baron de Zeng moved on, leaving "Jericho Bridge" a thriving community with stages and passengers passing through from all directions. Of all de Zeng's physical contributions to the village, only the residence at 64 West Main Street remains.

The name Jericho became infamous in 1813, when the still unfinished meetinghouse became the victim of arson. In embarrassment, the citizens requested a name change, and on April 15, 1814, Jericho became Bainbridge, named after Commodore William S. Bainbridge, hero of the War of 1812.

  1. Bryer, Lucy A., New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Bainbridge Historic District, nomination document, 1982, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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