Liberty Street Historic District
The Liberty Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The Liberty Street Historic District is an architecturally and historically significant concentration of commercial, residential, ecclesiastical and civic structures in the historic core of the village. The nineteenth and early-twentieth century buildings reflect the historical development of the village from its settlement in 1793, through the height of its prosperity during the third quarter of the nineteenth century as the county seat of Steuben County and as the center of commercial activity for the surrounding rural, agricultural regions. Distinctive examples of a wide variety of building styles, including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Italian Villa, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival, are contained in the district. They date from c. 1819 to c. 1930.
The focal point of the district is Pulteney Square, the first area to be cleared by Captain Charles Williamson in 1792-93. The earliest extant structure in the village, the northern wing of the Balcom House (now the Supervisor's Chambers), faces Pulteney Square, a three-acre village green. It dates from Bath's earliest period of prosperity when the village was a river front trading center through which lumber and grain were shipped down the Susquehanna River. The two other important structures dating from the district's earliest period of significance also face Pulteney Square. They are the south section of the Balcom House and the Steuben County Bank (converted for use as Masonic lodge). Both are architecturally significant as distinctive examples of Greek Revival style architecture. Typical features of the period and style exhibited by both structures include prominent two-story, pedimented porticoes supported by fluted Ionic columns, wide friezes and classically inspired entrance detailing. The Balcom House has a three-bay, side-hall configuration with the gable end towards the street. The bank is the five-bay, center-hall variation of the style. The Steuben County Courthouse (East Pulteney Square, a late example of the style, also features a distinctive two-story pedimented portico.
The railroad era produced a second period growth in the village as reflected in the numerous buildings designed in the styles of the third quarter of the century. The commercial center of the district is visually dominated by the Romanesque Revival style attached brick rows. Distinctive features of the style exhibited by the buildings on both side of Liberty Street between Pulteney Square and William Street include corbelled brick cornices and ornate window trim. Important examples include the Robie Block (21-23 Liberty Street), also significant as the location of the I. D. Robie & Company's dry goods store, the Hallock Block (3-5 Liberty Street), designed by the prominent Bath architect Henry S. Bennett, the First National Bank (1 Liberty Street) and the Beekman Block (26-32 Liberty Street), built by the Bath construction firm of Davison & Carpenter. The influence of the Italianate style is reflected in several prominent buildings scattered throughout the business district. They are distinguished by their applied wooden or metal cornices, often embellished with brackets, modillions, rosettes and/or dentils. Important examples include the Ulrich Hotel (18 West Steuben Street). A particularly notable example of Italianate style commercial architecture is the Ambrose S. Howell Building (7 Liberty Street) which retains its original cast-iron facade designed by George Bartlett of Olean and cast by Daniel Badger of the Architectural Iron Works of New York City. The Purdy Opera House (43-45 Liberty Street) features a mansard roof and prominent tower, reflecting the influence of the Second Empire style.
Two significant examples of ecclesiastical architecture dating from this period of prosperity are also included in the Liberty Street Historic District. The First Presbyterian Church (South Pulteney Square), a distinctive example of the High Victorian Gothic style, was designed by Jacob Wray Mould, a prominent New York City ecclesiastical architect. Its picturesque asymmetry and the use of polychrome stone are characteristic of the period and style. Particularly notable are the stained-glass windows designed by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios. The St. Thomas Episcopal Church (122 Liberty Street), with its steeply pitched gable roof, trefoil clerestory windows and Gothic-arched stained-glass windows, embodies the characteristics of the Gothic Revival style. It was designed by Henry C. Dudley, also a prominent New York City architect renowned for his church designs.
The district also includes a significant concentration of residential architecture dating from the third quarter of the nineteenth century. A distinctive Gothic Revival style cottage, reflecting the influence of pattern books popular during the 1850's, is located in the northern residential neighborhood of the district (226 Liberty Street). Features typical of the style include picturesque asymmetry and a steeply pitched cross-gable roof with an ornamental bargeboard. The dwelling was occupied by Charles H Barron, a hardware merchant dealing in agricultural implements. The B. F. Young House (220 Liberty Street) and the dwelling at 213 Liberty Street, both in the neighborhood, are distinctive examples of Italianate style residential architecture. The low-pitched hipped roofs with broadly projecting, bracketed eaves and prominent cupolas embody the characteristics of the period and style. The B. F. Young House is attributed to the prominent Rochester architectural firm of Merwin Austin and J. Foster Warner. Other works of theirs in the village include the H. W. Perline House (1 Haverling Street). Young was an agent for the Pulteney Land Office. Alvah E. Brown, a grocer in the village, occupied 213 Liberty Street. The A. P. Ferris House (209 Liberty Street) is architecturally significant as a distinctive example of the Italian Villa style. Ferris was an important Bath banker.
There is one distinctive civic structure dating from the third quarter of the century. It is the County Clerk's Office (East Pulteney Square), designed in the Romanesque Revival style. It is an integral component of the civic complex bordering Pulteney Square.
Bath's growth after 1880 is reflected in the many late nineteenth century structures included in the district. Distinctive examples of Queen Anne style residential architecture include the Parker House (221 Liberty Street), the Jones House #1 (223 Liberty Street), and the Jones House #2 (225 Liberty Street), three identical residences built by James Parker and his partners, the Jones brothers. The three men were prominent Bath citizens in the lumber business. The Barber House (West Pulteney Square) exhibits a variety of picturesque features associated with the Victorian period, including a steeply pitched cross gable roof, projecting bays and pavilions, scallop shingling in the front gable end and ornamental woodwork in the apex of the front gable. The Barber House is unique in that it was ordered from a George F. Barber pattern book (Knoxville, Tennessee), shipped via rail in pieces to Bath, and assembled near the railroad tracks. Its owner was Bert G. Barber, a prominent Bath citizen of no apparent relation to George F. Barber.
Buell Street contains the district's significant late-nineteenth century commercial architecture. The structures, smaller in scale and more restrained in ornamentation, complement the more pretentious Liberty Street buildings of the earlier period. Also dating from the late-nineteenth century is the Surrogate Office (East Pulteney Square), an eclectic civic structure exhibiting a variety of Victorian features including a steeply pitched, multi-gabled roof, polychrome detailing, corbelled brickwork in the front gable end and corbelled brick chimneys.
Architecturally significant structures dating from the early twentieth century include the Municipal Building, the Lyon Elementary School and the U. S. Post Office, all on Liberty Street. The structures exhibit distinctive features commonly associated with the Neoclassical style including symmetrical configurations, entablatures, parapets and/or cornices embellished with modillions and/or dentils, decorative quoins and/or pilasters, and classically inspired porticoes and entrance detailing. Two of the three are attributed to prominent architects.
The Municipal Building, although not constructed until 1923, was designed in 1911 by Thomas Fogarty, about whom little is known. The main block of the school was designed by Palmer Rogers, a prominent New York City architect who specialized in school architecture during the 1920's. He was, for a few years, a partner of the nationally famous architect, Cass Gilbert. In the Bath region, Rogers is noted for his designs for schools in Avoca, Corning, Painted Post and Addison. The design and construction of the U. S. Post Office was overseen by James A. Wetmore, long-time architectural supervisor of the U. S. Treasury Department in Washington and a native of Bath.
The two early twentieth century examples of residential architecture in the district reflect the influence of the Colonial Revival style. The small-scale, modest 1920's dwellings on South Pulteney Square complement the imposing civic and ecclesiastical structures surrounding them.
Together, the buildings included in the Liberty Street Historic District reflect he historic development of the core of the village.