Albany Street Historic District
The Albany Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
Cazenovia is located in the central part of New York state along Route 20, a major highway running east-west. The village is situated above the fall line of the Niagara escarpment and surrounded by steep upland grades. Cazenovia Lake forms the northwestern boundary while Chittenango Creek curls around the southern and eastern edges of the village.
Situated south of the Erie Canal, Cazenovia never became a large commercial or industrial center, as did neighboring cities of Utica and Syracuse; instead it remained relatively small and isolated. The population now numbers about 3,000 people, bolstered annually by students of Cazenovia College and summer residents. A serenity and timelessness pervades the village, reflected in its quiet tree-lined streets, carefully maintained nineteenth-century residences, and homogenous Victorian period commercial blocks, largely undisturbed by modern improvements.
The Albany Street Historic District is comprised of architecturally significant buildings on both sides of Albany Street, (U.S. Route 20), the main east-west thoroughfare of the village, and the significant structures on a number of side streets. This area adheres to the original village plan designed by John Lincklaen, Cazenovia's founder, and contains the highest concentration of significant nineteenth-century buildings in the village. The east end of the Albany Street Historic District terminates in modern commercial structures while the western end terminates at the end of the street near the shore of Cazenovia Lake and there are other streets with some intact period residences both to the north and the south of Albany Street. The Albany Street Historic District boundaries were drawn to include the original components of Lincklaen's planned development scheme.
The Albany Street Historic District can be divided into four segments, delineated by variations in the character of the architecture and the functions of the buildings. The east end of Albany Street is the commercial center of Cazenovia, the heart of which is located at the intersection of Albany, Lincklaen, and Mill Streets. This section is characterized by a homogenous grouping of nineteenth-century blocks with only a few twentieth century intrusions. Some notable examples of these commercial structures include 57 Albany Street, a 10-bay brick commercial building with a bracketed cornice and carved wood corbels. The ground floor facade is enhanced by the alternation of recessed doorways and streetline windows. The building dates to about 1870, as do the majority of commercial buildings in the downtown area.
54, 56, 58, 60 and 62 Albany Street comprise an ashlar limestone three-story commercial block. Many of the facades have been tastefully renovated in recent years. This group dates to about 1830 and is thus a unique, surviving portion of the pre-Civil War streetscape.
Lincklaen House at 79 Albany Street is a three-story, six-bay brick hotel built in 1835. Windows have stone lintels and sills. The roofline features a balustrade and a bracketed cornice. A Greek Revival portico decorates the south elevation. Late nineteenth-century renovations were removed in 1916. The building was sandblasted in 1971.
100 Albany Street, the Public Library, dates from the same period. This stately clapboard Greek Revival building has a one-story wing, Ionic portico, and reportedly, the only remaining matched set of domestic outbuildings in the village.
The middle section of Albany Street focusing on the village square is comprised of commercial, residential, and religious structures, dating from the mid to late nineteenth century with a few twentieth-century intrusions. 33 Albany Street, the Presbyterian Manse, is a two-story three-bay clapboard residence in the Italianate style. A slight projection occurs at the center bay. There is a small round window above and a pediment at the cornice line. 36 Albany Street (Century House) is an unusual transitional building. Built in 1841, the original two-story 3-bay, brick Greek Revival house with Corinthian portico was drastically altered in 1865. At that time a mansard roof, Gothic turrets, and porch were added.
The west section of Albany Street is primarily residential. Set back from the street are several large mid to late nineteenth-century homes. 7 Albany Street, also called the Gothic Cottage, was built in 1847 after the style of A.J. Davis. The high-pitched gables, board and batten siding, and extensive use of decorative bargeboards about the gables and porches, make this home a fine example of Gothic Revival residential architecture.
The fourth section of the Albany Street Historic District, those buildings located along Mill Street, differs from the west Albany Street area. Here, earlier, less ostentatious homes dating from the 1820's and 30's are situated on small lots. These homes were originally owned by mill owners whose businesses were located along Chittenango Creek. The two-story clapboard residence at 11 Mill Street is typical of several Greek Revival buildings in Cazenovia. It has a Doric portico with fluted columns. The pediment and cornice on the two-story wing are decorated with dentils. The ground floor reportedly contains three original fireplaces.
John Lincklaen, founder of the village of Cazenovia once stated "I am now master, and we'll try to make something handsome of Cazenovia." Lincklaen's legacy, a well-planned village with a broad boulevard swelling to a public square was inspirational to the citizens of Cazenovia that followed him. His brother-in-law and successor, Jonathan Denise Ledyard, furthered Lincklaen's vision of a prosperous and beautiful city by setting aside land along Cazenovia Lake for public use, installing fountains and decorative water troughs along Albany Street, and underwriting the cost of Lincklaen House, a brick Greek Revival building that continues to accommodate visitors to Cazenovia. In the early twentieth century Henry Burden stimulated community concern for Cazenovia's architectural heritage by restoring the Lincklaen House and directing that telephone wires be laid underground, so as not to detract from the gracious nineteenth century streetscapes. The establishment of the Albany Street Historic District demonstrates that Lincklaen's vision "to make something handsome of Cazenovia" is alive today in the people's concern that their rich architectural legacy be preserved.
The healthy, uplands of Cazenovia attracted many farmers to the area in the last years of the eighteenth and first portion of the nineteenth century. Services provided by Lincklaen such as the Michael Day Tavern and the Forman Store, both of which survive today, were further incentives to settle in the fertile, picturesque village. Dwelling houses, a school, and a mill were also constructed by Lincklaen to increase the settlement's attractiveness and thereby increase the value of unsold land.
However, with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, land values dropped, and Cazenovia turned to a new source of revenue, water power, provided by the swift-running Chittenango Creek. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century saw, oil, and grist mills along the creek as well as factories for the manufacture of wire harnesses, chairs, steam engines, woolens, and shingles buoyed the village economy. Although the industrial buildings have since disappeared, many of the Greek Revival homes along Mill Street built by the mill owners between 1820-30, bear witness to this economically productive period.
The establishment of a turnpike and a railroad linked Cazenovia to major transportation networks and bolstered the village economy through the mid-nineteenth century. Victorian style residences such as the Gothic Cottage built in the style of A.J. Davis, and several Italianate structures such as 112 Albany Street superseded the earlier Greek Revival residences. In some cases, Neoclassical style buildings such as Century House were modified to conform to the new styles. Century House (1841) received a mansard roof, Gothic turrets, and porch. The Presbyterian Church with Federal spire was renovated in 1869 with the addition of Italianate windows and brackets.
Fires, especially the disastrous blaze of 1872, modified the commercial district, destroying many of the two-story clapboard structures. In the aftermath, brick and clapboard Victorian style commercial blocks, which survive today in good preservation with few alterations, supplanted them. The limestone ashlar block on the south side of Albany Street is a monumental survival which dates around 1830.
The vision of a gracious prosperous looking community begun by Lincklaen at Lorenzo in 1808, was realized not through industry, but through the arrival of summer residents following the Civil War who built massive Victorian homes around the lake, and on the periphery of the Albany Street Historic District.
Despite some hostility between year-round residents of Cazenovia and the so-called "summer devils," concerned citizens of both groups worked to preserve the serenity and beauty of the village. An ordinance was passed prohibiting steamboats from blowing loud, piercing whistles, near the village. Henry Burden, a summer resident who eventually located in Cazenovia, was instrumental in establishing new businesses and industries and was the village's first preservationist. Early in the twentieth century, he renovated Lincklaen House, the old Cazenovia Bank at 87 Albany Street, and several other buildings.
Cazenovia never became the large commercial center that its founder envisioned. Unlike the nearby industrial centers of Utica and Syracuse located along the Erie Canal, Cazenovia remained relatively isolated, and thus never underwent the strenuous forces of growth and change., The community is uncommon in the central New York region for its quality of architecture and the integrity of its gracious streets.
Grills, Russell. "Brief History of Cazenovia." Cazenovia, 1977. (Typewritten).
Webber, Kenneth T. Nature's Masterpiece, Cazenovia. Cazenovia, NY: Printed by the Village of Cazenovia, 1950.