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Quaker Street Historic District


The Quaker Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]

Description

The Quaker Street Historic District includes 43 properties (63 contributing features) in the hamlet of Quaker Street in the south-central section of Duanesburg, just north of Interstate 88 and just south of the incorporated village of Delanson. The predominantly residential hamlet is concentrated near the intersection of three major thoroughfares: Route 7 (east-west), Route 395 (north-south) and the Schoharie Turnpike (northeast-southwest).

The boundaries of the Quaker Street Historic District encompass nearly the entire hamlet. Only a few substantially altered older structures and modern intrusions on the east edge of the hamlet, where most modern development has occurred, have been excluded. These excluded areas include sections of the north side of Route 7 (east of Route 395) and both sides of Elm Street and Darby Hill Road. There has also been some new construction on the west edge of town: although the three western most properties are identified as non-contributing, in scale, form, and use of material they do not detract from the historic character of the streetscape and they are clearly the visual terminus of the hamlet. Because the three properties do not detract from the character of the hamlet, and beyond them an entirely different, rural character is evident, they have been included in the Quaker Street Historic District. Structures occupy a variety of lot sizes, many of which are smaller than one acre. For these properties, the entire lots have been included. For the larger lots, particularly on the north side of Route 7 and the south side of Gallupville Road, an arbitrary line has been drawn approximately 250 feet back from and parallel to the street.

The major intersection around which the hamlet developed constitutes the core of the Quaker Street Historic District. Focal points of the historic core include the Quaker Meetinghouse (c.1807), the McDonald Shoe Factory (c.1850) and the Darius Gorge Store (c.1830s). Residential streets radiate to the west, southwest, south and east from the core. Although most streets included in the Quaker Street Historic District are characterized by a heterogeneous mixture of periods and styles, some distinguishing characteristics can be discerned. Route 7, west of the intersection, and Gallupville Road, extending to the southwest, two of the community's oldest thoroughfares, contain a substantial number of early nineteenth century Federal style structures and the only extant, historic non-residential structures. Gallupville Road is unique for its high concentration of Italianate style structures dating from the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The Schoharie Turnpike, west of the intersection, contains the most notable collection of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival style structures. Darby Hill Road features a variety of nineteenth-century residences. Nearly half of the properties in the Quaker Street Historic District include one or more contributing outbuildings.

The historic building stock in the Quaker Street Historic District (dating from c.1807 to c.1910) consists predominantly of one and one-half to two-story frame houses. A variety of early nineteenth to early twentieth century architectural styles and detailing is represented, but modest, vernacular Federal and Greek Revival style structures predominate. Five-bay structures with center halls and three-bay, L-shaped structures are typical of Quaker Street's early nineteenth century architecture. As seen in Duanesburg's other historic resources dating from this period, detailing is minimal, including simple corner pilasters, restrained classically inspired entrances and modest cornice embellishment.

Quaker Street's mid- to late-nineteenth century structures exhibit more elaborate detailing typical of the Italianate and Queen Anne styles, such as heavily bracketed cornices and ornate window and porch trim, although somewhat less sophisticated and less ornate than found in the Delanson Historic District. Also during this period, many of the early nineteenth century structures were embellished with Victorian-era detailing. Wings were frequently added to accommodate the changing needs of the occupants, but the original integrity of most of the structures remains substantially intact.

Most properties include historic barns; among them are included several stylish mid-nineteenth century carriage houses.

Significance

The Quaker Street Historic District is a significant concentration of substantially intact, well-crafted vernacular structures built between c.1807 and c.1910. Modest, Federal and Greek Revival styles predominate, giving the residential district its unique and significant historic character. Distinctive features of the vernacular tradition manifested in Quaker Street's architecture (as in the town's historic architecture, in general) include symmetry, rectilinearity and simplicity in detailing. The Quaker Street Historic District contains the town's largest collection of early nineteenth century structures, reflecting the development of one of Duanesburg's earliest and most prosperous communities. Unlike the numerous small crossroads hamlets based on industries and/or family holdings, Quaker Street was a diverse commercial and manufacturing center for much of the surrounding town during the early to mid-nineteenth century. Additional architectural significance is derived from the distinctive examples of mid-nineteenth century, vernacular architecture which embody features of the Victorian era. Restrained examples of the Italianate style predominate, with occasional examples showing the influence of the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles. The community is also significant for its historical associations with the development of the important Quaker (Society of Friends) settlement in Duanesburg.

Shortly before 1780, Quaker families began migrating to Duanesburg from neighboring New England settlements and from the vicinity of Poughkeesie, New York. On land leased from James Duane, they erected a log meetinghouse on the south side of Schoharie Turnpike c.1780, around which the Quaker community developed. In the early nineteenth century, a second site, just north of the original edifice, was purchased by Job Briggs from James Duane. In 1807 the present frame meetinghouse was erected. The structure is an outstanding example of the "plain" aesthetic preferred by the early Quakers. It, along with the dwellings of the early Quakers included in the Quaker Street Historic District, embodies the severe austerity, modesty and careful craftsmanship practiced by the Friends. The meetinghouse is constructed of hand-hewn timbers fastened with mortise and tenon joints. The hand-split lath walls are held in place with hand-wrought nails. The hand-wrought locks, hinges and handles on the doors were salvaged from the old log meetinghouse and used in the new edifice. Also salvaged and reused were the cast-iron box stoves. At the same time, the early cemetery was relocated to a parcel just northeast of the new meetinghouse. It, too, is included in the Quaker Street Historic District.

The society flourished during the first three decades of the nineteenth century and the community slowly prospered and expanded. Prominent among the Quakers were the Hoag, Gaige, Estes, Briggs, Wilber and Wing families, members of which constituted a substantial portion of Quaker Street's population. In its early years, the hamlet of Quaker Street consisted of the meetinghouse, a few small farmhouses and a single store which served the rural populace. Many of these structures survive substantially intact; they are architecturally significant as representative examples of modest, vernacular interpretations of the Federal style. The residences are generally one and one-half to two-story frame structures with gable roofs, brick interior end chimneys, clapboard siding and minimal detailing. Narrow friezes, slender corner pilasters, slight cornice returns and slightly recessed doorways surmounted by narrow cornices are characteristic attributes of the period and style displayed in Quaker Street dwellings.

Beginning in the 1840s, the hamlet began to expand: a second store was opened and, in 1845, Robinson Wilber began making shoes at Quaker Street. Numerous representative examples of vernacular Greek Revival style residential architecture survive from this period of the hamlet's development. Distinctive attributes of the period and style displayed in Quaker Street dwellings are similar to those seen throughout the town: heavy structural elements and detailing, including wide friezes or full entablatures, exaggerated cornice returns or pedimented gable ends, broad corner pilasters and trabeated entrances with wide pilasters. There is one particularly distinctive example of a fashionable, mature Greek Revival style house: an imposing, temple-front dwelling (c.1840s, Schoharie Turnpike), one of only two examples of that type in the town. (The second, the Avery Farmhouse, is included in the Boss Jones Thematic Resources.) The First Christ Church (Schoharie Turnpike) is a representative example of vernacular, Greek Revival style church architecture. It was erected in 1859 when there were sufficient non-Quaker families in the community to form a congregation and construct a house of worship. There are two other Greek Revival style dwellings (c.1840s) also located on Schoharie Turnpike.

The shoe-making business continued to prosper and Quaker Street flourished during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. By the 1860s, the village included a wagon shop, a sash and blind mill, a hotel, numerous retail stores and the Wilber Shoe Factory, now expanded to employ thirty men. The thriving hamlet with its opportunities for non-agricultural employment continued to attract new settlers. New construction during this period continued to reflect the relative simplicity and modesty of the vernacular tradition but began to reflect the influence of the elaborate, late Victorian styles. The influence of the Italianate style predominates, as displayed in the hipped roofs, heavily embellished cornices and ornate window and porch trim. Numerous representative vernacular Italianate style dwellings survive intact; there is one particularly notable example of a highly fashionable Italianate style dwelling: the building located at the intersection of Gallupville Road and Route 7. Particularly distinctive attributes of the period and style include the elaborate scroll brackets under the broadly projecting eaves, the projecting front pavilion, the segmentally arched entrance and the projecting, tripartite bay with a bracketed cornice and rounded-arch windows. Less sophisticated examples of the Italianate style include a building (c.1860) on Route 7, a building (c.1860s) on Gallupville Road and another (c.1850s) also located on Gallupville Road.

Very little construction occurred in Quaker Street during the last quarter of the century. Up until the completion of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad in 1863, Quaker Street had been the commercial and industrial center for the surrounding areas. With the advent of rail transportation, the business district of the town shifted to a small, track-side settlement just north of Quaker Street. Originally called Quaker Street Depot, the settlement quickly became Duanesburg's thriving commercial center and was renamed Delanson. (Significant resources associated with the historical development of Delanson are included in the Delanson Historic District). Post-Civil War building activity in Quaker Street shows the influence of national enthusiasm for elaborate ornament and picturesque forms, but mostly as a decorative veneer applied to earlier vernacular forms. The ornamentation of porches and gable ends with pierced, turned and/or carved woodwork was a popular late nineteenth century practice. The pierced frieze of the front porch of the austere Quaker meetinghouse is a notable example of late Victorian era embellishment.

There is only one contributing early twentieth century structure included in the Quaker Street Historic District: A two-family dwelling with modest Colonial Revival style features. (A second twentieth-century structure is non-contributing due to age only. Although less than fifty years old [at the time of this nomination to the National Register], the cottage, on the west end of the district, does not detract from the historic character of the Quaker Street Historic District.) As very little twentieth-century development occurred in Quaker Street after the town's primary economic activity shifted to Delanson and then, later to Schenectady, the nineteenth-century character of the hamlet remains substantially intact. Today, the hamlet is primarily a bedroom community for commuters to Schenectady and Albany. With the exception of one building, which houses the post office and a general store, former commercial structures have vanished or reverted to exclusively commercial use. The church and meetinghouse still have active congregations. The Quaker Street Historic District remains an important reminder of early to mid-nineteenth century life in Duanesburg.

  1. Todd, Nancy, New York State Department of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Eatons Corners Historic District, nomination documnet, 1983, Naztional Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

See Map

Street Names: Darby Hill Road, Duanesburg Road, Main Street, Maple Avenue, Quaker Lane, Route 395, Route 7, Schoharie Turnpike

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