South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District
The South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District is an eight-acre district composed of thirty-two properties, including thirty residences, twenty-eight of which are contributing, two contributing churches and fourteen contributing outbuildings. (There are forty-four contributing elements in the district, all of which are buildings.) The boundary encompasses properties on both sides of a two-block section of South Peterboro Street and, on the northeast corner of the grouping, two properties on the south side of Terrace Avenue. Built between ca.1850 and ca.1930, the residences and churches are executed in a broad range of popular American styles, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne/Eastlake and Colonial Revival. Vernacular, transitional and eclectic interpretations of the major styles survive as well. Most are executed in wood, with occasional examples of the use of brick and/or stone. Most are relatively large buildings occupying large landscaped lots flanking the broad, tree-lined street. As a group, the buildings are relatively sophisticated and exhibit a high level of fine craftsmanship, reflecting South Peterboro Street's prominence during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as one of Canastota's most fashionable residential enclaves. Similarities in scale and siting create a visual cohesiveness throughout the district, although the variety of types, styles, periods and use of materials enlivens the streetscapes.
Homogeneity prevails throughout the South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District as a result of fairly consistent development patterns throughout the neighborhood's history. The oldest and simplest residences (Greek Revival style dwellings dating from 1850s and early Italianate style dwellings from the 1860s) are found along both sides of the street in both blocks. Subsequent subdivision and development throughout the following decades resulted in the gradual infill of the streetscapes with picturesque, late nineteenth century Victorian architecture and, later, with the more simplified, classically inspired architecture of the early twentieth century. Visual highlights of the South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District include the First Baptist Church (302 South Peterboro Street, ca. 1873), a large brick and stone edifice dominating the center of the district. Anchoring the south end of the district is the Trinity Episcopal Church, a picturesque, Carpenter Gothic style frame chapel erected ca.1885. Just north of the chapel is a notable collection of substantially intact, late-nineteenth century frame residences, including the elaborate Italianate style dwelling at 318 S. Peterboro, the early Colonial Revival style dwelling at 320 S. Peterboro and the Queen Anne style dwelling at 324 S. Peterboro. Other predominant groupings include the trio of dwellings at the northwest corner of the district, including two highly picturesque and ornate late-nineteenth century dwellings at 245 and 247 S. Peterboro and a restrained, Greek Revival style dwelling at 249 S. Peterboro.
The South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District is an architecturally and historically significant concentration of residences and churches which together chronicle the development of one of Canastota's most fashionable nineteenth and early twentieth century residential enclaves. Dating from ca.1850 to ca.1930, the buildings embody the distinctive characteristics of a broad range of types, periods, styles and methods of construction. Included in the district are some of the village's most significant examples of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Carpenter Gothic, High Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne/Eastlake and Colonial Revival styles. The district represents the only concentration of substantially intact residential properties in the village of Canastota. Although similar in character to sections of North Main and North Peterboro Streets, only this section of South Peterboro Street retains integrity as a grouping. The district remains an important reminder of the history of residential activity in the village of Canastota.
South Peterboro Street is one of the community's oldest streets, laid out in the early nineteenth century but not settled until the middle of the century. Along with North and South Main Streets and North Peterboro Street, South Peterboro Street quickly became one of the most fashionable enclaves in the community, illustrating the era of prosperity engendered by the opening of the Erie Canal and the advent of rail transportation in the village. Reflecting the earliest period of the neighborhood's development are four significant examples of Greek Revival style residential architecture, located at 249, 257, 301 and 305 South Peterboro Street. They are characterized by regionally typical form, massing and detailing. All are two-story, two- or three-bay wide structures with gable roofs, the ends of which are oriented towards the street. Characteristic detailing of the period and style exhibited by the dwellings includes pedimented gable ends or exaggerated cornice returns, full entablatures and/or wide corner boards. None, however, features the heavily trabeated entrance with sidelights and full entablature typical of the period, illustrating the relative modesty of these vernacular adaptations of the style.
Canastota continued to prosper throughout the third quarter of the nineteenth century as illustrated by several significant examples of Italianate style residential architecture in the district. A variety of traditional attributes of the period and style are displayed, including cubic massing with a hipped roof or L-shaped configurations and cross-gable roofs, wide friezes with elaborate embellishment and decorative ornamentation of door and window openings. Particularly notable examples include 238, 246 and 318 S. Peterboro Street. The dwelling at 318 S. Peterboro Street is additionally important for its association with the Rasbach family, for whom Rasbach Street (to the south) is named. David H. Rasbach helped establish one of the original Canastota salt companies in 1863. James Clarence Rasbach, who built the house, was cashier of the First National Bank of Canastota and treasurer of the Watson Wagon Company. Although slightly altered, the dwellings at 310 and 316 S. Peterboro Street also continue to reflect the influence of the Italianate style. The prominent dwelling at 317 S. Peterboro Street, although reminiscent of the Italianate style, is far less traditional in its interpretation of the standard vocabulary; instead, it embodies the picturesque eclecticism of the late-nineteenth century Victorian era.
Corresponding to the commercial building boom in the central business district following the 1873 fire was an increase of residential construction throughout the village to meet the expanding housing needs of the prosperous and growing community. Several structures included in the district reflect this era of the village's history. Like the other buildings of the period in other sections of the village, the South Peterboro Street properties reflect the increasing eclecticism which characterized architecture in the region of the late nineteenth century. Notable examples include the dwellings at 245, 314, 320 and 324 S. Peterboro Street, all dating from the 1880s/1890s. Most embody distinctive attributes of the Queen Anne and/or Eastlake styles and are characterized by picturesque asymmetry and fanciful architectural ornamentation. The dwelling at 320 S. Peterboro Street is additionally significant as the former home of James McMahon, who operated the undertaking business in downtown Canastota (115 West Center Street, South Peterboro Street Commercial Historic District).
Also dating from this period are the South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District's only examples of religious architecture, the First Baptist Church (ca.1873, 302 S. Peterboro Street) and the Trinity Episcopal Church (ca.1885, 400 S. Peterboro Street). Stylistically, the First Baptist Church reflects the influence of the High Victorian Gothic style. The Baptists were the first religious society in Canastota, initially organized in 1819. The society disbanded after a few years, however, due to scant membership. In 1868 a second society was organized and, in 1873, the present house of worship was erected. Prominent subsequent pastors include Abram W. Ebersole, F.P. Tompkins, George Ottaway, Charles H. Tindell and Joseph P. Foster. The chapel remains a prominent local landmark and is a strong visual terminus of the district.
The South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District also includes several significant examples of Colonial Revival style residential architecture which reflect Canastota's continued prosperity during the early twentieth century, primarily due to the cultivation of the mucklands and the production of cash crops, such as onions and celery. Noteworthy examples are located at 250 S. Peterboro Street, featuring an elegant, arcaded facade and ornate, classically inspired entrance trim, and 309 S. Peterboro Street, a large residence with a traditional two-story, five-bay center-hall facade and classical entrance and window treatment. Typical examples of the period and style common to the region in general include 251 S. Peterboro Street, a standard "foursquare" dwelling, and 326 S. Peterboro Street, a small two-story, three-bay cottage with restrained detailing. These S. Peterboro Street properties represent the only intact examples of early twentieth century residential architecture in the village of Canastota.
Together, the architecturally significant properties included in the South Peterboro Street Residential Historic District remain an important reminder of the history of residential architecture in the village.