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West Neck Road Historic District


The West Neck Road Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.

Description

The West Neck Road Historic District consists of twenty-three contributing buildings that compose a large, relatively intact residential enclave located along both sides of this busy thoroughfare in the northwest quadrant of the unincorporated village of Huntington. Situated just north of Huntington's densely developed business area, the West Neck Road Historic District is centered along West Neck Road, a major north/south route that links the villages of Lloyd Harbor and Huntington. The contributing dwellings in the West Neck Road Historic District date from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries (c.1750-c.1910) and reflect the changing local building practices as the area developed from a rural settlement on the outskirts of the village to a prominent late nineteenth century middle-class neighborhood within the ever expanding village. The majority of the residences date from 1860 to 1900 and exhibit late Victorian eclecticism in their asymmetrical massing and abundance of picturesque details. The West Neck Road Historic District also contains four mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century settlement period dwellings that recall the neighborhood's rural agrarian past. The West Neck Road Historic District contains three modern, non-contributing residences.

The area known as West Neck lies on the northwest side of the town of Huntington adjoining Cold Spring Harbor on the west and Huntington Harbor on the east. West Neck Road is a wide village street lined with mature trees and dwellings similar in size, style, materials, and craftsmanship. The residences within the West Neck Road Historic District are situated on small village lots and have a uniform setback. There is a sharp transition from Huntington's densely developed commercial/business area to the south and this distinctly residential enclave, which makes it a well-recognized local historic area. The residential areas to the east and west of the district include modern buildings and altered historic dwellings. The northern boundary of the West Neck Road Historic District is formed by a neighborhood of large modern residences on spacious lots.

The West Neck Road Historic District includes four relatively intact, representative examples of settlement period architecture dating from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. The residences (Weeks House, c.1750; Ketchum House, c.1820; Douglas Conklin House, c.1830; Conklin House, c.1828) reflect the area's traditional, conservative building practices and exhibit characteristic settlement period features including timber-framing, shingle/clapboard sheathing, interior or end chimneys, regular fenestration, and an overall lack of decorative detail. Three of the dwellings (Weeks House, Douglas Conklin House, and Ketchum House) feature the three-bay side-hall plan, narrow vertical massing, and vernacular Federal style detailing. Built in 1818, the Conklin House has a five-bay, center-hall plan, twin interior end chimneys, a kitchen side wing, and modified Federal style details.

The West Neck Road Historic District contains a distinctive and early local example of one of the many picturesque styles of architecture that became popular in the mid-nineteenth century throughout the country but were not widely adopted in Huntington until the late nineteenth century. Built c.1850, Elm Cottage is one of the few Gothic Revival style structures in the multiple resource area and one of the first buildings to diverge from the local vernacular building practices of settlement period architecture. Elm Cottage features board and batten siding, a steeply pitched gable roof with dormers, window labels, decorative chimneys, and scroll-sawn bargeboards.

The Shepherd House, built c.1860, reflects the transition between the dominant local vernacular building tradition and the adoption of the picturesque architectural styles of the mid and late nineteenth century. The Shepherd House is a five-bay, center-hall settlement period dwelling embellished by eclectic period decorative details including exposed rafter ends, a stained-glass oval window, and tapered Doric porch columns.

The majority of the dwellings included in the West Neck Road Historic District were built between 1860 and 1900 when this area developed as a middle-class residential neighborhood. The residences are generally two and one-half story, three or four bay, gable-roofed buildings with a mixture of shingle and clapboard sheathing and a variety of eclectic, picturesque details. The residences have asymmetrical plans, irregular and varied fenestration, and a profusion of pierced/sawn/turned woodwork that embellishes cornices, gable, and porches. Distinctive examples include #35 with a very decorative porch featuring scroll-sawn bargeboard and corner braces; #63 with Stick style trim; #27 with an enclosed pergola-like front porch and exposed rafter ends and #71 with a jerkinhead roof, bay windows, and panelled porch trim.

Significance

The West Neck Road Historic District is architecturally significant as a large, relatively intact residential enclave that recalls the growth and development of the unincorporated village of Huntington from a small rural, agrarian community in the mid-eighteenth century to a prosperous, well-established village in the late nineteenth century. The twenty-three contributing primary properties, dating from c.1750 to c.1910, illustrate the spectrum of Huntington's architectural heritage from the settlement period form to the fashionable styles of the late nineteenth century. The majority of structures in the West Neck Road Historic District date from 1860 to 1900, the period during which the neighborhood developed as a dense middle-class residential area serving the growing village of Huntington. The residences represent a fine collection of intact Victorian-era residential architecture in the multiple resource area, with their asymmetrical massing, irregular and varied fenestration, and profusion of picturesque architectural details. The four settlement period dwellings in the West Neck Road Historic District recall the area's late eighteenth and early nineteenth century agrarian settlement with their simple, unadorned building forms. The West Neck Road Historic District is significant within the multiple resource area as containing the largest, most intact cohesive collections of middle-class Victorian-period dwellings and as one of the few relatively unaltered streetscapes to survive from Huntington's period of rapid growth and development in the late nineteenth century.

The area known as West Neck is located in northwest Huntington between the unincorporated village of Cold Spring Harbor on the west and Huntington Harbor on the east. The area within the West Neck Road Historic District was originally settled in the early nineteenth century as farmhouses built along West Neck Road, the main north road which led to the summer pastures and grazing spots. The area surrounding West Neck Road was developed because of its fine soil, good hunting grounds, and extensive beds of clay. The area's original mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth century settlement is reflected in the district's oldest dwellings: the Weeks House (c.1750), the Douglas Conklin House (c.1830), the Ketchum House (c.1830), and the Conklin House (c.1828). The dwellings reflect the simple, utilitarian form, natural materials, and lack of decorative trim which characterize all of Huntington's settlement period buildings. With their close proximity to Huntington's densely developed and much altered central business district, these four properties remain as relatively rare, intact surviving examples of settlement period architecture within the heart of the unincorporated village of Huntington.

Elm Cottage (c.1850) and the Shepherd House (c.1860) depict the wide variance in architectural styles and practices that Huntington was starting to experience in the mid-nineteenth century. Elm Cottage is rare in Huntington and the multiple resource area as one of the earliest examples of a relatively high-style form of architecture and as one of the only Gothic Revival style buildings.

Popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing in the mid-nineteenth century, the Gothic Revival style was used for everything from picturesque cottages to stone churches. A fine, well-crafted example of the style, Elm Cottage exhibits such characteristic details as board and batten siding, window labels, and scroll-sawn bargeboard. The high level of craftsmanship, style, and detail reflect the prominence and wealth of its owners, the Woolsey family, who owned a nearby hat factory.

In its use of the newly fashionable Gothic style architecture, Elm Cottage represents one of the first and most dramatic breaks from the local vernacular building practices that dominated Huntington's architecture from its settlement in the mid-seventeenth century through the mid-nineteenth century. Although Elm Cottage reflects the fashion consciousness of its wealthy and prominent owners, the overall change in the West Neck Road Historic District's architectural character corresponds to a period in Huntington's history of expansion and development in which it was transformed from a small, isolated community into an established village with a commercial core that serviced the surrounding region. As Huntington's social, economic, and geographic isolation lessened, its conservative building traditions changed slowly, as illustrated by the design of the Shepherd House. Built c.1860, the Shepherd House retains the basic center-hall settlement period form but is embellished by a few eclectic, picturesque details. The practice of "remodelling" settlement period buildings by the addition of later period architectural details or the construction of new dwellings which reflect a mix of the traditional local building patterns and the popular picturesque styles was a common practice throughout Huntington in the nineteenth century.

The majority of the residences in the West Neck Road Historic District date from the mid to late nineteenth century when the village experienced its greatest population and building boom. Due to its location adjacent to the rapidly expanding commercial core of the village, West Neck Road was developed during the mid to late nineteenth century as a middle-class neighborhood primarily for the merchants and businessmen who worked nearby. The eighteen dwellings dating from this period (1860-1900) exhibit late Victorian eclecticism in their asymmetrical massing, irregular and varied fenestration, and variety of picturesque architectural details. Although each residence varies in its amount and/or type of architectural detail, most dwellings feature bay windows, wraparound porches and verandahs, and an abundance of scroll-sawn/turned/pierced wooden trim. With their large size, spacious well-landscaped lots, uniform setback from the street, and picturesque ornament, the buildings form a unique and very distinctive late nineteenth century neighborhood that has remained relatively intact.

The West Neck Road Historic District is significant for illustrating the history of Huntington's building practices as the town prospered and developed from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

  1. New York State Department of Parks & Recreation, Historic Preservation Division, West Neck Road Historic District, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

West Neck Road Historic District Map

Street Names
Central Street • Mechanic Street • Village Drive • West Neck Road

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