Library Park Historic District
The Library Park 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 © 2010 The Gombach Group.
The Library Park Historic District is composed of seven architecturally or historically significant structures, a park, and a war memorial monument. It is primarily a 19th century district occupying a section of land of paramount importance in the settlement and development of the city of Ogdensburg. The Library Park Historic District is in the center of the city and immediately adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. The city of Ogdensburg now has a population slightly in excess of 12,000 and, as a whole, retains only a modest portion of the architectural and visual integrity once present during its heyday in the early 20th century. The boundaries were drawn to include all properties facing the park; however, on the western edge, a modern senior citizens housing complex was not included.
Library Park Historic District Buildings and Sites:
Remington Art Museum (303 Washington Street) — Built originally in 1809-10, this painted white brick structure is in the Federal style with a three-bay three-story center section with a pedimented roof. An original two-bay two-story wing on the west side was duplicated in a similar three-bay two-story wing on the east side in 1873. Originally the house was the center of an estate separated from the community with an 8-foot-high brick wall and containing stables, coach house, gardeners' lodge, conservatory, and a summer house in addition to the mansion. The wall and outbuildings were removed by 1873 when the estate grounds were subdivided. At the same time the main entrance was moved to what had been the rear of the building on Washington Street and an open porch added. The interior was altered in the early 1890's with the addition of high quality oak trim and paneling. After the building's conversion to an art gallery in 1923, the first floor windows and part of the second floor windows in both wings were bricked in and plastered over. A modern brick and glass exhibition gallery was added to the rear in 1974-75.
Dillingham Residence (311 Washington Street) — A 2-1/2-story brick structure built in 1883-85, this residence is eclectic Queen Anne in style with a dominant two-story front bay that terminates in a shingled gable. Various intersecting planes and gables make a complex roof, the eaves of which are ornamented with wooden brackets. The interior contains a great quantity of naturally finished woodwork and fireplaces ornamented with painted ceramic tiles. In 1949 a new heating plant and upgraded mechanical systems were installed, but the architectural integrity of the property remains intact with the exception of the removal of side and front ornamental wooden porches.
Ogdensburg Public Library (312 Washington Street) — The physical evolution of this building began with the construction of a Greek Revival residence in 1810. This classic structure with a typical columned portico and symmetrical lines survived until 1888, when it was completely demolished to allow construction of a summer home in the Queen Anne style (with a symmetrical gable and a turret) on the same foundation. Then in 1921, this Queen Anne house, which had become the city library in 1895, was extensively remodeled to become a partial replica of the original Greek Revival structure on the property. Hence, today a center columned portico shades the main entrance to a two-story center symmetrical hip-roofed rectangular clock. Fireproof one-story wings of concrete and steel are attached to each side and wrap around the building's front as far as the center portico. The exterior is finished in stucco. The interior retains some architectural features from the 1888 Queen Anne house, including a staircase, some woodwork, and several fireplaces; however, the overall effect reflects the 1921 rehabilitation and addition.
Library Park (originally laid out in 1903) — This green space occupies the entire block bounded by Washington Street, Caroline Street, Riverside Avenue, and State Street with the exception of the land on which the public library stands. It contains the Soldiers and Sailors Monument as well.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument (located in Library Park) — Erected in 1905 as a memorial to the Oswegatchie town soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War, the monument consists of a granite fluted column on a square granite pedestal. A bronze statue of Winged Victory holding a laurel wreath and a flag surmounts the column, and the top of the pedestal features four bronze war eagles. The pedestal also contains four bronze shields — one on each side and each bearing one of the following four inscriptions: United States Seal; St. Lawrence County Seal; State of New York Seal; and the words "1861-1865 Soldiers and Sailors Town of Oswegatchie War of the Rebellion." A full-size bronze figure of a soldier on guard stood at the right corner of the base but has been temporarily removed due to vandalism. Overall height is 35-1/2 feet and the base is eleven feet square. It was designed by Ogdensburg native and noted sculptor Sally James Farnham.
Newell Residence (323 Washington Street) — Built in 1888 and extensively remodeled in 1931, this dwelling originally featured a variety of facade surface treatments, wall planes and porches as well as ten exterior colors to highlight the ornamentation. It was a superb Queen Anne structure, but in 1931 an extensive remodeling stripped away the porches and much of the ornamentation. Thus, today the 2-1/2 story building is brick on the first floor and pseudo-English half-timbered and stucco on the second floor.
Augsbury Residence (112 Caroline Street) — An imposing 2-1/2 story residence built in 1891 in the popular Queen Anne style, the exterior is finished with a combination of Potsdam sandstone, clapboard, and shingles. A variety of gables, turrets, bays, chimneys, asymmetrical window openings, and a semi-circular glass-enclosed front porch blend together into one of the most visually eclectic buildings in Ogdensburg. The interior contains a wealth of original woodwork, which was retained following a modest remodeling in 1921. However, the overall architectural integrity remains much the same as when originally constructed.
Houston Residence (108 Caroline Street) — Built c.1880, as a simple frame structure with gable end to the street, this two-story three-bay-wide house is vernacular Italianate in design. An open porch wraps around the house's first floor on the front and north sides. Simple carved moldings over the windows and a main entrance surrounded by lights are the only noteworthy characteristics. The building appears to have undergone little exterior alteration over the years except for the addition of second story windows in a rear wing. The interior has been converted to apartments.
Wheaton Residence (100 Caroline Street) — c.1880. This two-story frame structure is similar in design to the adjacent structure at 108 Caroline Street. In addition, a two-story rear extension contains four dormers and 20th-century double and triple windows. The interior now contains apartments.
The Library Park Historic District is architecturally and historically significant as an intact collection of late nineteenth century buildings, many of which have been homes to some of Ogdensburg's most prominent citizens. The Library Park Historic District is considered by the community to be a cultural and recreational center because the public library, the Remington Art Museum and the park are located there.
Ogdensburg, the only city in St. Lawrence County, traces its beginnings to the establishment of a French fort and mission, Fort la Presentation, by Abbe Francois Picquet in 1749. In 1760 the fort was destroyed by a British troop advancement and was replaced by British Fort Oswegatchie, which served as an English garrison during the Revolutionary War. Following the war, much of northern New York was sold to large landowners who speculated on the growth of the region. The Ogdensburg region became the property of Col. Samuel Ogden, whose son David sold the area now being designated as the Library Park Historic District to David Parish on December 2, 1808.
Parish immediately became interested in encouraging settlement for a long-term return on his investment. Thus, he hired Joseph Rosseel as his land agent. Rosseel oversaw the construction of the Parish Mansion, now the Remington Art Museum, construction details of which are documented in a Rosseel account book. The house, also known as the "Red Villa," may well have been designed from plans drawn by French emigre architect Joseph Jacques Ramee. The interior decoration and landscaping of the grounds also bore Ramee hallmarks. Ramee did not come to America until 1811, but Parish had known him in Europe and it was through Parish's influence that Ramee was able to design the buildings at Union College in Schenectady.
David Parish used the house as a base for his Northern New York investments. He experimented with agricultural products, established mills, undertook extensive iron-ore mining operations in Rossie and Parishville, and sought improved transportation. He also participated in a loan of $7,000,000 to the U.S. Government to help finance the War of 1812. During the war, Ogdensburg was invaded by the British and the mansion slightly damaged.
Following the war, David Parish returned to Europe and appointed his brother George as his Ogdensburg agent. George Parish resided in the mansion until his death in 1839, at which time a nephew, George Parish II, purchased the estate. George Parish II won popular notoriety by allegedly winning his mistress, Maria Ameriga Vespucci, a woman known to be a lineal descendent of Amerigo Vespucci, while gambling with John Van Buren, son of president Martin Van Buren. Maria Vespucci lived in the Parish Mansion for eighteen years.
Between 1859 and 1873 the Parish property was sold and the mansion became the residence of Nathan P. Wooley, later Ogdensburg chief of police. In the early 1890's George Hall, owner of a prominent coal and shipping firm, bought and "modernized" the mansion. Hall, mayor of Ogdensburg 1888-89, and 1899-1904, was a major benefactor, giving liberally to the local hospital and school system. His gift also made possible the erection of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and upon his death the house was given to the Ogdensburg Public Library for the purpose of housing the bronzes, paintings and material of western artist Frederic Remington, who was born in nearby Canton and grew up in Ogdensburg. Remington's widow, who lived in the Parish Mansion for a short time in c.1915, donated the Remington material to the library. The Parish Mansion thus became the Remington Art Museum on July 19, 1923 — a use continuing to the present day. The museum also contains objects related to Madame Vespucci and the Parish family.
The Ogdensburg library's history is closely related to that of the Parish Mansion, for its design is a re-creation of the house originally designed by architect Joseph Jacques Ramee and built on the site for Joseph Rosseel, Parish's land agent. Furthermore, this reconstruction in 1922 was partially financed with a contribution from George Hall.
The library was founded in 1891 under the leadership of Fred Van Dusen, then principal of the Ogdensburg Free Academy. This school library became the city public library in 1893, and after a public subscription was located in the newly purchased high style eclectic Victorian summer home of Mr. George Clark, a New York City broker, and his wife, an Ogdensburg native. It was this Victorian house that was remodeled as a replica of the Rosseel house in 1922. The grounds of the former Clark home were opened as a public park in 1903 by removing an iron fence and cedar hedge. Walks were laid out and improvements in planting were made possible through a cooperative effort of the city council and private citizens. At the same time discussion began on locating a suitable soldier's Civil War memorial in the new park on the site of an old library fountain. Ransom Post 354, G.A.R. undertook the responsibility of erecting the monument, which was designed by Sally James Farnham, an Ogdensburg native and a noted sculptor whose works include the Simon Bolivar Statue in New York City's Central Park.
Also intertwined in the history of the Parish Mansion and the public library is Edgar A. Newell, who lived at 323 Washington. Newell, who incorporated a wholesale notion and clothing distributing firm in 1891, took over a curtain and drapery hardware manufacturing concern in 1904. This company, with various subsidiaries, is now a national concern and has long been an important Ogdensburg employer. Newell was also a mayor of Ogdensburg, a president of the Ogdensburg Board of Trade, an organizer of the Ogdensburg Savings & Loan Assn. and contributed to a fountain erected as part of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument. Furthermore, Edgar A. Newell's son, William Allan Newell, donated $150,000 in 1973 for the construction of the new rear wing of the Remington Art Museum.
A final link to this saga is provided by the Frank A. Augsbury family. Augsbury, who became successful in the paper industry and in the transportation of pulpwood, eventually became associated with the George Hall Co. and succeeded Hall as company president. Today the Augsbury organization and Halco (George Hall Co.) are a major shipping and oil distribution corporation. Augsbury bought the house at 112 Caroline Street in 1921, remodeled the interior under the direction of Watertown architect Lansing, and it remains in the family to the present day. The original 1891 builder of the Augsbury residence was Lawrence Manning Proctor, who was prominently associated with the Skillings, Whitneys, and Barnes Lumber Company, of which his father was president. Thus, the residence is tied to the industrial and cultural development of Ogdensburg as well as being an architecturally significant Queen Anne structure. Later, the Proctors established their own lumber and woodwork company — a concern that supplied much of the material for major regional construction projects in the early twentieth century.
The final two buildings in the Library Park Historic District — the Houston residence, occupied by the same family from 1883-1963, and the Wheaton residence — are modest vernacular designs. Harry M. Wheaton was general manager of Standard Shade Roller Corp., manufacturer of window shade rollers and another important Ogdensburg industry.
The Library Park Historic District represents important aspects of the industrial, historical, and cultural background of the city of Ogdensburg. The intertwining history of the Library Park Historic District's most prominent residents, both with each other and with the growth of the city's public library and the Remington Museum, is particularly noteworthy.
The Federal style Parish Mansion, the eclectic Victorian Dillingham house and the Queen Anne style Augsbury residence, together with their nineteenth-century residences are complemented by the landscaped park and river vista. Together this significant concentration of buildings maintains the appearance of a nineteenth-century neighborhood and reflects an important part of the history and development of Ogdensburg.
Ogdensburg Journal, Ogdensburg, New York selected issues 1887-1983.
Hough, Franklin B. History of St. Lawrence & Franklin Counties. 1853.
Garard, Rt. Rev. P.S., History of the City of Ogdensburg. Ogdensburg, 1927.