Boonville Historic District
The Boonville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 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 Boonville is located in the town of Boonville in northern Oneida County. New York State Route 12 runs north and south through the village. The village of about 3950 people is situated astride the divide between the Mohawk-Hudson River system and the Black River-St. Lawrence River system. These two water systems were connected in 1848 by the Black River Canal. Mill Creek cuts through the village from the northwest and flows easterly into the Black River. A portion of this swiftly flowing creek is included within the Boonville Historic District.
Nearby the village areas of loamy soil support agriculture, particularly dairy farming, which has been an essential factor in Boonville's economic prosperity from earliest settlement to the present. Extensive stands of hard and soft wood timber grow abundantly in the nearby Adirondack Park and have provided raw materials for many industries.
The Boonville Historic District is a grouping of architecturally significant buildings that front on the triangular intersection created by Main, Post and East Schuyler Streets. The Boonville Historic District extends north from the intersection to include portions of North Post and West Streets and westerly to include West Schuyler Street.
Around the triangular configuration of this principal intersection,, which was established by the Holland Land Company planners of the village in the 1790s, were located the earliest structures and commercial establishments. Today, after nearly two centuries of growth and change, the Main Street and East Schuyler Street portions of the intersection continue in commercial roles.
The Hulbert House dominates the eastern point of the intersection. The Classical Revival facade of this three-story inn, constructed of Trenton limestone, dates from 1839 when an earlier (1812) stone inn was enlarged to the present size. Boonville's first locally organized banking house erected the building west of the Hulbert House in 1866. This three-story brick Second Empire style structure was designed by Azel J. Lathrop, Utica architect, and has been adapted for Boonville's municipal offices.
A small triangular park has been situated in the core of the open space for more than a century. A late 19th century octagonal bandstand and a mounted cannon commemorating the Civil War now take the place of fire fighting reservoirs and watering troughs which once were located in this open space. The park serves as a transition to the West Schuyler and Post Street areas of the district which are residential in character.
Within the Post and Schuyler Street tangents of the Boonville Historic District are found architecturally distinguished buildings exhibiting a range of 19th century architectural styles. While there are different styles represented here, there is a harmony produced by the consistency of scale, materials, and quality of design. One instance is the repetition of standing seam metal roofs for residences, churches and outbuildings.
Two early structures are in the Federal style. Number 119 Schuyler Street (Old House) served as the first village school and dates from 1802. Moved to its present location about 1860 from the site of the library, this is a two-story frame structure that bears the simple cornice and sash seen often in Federal period structures of the early 19th century in central New York. The porch with ornamental detail is a later addition. Number 106 West Street is a two-story, five-bay, frame house built about 1820 and moved in 1865 to West Street. An elaborate entrance with delicate pilasters, leaded fanlight and sidelights and a cornice with mutules combine to create a fine example of Federal architecture on the frontier.
Within the Boonville Historic District are three notable Gothic Revival structures. Number 331 Post Street, fronting on the park and erected before 1875, is a frame residence definitely influenced by an elevation in A.J. Downing's The Architecture of Country Houses (1850). Downing's scheme for a "Plain Timber Cottage Villa" featured the same symmetrical arrangement of steep-pitched gables, board and batten siding and decorative bargeboard that distinguishes the Boonville residence. On Schuyler Street, Trinity Episcopal Church, built of brick in 1857-58, reflects the Episcopalians' predilection for the Gothic Revival. A square, staged bell tower, engaged to one side of the facade, is the focus of the well-proportioned design. The third structure of this style is the small, frame ticket office for the Boonville Fair near the corner of Schuyler and Summit Streets. With vertical beaded siding and decorative bargeboard, this building lends a festive atmosphere of a 19th-century fair at the entrance to the fairgrounds.
The Italianate style was used to fashion numerous large frame residences since the popularity of the Tuscan style coincided with Boonville's economic prosperity. Number 143 Schuyler Street (Trainor Funeral Home) is one of the most elaborate. At the point of intersection of the front and rear portion of the frame, two and one-half story house, a four-story highly decorative octagonal tower projects above the roof line and from the right angle intersection. Number 301 Post Street (Fitch Funeral Home) was built about 1867. This variation of the Italianate theme is a two and one-half story residence featuring projecting bays and a large ornately decorated cupola rising above the hipped roof. An original gazebo and barn with cupola are situated on the lawn which slopes down to Mill Creek.
Number 146 Schuyler Street is an original and exuberant late 19th century frame two-story residence featuring an octagonal tower which rises alongside a gable from a complex pitched roof. A broad piazza with elaborate woodwork contributes to this unique residence.
Boonville is a thriving village in upstate rural New York which has a rich historical and architectural legacy that is well preserved. The Boonville Historic District comprises the original nucleus of the community founded in 1795 by Gerrit Boon, agent for the Holland Land Company. In order to attract settlers to the 43,000 acres of wilderness purchased on speculation by the Holland Land Company (a federation of six Dutch banking houses), Boon and his assistant Andrew Edmunds selected a site on Mill Creek and invested the bankers' capital in a saw mill, grist mill, store, tavern and several frame dwellings. Edmunds built a home and is regarded as Boonville's first settler while Gerrit Boon returned to his native Holland in 1799.
The boundaries of the Boonville Historic District were drawn to include the greatest concentration of architecturally significant structures that reflect Boonville's heritage. The principal highway intersection of early Boonville is within the historic district, being the triangular junction of East Schuyler, Post and Main Streets. In 1800, Main Street led south some 30 miles to Utica and North Post Street was the only highway north into Lewis County and the St. Lawrence River Valley. As the region grew and a stage route was initiated, the Boonville Turnpike Co. (1816) and later the Boonville Plank Road Co. (1848-49) formed, and Boonville was a major stop for travellers from Utica to Lewis County and Sacketts Harbor on Lake Ontario. The Hulbert House is a gracious inn built of Trenton limestone facing Boonville's main intersection. Begun in 1812, it offered hospitality to visitors and travellers on the stage route. In 1839, Hon. Richard Hulbert, a former member of the New York legislature, recognized the growth and prosperity that Boonville offered. He purchased the inn, enlarged it to its present size and constructed the Classical Revival portico. The structure is unique in the region, for there are no comparable stone inns within Oneida County.
Mill Creek with its rushing water provided the energy to operate early Boonville industries. Factories manufacturing chairs, tubs, churns, barrels, a large tannery and grist mills were located on Mill Creek. Extensive tracts of Adirondack woodland provided material for the saw mills and wood product manufacturers. Around 1860 a planing mill and a sash, blind and door factory were built by John Fisk on an earlier foundry site along Mill Creek just west of the Post Street bridge. Two brothers, Charles F. Rice and George W. Rice purchased Fisk's company in 1867 and operated it more than forty years. The company later became the Boonville Lumber Company and was abandoned about 1930. Within the Boonville Historic District, vestiges of stone foundations, retaining walls, a mill pond, a sluiceway and a foot bridge over the channel are archeological evidence of this early industrial site.
Two developments in transportation profoundly affected Boonville's economic growth. In 1848 the Black River Canal was built through Boonville joining the Black River with the Erie Canal at Rome. Then in 1855 the Black River and Utica Railroad began operating from Utica to Boonville. The canal and railroad resulted in Boonville's expansion into a shipping and commercial center. Coal was brought north from Pennsylvania via the canal network while butter, cheese and a variety of wood products were shipped out from Boonville. The prosperity of the men who shared in Boonville's economic well-being is reflected in the fine residences that were built following the transportation improvements. The transformation of Schuyler Street from a country lane to an elegant street lined with large residences, principally in the Italianate style, was timed with the developments in transportation.
The Boonville Union agricultural Society was formed to promote agriculture and held its first fair at the west end of Schuyler Street in 1871. The Boonville Fair Association evolved in 1888 from the earlier society and each year it attracts both rural and urban dwellers to the popular and enduring official Oneida County Fair that celebrates the region's significant agricultural contributions. The charming late 19th century Gothic Revival style ticket office that stands at the entrance to the fairgrounds is included within the historic district.
Boonville has a sense of its special qualities. The general impression of the Boonville Historic District is that buildings have been well cared for; original porch details have been maintained and original carriage barns have been retained and maintained. A community effort resulted in the adaptation of the Second Empire style Dodge House (1878), listed on the National Register in 1973, into an art and community center with minimal change to the original building.
Best, Tharratt G. Boonville and Its Neighbors. Boonville, 1961.
Durant, Samuel, ed. History of Oneida County. Philadelphia, 1878.
Jones, Pomroy. Annals and Recollections. Rome, 1851.
Wager, Daniel. Our County and Its People. Boston, 1896.
New Century Atlas of Oneida Co. Philadelphia: Century Map Company, 1907.
Atlas of Oneida County. D.G. Beers & Co, 1874.