Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District
The Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza 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 © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The village of Fayetteville is located in the central part of New York State along Route 5 (Genesee Street) which runs from east to west through the town of Manlius. East Genesee Street is the heavily travelled main traffic artery of the village. The Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District contains 42 buildings, most of which date from the period 1820-1885. The Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is the heart of the village and was the first part to be developed. Commercial buildings are located on its western edge near Limestone Creek and residences are found on both sides of Genesee Street to the top of the hill, where two churches mark the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District's eastern boundary. Residences have a common setback from the street and lots are approximately the same size.
The natural western boundary of the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is Limestone Creek, which flows in a northerly direction. A modern commercial area is located to the west of Limestone Creek. The eastern boundary of the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is a modern commercial area on top of East Genesee Street Hill. On the north and south the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is bounded by property lines of structures on E. Genesee Street. Two residences on Academy Street, near its intersection with E. Genesee Street, are also included within the boundary of the district. There are no vacant lots in the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District and only two intrusions: a one-story clapboard fraternal building (116 E. Genesee Street) and a two-story clapboard and brick duple residence (119-121 E. Genesee St.). Both structures were erected in the 1960's.
The brick commercial buildings in Limestone Plaza date from the Greek Revival period. Three stories in height, the structures at 102-106 Limestone Plaza (1829-32) and 102-104 Brooklea Drive (1854) have shops on the ground floors with large show windows and recessed doorways. Upper stories are used as office space. Originally a bank, 106 Brooklea Drive (1845) features a sharply projecting pediment supported by large brackets and Gothic Revival windows with pointed arches. The original door and window openings have been obliterated.
The majority of houses along East Genesee Street were built during the period of village prosperity following the completion of the Erie Canal which is located about a mile away. Many of these houses were originally small, simple 1 1/2-story structures. An example is the house at 302 East Genesee Street (c.1810-20), the only one of its type still existing in a state similar to its original appearance. As residents became more affluent, their houses were remodeled. In some cases the original house was moved back from the street to become a rear wing, and a Greek Revival front section was added. Examples are the residences at 210 East Genesee Street (1820, addition 1854) and at 111 East Genesee Street (c.1830). In several cases the original houses became the core of larger more elaborate structures. This is exemplified in the houses at 207 East Genesee Street (1840, remodeled 1881) and at 105 East Genesee Street (1840, remodeled 1884).
Almost all of the architectural styles of the nineteenth century are represented in the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District. The brick Hurd House at 315 East Genesee Street is a well-preserved structure of the Federal period. Its stepped gable is pierced by an oval window. The blind-arcade facade features a handsome doorway with side lights and transom and delicate Federal details. The most common style in the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is Greek Revival, represented by 210 East Genesee Street (before 1820, addition 1854), 305 East Genesee Street (1840-45), 301 East Genesee Street (1832), 203 East Genesee Street (c.1840), 115 East Genesee Street (1830), and 111 East Genesee Street (c.1830). The Greek portico is an architectural feature common to these houses despite variations in proportions, column placement and door details.
The Gothic Revival is represented by 109 East Genesee Street (c.1854), an asymmetrical house with steeply pitched gables, ground-floor windows with hood moldings, and second-story windows with pointed arches. Trinity Episcopal Church, (1871), located at 106 Chapel Street, is a good example of the Gothic Revival Ecclesiastical style. It is built of Onondaga limestone. With an offset tower and pointed-arch stained-glass windows, it is reminiscent of an English village church.
A number of East Genesee Street houses reflect the influence of the Italianate style. Among them are 114 (1840), 130 (c.1850-60), 134 (1870), and 309 (1867). All these rectangular three-bay brick houses have bracketed cornices, wide eaves, low-pitched rooflines and ornamented porches. A fitting companion to the Italianate houses is the Fayetteville United Church (1858-59) at 310 East Genesee Street. The church, designed in the Romanesque Revival style, features a central entrance tower with spire, paired round-arched windows, a corbelled cornice and curved eaves.
The Stick style is represented on East Genesee Street by 311 (before 1860). The house features a Swiss chalet design with wooden panels of horizontal, vertical and diagonal boards, and stick articulation of window openings. Wood is also used in a variety of ways at 303 East Genesee Street (c.1885). Here fish scale shingles cover the second story and the facade gable is divided by sticks into panels. The Gaynor House at 207 East Genesee Street (1840, remodelled 1881) is representative of the Colonial Revival style which became popular in the late nineteenth century.
The Limestone Plaza-Genesee Street Hill Historic District is a significant collection of mid-nineteenth century buildings constructed as a result of the prosperity the Erie Canal brought to the Fayetteville area. Although the brick and frame homes are varied in style, there is a cohesiveness of scale and materials employed. Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate styles are represented and reflect the changing taste in design of the nineteenth century. Despite tremendous development pressures the village experiences from Syracuse, the homes and small commercial area of the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District remain remarkably intact and possess visual unity.
Fayetteville was settled in the late eighteenth century as a farming community. The area at the top of East Genesee Street became a crossroads with taverns to serve travellers. The village was then known as "Manlius Four Corners" and received the name Fayetteville in 1818. Although named for Lafayette, the village never received a visit from the great general.
These early village years are reflected in the architectural style of the Hurd House at 315 East Genesee Street. A fine example of a Federal style house embellished with handsome details, this brick structure is in an excellent state of preservation. It has been the home and/or office of several physicians and is presently used as a doctor's office. Nearby at 109 Academy Street is another example of the early years: the Cleveland House. This small Greek Revival house was Grover Cleveland's boyhood home while his father was pastor of the Fayetteville Presbyterian Church. The house was built as a parsonage and has an unusually high basement, which functioned as a meeting room and study. While the Hurd House is probably the grandest of the early houses still visible, the Collin House, at 302 East Genesee Street, a small salt-box type cottage, is probably much like the first houses that were built. One of the earliest houses in Fayetteville, in the 1920's it served as the winter home for Charles Collin, a prominent local businessman, who owned a farm east of the village.
Proximity to the Erie Canal, located about a mile from the village, was a major factor in Fayetteville's growth after 1825. A feeder canal from Limestone Creek in Fayetteville was constructed so that burnt lime, manufactured as early as 1817, could be transported for use in Erie Canal mortar. In 1836, three Fayetteville businessmen, Hervey Edwards, John McViccar and Seymour Pratt, were instrumental in building a channel from the feeder to the commercial district — now called Limestone Plaza — thus providing a direct water transportation link from the canal to the village. The brick commercial buildings at 102 and at 106 Limestone Plaza and at 102-104 Brooklea Drive are surviving components of this once thriving commercial district. The structure at 106 Limestone Plaza, built by Seymour Pratt and sold to John McViccar, functioned as a general store, a saloon, a dry goods store and a furniture store. John McViccar also owned the three-story commercial building at 102 Limestone Plaza (now Fortino Block), and a general merchandise store was housed here. From 1852-53 Grover Cleveland was employed by McViccar to sweep the floors and start the fires. He was allowed to live in the loft of the building.
The founders of the various industries and those who provided village services built houses on East Genesee Street or made alterations and additions to the modest houses already there. Fine Greek Revival style houses were built, such as the house at 301 East Genesee Street, whose original owner was Hervey Edwards, prosperous merchant and president of the Fayetteville National Bank. Another one of several Greek Revival style houses in the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is the residence at 115 East Genesee Street which was at one time owned by B.C. Beard, who together with his sons operated a local paper mill, a hotel and a dry goods store. John McViccar, the prominent storekeeper and real estate speculator, also lived close to his place of business at Limestone Plaza. His house at 111 East Genesee Street features Greek Revival style details on the exterior as well as the interior. The house remained in the family until 1922 when it was purchased for library use. Another fine Greek Revival house at 210 East Genesee Street was the home of H.H. Gage, a Fayetteville merchant, and his wife Matilda Joslyn Gage, who was a leader in the women's suffrage movement. During her lifetime the house served as a center for abolitionist and suffrage activities. Another well-known neighbor, Linneaus P. Noble, owned the Greek Revival style house at 305 East Genesee Street. He published the National Era, an abolitionist periodical in which Uncle Tom's Cabin first appeared as a serial.
The house at 134 and at 114 East Genesee Street are good examples of the Italianate style. The latter is a brick house which was bought in the 1860's by Robert Crouse, a local paper mill owner. The structure was remodeled considerably; a Federal style doorway attests to an earlier date of construction. Daniel Burhans, village president and owner of a large woodworking factory, was the original owner of the house at 134 East Genesee Street, which features an elaborate porch, corner pilasters, paired brackets supporting a wide roof overhang and ornate windows.
Another grand home is the Gaynor residence at 207 East Genesee Street. The Gaynor family began the lime and plaster business in the area in the early 1800's. The original house was built in 1840. In 1881, the house was remodeled and enlarged around the earlier core. The structure, built in the Colonial Revival style, features a curved limestone porch which is flanked by bay windows.
There are two churches in the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District. The Gothic Revival style Trinity Episcopal Church lost its steeple in 1923 when a storm blew it down. The United Church is a good example of the Romanesque Revival style.
While the village of Fayetteville has continued to grow as a suburb during the twentieth century and most of the industries have closed, the larger commercial section on Limestone Creek and the residential area along East Genesee Street have most of the nineteenth-century buildings still standing. The Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District is thus a cohesive reminder of the past, as well as one of the few places in the area where several consecutive blocks possess harmonious visual unity.
Fayetteville files, Fayetteville Free Library, Fayetteville, N.Y.
Fayetteville files, Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, N.Y.