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Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District


The Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documentation. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.

Description

(Note: Until the 1890s the town and hamlet were known as Warrensburgh -- with an 'h'. About 1894 the Post Office instituted a program of name changes "for the good of the post office and mail delivery." Among the changes, names ending in burgh were changed to burg. Since that time, both spellings are found in documents referencing the town and historic hamlet. Herein we have standardized on the more contemporary spelling, Warrensburg.)

The Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District straddles the Schroon River and encompasses nearly the entire historic core of the hamlet of Warrensburg in Warren County, New York. The Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District is comprised of 428 buildings and structures located to the north and south of the Schroon River. This number includes a discontiguous portion of the district comprised of five buildings located at the southeastern end of Main Street that are separated from the larger district by a sudden change in the topography (steep hillside) which physically separates them from their contemporaneous neighbors to the northwest. The intervening space also contains a small cluster of altered late-19th century residences, a large property owned by the Catholic Church, St. Cecilia's Catholic Church and Rectory, and a large, post-1950 residence atop the hillside. Also included within the larger district are the National Register listed Merrill MaGee House (1985 and the Warrensburg Mills Historic District (1975).

The Schroon River separates the hamlet's historic commercial core to the north from its historic industrial core to the south. As such, the more high-styled residential architecture is located on the north side of the river along with a number of civic and religious properties, while the utilitarian buildings and more vernacular residential architecture are located on the south side of the river. North of the Schroon River, the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District is comprised of 134 properties; south of it there are 84 properties, of which 61 are listed as part of the Warrensburg Mills Historic District. Those properties have been reevaluated as to their contributing vs. non-contributing status and have been incorporated with new descriptions into the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District.

In general terms, the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District has a dogleg configuration, which radiates out from its broad elbow to the northwest and southwest. The historic commercial core of the hamlet is located in the elbow of the district at the intersection of Main Street, Elm Street and Hudson Street. From here, the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District travels northwest up Main Street to the intersection with Hackensack Avenue, and up Hudson Street to include the Camp Echo Lake property, taking in Warrensburg Cemetery and St. Cecilia's Cemetery as well as properties on Woodward Avenue and Third Avenue and Fourth Street and Park Street. Traveling southeast from the commercial core, the southern leg of the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District takes in properties along Elm Street, James Street, Main Street, Stewart Ferrar Street and Library Avenue; then crosses over the Schroon River at the Osborne Bridge and continues southwest along River Street taking in properties on Alden Avenue, Burdick Avenue, Burhans Avenue, Commercial Avenue, Milton Avenue, Ridge Avenue, Mill Street and Stone Street, ending approximately 850 feet west of the Woolen Mill Bridge crossing.

Residential buildings comprise the largest percentage of buildings in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District with the largest and most distinctive example located on the north side of the river near the hamlet's commercial core in the Main, Hudson and Elm streets area. Styles represented in this area include Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Bungalow, and Colonial Revival with the majority of high-style examples situated on substantial lots with generous setbacks from the street.

In contrast to the heterogeneity and upscale nature of the residential building stock on the north side of the Schroon River, the residential building stock on the south side of the river is rather homogeneous, with numerous intact and significant examples of vernacular, wood frame, mid-late nineteenth century residences. For the most part, these residences are worker's homes located on River Street that clearly reflect the industry-based development that took place in this part of the hamlet throughout the nineteenth century. While many of these buildings were previously listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Warrensburg Mills Historic District (1975), the status of some has changed either through renovations or demolition.

In general, the residences on the south side of the Schroon River have been subjected to more modifications than those on the north side; however, as a group, they convey a strong sense of cohesiveness and historic integrity. Unlike the generous size lots afforded many of the residences on the north side of the river, these residences are situated close together on small lots closer to the road. The majority are simple, 2-story, gable-front, frame buildings, many with one-story, full-width front porches. Representative examples of the most modest of these can be found at 3 Stone Street, 6 Commercial Avenue, and 64, 72, 94, and 112 River Street. Others reflect vernacular interpretations of Folk Victorian with spindlework porch detailing and decorative gable trim, such as 1 Burdick Avenue, 4 Milton Avenue and 58, 76, and 78 River Street. Still yet, notable examples of the Greek Revival influence in this modest housing stock can be found at 42, 90 and 92 River Street and 4 Ridge Avenue.

West of the Woolen Mill Bridge on River Street, is an enclave of turn-of-the-century residences, which for the most part, are larger than those residences further east on River Street and closer to the hamlet's historic industrial core. The majority of the residences west of the Woolen Mill Bridge crossing on River Street are 2-1/2 story, gable-front, L-shaped buildings with full-width or wraparound porches and minimal detailing. Good examples of this building type are at: 136, 138, 140, 143, 145 and 146 River Street. Other residential building types found on the south side of the River include a handful of mid/late-nineteenth century duplex workers' houses such as those at 62, 96 and 116 River Street, and a few large, more high-style Victorian residences such as 100 River Street, 1 Ridge Avenue and 15 Alden Avenue, which is the only stone residence of its type in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District.

Commercial development of the hamlet occurred primarily on the north side of the Schroon River along Main Street, with the greatest concentration at the intersection of Hudson and Main Streets. Nineteenth century commercial development on the south side of the Schroon River was overshadowed by the industrial development occurring along River Street. However, a handful of scattered commercial buildings survive which reflect more vernacular approaches to historic construction when compared with contemporaneous commercial properties on the north side of the river along Main and Hudson streets.

Nineteenth century industrial development in the hamlet occurred primarily on the south side of the river along River Road. The cluster of a half-dozen largely intact, nineteenth and early-twentieth century industrial-related buildings just west of the Osborne Bridge crossing on River Road between Ridge Avenue and Mill Street continue to clearly identify this portion of the hamlet as its industrial core.

Historic properties associated with the social, educational and religious development of the hamlet are primarily located on the north side of the Schroon River. Unlike the residential, commercial and industrial buildings in the district, these buildings are not concentrated in any specific area, but are scattered throughout the district.

Two of the three historic churches in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District are located on opposite ends of Main Street; the other is located approximately midway between the two on Steward Farrar Street, a side street off of Main Street.

Two outstanding civic properties in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District are the Richards Library at 36 Elm Street, which sits on a large corner lot at the intersection of Elm and Library streets, and the Warrensburg Central School at 1 James Street.

Properties associated with the historic development of recreation and tourism in the hamlet are primarily located on the north side of the Schroon River. This historic theme is reflected in small camps and bungalows in the vicinity of Ashe's Hotel on Hudson Street, as well as in the numerous bunks, activities, administrative and other buildings and structures associated with the 135-acre Camp Echo Lake property at the northern end of Hudson Street, which was established during the first half of this century. Ashe's Hotel at 64 Hudson Street, formerly known as the Agricultural Hotel because of its association with the Warrensburg Fairgrounds, is a distinctive 3-story Italianate-inspired frame building with a decorative, second-story, full-width porch and a bracketed cornice. The cluster of small, seasonal frame cabins across the street, near the Corner of Ashe and Third avenues (27, 29 Third Avenue, and 4, 6 Park Street), provides a good representative sample of the type of small-scale seasonal camps that can be found lightly scattered throughout the district on the north side of the river.

Other noteworthy historic structures in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District include the Osborne Bridge, a c.1930 through Warren truss bridge that spans the Schroon River at the eastern edge of the historic district connecting the hamlet's historic commercial core with its industrial core; the Woolen Mill Bridge, a c.1895 through Pratt truss railroad bridge that was moved to its current location in 1903 and spans the Schroon River near the western boundary of the historic district; the remains of the Mill Dam, a nineteenth century stone structure with a wood plank shield, visible in the river just west of the Osborne Bridge crossing; and the highly visible Floyd Bennett Park and Bandstand in the heart of the hamlet's commercial core, built in 1930-31 to honor Floyd Bennett, a Warrensburg native who was the first pilot to fly over the North Pole.

Also included in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District are two contributing mid-to-late nineteenth century cemeteries, St. Cecilia's Cemetery and the Warrensburg Cemetery, which line each side of Hudson Street from the outskirts of the residential area to the Camp Echo Lake property.

Significance

The significance of the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District is clearly communicated by its cohesive collection of buildings and structures that span a period of over 150 years and provide a comprehensive representation of architectural styles and historic building associations and functions, which encapsulate many of the historic themes central to the development of New York state's Adirondack region. The Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District straddles the Schroon River and encompasses nearly the entire historic core of the hamlet. It includes numerous largely intact examples of nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries domestic, commercial, civic, industrial and religious architecture, as well as bridges, a dam and a small centralized village park with a bandstand. Stylistically, a range of vernacular to high-style interpretations are represented in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District with the latter comprising only approximately 15% of the total resource count. The remainder of resources in the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District are modest vernacular interpretations of mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries architectural styles which reflect the large working class community in this historic industrial hamlet.

Formerly established in 1813, the hamlet of Warrensburg steadily grew around the varied industries that lined the Schroon River, which, in large part, separated the hamlet's industrial core on its south from its commercial core on its north. This physical division directed the hamlet's industrial, commercial, residential and socio-political development throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The result being a busy Main Street on the north side of the river lined with a mixture of mid-late nineteenth century commercial, civic, religious and large-scale residential properties; while on the south side of the river, there was a strong industrial presence with a number of large mills, associated industrial buildings, worker's housing and small-scale vernacular residences.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the sawmills, gristmills, carding and planing mills of Woodman, Griffin and Emerson, Burhans, Gray & Company, A. Burdick, G.T. Lewis, et al. provided the backbone of Warrensburg's economy. But during the late 1800's, this industrial base succumbed to the economic pressures of expanding national markets resulting in the loss of a number of industrial buildings. Despite this, an intact group of imposing mills and associated storage and office buildings still remain on the south side of the Schroon River, which continue to identify this part of the hamlet as the heart of Warrensburg's industrial center. Significant historic resources within the historic district that reflect this early industrial base in Warrensburg include two late-nineteenth century massive industrial buildings located across the street from one another at 50 River Street (presently [2000] the Outlet Barn) and 49 River Street (presently [2000] the River Street Market Place). These buildings, which were both involved in the manufacture of shirts and shirtwaists and originally connected by an overpass, were built by the Empire Shirt Company and J.P. Bauman & Sons. The oldest industrial building in the historic district is at 55 River Street (presently [2000] a restaurant called The Gristmill Building). Built in 1824 by Dudley Farlin to replace an earlier (1806) mill on the site, the building was purchased and improved during the mid-nineteenth century by Burhans, Gray & Company, eventually producing 15 tons of produce in a 12-hour period.

Two other notable industrial buildings from the turn-of-the-century, which are located near what was the terminus of the railroad spur (no longer extant) and used for storage and shipping are the large, distinctive "Coal Pocket" at 54 River Street used for the storage of coal brought in by rail for the mills and manufactories along River Street, and the massive, grain/feed storage and shipping building of T.J. Smith & Son Company at 52 River Street. These buildings recall through their massing, design and layout, the importance local industry and rail transportation held in the historic development of Warrensburg.

In addition to the large industrial buildings on the south side of the river, there are numerous historically significant, non-industrial buildings that contribute to the cohesiveness of the historic industry-related community on the south side of the river. The small, residential-looking Greek Revival/Italianate vernacular building at 52 River Street was the office and store for the A.C. Emerson Company, whose large lumbermill (no longer extant) was located directly across River Street. The commercial storefront buildings at 59, 75 and 132 River Street, provided goods and services to the industry-related community on the south side of the river. And the numerous intact and significant examples of vernacular, wood frame, mid-late nineteenth century workers' houses and other modest residences located in close proximity to the various mills and manufactories that were once active in this vicinity, clearly reflect the size and vitality of the historic local industry and its profound effect on the growth and development of Warrensburg.

Although a few important early industries were also located on the north side of the Schroon River, such as the large tannery (no longer extant) owned by prominent local industrialist B.P. Burhans on Burhans Avenue near the present Warrensburg Central School, the overriding development on this side of the river was primarily driven by the early-mid nineteenth century commercial development along Main Street (US Route 9), which was the main north-south road connecting Warrensburg with Glens Falls, Albany and points south. Also, coinciding and interspersed with the commercial development along Main Street, was the construction of a number of distinguished residences and mansions by the wealthy industrialists, businessmen and professionals, who were associated with the various industries on the south side of the river. By the mid-nineteenth century this area had become the "neighborhood of choice: for the community's more well-to-do residents, a trend that continued well into the twentieth century. Today, the numerous high style architectural renderings of national stylistic trends, which span a period of over 100 years, reflect a continuum of prosperity in Warrensburg.

Noteworthy architectural examples that reflect the individual prosperity of their original owners and contribute to the overall upscale historic character of the neighborhood on the north side of the Schroon River include: the c.1830 Greek Revival residences at 115 and 119 Main Street: the c.1850 Greek Revival Cunningham House at 122 Main Street built for one of Warrensburg's prominent early nineteenth century industrialists, mill owner Joseph Russell, and later purchased by lawyer Thomas Cunningham; the c.1835 distinguished, temple-front Merrill MaGree House at 2 Hudson Street in the heart of the hamlet's commercial core, home of Stephen Griffin, a leading early-nineteenth century local industrialist and politician; the c.1850 towered Italianate residence at 119 Main Street; the c.1860 Second Empire caretaker's cottage at 8 Elm Street originally associated with the Elms Mansion that faces onto Main Street (not included in district); the turn-of-the-century Queen Anne residences at 44 and 50 Elm Street, the outstanding Queen Anne residence and outbuildings at 46 Hudson Street; and the c.1920 Bungalow style residences at 41 and 43 Elm Street.

The remaining residential building stock on the north side of the river is comprised primarily of late-nineteenth/early-twentieth centuries modest single family houses, such as 7, 8 and 9 Woodward Avenue, 7 Library Avenue, and 29, 31 and 33 Fourth Street, that reflect vernacular interpretations of popular Victorian styles. Concentrations of these residences on the streets radiating out from Main Street reflect the significant development that occurred on the north side of the Schroon River during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Examples of earlier modest vernacular residential architecture, such as the Greek Revival residences with Victorian modifications at 167, 169 and 171 Main Street, are primarily located closer to the commercial core of the hamlet.

The historic and current commercial core of the hamlet is clearly identified by the cluster of distinguished historic properties at the intersection of Main, Elm and Hudson streets. At the point of the intersection is the Floyd Bennett Park and Bandstand (1930-31), a small triangular green with a Colonial Revival octagon bandstand on a raised brick base, built to commemorate Floyd Bennett, a Warrensburg native, who was the first pilot to fly over the North Pole. Facing the park at 158 Main Street is the Woodward Block, a significant, mid-nineteenth century, large, stone, Mansard-roofed commercial building. Across the street at 2 Hudson Street, is the distinguished temple-front Merrill MaGee House (1835/1855), now operated as a restaurant and inn. Next to the Merrill MaGee House is the Wills Block at 4, 6 and 8 Hudson Street, which is a distinguished c.1865 stone and frame commercial building. Across from that is another notable commercial building that fills in the "V:" behind the Woodward Block and has storefronts on both Main and Hudson streets. The continuing vitality and commercial development along Main Street into the twentieth century is evidenced by the large, c.1927 Neoclassical bank building at 138 Main Street.

Establishment of the hamlet's historic religious and civic buildings also occurred on the north side of the Schroon River. The churches of three denominations — Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian — are located within the Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District. The United Presbyterian Church at 4 Stewart Farrar Street, built in 1840, is the oldest. Built by Joseph Woodward in a Gothic Revival design, the church was later modified with Queen Anne detailing. The First Methodist Church at 175 Main Street, a modest vernacular 1904 frame building (now vinyl sided) with a side tower, is the third church building on its site and home to the earliest organized religious group in the hamlet. Organized in 1796, the Methodists first held religious meetings in the "upper village" schoolhouse. In 1802, they built the first small church on the site of the present day church. That building was replaced in 1840 by another, which was eventually moved to 49 King Street and converted to a residence. The Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross at 57 Main Street (discontiguous portion of the district), built in 1864, and its attached rectory and parish house, built in 1886 provide excellent examples of Gothic Revival ecclesiastical architecture executed in stone. The church was constructed at a cost of $3,000 and was financed by the Burhans and Griffith families, who were among Warrensburg's most prosperous local industrialists. The Richards sisters (who financed the construction of the Richards Library in 1900) and Henry Griffing raised most of the funds required to construct the rectory and parish house. Prior to the construction of the Richards Library on Elm Street, the parish hall functioned as a community library.

Civic buildings that were associated with nineteenth century development of the hamlet no longer exist within Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District, the Richards Library at 36 Elm Street, the original Odd Fellows Hall (now the VFW and Museum of Local History) at 47 Main Street (discontiguous portion of the district), and the Warrensburg Central School at 1 James Street, represent the early-mid twentieth century expansion of the hamlet on the north side of the river. The Richard's Library, a stone building built in 1900 on the site of the hamlet's first library established in 1890 by Mary and Clara Richards, is an outstanding example of Colonial Revival civic architecture. The original Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Hall at 47 Main Street, built in 1926, is a concrete block utilitarian building designed in the typical meeting house/grange form. Originally located in the Wills Block building at 4, 6 and 8 Hudson Street, the I.O.O.F. Lodge #388 was established in Warrensburg in 1881. The Warrensburg Central School, built in 1952, is a remarkably intact and outstanding example of Georgian Revival civic architecture. Also as its predecessors, the Warrensburg Academy (1854) the Warrensburg Union Free School (1899) and the Warrensburg High School, no longer remains, it is the only extant historic resource associated with the development of educational opportunity in the hamlet.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, as local industry succumbed to the economic pressures of expanding national markets, the recreation and tourism industry in the Adirondack Region emerged as central to the region's economy. This shift in the region's economic base is evidenced in the hamlet of Warrensburg by extant recreation-related resources in the form of private cabins and camps, as well as enclaves of buildings associated with resort and summer camp business. Within the historic district this development occurred primarily north of the Schroon River. Numerous small, seasonal cabins are scattered throughout the district with a cluster located near the corner of Ashe and Third avenues (27 & 29 Third Avenue, and 4 & 6 Park Street) that were associated with Ashe's Hotel on Hudson Street. However, the largest single resource associated with this theme is the 135-acre Camp Echo Lake property located on Echo Lake at the north end of Hudson Street. Established during the first quarter of the twentieth century as a camp for young adults, it was reorganized in the late 1930's to become a children's camp and in 1946, a neighboring enclave of cabins south of Fish Hatchery Road was added to the property. Today Camp Echo Lake, with its numerous cabins, administrative buildings, lodges and recreation-related landscape features, is still an active, vital seasonal camp for children, which retains a substantial degree of historic integrity and clearly communicates a sense of the historic theme of recreation and tourism, and particularly the importance summer camps have played in the historic development of North Country communities like Warrensburg.

Now, in the beginning of the twenty-first century, The Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District is comprised of a wide assortment of intact historic resources that embody the physical and associative attributes of various development themes that molded the character of the hamlet and, taken together, evoke a rich sense of the hamlet's cultural heritage and chronicle its historic development.

References

Adams, J.W. 1898 "Warrensburgh As It Was and As It Is." Warrensburgh News, Souvenir Edition, Warrensburgh, New York.

Adirondack Journal Feb. 26-March 3, 1988 "A Special Tribute to the Town of Warrensburgh.

Fisher, Marie H. 1987 "A Brief History of the Town of Warrensburgh, Warren County, New York." privately printed.

________ 1974 "A Sketch Book of Warrensburgh." The Spencer Press, Brattleboro, Vermont.

French, J.H. 1860 Gazetteer of the State of New York. R. Pearsall Smith, Syracuse, New York.

Gordon, Thomas 1836 A Gazetteer of the State of New York. H.C. Southwick, New York.

Hough, F.B. 1872 Gazetteer of the State of New York. Andrew Boyd, Albany, New York.

Smith, H.P. 1885 History of Warren County, New York. D.Mason and Co., Syracuse, New York.

Warrensburgh Chamber of Commerce. 1967 "Warrensburgh, New York." Tourism Brochure.

Warrensburgh-Lake George News --
  Nov. 7, 1963 "History of Warrensburgh."
  Dec. 6, 1962 "Historic Homes of the Adirondacks."
  August 9, 1962 "Floyd Bennett Day — Souvenir Edition."
  August, 1971 "Profile of a Town."

  1. Jessica R. Roemischer, Architectural Historian and L. Garofaline, ed., New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation., Hamlet of Warrensburgh Historic District, nomination document, 2000, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Hamlet of Warrensburg Historic District Map

Street Names
Commercial Street • Elm Street • Hudson Street • James Street • King Street • Library Avenue • Main Street • Mill Avenue • Pebble Lane • Ridge Avenue • River Street • Route 9 • Smith Street • South Avenue • Stone Street • Summit Street

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
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