Roseboom Historic District
The Roseboom Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 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 Roseboom Historic District comprises the historic core of the rural hamlet of Roseboom, located at the intersection of NY Routes 165 and 166 and the Cherry Valley Creek in the town of Roseboom, Otsego County, New York. The hamlet is surrounded by open valley land, some under cultivation, which rises to hilltops crowned by woods. The Cherry Valley Creek itself divides the hamlet into two areas, which in earliest times had different names, but from the mid-nineteenth century have been considered one place. NY Route 166 runs along the Cherry Valley Creek valley floor, which runs south southwest to north northeast, and the flanking ridges rise to approximately 1800 feet on either side. NY Route 165, runs roughly south southeast to north northwest and crosses the creek and its associated floodplain. The area southeast of the creek was once called Lodi, while that northwest of the creek was known as Greenbush. The latter focused on NY 166, once a plank road leading to the village of Cherry Valley to the north, and a highway leading to Milford to the south. In addition to the two main routes passing through Roseboom, smaller streets provide extra space for hamlet buildings. Joining NY 166 and NY 165 with an elbow is Beaver Street, while joining NY 165 and Gage Road in a similar way is John Deere Road. Near the intersection of NY 165 and John Deere Road, County Route 57 follows the earlier course of the road adopted as NY 165. Beyond the western boundary of the Roseboom Historic District is Roseboom Hill Road, which developed as part of the hamlet after World War II.
The hamlet of Roseboom includes a variety of building types and styles common in rural New York State hamlets meant to serve a local populace in the nineteenth century. The Roseboom Historic District includes two churches, a cemetery associated with the former Baptist Church, a general store, two early twentieth-century industrial buildings, a schoolhouse (now used as a dwelling), a grange hall (now disused), and dwellings with associated agricultural, industrial, and commercial outbuildings. The bulk of these properties developed between 1840 and 1900. Due to widening of NY 166, a stone blacksmith's shop, a barn, and a small number of dwellings on the west side of the highway were lost in 1959. A doctor's office associated with #118 NY 165 was moved to the Genesee Country Village and Museum in the 1980s. And the large, Greek Revival style Roseboom Hotel, once standing at the main intersection of the hamlet, burned in 1973. Other than these losses, the hamlet retains its plan and a large number of its nineteenth-century buildings with few intrusions. In addition, many retain original finishes and stylistic details dating to their initial construction or to typical remodeling episodes of the late 1800s or early 1900s. The hamlet as a whole retains a high degree of historic integrity dating to the latter half of the nineteenth century.
The portion of the hamlet west of the Cherry Valley Creek has a more commercial aspect than the part east of the creek. The general store, currently called Bob's Country Store, stands at the southeast corner of the intersection NY 165 and NY 166. This frontal gable, two-and-a-half-story, frame building retains the form and some decorative features of a late nineteenth-century commercial building, but it has been resided recently and some of its windows replaced. The store now houses the post office, which has been housed earlier in at least two other buildings near the crossroads. Further north on the opposite side of the road stands the Greek Revival style Methodist Church building (built 1861). This frontal gable building retains a late nineteenth century, Gothic taste stained glass window in the front facade and an off-center entrance porch. The older, Grecian bell tower survives, as do the corner pilasters and the full return on the front. The second church building in Roseboom, the Baptist Church (now the Roseboom Historical Association) faces onto NY 165 about three-quarters of the way between the main intersection and the bridge crossing the Cherry Valley Creek. Also a Greek Revival style building (built 1844), this frontal gable church retains a square bell tower and paired entrances in the front facade. A louvered fan accents the flush-boarded tympanum. This building retains a simple, late Victorian interior with beadboard wainscoting, complete with its metal-lined baptismal tank set into a dais at the front of the sanctuary. Behind the old Baptist Church is the community cemetery. Graves here date from the earliest settlement of the hamlet in the early 1800s to the present, and stones from all periods, including early "bedboard" types in marble and shale, obelisks, mid-Victorian examples, and twentieth-century granite blocks, are represented. Backing onto the cemetery's southern boundary is the lot containing the last Roseboom village school (built 18xx). A frontal gable, two-room affair with a decorative arched window in the front peak and small friezeband windows on the sides, this building is now a dwelling. A modern porch and entrances alter its appearance, but its typical "school form" remains evident. Across from the old school on Beaver Street is the old grange hall (built c.1930). Now disused, the two-story, frontal gable building also retains the iconography of its type.
Dwellings round out the built environment of this side of the hamlet. Those facing onto NY 165 appear to be not only the best preserved, but perhaps the most stylistically developed. The earliest remaining dwelling, #111, is a well-developed example of the Greek Revival style. This house retains the classically derived pilasters and frieze typical of the style. Less fancy are #108 and #122, on the opposite of the road. Built at roughly the same time as the Baptist Church, the house built by Dr. Sterricker (#118) has a frontal gable with flushboard tympanum embellished with a steeply arched louvered fan mirroring the one on the church across the way. The doctor's house was added to about 1870, about the time his son joined his practice. Most of the remaining houses facing onto NY 165 north of the creek date between 1856 (the Gates map) and 1868 (the Beers atlas). They tend to retain the rectangular forms with gable roofs popular during the first half of the century, while their detailing is less classical. The fairly plain appearances suggest middle class dwellings, though #113 retains a full set of very exuberant matching Italianate window and door frames, probably purchased from a local mill.
Beaver Street, laid out in the 1870s and now almost entirely residential, retains two dwellings in this same style. The frontal gable dwelling (#155) near the corner of NY 166, once the plank road to Cherry Valley, retains the gable roof of earlier designs, but the entire building is much taller in proportion to Greek Revival ones. Its "eared" door frame is similar to those of the window and door frames of #113 NY 165. A more purely Italianate house stands a little further down at #148 Beaver Street. This building has a blockier form surmounted by a flat roof with the deep frieze, wide cornice, and brackets typical of this style. Other dwellings on Beaver Street are smaller and less detailed than these two, suggesting working class dwellings of the third quarter of the century. A few properties on Beaver Street retain outbuildings, mainly small barns and workshops dating to the last quarter of the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries.
NY 166, the old plank road to Cherry Valley, was the main commercial street of the hamlet of Roseboom. This has lost two buildings that emphasized this function, including the stone blacksmith's shop and the old hotel. Once a narrower road, both sides were lined with buildings, those on the west side abutting the hillside beyond. North of the Methodist Church, a frame barn, used since the early 1900s as a store, is set well back from the road. This stands on the site of a nineteenth-century cheese factory shown in the 1868 atlas. South of the store at the main intersection, mainly nineteenth-century dwellings, an early twentieth-century shop building, and one modern house line the road for a few hundred yards before the hamlet gives way to open land. These retain the forms and sometimes details of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. Like NY 165 north of the Cherry Valley Creek, this portion of the hamlet also developed between 1856 and 1868, and all but one residence illustrate the late use of the Greek Revival style: low, rectangular, and gable-roofed, with modest detailing. Because several of these buildings have been renovated with non-historic materials, they may also have lost some stylistic details since their construction. One further Italianate dwelling stands in this row. This retains the deep frieze and cornice supported by brackets typical of the style, as well as the flat-roofed boxy form.
Several properties in this part of the hamlet retain characteristic nineteenth-century outbuildings. On NY 165, #108 retains an assemblage, including a novelty-sided carriage barn with a raking cornice set off with a high Italianate taste molding and a small arched window in the gable end, a small dairy barn, a two-story shop building, and a c.1920 frame milkhouse. Across the street, #103 NY 165 retains a brick smokehouse, while Sally's Four Seasons Restaurant (#3220 NY 166) on the corner of NY 165 and NY 166, the site of the old Roseboom Hotel, has a stone one. On NY 165, both #113 and #119 retain small barns. Two frame outhouses also survive: one at #119 NY 165 and a second, moved from #103 to #111 NY 165, and used as a garden shed.
On the opposite side of the Cherry Valley Creek, the hamlet of Roseboom includes mill sites, agricultural outbuildings, and several dwellings. Because of the open land within the hamlet, this part of the Roseboom Historic District feels more rural than the area north of the creek, which evolved as a commercial area. This area grew up around mills situated on a creek feeding into the Cherry Valley Creek, which remains dammed about half a mile from the hamlet on Gage Road. An additional dam, now breached, remains partly visible in woods to the east, and several races and two millpond areas remain visible. One race ran under John Deere Road, then turned north to fill a millpond near the old Howland mill, marked by a cinder block building set on an older stone foundation. That foundation once supported the new Howland mill, built in the 1860s to replace the first one, built in 1800. The building was last used as feed store, farm supply, and John Deere dealership, thus giving the road its name. A depression east of #116 John Deere Road marks its location. A second race came down from the smaller dam and millpond east of John Deere Road, passing the old Eldred mill at the corner of John Deere Road.
NY Route 165 diverges from the Roseboom-Pleasant Brook Road's earlier route at the southern edge of the hamlet and the older course is now called CR 57. Through most of the southern part of the hamlet, NY 165 follows the old course and passes two frame houses dating to the first half of the nineteenth century. Where new NY 165 veers off, a large square-plan stone house with a frame wing is a prominent landmark on County Route 57. Across from this stands a relatively early hop house, which was noted in the 1868 Beers Atlas.
John Deere Road, which creates an elbow from NY 165 to Gage Road, retains four frame dwellings dating to the early nineteenth century, as well as several nineteenth-century barns and two additional hop houses. Two of these houses, #105 and #147, belonged to mill owners. The first, built shortly after 1800, retains fairly elaborate Federal taste details, including the Palladian window in the gable end. The second, with its heavier lines and square Doric columns supporting the veranda, dates later, possibly to the purchase of the mill from Delos White of Cherry Valley by the Elwells in 1836. In addition to these two houses, there are two more Greek Revival houses: a very small example retaining its frieze and raking cornice (#116) and a temple-form house with an inset porch supported by square Doric columns.
The Roseboom Historic District is significant in the areas of community development and architecture as a highly intact example of a typical upstate New York rural hamlet developed primarily during the period 1800 to 1940. Located in northeastern Otsego County in the town of Roseboom, the hamlet is about two miles south of the larger and older commercial village of Cherry Valley. The hamlet of Roseboom first developed as a mill hamlet about 1800 on the south side of the creek; by the mid-1830s, a commercial and service district developed on the north side of the creek. By the 1850s, these two areas were considered one hamlet and known as Roseboom. Virtually all of the hamlet's built environment was in place by 1900, and the community has suffered relatively little loss since then. The Roseboom Historic District preserves the appearance and some of the services of a small rural hamlet nearly a century later, with its general store, post office, church, meeting hall (in the old Baptist Church building), and cluster of mainly Greek Revival and Italianate style dwellings.
Roseboom grew up around mill seats established on the Cherry Valley Creek and one of its tributaries, possibly before 1800. French's Gazetteer of 1861 states that the hamlet's first grist mill was erected by Brice and Bros. in 1796. More commonly, the hamlet's recorded history states that Abraham Roseboom started the first mill — to saw timber and to card and full wool — in 1806, but this appears to have been farther north than the hamlet itself. Abraham Roseboom had established an estate further north, near the present day Cherry Valley town line, in 1800. Born in 1772, Abraham was a member of the rising generation at the close of the American Revolution, and like many of his peers, eager to expand into new areas like Otsego County. The son of Jacob Roseboom, who in colonial times held the Belvedere, McKean, Long, and Beaverdam Patents, encompassing land in the modern towns of Cherry Valley, Roseboom, and Middlefield, Abraham Roseboom took land south of Cherry Valley. With the exception of that village to the north, much of the area remained forested after the Treaty of Paris of 1783 as was typical of Otsego County.
The hamlet that would eventually become known as Roseboom developed about a mile south of Abraham's estate on the road to Cherry Valley. Mills seated on a tributary flowing west into the Cherry Valley Creek played a central role in the hamlet's earliest development. Different sources record various mills: French's Gazetteer of 1861 notes a mill founded by Brice in 1796. Hurd's History of Otsego County notes that Cornelius Low started the first gristmill in Lodi in 1818. Harmond Howland's mill, built in 1800, is the most commonly cited founding mill in the hamlet. Howland came from Dutchess County. Delos White of Cherry Valley also established a mill, which was sold from his estate to Benjamin and Samuel Elwell in 1836. By 1856, the Elwells and the Howlands appear to have held all the water rights and become the established millers. The 1868 Beers Atlas shows a well-developed race system to power Elwell's large, three-level grist mill and Howland's saw mill and sash and blind factory. Four years earlier, Howland had rebuilt his mill with a coursed limestone foundation, which remains today. By 1950, the old Howland mill had ceased work, but the building was reused as a farm supply store. It burned in 1952 and was replaced in 1953 with the now-deteriorating building once used as a farm supply store occupying the site today.
In addition to milling, the Elwells and the Howlands owned agricultural land as well. The Elwells owned land across John Deere Road, north of Gage Road, which they sold to the Gage family before 1903. The Howland farm is now separated from the mill property, but a late nineteenth century dairy barn and at least one three-bay English barn, dating before 1850 still stand. Two additional English barns, one with an unusual Greek Revival style cornice and partial returns, as well as a c.1880 hop house stand on the rise overlooking the elbow in John Deere Road. Before the Elwell mill was torn down, these would have overlooked that building as well. In addition to these, two more hop houses stand within the hamlet area. One (at #157 NY 165) has been converted to a garage with a room above and a second, altered almost beyond recognition by a remodeling faces the stone house (#107) on County Route 57. This pattern of diversified economic activity in rural hamlets is common in upstate New York.
Like many small mill hamlets, the settlement around the Howland and Elwell mills, called Greenbush in the early period, was ignored or barely acknowledged by all gazetteers published before the Civil War period. For services beyond milling, farmers in the outlying area apparently relied on the much larger village of Cherry Valley to the north where there were places for banking, legal services, trade, and spiritual sustenance from that village's several churches. In 1830, however, a plank road extended south from Cherry Valley village through Lodi, following the route of modern NY Route 166 as far as NY 165, and then turned to cross the creek to Greenbush. Two years later, possibly prompted by the plank road's construction, Daniel Antisdel (also Antisdale) opened an inn and store at the point where the plank road turned south of the mill hamlet. The tavern, which burned in 1973, was in its day a success, as a decade later Antisdel provided funds to build a stone blacksmith's shop with two forges a little further south on the opposite side. The blacksmith's shop would have complemented the tavern as a service for travelers, as well as providing the local people with a shop closer than Cherry Valley. This formed the beginning of the commercial hamlet on the north side of the Cherry Valley Creek, which called itself Lodi and complemented the industrial hamlet of Greenbush on the south side of the creek.
In 1840, an English-trained physician, John Sterricker, opened his office in Lodi. While his residence (#118 NY 165) remains, his free-standing office was taken to the Genesee Country Village and Museum in the 1970s. Sterricker's son, also John, carried on the practice after obtaining his certificate to practice medicine at Albany Medical College in 1875. Thus, by 1842, with the exceptions of the law and a bank, Lodi's small commercial and industrial establishments provided most of the services necessary to rural life of the nineteenth century, and continued providing them until well after 1900.
Adding to these temporal services, were two churches. The Society of the First Baptist Church organized under Deacon Sherman's leadership in 1843. A year later, the society erected its Greek Revival style building on land purchased from Abraham Roseboom for ten dollars. Built at a cost of two thousand dollars, this ambitious church was designed to seat eight hundred in balconies and on the main floor. The church building remains a prominent landmark in the hamlet's streetscape; from a considerable distance south of Roseboom, its white tower and frontal gable facade stand out in the surrounding rural landscape as an icon of a typical nineteenth-century, upstate rural hamlet. Such Greek Revival-style churches were common: their classically derived forms and details alluded to the classical civilizations that Americans hoped to emulate in the new republic. Lodi was no exception, and at the time of the Baptist Church's erection, virtually the entire hamlet's built environment illustrated the extremely popular Grecian taste. Though less commonly used for domestic architecture by the 1860s in much of the nation, the Greek taste survived in New York State's relatively remote rural areas. Thus, the Methodist Episcopal Society also built a Greek Revival church in 1861. This church's earliest symmetrical facade was altered about 1900 with an asymmetrical entrance and a large central stained glass window. This building also is prominent in the hamlet streetscape and still has an active congregation. The older Baptist church building is now owned by the Roseboom Historical Association and is the town's only remaining large meeting hall.
A large cemetery, still used, extends behind the Baptist church building to Beaver Street. In use since the mid-nineteenth century, this site provides a highly intact record of Roseboom's residents and a sort of illustrated catalog of common funerary monuments from the early nineteenth century to the late twentieth. Predating both churches, the graveyard was first a community plot, though the portion nearest the church belonged to the Baptist Society, according to the tax records, in spite of the society's dissolution in 1966 due to lack of funds and membership. A plot map hanging in the Methodist Church shows the boundary between the two areas. It also shows the plot owners, who came from both sides of the creek, thus demonstrating the link between the commercial and industrial hamlet areas from at least the mid-nineteenth century.
When Cyrus Gates mapped Otsego County in 1856, he labeled the community "Roseboom P.O.," which suggests that by this date the earlier names of Lodi and Greenbush were passing from use. Lodi was easily confused with Lodi in Seneca County, and mail often went astray. Two years earlier, the town of Roseboom was split off from the older town of Cherry Valley, which may have provided the community with an easy way to distinguish itself. At this date, Roseboom was less than half the size of South Valley, the other hamlet within the new town's boundary, in terms of population and services. While Gates provided an exploded plan of South Valley, he surveyed Roseboom P.O. within the overall map only. Nevertheless, this map shows that Roseboom P.O. was still a very small community: a hotel, a doctor, a blacksmith shop, two mills, a school on the south side of the creek, and eleven dwellings, with a plank road connecting it to Cherry Valley. J.H. French, who published a gazetteer in 1861, referred to the hamlet by its older name, Lodi. He recorded one church (the Baptist Church; Methodist built after French collected his material) and 111 inhabitants. The slightly earlier 1855 New York State census listed 1,887 souls for the town of Roseboom, revealing how agrarian the population was, as South Valley accounted for only an additional 225 people.
Between the time of Cyrus Gates's 1856 survey and G.W. Beers 1868 survey for an atlas of Otsego County, the hamlet of Roseboom exploded. South of the creek, in the old Greenbush section, Howland had rebuilt his mill and added a sash and blind factory. This map shows a large mill pond south of John Deere Road (aptly known as Mill Street in the earlier period). The Elwell race and its large upper mill pond are also shown on the 1868 map. The district school had moved north of the creek to the old Lodi area of the hamlet. It stood in a now densely packed hamlet streetscape of dwellings and commercial establishments, including two wagon shops, a cabinet shop, a dress shop, a store, and a meat market, which now lined both sides of NY 165 and NY 166. The new Methodist Church stood at the north end of the hamlet with a cheese factory just beyond. In 1856, Gates mapped eleven dwellings; Beers recorded approximately thirty.
By 1872, Hamilton Child noted in his Gazetteer of Otsego County that Roseboom had two churches, two stores, a hotel, a wagon shop, two blacksmith's shops, a grist mill, two saw mills, a cheese factory, a shoe shop, a millinery and dress-making shop, a physician, and a planing mill. Two hundred twenty-five people resided there, a considerable rise from the 111 recorded in 1861. The 1868 plan of Roseboom suggests that land in the commercial area had reached a saturation of development; this is borne out by the laying out of a new street, called "Side Street" in nineteenth century sources. Known today as Beaver Street, it creates an elbow southeast of the main crossroads of the hamlet. The form and style of domestic structures on Beaver Street suggest a platting date in the 1870s. It was certainly in place by 1881, because School District No. 2 built a new schoolhouse there, having outgrown the one on the plank road built between 1856 and 1868. This last School No. 2 was a one-and-a-half-story, two-room, frontal gable, frame building with a raking cornice marked by a high, rounded Italianate molding. A small, arched window in the front gable end and friezeband windows allowed light into the upper half-story. These probably made converting the schoolhouse into a dwelling more appealing than most simple one-room schools as it had an upper floor and a somewhat larger than average footprint. Today the building survives as a dwelling, though its entrances are altered.
Child's 1872 statistics probably describe the hamlet of Roseboom near its peak population and range of services. By 1903, the next published map of the area, the shoe shop, the cheese factory, and the grist mill were gone. Throughout Otsego County rural hamlets and villages generally began a gradual population decline in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Even as this began, as is often the pattern in rural upstate New York villages, urban industrialization and westward movement drew people from older agricultural areas in the northeastern United States. While the population of the town of Roseboom was 1,887 in 1850, by 1980 it was 663, revealing that Roseboom has lost nearly two-thirds of its population in the past century and a half. This decline is most pointed in agricultural areas; the hamlet of Roseboom remains similar in population to the two hundred or so of the third quarter of the nineteenth century. It continues to offer some services locally: a diner, a general store, a post office, and a church. Moreover, it retains virtually the entire domestic streetscape visible in the late 1800s. A comparison with the 1903 map shows that fewer than five dwellings have disappeared; one has been replaced with a modern pre-fabricated house (#3194 NY 166). An early twentieth century dwelling occupies a lot still open in 1903 (#127 NY 165) and a modern house has been added on Beaver Street (#106). The hotel, the blacksmith's shop, and the Elwell mill represent sizable losses in Roseboom's streetscape, but even so, the hamlet retains a high degree of historic integrity.
Beers, F.W. Atlas of Otsego County, New York, from Actual Surveys. New York: Beers, Ellis, and Soule, 1868.
Child, Hamilton, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Otsego County for 1872-1873. Syracuse: Journal Office, 1872.
Disturnell, J. A Gazetteer of the State of New York. Albany: J. Disturnell, 1842.
French, J.H. Gazetteer of the State of New York, embracing a comprehensive view of geography, geology and general history of the state, etc. Syracuse: R.P. Smith, 1860.
Gates, C. and B.C. "Map of Otsego County, New York, from Actual Surveys." Philadelphia: A.O. Gallup, 1856. (Special Collections, New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, NY).
Gordon, Thomas F. Gazetteer of the State of New York, comprehending its colonial history, etc. Philadelphia: T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1836.
Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Otsego County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: Everts and Fariss, 1878.
Mabie, Patricia. Written interview, July 1998.
Spafford, Horatio Gates. Gazetteer of the State of New York, carefully written from original and authentic materials. Albany: H.C. Southwick, 1813.
Spafford, Horatio Gates. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Albany: Packard and Benthuysen, 1824.
Webb, John. "The Story of Roseboom's Past," . (New York Historical Association, Local History Room).