Kingsboro Historic District
The Kingsboro Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. 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 Kingsboro Historic District is located in the northeast corner of the city of Gloversville at the point where Kingsboro Avenue terminates at East State Street.
Since most of Gloversville's structures date from the late 19th century, it is a pleasant surprise to come upon this cluster of earlier dwellings, ranged about the park, and embedded in the later city fabric.
The Kingsboro Avenue Park and the Kingsboro Cemetery provide vistas of green space and shade in the summer and bare tree patterns in winter, giving the Kingsboro Historic District a very special sense of "place."
The Kingsboro Historic District contains all the properties which face onto Kingsboro Avenue Park and also includes five properties along Kingsboro Avenue to the south of the park. The grouping consists mainly of one and two family residences. Also included are a church, a cemetery, a monument in the park and a school which now houses a museum.
Two early homes retain the simple exteriors of the pioneer period c.1800. These are number 55 East State Street and number 254 Kingsboro Avenue.
The majority of structures (7) date from the period 1820-1840. Three of these follow the L-shaped plan so common in that period. Surprisingly, there are no partial returns on the cornices of any of the Kingsboro dwellings such as might be expected on buildings of the Greek Revival period. However, the church and one other structure (242 Kingsboro Avenue) both have a full pediment at the gable ends.
Besides these early 19th century homes, there are several which were built c.1900. They are relatively plain and do not detract from the rather austere feeling created by the earlier dwellings.
The Kingsboro Church (1838) is the key structure in the Kingsboro Historic District. It is an exceptionally handsome example of the Greek Revival style. Built of brick with a wood pediment and wood tower, the structure exhibits an interesting contrast between the almost monumental simplicity of the brick and the patterned wood surfaces of the superstructure.
The facade is particularly notable because of its deep central recess which gives the impression that the heavy pediment is supported by massive brick piers. To further heighten this effect, the facade is unbroken by window openings and the entrance doors are tucked away on the sides of the piers where they are inconspicuous.
The wood pediment is executed with decorative elements derived from the Doric order. A cornice with mutules crowns a frieze with triglyphs, taenia molding and guttae. This encircles the building and also travels up to the peak of the pediment — a spontaneous treatment not to be found in antiquity! The end result is a beautiful all-over patterning of the pediment.
Four corner antae and eight fluted free standing columns support a projecting cornice and plain frieze on the bell tower. Four pinnacles, one at each corner of the tower, add a touch of the Gothic.
The front entrances of the church lead directly into the pulpit end of the church. The balcony, which encircles the room, is supported by unusual fluted columns whose inspiration appears to have been more Egyptian than Greek.
The original window sash have been replaced by stained glass and the high domed ceiling has been closed over. (Members of the congregation hope to uncover this ceiling in the future.) The pulpit platform is framed by an arch supported by double pilasters. Other than this and the columns the interior is severely plain.
The Kingsboro Historic District includes a school built in 1900 which now houses the Fulton County Historical Society museum. It is a two story square brick structure with a hip roof. The building is colonial in feeling, though the entrance arch recalls the influence of Richardson Romanesque.
The significance of the Kingsboro Historic District lies in the fact that this was one of the first areas of settlement in the region now known as Fulton County. In addition, the area preserves the atmosphere of the New England villages from which its post-Revolutionary settlers had come, complete with a New England style church and plain white wood frame homes facing on the green.
In pre-Revolutionary days, because of his influence with the Indians, Sir William Johnson was virtual ruler of the Mohawk Valley. It was through his efforts that the Six Nations remained loyal to England during the French and Indian War. As a reward, the king granted him a large tract of land known as the Kingsborough patent. This land was settled by Scottish Highlanders who were fiercely loyal to Sir William and who followed his son to Canada after Sir William's death in 1774. From there they joined in the harassment of the rebels and became so dreaded that most never returned to their homes.
In this manner the land was left cleared of settlers until well after the Revolution. Then, the deserted homes and partially cleared farms, together with the nominal price of the land, which had reverted to the state, attracted the attention of New Englanders migrating westward along the Mohawk Valley.
In 1803, according to Frothingham, Elisha Yale, who was visiting the area with an eye to becoming pastor of the church which had been built in 1796, described Kingsborough as: "A pleasant society, five by seven miles in extent, about fifty miles from Albany, nine north of the Mohawk, containing 233 families and about 1,400 souls. Of the families, 191 are of English descent, twenty three Scotch, fourteen Dutch and five Irish."
Of the families of English descent, most had come from Connecticut, and it was through the correspondence of West Hartford people that Elisha Yale first came to Kingsborough as pastor.
Elisha Yale's statue stands in Kingsboro Park. He was the central figure in the religious and educational life of the community for fifty years. It was through his enthusiasm and effort that the little community became the cultural center of the surrounding region, as is evidenced by the fact that a circulating library, one of the first in the state, was organized in 1804. When advanced learning came into vogue, he saw to it that Kingsborough had an academy (1831).
A church had been built in 1796, but by the 1830's this proved to be too small. The area was prosperous and able to afford a much finer structure than the early wooden edifice. A site on the west side of the park was purchased and the present church dedicated in 1838.
This is the oldest church in Gloversville and the third oldest in Fulton County (the old United Presbyterian Church at Perth Center was completed in 1831 while St. John's Episcopal Church in Johnstown was built in 1836).
The Kingsborough congregation outdid itself in the creation of the 1838 church. Whereas the Kingsborough homes are so austere as to be almost spartan the new church was a work of art, a skillful expression of the Greek Revival style as interpreted by men ranking among the most able American builder-architects.
The creation of a Greek Revival church posed certain problems to the designers of the day, since there were no comparable structures in antiquity. According to Hamlin, A.J. Davis' Carmine Street Church in New York City (1834) set the pattern for the type of facade we find on the Kingsborough Church: a recessed porch between two solid enclosed areas for stairs with coupled antae on each side. However, within this general pattern there was plenty of room for creativity, especially in view of the lack of classical models, and the Kingsborough Church is definitely the work of a highly creative individual. It is thought to have been designed and built by a young man named Samuel Stewart Mills, a local carpenter.
From the beginning, the Kingsborough area had few natural advantages from which to spawn a modern city. There is no river, harbour or mines and the fertility of the soil is poor. Sir William, who had his choice of sites in the patent, established his settlement further west at Johnstown. The hamlet grew up on a knoll along the Johnstown Road.
Though this location at the foot of the Adirondacks had little else to recommend it, there were plenty of trees, water and access to the trappers of the north country. These factors and the additional circumstance that the New England settlers brought skills such as tinsmithing and tanning with them, encouraged the gradual growth of cottage industries.
Spafford's Gazetteer of 1824 says that at Kingsborough there were extensive manufactories of tinware and leather gloves. No doubt the proximity to the Erie Canal was a later incentive to growth. To the south of Kingsborough in 1848 was a later settlement of equal size known as "Stump City," also a center of the leather industry. "Stump City," now Gloversville, experienced rapid growth during the latter part of the 19th century, when it became the tanning and glove manufacturing center of the country. As a result of this expansion Gloversville engulfed the hamlet of Kingsborough, which lost its geographical and political identity. However, the fact that this little corner of Gloversville has an interesting and somewhat earlier history than that of the rest of the city is written on the architecture of almost every structure in the Kingsboro Historic District.
Frothingham, Washington. History of Fulton County. D. Mason & Co. Syracuse, 1892.
Brown, Rev. Donald S. Kingsborough Presbyterian Church, Gloversville, New York. A booklet prepared for the 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church Building. 1963.
General Richard Montgomery Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Program, , Unveiling Tablet to Commemorate the Historical Sites of Old Kingsborough on the One Hundreth Anniversary of Naming Gloversville. July 4th, 1928.
Hamlin, Talbot. Greek Revival Architecture in America. Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1964.