Pultneyville Historic District
The Pultneyville 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.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Pultneyville Historic District includes thirty-five properties (thirty-three contributing primary structures and eighteen contributing outbuildings) in Pultneyville, New York, a small, unincorporated hamlet on the south shore of Lake Ontario. Located in the predominantly rural, agrarian town of Williamson in northern Wayne County, Pultneyville is a small residential community surrounded by fruit and dairy farms. The Pultneyville Historic District, which incorporates most of the north end of the hamlet, encompasses the historic core of Pultneyville. Its earliest buildings, which predominate, are well-crafted, modest to relatively sophisticated Federal and Greek Revival style frame dwellings built between circa 1810 and 1850. Most occupy relatively large, landscaped lots and many include contributing outbuildings dating from the nineteenth century. The very small commercial and religious core of Pultneyville, located near the intersection of Hamilton Street with West Lake Road and Mill Street in the northwest quadrant of the hamlet (west of the district), has lost its architectural integrity and is therefore excluded from the Pultneyville Historic District. Together, the pre-Civil War buildings reflect Pultneyville's early-to-mid-nineteenth century prosperity as a Great Lakes shipping port and market place for local farmers. In addition to the early to mid-nineteenth century frame residences, the Pultneyville Historic District also includes several late nineteenth century structures, three masonry structures, a warehouse (circa 1867, behind 4135 Lake Road on east side of Salmon Creek), a former hotel (circa 1887, Harbor View Manor, 4172 Lake Road, currently occupied by apartments) and a former fire station (circa 1890, 4178 Lake Road, currently a single family residence). Pultneyville has very few commercial or civic structures, no industrial structures and only two churches; none of these is located in the district. There are no known archeological sites in the Pultneyville Historic District, but several potentially significant sites adjacent to the district have been identified.
The thirty-seven-acre Pultneyville Historic District encompasses both sides of sections of Lake Road and Jay Street. (Lake Road is locally known by several commonly used names: the east-west section west of the Lake Road/Hamilton Street intersection is known as West Lake Road; the southwest-northeast and south-north sections east of the Lake Road/Hamilton Street intersection are known as Mill Street; the east-west section between Mill Street and Jay Street is known as Washington Street; the east-west section east of Jay Street is Lake Road. All properties, however, have official Lake Road addresses. In the following narratives, the Lake Road addresses will be used when a particular property is being referred to, but common street names will be used to distinguish the different sections of Lake Road, as each section has its own character.)
The Pultneyville Historic District as a whole is a relatively homogeneous collection of structures, with examples of the various types, periods and styles evenly distributed throughout. The streets included in the Pultneyville Historic District are among the oldest in the hamlet and therefore all contain important structures dating from the earliest period of significance; and, as the historic core of Pultneyville throughout its history, the streets contain a variety of structures from each succeeding period of development. However, subtle variations are discernible among the various sections of the Pultneyville Historic District. Mill Street contains relatively modest, vernacular Federal and Greek Revival style frame dwellings which are, towards the southwest end of the block, sparsely scattered. Closer to the lake, density increases and structures from later in the nineteenth century characterize the streetscape. On this section of Mill Street is the most prominent and architecturally distinguished structure, the imposing Second Empire style brick mansion at 4138 Lake Road (circa 1860s), and the Pultneyville Historic District's only concentration of late nineteenth century structures (4142-4178 Lake Road). At the north end of Mill Street, on a grassy knoll overlooking the lake, is the Sailors' Monument. (Built circa 1936, the monument is a non-contributing component of the Pultneyville Historic District as it does not date from the district's period of significance.) Washington Street, the densely settled block east of the monument, contains a high concentration of some of Pultneyville's oldest and most sophisticated residences. The north side consists of a row of modest, 1820s Federal style structures, although most exhibit early twentieth century, Colonial Revival style embellishments. The south side of Washington Street includes many of the Pultneyville Historic District's most imposing dwellings, many of which are associated with some of Pultneyville's earliest and most prominent citizens, many of whom achieved local notoriety in the shipping and Great Lakes transportation industries. These include the Horatio Nelson Throop House (circa 1832, 4184 Lake Road), a Federal style, cobblestone dwelling, the Washington Throop House (circa 1828, 4188 Lake Road), a Federal style, frame dwelling with outstanding entrance details, and 4194 Lake Road (circa 1850), a distinguished Italianate style brick dwelling. Further east along the south side of Washington Street and Lake Road (beyond #4200 Lake Road), the level of sophistication is equally high, but density decreases markedly in the northeast quadrant of the district, beginning with the imposing Greek Revival style dwelling on the southwest corner of Washington and Jay Streets (circa 1840s, 7851 Jay Street) and the two large Federal period dwellings east of Jay Street (4226 and 4240 Lake Road). No. 4240 Lake Road constitutes the eastern boundary of the Pultneyville Historic District, beyond which are modest, modern or extensively altered older structures, primarily lake-side cottages, none of which have been included in the district. Jay Street is composed predominantly of modest Federal and Greek Revival style frame structures dating from the 1810s-1840s, as well as one of the Pultneyville Historic District's two Italianate style residences (circa 1860s, 7826 Jay Street). The property at 7826 Jay Street is also the only working farm in the Pultneyville Historic District. The intact acreage, all of which is included in the district, and outbuildings associated with 7826 Jay Street reflect the historic agricultural use of the property and is characteristic of the predominantly rural town. It and 7825 Jay Street constitute the southeast boundary of the Pultneyville Historic District, beyond which is open and undeveloped land and a suburban-like neighborhood of modern and extensively altered older dwellings.
The meandering southern boundary of the Pultneyville Historic District is determined roughly by the course of the Salmon Creek and the rear property lines of Jay, Washington and Mill Street properties. Pig Alley, an unpaved public thoroughfare through wooded lots, joins Mill Street with Jay Street just north of the creek. The Pultneyville Historic District's most intact historic outbuildings are in the vicinity of Pig Alley. Most are contributing frame barns dating from the mid- to late-nineteenth century.
The Pultneyville Historic District is an architecturally significant concentration of nineteenth-century residential architecture in the hamlet of Pultneyville, New York. Built between c.1810 and the late 1890s, the historic structures in the Pultneyville Historic District embody a variety of popular nineteenth-century American architectural styles, including Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Second Empire, as well as vernacular and eclectic interpretations of these styles. Federal and Greek Revival style dwellings predominate, several of which are relatively sophisticated, reflecting the hamlet's early to mid-nineteenth century prominence as a prosperous Great Lakes shipping port and market place for the local farmers. The few examples of late-nineteenth century construction and early twentieth century "modernization" of older structures reflect Pultneyville's continued prosperity — in spite of the demise of the Great Lakes shipping industry in the 1870s — as an important agricultural community in a region renowned for its fruit orchards and dairy farms.
The earliest recorded excursions to the area by colonials were made in the late seventeenth century by the French. Following their initial contact with the Indians, the French returned often for trading purposes. By 1793 Pultneyville was a part of the vast Pultney Estate which extended from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border.
The first permanent settlers of the hamlet arrived from New England, particularly Massachusetts and Connecticut, in 1806. After travelling west to Canandaigua, they made their way north through uncleared forest to the lake shore at what is now Pultneyville. Among the earliest settlers were J.W. Hallett, Russell Whipple, Samuel Throop, Jeremiah Selby, Samuel Ledyard, William and Andrew Cornwall, and Andrew Martin. They built crude dwellings and started a village in accordance with a plan prepared by Hallett, who, as a land agent of the Pultney Estate, received 1000 acres under the condition that he found a settlement.
During its earliest years, Pultneyville became a thriving regional port for agricultural products (apples, cider, vinegar, grain and pork) and iron ore. The lake schooner was also an integral part of the early history of Pultneyville and in 1811 the Enterprise, the first of many schooners built in Pultneyville, was launched by Russell Whipple.
By the time the War of 1812 broke out, the hamlet consisted of one mill (for grain and lumber), a tavern, a store, two warehouses, a tannery, a distillery, a school and about twenty residences. Two extant structures are believed to date from this earliest period of Pultneyville's development: the rear section of 4194 Lake Road (c.1812) and the rear wing of 7831 Jay Street (ca.1810). The rear wing of 4194 Lake Road, which, prior to c.1850 was oriented towards Lake Road, features an outstanding Federal style entrance with half-sidelights and slender, slightly flared pilasters. The one and one-half story, three-bay, side-hall form is typical of Pultneyville's Federal period architecture during the next several decades. The rear wing of 7851 Jay Street, a small, vernacular structure with numerous intact interior features, is a rare surviving example of its type and period in the village.
The War of 1812 was an impetus to Pultneyville's development and the shipping industry was soon a thriving concern. Coastal and Canadian trade became important and industries related to the shipping industry, foundries, mills, ship building, fishing and coopers, were established during the post-war period. A customs office was also opened and the village prospered. Numerous extant, substantially intact dwellings dating from the late 1810s, 1820s and early 1830s reflect this period of Pultneyville's development. Ranging from modest, vernacular structures to highly sophisticated examples, all incorporate features of the Federal style. Most are one and one-half to two-story, three-bay frame structures with gable roofs oriented towards the street and have delicate exterior detailing, such as narrow friezes, slender corner boards and attenuated window and entrance detailing. Particularly distinguished Federal style dwelling include the Horatio Nelson Throop House (c.1832, 4184 Lake Road), unique in the Pultneyville Historic District for its cobblestone construction and notable for its intact Federal style entrance detail, and the Washington Throop House (ca.1828, 4188 Lake Road), also notable for its finely crafted entrance detail. (The Washington Throop House is a mirror image of the rear wing of 4194 Lake Road which, in ca.1850, was moved to the rear of the newly constructed Italianate style main block which currently fronts Lake Road.) The Captain Todd House (ca.1820s, 4240 Lake Road), prominently sited on a large lot overlooking the lake, is also a distinguished Federal style dwelling. Less sophisticated, but nonetheless well-crafted examples of the period and style are located at 4200 Lake Road (ca.1830s), 4145 Lake Road (ca.1830s), 4165 Lake Road (ca.1830s) and 7850 Jay Street (ca.1830s). All are significant as representative examples of their type, period, style and method of construction.
The hamlet continued to prosper in the late 1830s and 1840s as evidenced by the wealth of Greek Revival style architecture included in the district. The one and one-half story, three-bay Federal period form generally persisted throughout the Greek Revival period, but structural elements and exterior detailing are noticeably heavier and more exaggerated, as exemplified by wide friezes (often pierced by eyebrow windows), pedimented gable ends, broad corner boards and/or trabeated entrances with full entablatures surmounting wide pilasters. These characteristics are embodied in many representative examples of Greek Revival style architecture, including 7837 Jay Street (ca.1840s), 4127 Lake Road (ca.1840s) and 4130 Lake Road (ca.1860s). The Pultneyville Historic District's best, most intact example of Greek Revival style architecture is located at 7851 Jay Street (ca.1840s), prominently sited on a large, landscaped corner lot overlooking the lake. Characteristic features of the period and style exhibited by the dwelling include pedimented gable ends, a wide entablature, broad corner boards and a trabeated entrance with wide pilasters supporting a full entablature. This structure exhibits a variation of the three-bay, side-hall form in that the ridge of the gable roof is parallel, rather than perpendicular, to the road. Although this form is unique in the Pultneyville Historic District, it is not uncommon in the region.
By 1850, the thriving community had a population of about 450 and had developed commercially with dry goods stores, foundries, tanneries, shoe stores and numerous grist mills and cooper shops. Lake transportation remained the focal point of industrial activity and in 1858 two large piers were built out over the lake. Pultneyville continued to flourish throughout the third quarter of the nineteenth century as reflected by three particularly outstanding dwellings dating from the 1850s and 1860s. The sophisticated dwelling at 4194 Lake Road (ca.1850), one of only three masonry buildings in the district, is an outstanding example of the Italianate style. It is one of only two structures in the Pultneyville Historic District that embody features of the style, including a low-pitched, hip roof surmounted by a prominent cupola, broadly projecting eaves and a wide frieze embellished with scroll brackets. The other example of the Italianate style is the frame farmhouse at 7826 Jay Street (ca.1860s). This dwelling features broadly projecting, bracketed eaves, floor-length and projecting bay windows, a recessed, double-doorway surmounted by a wide transom light, and elaborate porches with paired scroll brackets and pierced post brackets. The Pultneyville Historic District's most outstanding example of residential architecture also dates from the third quarter of the nineteenth century: it is the brick, Second Empire style dwelling at 4138 Lake Road (ca.1860s), the only example of its type and level of sophistication in Pultneyville. Prominent features of the dwelling include a polychrome slate-covered roof with iron cresting, a wide frieze with paired scroll brackets, segmentally arched, keystoned lintels and elaborate entrance porches.
The advent of rail transportation in the region in the 1870s undermined the importance of the shipping industry, and Pultneyville, bypassed by the upstate New York State rail lines, entered a period of economic decline during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Little new construction occurred in the community, particularly in the Pultneyville Historic District, with the exception of four adjacent structures on the southeast corner of the intersection of Mill and Washington Streets. The late nineteenth century hotel and dwellings were constructed following an April, 1877 fire which destroyed an early nineteenth century hotel, a drug store, a harness shop, two dwellings and a post office. Although the hotel's original architectural integrity has been compromised by the addition of inappropriate siding and modern rear wings, it retains a distinctive, two-tiered wooden verandah with spindle balusters. The three relatively modest dwellings erected in the 1890s embody a variety of late Victorian period architectural features, including picturesque, asymmetrical configurations and a variety of ornamental detailing. The dwelling at 4154 Lake Road is particularly notable for the intact, decorative wooden windows embellishment and added porches.
Additional evidence of the stylistic influences of the last quarter of the nineteenth century is found in the application of late Victorian era detailing to older, plainer structures. The embellishment of cornices, windows and entrances occurred occasionally, but the addition of a decorative porch, often with an elaborately bracketed cornice, ornate post brackets and/or turned posts and balustrade, was the most common practice. Examples of this type of modernization are located at 4127 Lake Road, 4139 Lake Road and 4145 Lake Road.
The increased importance of rail, automobile and trucking transportation modes eventually caused the demise of the Great Lakes shipping industry, and by the twentieth century, Pultneyville no longer functioned as a part. In spite of this change, the community retained its economic integrity. Two important commercial activities enabled Pultneyville to flourish in the early twentieth century: the tourism industry, a result of the widespread availability of the automobile and Pultneyville's ideal, picturesque lake-side location, and the hamlet's continued function as a commercial center for the prosperous agricultural activity in the region, primarily fruit orchards and dairy farms. No new construction occurred in the historic core of the hamlet; all early twentieth century development occurred on the fringes of the district. There are, however, several examples of early twentieth century modernization of nineteenth-century structures in the Pultneyville Historic District which reflect this period of Pultneyville's history. Colonial Revival style embellishments predominate, particularly evident in classically inspired entrance trim and front porches. The four, relatively modest dwellings on the north side of Washington Street all display this form of embellishment. More sophisticated examples of modernization are found at 4194 Lake Road, an 1850 Italianate style dwelling with a re-created Connecticut River Valley Georgian style entrance added ca.1920s, 4226 Lake Road, an 1820s Federal style dwelling with a monumental pedimented portico dating from the 1930s, and 4240 Lake Road, with an early twentieth century Colonial Revival style front porch.
Pultneyville, today, remains a prosperous hamlet. In addition to its importance in the agricultural and tourism industries, the hamlet has also become a popular bedroom community for commuters to the nearby city of Rochester. However, as most twentieth-century development activity has occurred outside the core of the hamlet, the Pultneyville Historic District retains an unusual degree of architectural integrity and the nineteenth-century ambiance of the lake-shore community is evident throughout the district.
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