Lower Village Historic District
Historic District 
The Athens Lower Village Historic District reflects the historical and architectural growth of the small Hudson River community of Athens. Within the district are excellent examples of residential, ecclesiastical and commercial architecture which vividly portray the village's growth through the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries.
Before 1800, the site of the Lower Village District was part of a large farm owned by John M. Van Loon. John Van Loon was a grandson of Jan Van Loon, the original settler of Athens.
On April 30, 1800, the Van Loon farmland, as well as other adjoining lands, were purchased by Isaac Northrup, who became the village's true founder by laying out a town along the Hudson consisting of ten streets running east to west and five streets north to south. The boundaries of the Lower Village Historic District basically follow the outline of the village in 1801.
In the initial decades of the nineteenth century, a number of prominent citizens from surrounding regions settled in the newly created village, then called Loonenburg. The beautiful Federal style residences built by these individuals testifies to their wealth and prominence. Significant in this regard are the Nichols House at 16 South Franklin Street built in 1803, the Haight House at 38 South Franklin Street built in 1812, and the C. Van Loon House (1795-1804) at 89 Second Street. Also, an exceptional block of two-story Federal rowhouses located on Washington Street were constructed during this period.
By the middle of the century, the Athens Lower Village Historic District area had been firmly established. Numerous river-based industries brought the prosperity necessary for a stable community. Significant during this period were the Athens Shipyards, the Clark Pottery, and various brickyards. The ferry slip, located at the foot of Second Street and used by the Hudson to Athens ferry, also contributed to the district's economic position. Reflective of this period are the Lydia Coffin House (1840) on Water Street and the Federated Church (1833) on Franklin Street. Also, a number of small Greek Revival worker homes remain from this era.
In 1877 the Lower Village District was basically as it was at the middle of the century, except for a number of newly constructed Second Empire and Italianate style structures. Buildings such as 26 South Franklin Street, 66 Second Street, and 86 Second Street added a great deal of elegance and charm to the district.
The district of 1877 essentially remains today, despite the pressures of the twentieth century. Though many of the industrial, river front buildings have been demolished, the district's architectural and historical integrity remains unscathed. The Athens Lower Village District is still today the primary commercial and residential section of the village of Athens.