North Salina Street Historic District
The North Salina Street Historic District (517--519 to 947--951 & 522--524 to 850--854 N. Salina St., 1121 N. Townsend St. & 504--518 Prospect Ave.) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Text below was selected and adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the street was sparsely settled with small houses and coopers' (barrel makers') shops. The earliest building surviving in the North Salina Street Historic District is the pre-1850 house at 753 N. Salina St. This modest, wood frame structure reflects the early days of the area and is one of very few Federal style buildings which survive in the city. Alterations at the first floor and synthetic siding do not disguise the original two-story, three-bay-wide, side entry configuration of the facade. Diagonally across North Salina Street and set back from the road, the Greek Revival style house at 758 N. Salina Street is the only other early residence remaining in the North Salina Street Historic District. Despite the additions of synthetic siding and a one-story store to the front, the form of the columned temple front is visible evidence of the residences that characterized the district in the mid-1800's. Once freestanding, both of these structures have been incorporated into rows of later Victorian period commercial buildings.
Throughout the majority of the nineteenth century, the street was the community center for the city's German immigrants, who lived and operated their businesses here. The typical commercial row building in the North Salina Street Historic District had a shop located at the first floor with apartments or offices at the upper floors. This traditional use continues to present day. While architectural styles in the North Salina Street Historic District vary, common characteristics include: brick construction, scale of design, 2/2 window sash and modest brick cornices.
The architecture of the North Salina Street Historic District is predominantly Italianate in style. Constructed between the 1860's and the 1880's, the facades of these row buildings are characterized by regularized, round-arched window openings and corbeled brick cornices. All variations of the style can be found, such as in the east side of the 700 block of N. Salina Street.
The north end of the North Salina Street Historic District contains the older buildings, which are smaller and simpler in design than the later buildings constructed at the south end of the street, closer to the city's metropolitan center. All the buildings on the 900 block of N. Salina Street are only two (instead of three or four) stories high and have simple detailing. The most elaborate ornamentation here are the acanthus leaf designs on the keystones over the second floor windows at 925-29 N. Salina Street, an Italianate style structure built c.1865. The best preserved example of the more modest row buildings is at 921-23 N. Salina Street. Built by 1870, the structure is four bays wide with a storefront in the south half of the first floor facade and an office or residential entrance in the north half. The second floor window openings are rectangular with stone lintels and sills, and a simple brick cornice with corbeled "brackets" extends across the top of the parapet. This structure was built in conjunction with its neighbor at 917-19 N. Salina Street, which has since been altered at the first floor facade.
The 800 block of N. Salina Street contains some of the most distinctive buildings in the North Salina Street Historic District, all built in the last half of the nineteenth century. The domed towers of Assumption Church, 812 N. Salina Street, are visual landmarks from any northside location. The largest structure in the North Salina Street Historic District, it occupies a sizeable lot in the center of the block, flanked by other church buildings and commercial structures. Built in 1865, the church was designed by noted Syracuse architect Horatio Nelson White and is the most lavish of all his Romanesque Revival style churches. The only example of the Second Empire style in the district is 807-11 North Salina Street built c.1880. Contrasting stone banding on brick piers divides the two separate storefronts and side entrances. The upper floor windows have cast-iron hood moldings with a curvilinear floral design. An excellent example of a pressed sheet metal facade is 839-41 N. Salina Street, built in 1890. Here the chiseled quality of the profuse detailing in the metal sheathing on the upper story walls resembles the style of the English architect Charles Lock Eastlake.
In the middle of the North Salina Street Historic District is its only Victorian Gothic style building at 745-47 N. Salina Street. Built c.1875, the facade has rusticated limestone piers which separate the bays of the storefront had continue to the gabled parapet at the roofline. Decorative brickwork adorns the wall in several patterns, making it one of the most elaborate facades on the street. At the end of the same block is the only commercial Romanesque style building in the area. The Walier Building, 755 N. Salina Street, was built in 1890 and has four-story arcades along its six N. Salina Street and eleven Catawba Street facades. The south half of the North Salina Street Historic District is notable for its generally larger buildings and examples of the Queen Anne style buildings at 601 N. Salina Street, built c.1892, and 600-08 N. Salina Street, built in 1885, are both corner commercial blocks which are important focal points within the streetscape. Common to both are large turrets and embellished facades on both N. Salina and Ash Streets. The gabled dormers and ornate brick and tile work throughout the facade at 567-73 N. Salina Street (built c.1890) are classic details of a commercial Queen Anne style building and make this the most high style of the Queen Anne designs on the street.
The strong horizontal lines and rusticated voussoirs on the facades of the Albany Block (530-36 N. Salina Street, built c.1896) modify the Queen Anne style massing of this building with characteristics of the Neo-Classical style, popular at the turn of the century. This structure provides an important anchor at the southern end of the North Salina Street Historic District, at the fork of N. Salina Street and Prospect Avenue.
The five houses on the 500 block of Prospect Avenue comprise the only residential group in the North Salina Street Historic District. All but one are late Victorian period houses with modes Queen Anne or Neo-Classical style detailing. The exception is the imposing brick residence built in 1889 at 518 Prospect Street (corner of Ash), which combines Romanesque Revival style porches with a Queen Anne style corner turret and Baroque style facings on the dormers.
The Italians, who settled in the area after the turn of the century, introduced Mediterranean Revival design elements to the streetscape. The Spanish tile pent roof across the facade of 557-559 (built in 1915) is an example of this style used on an early twentieth century commercial style facade. Several buildings on the 700 block of the street are more typical of this design. A modest but interesting example of this exists at 702 N. Salina, built c.1926. The small, two-story structure has French doors across the entire first floor, historically a restaurant which could be opened to a sidewalk cafe. An iron balcony projecting from the second floor and the Spanish tile roof are in an excellent state of preservation.
The other important development on the street in the early twentieth century is related to Assumption Church and its position as a centerpiece for the community. The Romanesque Revival style parish center at 808 N. Salina Street (built in 1880) and the Renaissance Revival style convent adjacent at 810 N. Salina Street (built c.1900) were severely damaged in a fire that swept through the church complex in 1934. Public support enabled the restoration of the buildings within the walls that were left standing, though large portions of the parish center exterior had to be completely reconstructed. At that time, this building was enlarged and the brick rectory house at 804 N. Salina Street was constructed. The historic designs of each of the church buildings have been well preserved.
The North Salina Street Historic District is an architecturally and historically significant group of buildings that represent the intact core of one of Syarcuse's distinctive neighborhoods. Situated on the north side of Syracuse, the North Salina Street Historic District contains a five-block commercial area and a small enclave of residential, religious, and school buildings that illustrate the neighborhood's development between 1850-1934. The North Salina Street Historic District contains the largest collection of architecturally distinctive nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial row buildings in Syracuse, including examples of the Italianate, Victorian Gothic, Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Neoclassical styles. The residences range from a modest example of the Federal style to a group of large-scale late Victorian period buildings that exhibit modest Queen Anne and Neoclassical style features. The area was home to the city's German community in the nineteenth century and the Italian immigrants in the early twentieth century. Well-preserved commercial buildings on either side of North Salina Street reflect the area's prosperity as an urban mercantile center, while the contiguous block of modest Queen Anne houses on Prospect Street and the dominant towers of Assumption Church demonstrate the close relationship between business and social life in a typical nineteenth-century American city.
Historically, North Salina Street was the only road between the village of Salina, settled in 1804 above the Onondaga Lake salt springs for which it was named, and an established trade route along an important Indian trail which is the present day Genesee Street. In 1806, a travelers' lodge was constructed at the intersection of these two roads, and the settlement of Syracuse was begun. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 brought increased prosperity to Syracuse and spurred the development of North Salina Street.
Early in the nineteenth century, North Salina Street was called "Cooper Street" due to the proliferation of cooper shops on the road, which provided barrels to the salt manufacturers in Salina. As the principal artery between the prosperous villages of Salina and Syracuse, the street was also the site of the County Courthouse, built in 1829 (burned in 1856) on the east side of the present day 600 block. The two first-generation buildings which survive today reflect this range of occupants on the street in the first half of the nineteenth century. The wood frame building at 753 North Salina Street is the last remaining example of the small, Federal style, tradesmen's homes which were once scattered along the route. Typically, the owner's business would have been located in the first floor of the house, or in a shed to the rear. Despite the addition of synthetic siding and new windows, the three-bay, side-entrance configuration of the facade can still be discerned. Diagonally across the road (set back behind a modern storefront) is a Greek Revival style house at 758 N. Salina Street. Despite the addition and synthetic siding, the elegant character of the house is still apparent in the temple front form of the facade.
By mid-century, the northside was being built-up by German immigrants, whose skill at carpentry made them valuable in building the barrels and vats used in transporting salt. North Salina Street developed as the center of their community. Assumption Church (812 N. Salina St.) was constructed in 1865 to serve the new German Catholic population. Designed by the prominent central New York architect Horatio Nelson White, the church is the most lavish of all his Romanesque Revival style churches. The baroque, fresco panels on the interior and the 4,000 pipe organ typify the wealth of architectural detail which reflects the stature and financial success of the original parishioners.
Though the salt industry declined after 1862, German craftsmen were able to transfer their mechanical and carpentry talents to the manufacture of domestic goods such as clocks and furniture. In the period of economic growth during and immediately following the Civil War, North Salina Street developed as a commercial and small manufacturing center, encouraged by civic improvements such as paved streets and sidewalks, and a street railway built in 1871. The majority of the existing brick row buildings were built during this period by the Germans, with the owner's shop on the first floor and his home or other apartments in the upper stories. The names and types of businesses listed in city directories in the last half of the nineteenth century reflect the uniform ethnic makeup of the North Salina Street Historic District. These include men named Ludwig, Conrad, Markert and Hayden who were tailors, shoemakers, cigar manufacturers, milliners, cabinet makers, grocers, undertakers and saloon keepers. Typical of these, Peter Knaul sold hats and caps from his shop at 657-59 N. Salina St. with his home in the apartment above, in the 1870's and 80's. The majority of these buildings were modest in their Italianate designs; however, some reflected the prosperity and pride of their owners. More elaborate than most is the Victorian Gothic building at 745-47 N. Salina Street. Built c.1875, the building was owned by Christian Freeoff who had his vinegar works and glue making operation there, as well as his home.
Toward the end of the century, as the Clinton Square area of Syracuse emerged as the city center, demand for property at the south end of North Salina Street increased, and several large "block" buildings were constructed. In 1892, Jacob Haas built the large Queen Anne style building at 601 N. Salina Street, with his saloon on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors. The Albany Block at 530-36 North Salina was built in 1896 by Louis Lohman to house a combination of shops, offices, and apartments. Its architecture combines elements of the Queen Anne style, such as curved bays and projecting chimneys, with Neo-Classical style designs such as dados, rusticated archivolts and flowered medallions in the entablature. Both of these buildings were much larger than others along the street, introducing a new scale of commercial structure which was not widely imitated in the district.
The 500 block of Prospect Avenue was developed with freestanding homes for upper middle class German families during the 1880's and 1890's. Typical of these are the almost identical brick structures at 512 and 514 Prospect Avenue. Both built in 1886, the Queen Anne style houses have facades dominated by two-story window bays capped by enclosed end gables. The house at 512 Prospect Avenue was originally occupied by William H. Haberle, the treasurer of Haberle Brewing Company, one of Syracuse's largest at that time. Its neighbor was owned by Dr. Leonard A. Saxer, a physician who operated out of offices at the same address. Both men were also business partners with Charles Hoffman, a highly successful entrepreneur who counted presidencies of the National Brewing Co. and the Haberle Brewing Co. in his portfolio and the Honorable Thomas Ryan, Mayor of Syracuse, among his business associates. Hoffman built his home at 518 Prospect Avenue in 1889. The massive brick structure combines elements of the Romanesque Revival style in the porches with Queen Anne style massing and Baroque style dormers. Highly visible at the bend of N. Salina Street where it meets Prospect Avenue, this was the last and most impressive residence constructed in the district, symbolic of the success of the German community.
At the turn of the century, N. Salina Street appeared much as it does today, and the roster of businesses in 1900 is typical of the occupants behind the storefronts from the 1870's onward. Eleven saloons lined the street, serving either their own home-brewed beer or ale from one of the several large German breweries located in the Northside. There were six groceries and meat markets here to serve the local community, and five each confectioners and furniture makers. Candies and sweets were apparently popular with the Germans; the large commercial Romanesque style building at 755 N. Salina Street was built by Joseph Walier in 1890 to house his burgeoning confectionery manufacturing business. The Victorian furniture makers normally doubled as undertakers. The most successful in this neighborhood was John Gang who built the then modern, commercial building with large plate glass windows at 800 N. Salina Street c.1900, when his business outgrew its quarters in an older building up the street at 850 N. Salina. Bakers, tailors and bootmakers were also well represented. The oldest of these was Jacob Brand, who operated his bakery out of the small, Federal style house at 753 for over forty years. Perhaps the most famous of the N. Salina Street merchants was Francis Baumer, one of the founders of the world famous Will & Baumer Candle Company. His first candle business operated out of the building at 831-33 N. Salina Street until 1890, when he constructed the building at 839-41 with its handsome, three-story, pressed metal facade with Eastlake style detailing.
Italian immigrants settled in Syracuse in 1883, after providing the labor for construction of the West Shore Railroad up the Hudson, 150 miles to the east. Some made homes among the Germans in the Northside, though not becoming a real factor in the business community until the second and third decades of the twentieth century. As early as 1900, Dr. Vincenzo Sarlo had his practice in 921 N. Salina Street, a modest old building at the less fashionable end of the street. Within 15 years the status of the Italians had improved and Domenico Falcone built his "Venetian Restaurant" closer to the heart of the city at 557-59 N. Salina Street. The Mediterranean influence of the design is apparent in the Spanish style pent roof over the second floor windows, behind which still exists an elegant dining room decorated with fancy plasterwork and painted murals of Venice. Falcone and his brothers also operated a bakery up the street at 649 N. Salina Street. The Mediterranean influence is also present in the wrought-iron balcony and tile roof at the second floor level of each of the facades at 537 and 702 N. Salina Street. The latter was built about 1926 by Antonio Simiele who produced soft-drinks during prohibition in the building next door. Here, full-height French doors opened the first floor dining room to the passers-by and indicates the intent for a sidewalk cafe.
One of the most recent buildings included in the North Salina Street Historic District is at 911 N. Salina Street. Built in 1919 as the North Side Garage, the structure represents the early popularity of the automobile in this part of the city, near the manufactories on Wolf Street.
A devastating fire swept through the Assumption Church complex in 1934, destroying most of the 1880 building now used as a parish center and causing extensive damage to the 1865 church and c.1900 convent. Reflective of the continued support of the community despite hard financial times nationwide, the buildings were quickly repaired and restored to their present appearance.
The North Salina Street Historic District was on the original route of transportation and trade between the early villages of Salina and Syracuse. It developed as a commercial center, first, to service the salt industry, and latter, as the focal point of the city's influential German and, to a lesser extent, Italian communities. It contains the highest concentration of nineteenth-century commercial row buildings in the city and is notable for its cohesive architectural character. The buildings represent the major activities of this urban neighborhood during its development, and most of them are still used in their historic capacity.
Bruce, Dwight, Ed. Onondaga Centennial. Boston: Boston History Co., 1896.
Clayton, W. W. History of Onondaga County, N.Y. Syracuse: 1878.
Chase, Franklin H. Syracuse and Its Environs (3 volumes). Chicago: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1924.
Schramm, Henry W. & Roseboom, William F. Syracuse: from Salt to Satellite. Syracuse, N.Y.: 1979.