Village of Antwerp Historic District
The Village of Antwerp Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document . Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District lies in the south-central part of the town of Antwerp, in the northeast corner of Jefferson County, New York. The village lies on both sides of the Indian River, which crosses the village in a northeast/southwest direction. The Indian River was the center of early settlement in the village and remains its outstanding natural feature, with swiftly moving water, a stone arch bridge that connects the commercial district on the north side with the residential district on the south, and mill ruins that mark the earliest industry of the village. The principal north-south axis of the village is Main Street, which intersects New York State Route 11 at the north end of the village and ends at the boundary of the Fort Drum Military Reservation at the south end where historically Main Street continued on connecting the village to other villages and towns in Lewis County. The Village of Antwerp Historic District consists of approximately 550 acres and encompasses most of the built-up area of the village, including residential, commercial, civic, and ecclesiastical buildings, a memorial park with monument, two cemeteries, and a 19th century stone arch bridge. The majority of buildings within the Village of Antwerp Historic District were built between 1840 and 1900, with a few earlier and later buildings interspersed. There have been few modern intrusions. The village is a virtual catalog of 19th and early 20th century architectural styles, including Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic, Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow. There are outstanding, high style houses (particularly Italianate), as well as many examples of more modest, vernacular Greek Revival interpretations. The Village of Antwerp Historic District boundaries were delineated with the help of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and were based on a preliminary historic survey of the village. The entire village retains a high degree of historic integrity, and boundaries were drawn that roughly correspond to the village core, but eliminating the non-contributing buildings at the outskirts. The Village of Antwerp Historic District is roughly bounded by Route 11 on the north, the outer ends of Depot, Maple, Van Buren and Lexington on the east, the end of Main Street on the south, and the outer limits of Washington, Mechanic, Fulton, and Madison on the east. The total number of contributing resources within the Village of Antwerp Historic District is 247. The total number of non-contributing resources is 29.
An outstanding feature of the Village of Antwerp Historic District is the relatively intact late 19th century commercial core running along Main Street from the residential end of Main Street at Route 11 down a southward slope to the Indian River. This portion of the Village of Antwerp Historic District, on the west side of Main Street, presents an almost unbroken three blocks of common-walled Italianate-inspired two- and three-story commercial buildings. Although the southern end of this section (at the river) was settled as early as 1803, a fire in 1867 destroyed the wood frame commercial buildings; and another disastrous fire in 1889 badly damaged or destroyed their brick and stone successors. The current commercial district consists largely of 1889 replacement stone and brick buildings or renovations. In contrast, the east side of Main Street, across from the commercial blocks, consists of the Richardsonian Romanesque Town Hall (1897-1901), the Congregational Church Parsonage, the Gothic Revival stone Congregational Church (1876), and the Crosby Memorial Library (1917). These buildings are set in a less dense, more parklike landscape.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District also displays several relatively intact neighborhoods of consistent style. Hoyt Avenue, for example, was laid out in 1884. Numbers 4, 6, 8-10, 12, 16, and 18 are Stick style houses of high integrity, similar and complementary in style; 8-10 is an unusual double residence and 18 is executed in brick and stone. These houses are fairly close together and, despite the mature landscaping and wooded background, this neighborhood has a relatively urban feeling. In contrast, the south side of Madison Avenue, south of the Indian River, is less densely built-up. A series of contemporaneous, high style Italianate houses, beginning with the Copley House at the corner of Madison and Main Street, is set against a backdrop of open fields and low scrub vegetation. The south side of Mechanic Street also displays a series of more modest Italianate houses that are smaller, less ornate, and in a denser neighborhood.
Also of interest, are two very modest house plans repeated throughout the residential areas of the district. The most common plan of these "working-class" houses (circa 1840-1860) is the front-gable upright and side-gable wing plan, a folk interpretation of the Greek Revival style but generally lacking characteristic trim detail, for example, 26 and 28 Depot Street and 15 Fulton Street. The other plan is an extremely simple, hall-and-parlor, side-gabled house (circa 1825-1830) with a shed-roof rear extension. A few of these remain, such as 5 Depot Street and 27 Van Buren Street. It may be that more of these have been recycled as the side wings of the more common and somewhat later "folk" Greek Revival houses.
Two relatively large Federal period houses are included in the Village of Antwerp Historic District. The 10-room limestone Copeland House retains a higher degree of integrity. Located at 7 Van Buren Street, overlooking the river, it was constructed in 1816 by Ezra Church, who with his brother Daniel Whipple Church, was an accomplished stone mason who studied under Joseph-Jacques Ramee and whose clients included David Parish and other wealthy land barons of the North Country. The Conklin House (circa 1816), at 42 Main Street, is a wood-frame building constructed for Antwerp settler Luther Conklin. The house now sits in the densely built-up north end of the commercial district, but set toward the rear of an expansive front lawn. The front porch and windows have undergone extensive renovations over the course of time, but the plan remains basically intact. Both of these houses reflect the prominence of their first owners; the Conklin House remains in the hands of descendants.
All three of the churches in the Village of Antwerp Historic District are historically noteworthy. The oldest is St. Michael's Catholic Church on Maple Street, constructed in 1816 by David Parish, early Antwerp settler and prominent North Country land speculator, as a non-denominational community meeting house. This building is said to be the second church built in Jefferson County and the first brick building to be constructed in the town and village of Antwerp. It is attributed to French architect Joseph-Jacques Ramee, who also designed Parish's brick mansion in Ogdensburg (Remington Museum). The Gothic Revival First Congregational Church (1876) at 49 Main Street is a high style, gray local sandstone building. The Gothic Revival Methodist Church (1877) on Academy Street is an imposing masonry building. Other non-residential, non-commercial buildings of high integrity in the district include the masonry Richardsonian Romanesque Antwerp Town Hall (1897-1901) at 45 Main Street designed by David D. Kieff, and the Colonial Revival (Flemish) Crosby Memorial Library (1917) at 59 Main Street.
Among additional contributing features to the Village of Antwerp Historic District are Monument Park, St. Michael's Cemetery, Hillside Cemetery and Mausoleum, and the Stone Arch Bridge across the Indian River. Memorial Park is a 1.25-acre sloping site dedicated in 1894. At the top of the slope is a 40-foot Barre granite Soldiers ad Sailors Monument, the design of which is attributed to Saint Gaudens, commemorating the Civil War Service of some 400 Town of Antwerp boys and men. Located at the corner of Madison Avenue and Main Streets, the site harmonizes with the scattered residential and semi-rural setting around it. Hillside Cemetery (c.1813-present) is a 9.3-acre site on a steep slope that runs from Maple Street on the north to Van Buren on the south, wooded with mature trees. The site began with land donated by David Parish; the earliest known burial dates from 1813. An additional 7.5 acres was added to the site and the cemetery incorporated in 1859. Densely distributed monuments and markers throughout the park-like setting are executed in virtually the full range of styles common during this long period of use. The stone Romanesque Hillside Cemetery Mausoleum (1882) faces Van Buren Street at the entrance to the cemetery. Finally, a limestone barrel-vault Stone Arch Bridge (1880) conducts Main Street traffic across the Indian River and reflects a time of heavy traffic and prosperity for the Main Street business district. The river was first dammed at this point for industrial use in 1805 and a bridge was in place by 1806.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District also includes contemporaneous carriage houses, garages, barns, and other outbuildings associated with various resources throughout the district.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District is historically and architecturally significant for its highly intact, cohesive residential and commercial neighborhoods which exhibit a virtual catalog of 19th and early 20th century architectural styles and reflect the historical growth and development of the village from a pioneering industrial settlement to a prosperous industrial, commercial, and agricultural settlement in the late 19th century.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District encompasses almost all the built resources within the village limits and includes fine examples of period domestic, commercial, civic, and religious architecture, as well as a cemetery, mill ruins, a stone bridge, and a memorial park. Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, and other styles are represented, including particularly outstanding Italianate houses, along with many vernacular interpretations of these styles. The historic qualities of the Village of Antwerp Historic District are complemented by contributing outbuildings, distinct neighborhoods of contemporaneous buildings, an intact commercial district, and the presence of Indian River, which first attracted settlers. While the Village of Antwerp has suffered from later 20th century economic and social changes, and development has largely passed it by, the same trends tended to preserve the buildings and atmosphere of the 19th century village as in a time capsule; the gravest threat to the district is not inappropriate renovation and development but vacancy, neglect and deterioration.
The Village of Antwerp Historic District is significant as an outstanding example of a rural/industrial village which retains its historic associations as well as architectural and spatial characteristics which illustrate settlement, family, and community life patterns in northern Jefferson County over the course of 100 years, from the early 19th to the early 20th centuries. A high degree of integrity pervades both the residential and commercial neighborhoods; the district as a whole represents an outstanding example of 19th century North Country life in New York State.
The Village of Antwerp is situated on the Indian River in the Town of Antwerp in the northeastern corner of Jefferson County, bounded on the northeast by St. Lawrence County and on the southeast by Lewis County. The terrain is rolling, in places seamed with rough rocky ridges, but has supported dairy farming. Mineral wealth, particularly specular iron ore, and ample waterpower encouraged early land speculation and settlement. The village settlement, dating from as early as 1803, was called at first "Indian River." The village was incorporated in 1853, the village limits enclosing about 1 square mile. Since incorporation it has been the seat of town government; before 1853, town meetings alternated between the settlements at Oxbow and Indian River.
The Town of Antwerp was formed from the Town of LeRay in 1810; part of the two-million acre Macomb tract subject to the northern New York real estate speculation boom in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. When the Macomb tract was split at the death of land agent William Constable, General Lewis R. Morris purchased in 1804 a tract of 49,280 acres, or two-thirds of the future township. The Antwerp company of Belgium, for whom the town is named, also owned a portion. In 1808, David Parish of Hamburg, Germany then purchased 29,033 acres from Morris which was increased to 90,000 by his brother and nephew George Parish Sr. and George Parish Jr. Together, Morris and the Parish family spurred much of the town and village's early settlement and development, with settlement beginning under Morris's ownership. During the winter of 1805, roads were opened that connected the settlements at Philadelphia and Oxbow with Antwerp and, in 1806, the road to Gouverneur was opened. This placed the settlement on a migration crossroads and worked with the natural advantage of the Indian River to encourage further settlement.
The land agents for these owners were among the most powerful individuals in the village and town. Morris's agent John Jenisen was succeeded by Parish's agent Sylvius Hoard, followed by William McAllaster. Parish's land office was located on the corner of Main and Lexington Streets as early as 1808. The Parish, Hoard and McAllaster fortunes would continue to intertwine and formed the impetus for economic development in the village and surrounding town.
Several outstanding resources remain in the Village of Antwerp Historic District from Antwerp's early settlement and industrialization period. On the north side of the river, the Federal style Luther Conklin House at 42 Main Street dates from approximately 1816 and was constructed near the site of a tannery established circa 1812. The Conklin family continued to operate a tannery business and were village merchants and land owners for most of the 19th century. David Parish's 1816 brick church (now St. Michael's Catholic Church), purchased by the Catholic congregation in 1849, stands on Maple Avenue. It is the oldest brick building in Antwerp and the second oldest church in Jefferson County; the design is attributed to Joseph Jacques Ramee. The Federal style limestone Copeland House at 7 Van Buren Street, overlooking the river, was constructed by Ezra Church in 1816 and retains the only intact residential Federal period entrance in the village. This 10-room limestone house was sold to Smith and Polly Copeland, innkeepers, in 1819, then deeded to Clewly and Theophilus Copeland and remained in the Copeland family through at least 1887. The Copelands owned the Copeland House, a major hotel later known as the Proctor House, which was located on the northeast corner of Van Buren and Main Streets.
Other resources from the period include scattered, modest vernacular buildings, for example the hall-and-parlor house at 5 Depot Street (c.1830), and the Greek Revival residences at 4 Depot Street (1823), 5 Washington Street (c.1830), and 27 Van Buren Street (c.1847), remain in good condition with moderate to high integrity. The Greek Revival house at 11 Maple Avenue (c.1820) and the vacant meetinghouse at 17 Maple Avenue retain moderate integrity but are in deteriorated condition. (The building at 17 Maple Avenue is said to be either the 1832 Congregationalist Church, or the c.1830 Baptist Church which originally stood north of Parish's brick church across the street from the current site on Maple Avenue.) At the river, stone foundations remain at the site of the 1810 Ezra Church gristmill, rebuilt in 1841-1842 by Isaiah Bailey for Martin Augsbury. The Augsbury mill burned in 1895; it was rebuilt and sold in 1910 to the Antwerp Power and Light Company. Wall remnants were demolished in 1981.
On the level land south of and close to the river, several vernacular houses (c.1812-1840) remain at 202, 204, 211, 213, 221, and 223 Main Street to document typical housing of the period. The Greek Revival house at 227 Main Street on the corner of Lexington Avenue is said to have served as William McAllaster's land office during his tenure as Parish's agent, beginning in 1824. During the second half of the 19th century, this house was the tenant house for the McAllaster farms. Across Lexington Avenue, the outstanding McAllaster House (301 Main Street) was constructed in 1825 as a substantial, high-style Greek Revival house. It was renovated by his son, the Honorable George D. McAllaster, in 1874 in a consistently Italianate style. The tenant house and the McAllaster House together recall the McAllaster influence on 19th century Antwerp.
During thee first part of the century, churches and schools were also established. Parish's 1816 brick church was non-denominational, but excluded the Congregationalists who were held to be too contentious. The Congregationalists erected wood-frame churches in 1832 and again in 1852. The first subscription school was started in 1813 in a small building on the east side of Main Street, between Hoyt and Maple Streets on the site now occupied by the Crosby Memorial Library. A second schoolhouse was converted to a dwelling still in use in the 1890s, but unidentified at this time. Parish also constructed and donated a brick schoolhouse in 1816, north of the brick church and adjoining the cemetery on Maple Street. (This was replaced by a frame building in 1879, now gone.) Private select schools also operated throughout the period. The Antwerp Delphic Library was established in 1832 and quartered in the Luther Conklin house. Parish also donated the land for the Old Town Cemetery, which became the nucleus for the still-active Hillside Cemetery. William McAllester's parents, Richard and Susan McAllaster, were among the earliest burials at the site (circa 1813).
At its incorporation in 1853, the Village of Antwerp held some 500 inhabitants. A sawmill, tannery, gristmill, planing mill, and foundry were grouped on the banks of the Indian River near the dam. The village offered Baptist, Catholic and Congregational churches, three hotels, six or seven stores, a school, and mechanics for the mills. The commercial district was comprised of frame buildings and became densely built up in the current blocks on the west side of Main Street and on the corresponding blocks on the east side, which are now occupied by the Town Hall, the First Congregational Church, and the Crosby Memorial Library. Residential development had radiated out from the river and the adjoining commercial district. During this period, the majority of the houses built were working- and middle-class upright and wing single family residences, echoing their Greek Revival roots in cornice returns, eaves boards, and corner boards. This very common plan in the Village of Antwerp Historic District can be found in almost all the residential streets included. Most of these have been in some way modified over the years, but almost all still retain a high degree of architectural integrity, which contributes to the overall unity of the district.
The next fifty years saw steady economic and cultural growth in the village. By the late 1840s, plank roads connected the village to Gouverneur (State Route 11), Rossie, Great Bend, and Carthage (State Route 26). Located 24 miles northeast from the city of Watertown and 12 miles southeast from the village of Gouverneur, Antwerp continued to enjoy its crossroads status. In 1857 the first train of the Potsdam and Watertown Railroad (later the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg, consolidated with the New York Central in the 1930s) steamed through the village and would continue to carry Antwerp people and products to wider markets for 50 years. The railroad station remains on Depot Street outside the Village of Antwerp Historic District boundaries.
Higher education was a predominant presence in the beginning with the charter in 1856 of the Antwerp Liberal Literary Institute. The Institute erected a four-story sandstone building and dedicated it in 1861. The Black River Conference Seminary purchased the Institute in 1868 and added another stone building to serve boarders and a ladies' hall. The two sandstone buildings stood at right angles to each other on Academy Street, the site of today's elementary school, and served about 200 pupils. The seminary was combined with the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary and the name changed to Ives Seminary in 1874 to honor Willard Ives of Watertown, who headed a funding drive that ensured the continuance of the institution. At the same time, an arrangement with Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, ensured the acceptance of Ives students without re-examination. Antwerp High School was the last tenant of the seminary before its demolition in 1966.
The majority of buildings in the commercial core on Main Street reflect a later date of construction than the businesses actually held in them, which included pharmacies, dry goods, clothing and shoe stores, groceries, and professional offices. In the spring of 1867, a large portion of business district, consisting mostly of wooden frame stock, burned. These were replaced by brick and stone buildings "of good style" (Child, 1890). In February 1889 another fire left only a few usable business buildings. These were rebuilt in stone and brick and remain as the dominant building stock within the district's commercial core on the west side of Main Street. They are closely spaced (often party-walled) two- and three-story brick buildings with first-floor storefronts and decorative detailing consistent with late 19th and early 20th century trends. Numbers 48 and 50-52 Main Street are Italianate in style, replacing buildings lost in the 1867 fire and dating from about 1870. Number 48 Main Street replaced the old Union Hotel; it has housed various commercial ventures and, in the 20th century, the O.D. Green Funeral Home. Number 50-52 Main Street currently houses the Masonic Lodge and post office. The street facade of 54 Main Street, known as the Conklin Block, was renovated after the 1889 fire with sheet-metal cornice work and frieze windows. It currently houses a grocery store. Number 56 Main Street, an 1889 Eastlake brick building, was known as the Brown Block. A marble sidewalk remains in front of this building.
Number 58 Main Street, a Romanesque Revival brick building, is an important artifact of Antwerp's 19th century prosperity. It was constructed for the Bank of Antwerp, founded in 1872 by Cassius Coolidge. The brick building replaced the earlier frame structure lost in the 1889 fire, when the bank was sold to John D. Ellis, with his brother-in-law Albert Hoyt. Another reorganization in 1910 made Albert Hoyt President and Willard Augsbury (Ellis's son-in-law) Vice-President. After various reorganizations through the years, the bank was consolidated with the Northern New York Trust Company in 1946. Today it houses the Village of Antwerp offices; although the interior has been altered, the exterior facades of this building and its neighbors, of moderate to high integrity, terminate the vista from Hoyt Street and evoke the atmosphere of the commercial portion of the district. At this point the block turns to the south somewhat as Main Street continues down the slope toward the river. Numbers 60, 62 and 64 Main Street are consistent in style with the previous block, all dating from about 1889. Number 60 Main Street housed the fire department in the early 20th century. Number 64 Main Street was built by E.B. Perley and C. Marsh and was known as the Marsh/Rogers Block. After the Mechanic Street intersection, the density of the Village of Antwerp Historic District is marred somewhat by a vacant lot, site of the c.1870 brick Wiser Hotel building (Haymond Hardware), which deteriorated until it was demolished by the village in 1998. After this gap, 110 Main Street exhibits an intact late Victorian facade, also dating from 1889, which housed a clothing store. The remaining buildings, down to the river, date from various periods and are moderately to severely compromised. This area was industrial rather than commercial in the first half of the 19th century, the site of the gristmill, a sawmill, and a tannery. The Greek Revival building at 112 Main Street managed to survive both devastating fires but is of low integrity. Number 114 Main Street is an early 20th century Art Deco-influenced building, the only one in the village. It currently houses a garage. Number 116 Main Street may exhibit 1889 renovations, disguising an earlier profile. It is sheathed in sheet metal formed to imitate the ashlar stone masonry common in the 1889 business district.
The corresponding blocks on the east side of Main Street in the commercial district are much less densely occupied, today presenting an almost park-like appearance. Although this area was densely built up in the third quarter of the 19th century, fire and new buildings changed this section's character in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The newer structures contribute to the Village of Antwerp Historic District's historic integrity in their own right. The Antwerp Town Hall (45 Main Street), a Richardsonian Romanesque yellow sandstone building at the southeast corner of Main and Depot Streets, was designed by architect David D. Kief and constructed over a period in 1897-1901, replacing the three-story Wiggins block, which had housed a public hall on the top floor, living quarters on the second floor, and stores on the first floor, a typical mixed-use building in the district. Now the Town Hall, with its massive roof surfaces and dominant tower, serves as a visual anchor for this end of the district. The second floor of the building is also a public hall, with an auditorium and stage. Moving south, the next building is the 1916 First Congregational Church Parsonage (47 Main Street), followed by the massive Gothic Revival First Congregational Church (49 Main Street), a high-style, 1876 gray stone building with steeples and slate roof. The 1917 Crosby Memorial Library (59 Main Street) occupies the next block to the south, set in a treed lawn. This replaced a 19th-century mercantile block, post office and the Foster House, a frame hotel that had been operating since early in the 19th century.
The Village of Antwerp was known for fine cheese manufacture from the mid-19th century until 1946. Hartwell F. Bent had operated a "Yankee" cheese factory on Lexington Avenue, south of the river, from about 1850. Francis X. Baumert opened a new plant on the same site in 1889, which remained in the Baumert family until 1928, when the factory was sold to the Borden Company. At its height the factory employed 300 people, and was an important factor in the economy of the village. The plant closed in 1946, the closing being blamed by some on the military Pine Plains (Fort Drum) expansion and the consequent loss of dairy farms. The c.1880 Bent brick factory/office building remains at 6 Lexington Avenue, with the larger, early 20th century block factory building attached at the rear.
The last quarter of the 19th century was characterized by institutional and public works structures, buildings and monuments in this prosperous community. The 1874 Ives Seminary (now gone) and the 1876 First Congregational Church on Main Street have already been mentioned; the 1877 Gothic Revival Methodist Episcopal Church on Academy Street is a high-style masonry building that replaced an 1872 church building destroyed by fire at the same site.
In 1880, Howard Sterling, the town highway commissioner, supervised the construction of the barrel-vaulted limestone Stone Arch Bridge on Main Street, which still spans the Indian River at the site that has been dammed and bridged since 1805-1806. The Town of Antwerp also undertook the construction of the 1897 Town Hall, previously mentioned, and Monument Park, the only formal public park within the district. Monument Park at Main and Madison Streets and its Civil War monument were dedicated in 1894, financed by the efforts of Grand Army of the Republic Oliver McAllaster Post. The dedication was attended by 7,000-8,000 people. The 1.25-acre site, south of the river where the atmosphere land becomes less densely settled and more rural, has as its centerpiece the 40-foot granite Civil War monument featuring three heroic figures attributed to Saint Gaudens.
The Hillside Cemetery Corporation had been formed in 1859 and added an additional 7.5 acres to the site originally donated by Parish. The Romanesque Hillside Cemetery Stone Mausoleum was built in 1882 and remains at the entrance to the cemetery on Van Buren Street, which has been in active use since about 1813. Just as the village displays a catalog of 19th century domestic architecture, the cemetery is a catalog of 19th century monument styles as well as a record of the people who settled and developed the area.
In 1890 the village population was about 1,100; the inhabitants voted in favor of electric lights the same year. The generating equipment was located in the basement of the Augsbury mill and the small turn of the century Antwerp Power Company Building remains on the west side of the Stone Arch Bridge. A publication of the time (Haddock, 1894) lists businesses as follows: a (short-lived) chair manufacturing company; the cheese factory; the Augsbury flour mill; two hotels and a boarding house; a sash and blind factory; a foundry, a saw-mill, five dry goods stores, a milliner's shop, two pharmacies, two hardware stores, "gents' furnishing goods," three groceries, a boot and shoe store, a jeweler, a tailor, a furniture store, a bottling plant, a steam laundry, ten cent store, two liveries, two wagon makers, and two blacksmiths, as well as other small stores, doctors, dentists, and insurance agents.
Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Antwerp's residential neighborhoods exhibited a strong growth pattern, with clusters of houses built or renovated in Italianate, Gothic Revival, Eastlake, Stick, and Queen Anne Revival styles. The Village of Antwerp Historic District's considerable stock of c.1860-1874 Italianate houses is noteworthy. They range from the massive, high-style homes of the landowners, industrialists and financiers, through the smaller but still highly detailed houses of the merchants and professionals, to humbler, vernacular housing that exhibits the typical square plan and shallow hipped roof of the style but eliminates the elaboration of projection and trim. Antwerp's Italianate houses are ample testimony to the village's flowering during this period, when land fortunes were amassed, sawmills and foundries were active, and the village was a center of commerce and trade for the surrounding area. Several clusters of these houses are especially noteworthy.
One such cluster remains on the level, open land south of the river, on or near Main Street, "the old state road" (Route 26) which had been the original settlement path for the district. Of these, the McAllaster House at 301 Main Street, corner of Lexington Avenue (previously mentioned in connection with the earlier part of the 19th century), is testimony to the power and influence of the McAllaster family. William McAllaster (1792-1870) settled in Antwerp in about 1810, bringing with him his parents and siblings from New Hampshire. Working first as a road laborer, he was elected constable and collector, and is said to have compelled Parish to pay taxes in Antwerp instead of Albany. Parish, evidently impressed by the young man's determination, employed McAllaster as his land agent in 1824, a position he held until all the Parish family's holdings in Antwerp (about 90,000 acres) were sold — a process that lasted until the mid-1850s. McAllaster began to amass his own land holdings when he purchased 550 acres from Parish in 1828, and likely built the originally Greek Revival-styled house at 301 Main Street. William McAllaster held a variety of local political offices and was elected to the State Assembly in 1840. His son, the Hon. George D. McAllaster, in 1874 undertook the consistent Italianate/Second Empire remodeling on the massive house that remains little changed today. The McAllasters were held as examples to the community of the very evident material rewards attendant upon hard work and pioneer values (Child, 1890; Haddock, 1894).
The Italianate Copley houses at 1, 5 and 7 Madison Street lie across Main Street from the McAllaster House. The most important of these is the Alexander Copley Jr. House at 1 Madison Street, on the corner of Main Street. (It is amusing to speculate that construction of this grand house may have spurred the McAllaster Italianate renovation in a move to "keep up with the Copleys.") The Copley family fortune was established by Alexander Copley Sr. (1805-1870), born in Lewis County of humble origins. Copley began his career as a merchant in various Jefferson County locations but began amassing timberland in the late 1830s. By about 1865, he was the largest landowner in Jefferson County, his holdings including 10,000 acres in the Town of Antwerp. He was also a director of the National Union Bank of Watertown, Jefferson County's seat. The Copley timber fortune funded the construction of the impressive Alexander Copley Jr. House, which displays the requisite cupola, projecting bays, door and window trim, and other elaborate trim features that celebrate the construction and decoration possibilities inherent in plentiful, cheap wood from the Copley sawmill in the village. This house served as a hotel in the 20th century, but retains a high level of integrity. Alexander Jr. was Copley's eldest son. Another son, Eugene, owned the more modest but still fine Italianate house (circa 1872) next door west at 5 Madison Avenue, which is in excellent condition but has undergone a certain level of "modernization." A third brother, Dewitt Copley, owned the next Italianate house in the cluster at 7 Madison Avenue. It is a high-style, large, three-bay house with a cupola and iron-grilled frieze windows, remaining at high integrity with some late 19th-century renovations. Number 15 Madison Avenue is also an enormous Italianate house, originally high-style but has suffered from remodeling and decay. It was the house of the Reverend J.A. Canfield, who lead the fund-raising efforts that produced the 1876 Congregational Church on Main Street.
Also on the south side of the river, on Main Street near the McAllaster/Copley cluster, is a noteworthy group of somewhat older (circa 1860-1865), more restrained, but still fine Italianate houses. The Elijah Fulton House at 214 Main Street is in excellent condition and retains high integrity, exhibiting a cupola, frieze windows, and much intact trim detail. Fulton (b.1811), a descendant of the inventor Robert Fulton, was initially employed at the woolen mill in Great Bend and then at the Antwerp Carding and Clothing Works in the village. Beginning in 1858, he traveled as a sales agent for Charles B. Hoard, selling engines and acting as Hoard's land agent. During this period he traveled extensively throughout the United States. Fulton married into prominent Antwerp families; his first wife Betsey (d.1859) was the daughter of Daniel Heald, the first town supervisor (1811-1817). His second wife as Lavina Ellis (d.1886), a sister of the extremely wealthy John D. Ellis, who helped to found and then owned the Bank of Antwerp. Fulton also owned an extensive tract of land between Fulton and Mechanic Streets at their outer ends. The neighboring house at 218 Main Street is of similar style, high integrity and excellent condition, and was owned in 1864 by another member of the Heald family. Number 312 Main Street is a massive house of the same period and stylistically similar to those at 214 and 218. It was the home of A.F. Bent, of the family associated with the cheese manufacturing operation.
Another cluster of substantial Italianate houses lies at the opposite end of the village, at the upper end of Main Street north of the river. This cluster is associated more with the financial and mercantile growth of the district, and less with the "old money" represented by the McAllaster and Copley houses south of the river. Numbers 31 and 37-39 Main Street are massive houses, with 31 Main Street being the larger and more ambitious of the two. Both appear to be Italianate remodeling of earlier Greek Revival houses undertaken at about the same period as the McAllaster renovation south of the river. Number 31 Main Street has a massive square main block with paired eaves brackets, frieze windows, and cupola; the gabled wing appears to be the earlier structure. John D. Ellis (1834-1898) may well have been responsible for the circa 1872 Italianate renovation. His father was an Antwerp merchant and postmaster, with a large general store operation that served a wide area. John D. Ellis became a partner in the store, re-organizing after his father's retirement with his brother Weston Ellis and his brother-in-law Albert Hoyt. He began investing in real estate at about the same time, and was involved with Hoyt in the founding of the Bank of Antwerp in 1872, where he succeeded Cassius Coolidge as owner, with Hoyt as head cashier. Ellis helped establish the Antwerp Liberal Literary Institute, later the Ives Seminary, and served as a trustee. He was heavily involved in local and state politics, serving as Town Supervisor and State Assemblyman. He was appointed State Assessor in 1883, an extremely powerful position which he used to advocate and advance farming interests. Ellis's daughter Mary married Willard S. Augsbury, and 31 Main Street eventually passed into this couple's hands. Augsbury, of the mill fortune, became wealthy in his own right, serving as the Bank Vice-president in 1910 and named President in 1914. Later in the 20th century, 31 Main Street was used as a nursing home; it is now a residence again.
Number 37-39 Main Street, probably in its original Greek Revival form that remains as a right rear wing, had been the home of John Ellis Sr. It was then owned by Albert Hoyt, who married Ellis's sister and was involved as a partner and employee in Ellis's mercantile and banking interests. Hoyt may have undertaken the Italianate remodeling at the same time his brother-in-law "upgraded" the house at 31 Main Street. Hoyt's was the less ambitious project, but retains much detail. An 1887 map shows Hoyt as the owner of a large tract of land between Fulton Street and the Indian River; his brother-in-law John D. Ellis owned a huge tract north of today's Route 11.
Other substantial Italianate houses of moderate to high integrity in the north Main Street cluster include 25 Main Street, the house of Dr. Ira Abel (1823-1894), who began a 40-year Antwerp practice in 1853. He was an organizer of the Jefferson County Medical Society and one of the founders of the New York State Medical Association. Number 20 Main Street, retaining an earlier Greek Revival house as its side wing, was the home of Cassius Coolidge, founder in 1872 of the Bank of Antwerp. In his retirement, Coolidge worked as an artist; his most famous and much-reproduced work is "His Stop and Four Aces," a painting which depicts costumed dogs playing poker on a train. Number 36 Main Street, with its cupola, arched frieze panels and architraves at the windows and porch openings, was the home of Cassius Marsh, a village boot and shoe merchant. It is further testimony to the mercantile prosperity of the village at this period.
A third cluster of middle-class, detailed Italianate houses lies on Mechanic Street. For example, 10 Mechanic Street, the Fairbanks House, has an outstanding triple-gabled bay, an elaborate bracketed entry porch, and other rich trim detail. The somewhat earlier house at 19 Mechanic exhibits a characteristic front entryway porch supported by square columns topped by elaborate capitals and paired brackets. This was the Isaac Seymour (1816-1907) home, of a family of early village settlers who worked as house joiners. Number 21 Mechanic Street is a less ostentatious version of the style, with paired eaves brackets and lozenge-shaped frieze windows; it was the home of Alonzo Chapin (1823-1900), a clothing and furniture merchant whose business was located in the Chapin block on the site of the town hall. Chapin was a graduate of Gouverneur Academy, a sometime teacher who served as Town Supervisor, Town Clerk, and postmaster. Number 23 Mechanic Street, the home of John C. Trolan, a prominent attorney in the village, also retains the elaborate capitals, brackets and other trim embellishments that graced these comfortable middle-class homes. Humbler, vernacular versions of the Italianate style also abound in the Village of Antwerp Historic District, exhibiting the basic square plan with shallow hipped roof, but with little or no trim detail. Several of these can be seen on Mechanic and Depot Streets, with others scattered throughout the district.
Gothic Revival houses from the early part of this period of significance are rare in the Village of Antwerp Historic District, greatly overshadowed by the Greek Revival folk interpretations earlier in the period and the immensely popular Italianates, both ornate and vernacular, beginning in about 1860. Only two Gothic Revival houses of moderate to high integrity remain, and it is doubtful there were ever many more. The house at 9 Van Buren Street exhibits the characteristic steeply sloped front-gable roof and side-gable wing and retains the original front entry treatment, with side lights and a multiple-paneled door. Number 1 Academy Street is in excellent condition and retains its characteristic roof brackets and matching cross-gables. It was the home of Josis Miller (b.1828), an 1853 German immigrant who may have built the house himself. Miller was a boot and shoe manufacturer and engaged in merchandising these products.
Although consistently styled Gothic Revival houses are rare in the Village of Antwerp Historic District, elements of this style appear in period renovations of earlier houses as part of a miscellany of Victorian decorative elements. For example, the massive S.C. Wiggins House at 29 Main Street is an originally Greek Revival home with Gothic Revival and other Romantic Revival trim details, including roof brackets and Eastlake-inspired hanging spindle friezes on the porches. Wiggins, who settled in Antwerp in 1852, was a successful clothing, boot and shoe merchant and later engaged in farming. On an 1887 map, extensive Wiggins land holdings appear in the area behind this house and its neighbors. The Wiggins store block stood on the site of the Town Hall at the southeast corner of Main and Depot Streets.
From about 1875 to 1885, Eastlake-style renovations and construction proved to be the next popular movement in middle-class homes. Some of these are unusual transitional houses, combining Italianate bays and trim elements with the characteristic Eastlake spindle work and hanging drop elements on gable-roofed houses. At the south end of the Village of Antwerp Historic District on Main Street, 324 Main Street is a good example of these transitional houses. It combines Italianate front and side entries with elaborate Eastlake gable decorations, featuring pendant elements and filigree infill. Richard S. Hodge, the owner of this house during the period of significance, was an English immigrant who settled in Antwerp in about 1870. He supervised the workers at the Jefferson Iron Mines, a "swamp iron operation near the village that employed at its height some 150 men but discontinued operations in 1893. The neighboring house at 326 Main Street exhibits a Stick-style cross gable plan similar to many others in the village, but with exuberant, intact Eastlake detail, including pendant eaves decorations and spindled porch cornice and balusters.
A cluster of these Eastlake/Italianate and Eastlake houses also occupies a section of the upper end of Main Street, north of the river. Number 4 Main Street is in excellent condition with a high degree of integrity. It features an outstandingly detailed porch, with characteristic spindled hanging frieze, brackets, pendant tear drop elements, spindle balusters, and a rare porch foundation covering with a design of circle and tear-drop cutout shapes. Number 14 Main Street also exhibits transitional Italianate details. Number 16 Main Street is of high integrity, with trusswork and filigree decoration of porch and gable. These two houses belonged to members of the Rogers family. Number 16 Main Street was built in 1876 for prosperous retired farmer LeRoy S. Rogers (b.1819). The next, 18 Main Street, is a rambling, complex house with an outstandingly preserved, highly detailed porch and front facade that features the characteristic spindle work, combined with an Italianate rear entry and one-story bay projection. Others are scattered throughout the district.
Nearly the last wave of new residential construction in the Village of Antwerp Historic District occurred in the mid to late 1880s. Hoyt Avenue was laid out in 1884, and numbers 4 through 12 are stylistically similar, modest Stick style houses of moderate to high integrity, many retaining stick trusswork trim at the front gable eave, and probably the work of one builder. One of them, 8-10 Hoyt Avenue, is one of a few 19th century double houses in the district. A unique variation of this style can be seen at 18 Hoyt Avenue; it is executed in brick with stone corner quoins and keystone window header trim. Another consistent Stick style neighborhood dating from about 1885 occupies the south side of Van Burn Street. The backyards of these houses slope down to the river, making a pleasant, park-like setting. At the eastern end of the street they replaced one or two older structures; further west, they represent totally new construction in the late 19th century village. (Van Buren Street was extended from the cemetery west and north around to Depot Street in 1876.) Other modest Stick style houses are scattered throughout the district.
After this period, new residential construction tapered off and never resumed. AT a time that saw the re-construction of the business district (1889), a new Town Hall (1897-1901), and Monument Park (1893), a few Queen Anne Revival houses were built in the district; they do not form a coherent neighborhood. Most appear intended for comfortable, but not wealthy, middle-class residents. Number 9 Main Street, near the north end of the district, is a large cross-gabled house with a two-story hexagonal projection at the front, decorated with spindle work at the upper projection corners, a hanging porch frieze, and spindle porch balusters, details that reflect an Eastlake Victorian transition to the blockier Queen Anne Revival house plan. South of the river, 306 Main Street also represents an Eastlake/Queen Anne Revival transition, with hanging pendant trim and a full-height projecting bay. Number 215-217 Main Street is a double house with dual entries at its recessed center front facade and typical contrasting shingle treatment at the twin front gables. Another double house of this style, but of lower integrity, stands at 8-10 Madison Avenue. Number 20 Depot Street is a relatively highly styled example of the Queen Anne type, with a complex pattern of gables, projections, and trim detail.
The turn of the century to 1920 saw the construction of a few Colonial Revival houses, particularly the Prairie influenced "Foursquare" type with hipped roof and center front dormer window, of which the Methodist Church Parsonage at 12 Academy Street is a fine example. Three or four Craftsman Bungalows were also built; 34 Main Street, a site that has been occupied since approximately 1816 by three structures in succession, is a high-integrity example of the Bungalow style. The 1916-1917 Crosby Memorial Library was the last major public work in the village, carefully designed and executed in brick with a red clay barrel tile roof in a "Flemish" style intended to recognize the old Antwerp Land Company's role in the area's development. It replaced the 19th century frame Foster House hotel.
The Village of Antwerp gradually slid into obscurity as the traditional 19th century industries faded. The Augsbury mill was sold to the Antwerp Power and Light Company in 1910 and to what would become the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation in 1937. Local power generation ceased in 1945. The mining and associated foundry industries ceased early in the 20th century. The Jefferson Iron Company was sold to a company in 1903 with out-of-town officers. Although operations continued for a brief time, competition from cheaper Midwestern ore sources doomed this economic mainstay. The great log and pulpwood drives ceased in 1930. The cheese factory, the last major local employer, closed in 1946. During the same period, national trends such as the decline of the railroad, the increasing difficulty of operating small farms, and increasing population mobility to other areas with greater employment prospects worked also worked toward the economic downturn of the town and village of Antwerp.
Finally, the village was virtually cut off from the old trade and settlement routes. In 1931, State Route 11, the major highway connecting the southern part of the state with Watertown and Gouverneur, was rebuilt. It had passed under the railroad and entered Antwerp via Mechanic Street, directly into the village's commercial district. It was ultimately re-routed to the top of the slope just north of Main Street, and now bypasses the village's business district entirely. During the World War II era, the Pine Camp (later Fort Drum) expansion closed the south end of Main Street (Route 26, "the old state road"), ending this 150-year-old settlement, trade, and communication route between Antwerp and the towns and villages of Lewis County. While the military expansion temporarily provided construction and service employment, it ultimately eliminated one-half of the Town of Antwerp's area and one-third of its tax base.
Ironically, the increasing isolation and economic depression of the village helped to preserve its 19th century resources. Only a handful of modest houses, manufactured and mobile homes have appeared in the last 50 years. "Modernization" of the existing housing and commercial stock has consisted primarily of weather-related "improvements," such as replacement windows, synthetic siding, and porch enclosures; essential house plans were radically altered only infrequently.
Styles of architecture with the Village of Antwerp span a period of development from circa 1816 to circa 1920, and much of the district remains with little alteration. Notable and in some cases outstanding examples of Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Romantic Victorian styles pervade the Village of Antwerp Historic District and are mute witnesses to the Village of Antwerp Historic District's 19th century prominence, prosperity, and social and cultural life. Standing on the 1888 Stone Arch Bridge that spans the Indian River, the 19th century lifeblood of the community, one can turn to the north and view, sloping up the hill, the west side of Main Street with its uninterrupted 19th century commercial district, and on the other side the great public works — the Town Hall, the Congregational Church, and the Crosby Memorial Library — of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Turning to the south, the imposing houses of the great land owners occupy the flats. To walk in the residential streets that radiate from Main Street is to travel through time, in neighborhood after neighborhood of consistently styled and maintained 19th century houses. The Village of Antwerp Historic District is an outstanding, immediate visual resource for understanding the development and life of North Country New York State rural/industrial communities.
Child, Hamilton. County Gazetteer & Directory of Jefferson County, N.Y., 1684-1890. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Journal Co., 1890.
David D. Kieff Dies, Aged 81. Watertown Daily Times, 1946.
Haddock, John A. Haddock's Centennial History of Jefferson County. N.Y. Philadelphia, PA: Sherman & Co., 1894.
Hough, Franklin B. History of Jefferson County in the State of New York. Watertown, N.Y.: Sterling & Riddell, 1854.
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Village of Antwerp. Antwerp, New York: The First Hundred Years 1853-1953. Antwerp, 1953.
New Topographical Atlas of Jefferson Co. New York. Philadelphia: C.K. Stone, Publisher, 1864.
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