Cherry Valley Village Historic District
The Cherry Valley Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. 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 Cherry Valley population 660, is located at the headwaters of the Cherry Valley Creek near a saddle of land which divides Cherry Valley from Mohawk Valley; it is two miles south of Judds Falls, which is on the escarpment of the Mohawk Valley. The valley north of the village is approximately 1000-1500 feet wide; south of the village it is approximately 2000-2500 feet wide. The hills on either side of the valley are 400-600 feet high. The village is relatively flat except for a fifty-foot hill on Lancaster Street and higher ground along Maple Avenue.
The Cherry Valley Historic District consists of 143 properties, 226 contributing buildings, 3 contributing structures, 2 contributing objects, and one contributing site for a total of 232 contributing features. The Cherry Valley Historic District includes eight non-contributing principal buildings. All of the buildings in the Cherry Valley Historic District are residential except for 17 commercial buildings, four churches, and two governmental buildings. In addition to the buildings there is one cemetery, three monuments, and one spring house.
The village is centered around the intersection of the north-south Alden-Montgomery Streets and the east-west Lancaster-Genesee Streets. The northeast corner of this intersection is bisected by the fifth primary street, Main Street. Three secondary streets, Elm Street, Church Street, and Maple Avenue, connect Main and Montgomery Streets. The traffic through the village follows State Route 166, which uses Alden Street from the south, turns east at the primary intersection and follows Main Street out of town to the northeast. Cherry Valley is typical of a crossroads community with commercial buildings, inns, and taverns congregated near the intersection of the principal roads. The commercial district within the village is located at the core of the historic district along Main and Genesee Streets, the twentieth-century route of the Great Western Turnpike (Route 20).
The boundary of the Cherry Valley Historic District encloses the most intact concentration of historic buildings and streetscapes within the incorporated village. Excluded are areas with higher concentrations of non-historic buildings, heavily altered older buildings and, in several locations, potentially significant properties no longer visually or physically contiguous with the historic core of the village. At the north side of the Cherry Valley Historic District, the boundary is represented by the north lot lines of numbers 171 and 164 Main Street, where it marks the northernmost extent of Main Street's historic, tree-lined residential section. Properties north of this boundary include non-historic commercial buildings, an equipment garage and scattered non-historic houses. The eastern boundary generally follows the rear lot lines of properties along the east sides of Main and Alden Streets including the rear lot line of the Cherry Valley Cemetery. This boundary includes a large concentration of nineteenth-century residences and several commercial buildings, while excluding a large area of undeveloped land on the hillsides east of the village. This boundary also excludes all of Lancaster Street east of number 6, where alterations and intrusions to the stock of nineteenth and twentieth century houses on the street have diminished the street's overall integrity. The southern boundary is drawn at the south side of the Cherry Valley Cemetery and the south lot line of 31 Alden Street. This boundary defines the southern extent of historic residential development along Alden Street and includes a historic cemetery linked to the streetscape by a continuous row of large deciduous trees. An automobile repair shop located immediately south of 31 Alden Street is excluded by the boundary, as is a 1925 summer estate on a large heavily wooded parcel southeast of the cemetery. The western boundary of the Cherry Valley Historic District follows the rear lot lines of properties on the west side of Alden Street and those behind 7 and 17 Montgomery Street. Elsewhere the boundary follows Montgomery Street, generally including historic nineteenth-century residences on the east side of the street while excluding modern houses and mobile homes on the west side. North of Church Street, the boundary follows rear property lines on both Church and Maple as far north as Hamilton, where it turns east and then continues north along Maple Avenue. This portion of the boundary includes a series of intact late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses while excluding modern residential development to the west. The remainder of the west boundary follows Elm Street and the rear lot lines of 18 Elm Street and 151-171 Main Street, where it includes intact nineteenth-century houses and excludes a large area of open, undeveloped land to the northwest of the district.
A street by street description of the Cherry Valley Historic District follows:
Alden Street is a north-south street once part of the Cherry Valley Turnpike. The street is wide and covered by a canopy of trees; it is characterized by the Cherry Valley Cemetery at the southern end, and the Presbyterian Church midway, and a cluster of three commercial buildings and a mineral spring pavilion at the north end. The residences are a mix of nineteenth-century styles with the important examples of late five-bay, center entrance Federal houses at #57, 59 and 31. There are three non-contributing buildings on the street.
Church Street is a northwest-southeast street connecting Main Street and Montgomery Street. The Catholic Church and Kitari Hall begin the streetscape on the northwestern corner with the remaining being closely spaced nineteenth and early twentieth-century residences with shallow setbacks.
Lancaster Street has one commercial and two residential nineteenth century buildings at its west end which provide visual continuity to Main Street.
Maiden Lane consists of two nineteenth-century residences which provide visual continuity to Main Street.
Main Street, a northeast-southwest street and the former Cherry Valley Turnpike, is the dominant street in the Cherry Valley Historic District. The street has three distinct visual and architectural parts. The southwest end joins with Lancaster, Genesee, Montgomery and Alden to form the commercial district, which is dominated by a limestone bank (#16 Main Street) and a row of Italianate limestone structures (#13-19 Main Street); all but four of the commercial structures in the Cherry Valley Historic District are on Main Street. Adjacent to the commercial district is a group of exceptional late 18th and early nineteenth century residences on the north side (#33-49 Main Street) and closely spaced nineteenth residences on the south side (#36-46 Main Street). As one proceeds up the street to the northeast, the houses become spaced farther apart on larger lots with deeper setbacks. A common architectural pattern consists of Greek Revival houses interspersed among Italianate, Queen Anne, and eclectic early twentieth century infill housing. There are three residential and two commercial non-contributing structures on the street.
Maple Avenue, a northeast-southwest street paralleling Main Street to the west, connects Elm Street and Church Street. The street is characterized by vernacular Queen Anne houses on large, tree-shaded lots with deep setbacks.
Montgomery Street, a north-south street is characterized by large, early nineteenth century houses on large lots. Federal style houses (#7, 8, 17, 22) are located near the commercial district; midway along the street are several important visual elements including the Gothic Revival style Episcopal Church (#32) and parsonage (#38).
The buildings within the Cherry Valley Historic District exhibit the most common vernacular styles of the nineteenth century — notably, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate designs. The most pervasive of the architectural styles is the two-story, five-bay, double pile Federal style. Some of these five-bay Federal style houses have been altered by the application of later forms and decoration such as #22 Montgomery Street and #48 Alden Street, which have had Italianate details added to them.
Another group of Federal houses have two-story central portions and one-story wings: #8 Montgomery and #41 Main street are excellent examples of this variation.
A third variation on Federal style is the three- or four-bay structure with an offset entrance, a facing gable (#36 Main) or a roof ridge parallel to the street (#7 Montgomery, #67 Alden). The three-bay form is the basis for a number of two-story, three-bay vernacular houses built between 1820 and 1840 which are detailed with either Federal or Greek Revival details. This form is found frequently along Main Street.
The Greek Revival style is expressed in houses with both five-bay and three-bay facades. The former is exemplified by #37 Main Street and the latter by #36 Main Street. The three-bay vernacular style without a wing is the most common form for residences in the Cherry Valley Historic District.
The Italianate style structures typically have a three-bay, two-story form with a slightly smaller two-story wing best exemplified by houses on #23, 27 Church Street. The finest example of the style is the Dakin house (#31 Elm Street).
Other historic architectural styles occur within the Cherry Valley Historic District in smaller numbers. The Gothic Revival style is represented by the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, the former Episcopal Church manse (#38 Montgomery Street), #66 Main Street, and Kitari Hall on Church Street. The Second Empire style is represented by an outstanding residence built of stone at #33 Main Street.
Late nineteenth and early twentieth century styles, especially the Queen Anne style, are concentrated along Maple Avenue and scattered along Alden Street. The Colonial Revival style is evident in several early twentieth century residences and the library of #61 Main Street.
The commercial structures in the Cherry Valley Historic District are important visual and architectural elements. The commercial district is characterized by three groupings of structures that give a unique character to the village. First is the group of buildings along Alden Street anchored by the three-story Italianate style Masonic Hall and two one-and-one-half story mid-nineteenth century structures next door. Second is the early nineteenth century stone bank at the corner of Lancaster and Main Streets, which is the focal point for the east end of the crossroads. Third are the angled late nineteenth century commercial buildings which follow the curved alignment of Main Street. Last and most important are the two-story, limestone, vernacular Italianate style store buildings (#13-19 Main Street) located near the east end of the commercial district.
At the edge of the village on Alden Street is the Cherry Valley Cemetery. This cemetery contains both the austere, flat tombstones of the early nineteenth century and picturesque Victorian crypts, obelisks, and polished headstones.
The Cherry Valley Historic District contains significant numbers of intact and architecturally significant dependencies. The most notable are the stone carriage house at the Alamo (#33 Main Street), the frame Victorian carriage houses at #46 Main Street, a former shop at #92 Main Street, and two nineteenth-century barns behind #35 Church Street.
The Cherry Valley Historic District is historically and architecturally significant as an intact concentration of historic buildings, sites and streetscapes which together chronicle the development of a regionally important center of transportation, commerce, industry and agriculture in central New York State between 1778 and 1928. Settled in the mid-eighteenth century on New York's western frontier, Cherry Valley assumed strategic significance during the Revolutionary War and following its destruction in 1778 was quickly rebuilt. The village grew to dominate trade and commerce within a large region southwest of the Mohawk Valley and flourished in the early nineteenth century as a key junction in the state's burgeoning network of turnpikes. Later in the century, the village became a regional center of manufacturing and still later it prospered as a leading center of the state's lucrative hops industry. Prosperity returned to the village briefly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as it cultivated a small but successful tourist trade. The layered history of the village is traced by sites and monuments commemorating its earliest history and by its historic architecture, which includes significant examples of eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century stylistic expressions from each phase in the development of the village. The Cherry Valley Historic District also includes examples of vernacular building traditions, including a number of distinctive commercial and industrial buildings constructed of native limestone. The diversity of architecture, compact siting within the business district, and the presence of numerous historic trees along the residential avenues combine in Cherry Valley to create a rich, well-preserved historic environment
In 1738 a grant of 7 acres was made by George II to John Lindesay, a Scotsman, who settled here in 1739. Other settlers followed, among them the Rev. Samuel Donlop, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, who, by 1743, had established the first classical school and the first English speaking church west of the Hudson. Donlop named the settlement Cherry Valley because of the abundance of wild cherry trees. By the opening of the Revolution, the population had increased to over three hundred.
Cherry Valley's position on the western frontier made it necessary to protect the settlement. During the French and Indian War a company of rangers was maintained here. In 1778 General Lafayette ordered a fort to be built near the cemetery and placed Col. Ichabod Alden in command. On November 11, 1778, about seven hundred Senecas and Tories under Captain Walter Butler and Joseph Brant attacked the village and succeeded in killing or capturing most of the population. This period of village history is recalled only by the cemetery, in which are buried the remains of victims of the massacre and veterans of the Revolutionary War. The survivors returned and rapidly built the largest settlement southwest of the Mohawk River. In 1795 the Cherry Valley Academy was reestablished and placed in the charge of the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, author of the Biblical romance which was later used by Joseph Smith as the basis of Mormonism. Afterwards, the Reverend Eliphalet Nott, later president of Union College, took charge of both the school and the Presbyterian Church.
In 1799 Cherry Valley became the junction and terminus for three successive Great Western turnpikes. The first company of the Great Western Turnpike, chartered in 1799, built a 52-mile road from Albany to Cherry Valley. The second company, chartered in 1801, continued the road from Cherry Valley through Cooperstown, then westward to Sherburne on the Chenango River. The third company, chartered in 1803, built the branch from Cherry Valley through Cazenovia to Manlius, where it intersected the Seneca Turnpike.
Cherry Valley's success and growth in the early nineteenth century was a result of its position at the intersection of these great turnpikes. Many immigrants funneled through the village on their way westward and merchants, professionals, and craftsmen gravitated to the village to supply the traveler's demand. The road provided business for numerous blacksmiths and at least fifteen taverns and hotels. A number of long-distance stagelines ran from eastern New York through Cherry Valley to Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and west. Eight local stage lines connected Cherry Valley to towns as far away as Catskill and Utica. During this period a fire company was started, the National Central Bank (on Main Street) was founded, a common district school was opened, the Cherry Valley Gazette was first published, and four companies of infantry and three of artillery were maintained. The village had a marble works, cabinet maker, iron and brass foundries, tanneries, distilleries, and hat and last factories. The turnpikes continued as the main arteries of trade and transportation until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the Utica to Schenectady branch of the New York Central Railroad in 1836. The Canal and the railroad diverted much of the trade back to the Mohawk Valley.
This period of growth and prosperity is evident in the numerous Federal period houses in the Cherry Valley Historic District and the exceptional quality of their architecture. Among these are the Campbell House (#8 Montgomery), built in 1800, the home of Dr. William Campbell, a physician, who helped lay out the turnpike and ran several surveys for the new road. He served as director for the turnpikes and in 1815 was elected to the New York State Assembly. His house is a three-bay, two-story, brick Federal style residence with one-story wings. The cornices form a pediment on the facing gable and the lintels over the windows and French doors in the first floor are incised stone. The Morse House (#17 Montgomery Street), built c.1790, was the home of Judge James Morse. His cousin, Samuel F.B. Morse, painted while visiting and carried out experiments leading to the development of the telegraph. Alpha Delta Phi fraternity was also started in this house. The Morse House is a five-bay, double-pile, Federal house with the original twelve-over-twelve windows and a later Greek Revival portico over the entrance. Another prominent house in the Cherry Valley Historic District at #41 Main Street was the home of Dr. Delos White, a prominent physician and head of the anatomy department at Fairfield College. This house features a two-story center structure flanked by two-one-story wings. The building is divided into six blind arcades by pilasters supporting elliptical arches. The original arched-roofed portico with Federal fretwork remains. A third important building from this period is the Cherry Valley National Bank (#16 Main Street), built in 1815. This bank was the first in Otsego County and symbolized the important commercial influence of the community during that period. It is built of limestone and features an unusual classical portico. The doorway has an arched fanlight with molding which is repeated on the facade of the portico with an added keystone. This in turn is surmounted by one full and one broken stone pediment.
After the opening of the Erie Canal, Cherry Valley's influence in state matters declined and its development resembled that of other crossroads towns. The village continued to grow, but that growth was in the context of the development of the region. It provided essential services within a limited locale such as milling, blacksmithing, tanning, and lodging, and it served as a center for health care, education, and worship. The Episcopal Church (1846) and the Presbyterian Church (1873) are notable examples of religious buildings. The former is an example of Gothic in its first phase, being a small-scale, frame building with arches in relief along the cornice and prominent wood moldings around the Gothic arch windows. The latter, in contrast, is an excellent example of the Victorian Gothic style, large in scale and built in limestone with brownstone trim and a polychrome slate roof. The Cherry Valley Men's Academy (#48 Alden) and Kateri Hall at 11 Church Street recall the role of education within the village.
Cherry Valley was the home of several industries which had regional influence until the Civil War. The first, the Judd Iron Foundry, was established in the 1840's and moved to 44 Main Street (now the village hall) in 1850 Where it remained until c.1900. The Judd works manufactured one of the first iron plows in New York State and later produced iron building parts. The former foundry is built in coursed, rubble limestone with prominent quoins and ashlar lintels and a Greek Revival cornice. Other important regional industries were an organ and melodeon factory, a marble works, and several millwork establishments. Cherry Valley was also the center of agriculture for the valley, particularly the hops industry, which was important from 1860 to 1915, and the dairy industry, which became important after the arrival of the railroad in 1870 and which continues to be important today. The importance of Cherry Valley as a nineteenth-century commercial center is reflected in the commercial buildings. Most of the surviving commercial buildings were built between 1850 and 1880. Notable is the Italianate style in a two- or three-story scale with large bracketed cornices. The commercial block at #13-19 Main Street is constructed of limestone The buildings in the commercial district have generally retained their nineteenth-century, center entrance storefronts. Most of the residential architecture of the period consisted of modest, three-bay, Greek Revival style houses with side hall plans. A notable exception to this rule is the five-bay brick residence with recessed doorway, imposing cornice and stone lintels erected in c.1845 at #39 Main Street.
After 1850 the village grew slowly. Maple and Elm Streets were added to the original streets. The houses built during this time were for the merchants and artisans who supported the regional agricultural economy. Typically these houses were erected in a vernacular Italianate or Queen Anne style and located on large lots, in contrast with the earlier smaller scale development.
Cherry Valley developed a small resort industry in the late nineteenth century. The Cherry Valley Academy was converted to a hotel and the Palmer House (Central Hotel) was also built; however, neither remains. To enhance the resort quality of the village, two local entrepreneurs piped spring water two miles to the spring house on Alden Street. A brief revival of prosperity and travel occurred from 1925-1955 when the Great Western Turnpike (Route 20) was developed for automobiles and became the only highway running completely across the state. Garages, gas stations, hotels, and tourist homes were erected along the path of Route 20 (Main and Genesee Streets). Businessmen capitalized on the popularity of the Colonial Revival. The Tryon Inn, built in 1925, advertised its colonial antique furnishings. Advertisements and promotional material emphasized the "historic" quality of the village. The village hall received a Classical Revival portico; an excellent, small-scale Georgian Revival library was built at #61 Main; and the bank received Classical Revival details on the exterior and interior. This prosperity was sustained until after 1930 when the effects of the Great Depression began to limit spending and new construction.
In 1955-56 Cherry Valley was effectively isolated from future development by the building of the New York State Thruway, the construction of a bypass for Route 20 one mile north of town, and the abandonment of the railroad. The community has declined as a commercial center as drug stores, groceries, and restaurants have closed. Several historic structures have been severely altered or lost to deterioration, fire and demolition The village now exists primarily as a residential community both for primary and secondary homes.
Cherry Valley, New York Cherry Valley Historical Association. Historical records, maps and manuscript collections.