Clinton Village Historic District
The Clinton Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 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 Clinton is situated in Oneida County near the center of New York State in the Oriskany Valley. The village lies two miles south of the Seneca Turnpike (NS Route 5), a major east-west highway through central New York since its construction in 1800. The Oriskany Creek flows along its western boundary. In 1834-35 the Chenango Canal was constructed through Clinton; an extant portion of the waterway lies within the Clinton Village Historic District.
The Clinton Village Historic District encompasses the nucleus of the village of Clinton including the village green, the nineteenth-century commercial and civic buildings which surround it, and the residences and churches situated along six streets radiating from the green. The ninety-four acre district includes 169 residences, 24 commercial structures, 6 churches and 4 public buildings built between 1800 and 1926.
The boundaries of the Clinton Village Historic District include all of the most historically and architecturally important portions of Clinton and those possessing the greatest integrity of design and materials. The remainder of the village lacks this integrity and is characterized by non-contributing modern and altered buildings.
From the village green to Chenango Avenue, College Street is a mixture of two and three-story brick commercial buildings and two-story frame residences; west of Chenango Avenue, College Street is lined with two-story frame residences. Utica Street consists of two-story frame residences with narrow side yards. Marvin Street, Fountain Street and Williams Street are residential streets of two-story frame houses built between 1850 and 1900. Four churches and a brick school building are interspersed among the residences. Chestnut Street is characterized by large two-story frame residences on large lots. West Park Row is a block of three-story brick commercial buildings and one brick residence. North Park Row and Kirkland Avenue are a mixture of brick and stone commercial and civic structures. East Park Row is lined with two-story frame and brick residences, a frame church and a one-story non-contributing commercial building. A two-story brick commercial building and a stone church are located on South Park Row.
The village green, a park planted with trees and shrubbery, has been the focus of the community since 1794. From 1797 to 1836, the Old White Meeting House was located at the south end of the green. Since 1939, a memorial fountain has been a focal feature of the green.
The four rows of well-preserved structures facing the green range from the Federal style Williams House (afterwards the Clinton House Restaurant, c.1820) on West Park Row to the Georgian Revival style Lumbard Town Hall built in 1926 on North Park Row. Along West Park Row and College Street, several three-story attached brick commercial blocks dating from the 1860's and 1870's have original shop fronts, and Italianate style details such as bracketed cornices and window lintels. Together with the brick Sherman-Hiffa Block on North Park Row and the brick and cast-iron Allen Block (1884) on College Street, these commercial structures constitute a unit that contributes to the historic character and overall integrity of the Clinton Village Historic District. The monumental Romanesque style Stone Presbyterian Church (1878) on South Park Row, the Baptist Church on Fountain Street and the former Methodist Church (1841, now the Kirkland Art Center) on East Park Row are also important elements contributing to the character of this village.
There are five non-contributing buildings located in the Clinton Village Historic District. These buildings are: 38, 40, 41 College Street; 12 East Park Row; and Homestead Plaza on College Street.
Additional information on each building in the Clinton Village Historic District may be found in the Statewide Inventory of Historic Resources at the New York State Division for Historic Preservation.
The Clinton Village Historic District is a significant concentration of buildings representing the diversity of architectural styles and building practices found in central New York during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Architects Horatio Nelson White, Jacob Agne, Henry Dudley and William P. Ginther designed structures within the district, as did Arthur L. Easingwood, a Clinton builder and community leader. The properties oriented around the village green and the six streets that constitute the Clinton Village Historic District display both elaborate architectural detail and simpler regional vernacular characteristics, yet all structures are woven into a cohesive and harmonious village environment through consistent scale, compatible materials, repetition of design motifs and complementary landscaping.
The buildings constructed within the Clinton Village Historic District include examples from the full range of nineteenth and early twentieth-century architectural styles. The Federal style is represented by two buildings located on the village green: the Williams House (later the Clinton House Restaurant) on West Park Row, built by Othniel Williams in the 1820's, and the Clinton Grammar School and lawyers' offices (c.1795) at 1 West Park Row. Both structures exhibit the delicate motifs characteristic of the regional Federal period architecture.
The popularity of the Greek Revival style coincided with a period of residential growth in Clinton due partly to the Chenango Canal, and there are numerous variations on the temple theme, the most notable examples being 76 College Street and 32 Williams Street. Utica Street led from the village green to Utica and Whitesboro, and it survives intact with Federal and Greek Revival period residences located on or near the street. College Street, extending from the village green to rural Hamilton College, contains a number of residences built in the vernacular Greek Revival tradition incorporating classical details into otherwise modest frame structures.
The Clinton Village Historic District incorporates structures associated with the numerous private grammar and secondary schools for which Clinton was well known throughout the nineteenth century. It was at Clinton's early schools that some of the nation's leaders, including President Grover Cleveland, Clara Barton and Leland Stanford, were educated. During the nineteenth century more than thirty schools were formed, and Clinton was often known as "Schooltown." One West Park Row, the earliest building in the Clinton Village Historic District, housed a grammar school in 1814. The Clinton Liberal Institute, founded by the Universalist Church, was one of the larger schools, and its female department was housed for a time at 14 Utica Street in a Greek Revival style structure that is now a residence. 96 College Street was occupied by the Domestic School of Clinton in the 1830's, and by the Rural High School from 1866 to 1875. Miss Katherine G. Lee's School was located at 38 Williams Street in 1906. Florence Seminary and Huntington Hall were located at 25 Marvin Street during the 1880's. A school was also housed at 8 East Park Row from 1840 to 1875. The Clinton Union School and Academy, on Marvin Street, is an imposing Romanesque style brick and sandstone building designed by Utica architect Jacob Agne and erected in 1893.
About 1850, the original farm of Ozias Marvin, whose farmhouse still stands at 34 College Street, was subdivided and Marvin, Williams and Chestnut Streets were laid out with large lots. Over the next fifty years, these streets were developed with fine buildings that reflect the popular architectural styles of the late nineteenth century. Among Clinton's most notable structures built during this era are its imposing churches. The board and batten St. James' Episcopal Church (1865) was designed by architect Henry C. Dudley. St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church on Marvin Street (1909-12) was designed in the Gothic Revival style by architect William P. Ginther of Akron, Ohio. The Stone Presbyterian Church (1878) and the Universalist Church (1870) on Williams Street were both designed by architect Horatio Nelson White of Syracuse.
Chestnut Street, which developed toward the end of the nineteenth century, retains a remarkable cluster of fashionable residences situated on spacious grounds. The Gallup-Stanley House (1879) was built by the retiring proprietors of fashionable Houghton Seminary and located next to the seminary on Chestnut Street. This Second Empire style, three-story, frame residence features a square tower that projects from the facade and extends four stories to a cupola that rises above the mansard roof. In 1880, on Chestnut Street, a notable eclectic example of the Queen Anne style was built for Charles Henry Smyth of the Franklin Iron Works. Smaller structures built during this era on adjacent Williams Street include numbers 44, 46 and 48, picturesque residences with imaginative treatment of gables, bays and piazzas. At 25 Williams Street an unusual and fanciful eclectic cottage was built about 1855. In 1899, editor Robert Bruce built a residence dominated by an immense Dutch-inspired gambrel roof on the Chestnut Street hillside. The center entrance porch of the large shingled house supports a large two-story projecting bay into which is set a Palladian window. This early example of a Colonial Revival design was followed in 1909 by the Neo-Classical Torrey House which incorporated Ionic columns from a school previously on the site. To complete the Chestnut Street grouping, in 1913, John E. McLoughlin, a Utica textile manufacturer, built a residence on the site of the now demolished Houghton Seminary at the southwestern end of the street. The design of this spacious two-story residence reflects early twentieth century building trends in the use of hollow concrete blocks covered with stucco for the exterior wall and in the shallow-pitched roof of orange clay tile.
In the 1920's, several of the earliest structures in Clinton at the north end of the green were replaced by Lumbard Town Hall (1926) and the fire house, both built with the bequest of Ralph S. Lumbard. Arthur L. Easingwood prepared the plans for the Georgian Revival style building. Also at the north end of the green, the Hayes National Bank was extensively remodeled in 1926 to a Beaux Arts Renaissance Revival style structure.
The Clinton Village Historic District's streetscapes show remarkable design integrity, achieved because generally the original design concepts of the buildings have been preserved by property owners. Porches, early outbuildings, and millwork embellishment remain intact. The sensitive planting of open spaces, encouraged by a Rural Art Society active from 1854 to 1904, also contributes to the Clinton Village Historic District's fine visual quality. In addition, along the streets in the district, the buildings are situated to maintain a generally consistent setback. A significant number of structures in the Clinton Village Historic District have been adapted for alternative uses, yet they retain their integrity and demonstrate Clinton's long interest and initiative in preserving community heritage.
Dever, M.B. The History of Clinton Square, 1961.
Gridley, Rev. A.D. History of the Town of Kirkland, New York. 1874.
Munson, Philip E., Editor, Newsletters of Clinton Historical Society, Clinton, NY. (1965-1981).
Stanley, Edward W., Compiler and ed. A Half Century in the Life of Clinton, N.Y.