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Angelica Park Circle Historic District

Angelica Village, Allegany County, NY


River Street Historic District

View on Park Circle from South, Angelica Park Historic District, listed on the National Register in 1985. Photographed by wikipedia username: Stilfehler own work, 2007 [cc-1.0], accessed July, 2022.


Situated in the hinterland of western New York State, the Angelica Park Circle historic district consists of ninety acres encompassing the village's most noteworthy buildings, an octagonal village green and county fairgrounds. NY Route 408 transverses this district. Defined on the north and south by existing rear property lines, the district is bounded on the northwest by the westerly property lines of 79 and 152 Main Street which are included in the district. Glosser Street and the county fairgrounds bound the district on the east.

Angelica's octagonal village green forms a unique focal point in the district. While reminiscent of New England town planning, it is also indicative of the "efforts to experiment with different forms in the search for a better plan—efforts which were typical of village plans west of the eastern seaboard. As it did in the nineteenth century, the green still serves as a recreational open space. On the wooded commons there are a circular bandstand with wood tracery gracing the pointed roof, a basketball court and picnic grounds.

Symbolic of the independence and self-contained life of frontier settlements, buildings representative of the ordering of men's lives—religious, governmental and commercial—are all grouped around the green. In Angelica this scheme is particularly well preserved, as is the street plan. The hamlet was laid out not to form a grid, but rather to abut Angelica Creek. Main Street was designed to flank the village green, while other streets appear to have emerged organically as the settlement grew.

The former county courthouse, clerk's office and jail were sited around the green. The former courthouse, presently the village hall, was listed on the National Register on August 21, 1972. A. brick building of simple dignity and fine proportions, it is graced by a windowed, octagonal cupola and a decorative elliptical window set over the door. The clerk's office was demolished sometime ago, but the white frame building which served as the jail still stands. In 1857, the following condemnation of the public buildings stipulated: that the said courthouse is in a dilapidated condition and wholly unfit for the purposes for which it is used, that the clerks office is in the same condition, that it is small and inconvenient; from its position and the nature of the building it is liable to be destroyed by fire and the records of said county are in great danger of destruction.

All of the religious edifices of the community are also sited around the commons. Built in 1856 to replace the original building that stood further east on Main Street, the Presbyterian Church is a key visual element around the octagonal green. The pediment and columned spire are examples of the application of Greek Revival detail to the body of the starkly symmetrical church which does not resemble a temple in form.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1848, stands nearby. By the 1840's, English Gothic had become the domain of the protestant Episcopal Community, and this building is typical of the many small wooden churches inspired by or built from Upjohn designs in the Gothic mode. Symmetrical in plan with a tower set in the we-st front, the church has carpenter Gothic details. Also indicative of this style are the bands of patterned shinglework which give the exterior a masonry-like quality, lancet arched windows set in a recessed panel of the same form, and the battlement with pierced ornamental openings.

The First Baptist Church is a nearly square, white frame building with a pediment, pilasters, and a square tower. Unfortunately, the spire is no longer extant. The rectangular Methodist Church (1830-31), built of brick and frame, is another example of the application of Greek details such as columns and a pediment to a standard form. Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church presents a more modest, less formal front than the neighboring religious edifices. It is built of wood frame sheathed by clapboards. There are windows on either side of the main doorway which is sheltered by a porch decorated with wood scrollwork.

Situated on Main Street west of the village green are commercial buildings built in a variety of styles. The majority date from the latter half of the nineteenth century and were built by small tradesmen or merchants. A grouping of brick and frame buildings, they are characterized by a lack of pretense. Several of the simple frame buildings have false fronts or decorative cornices in an attempt to add style and substance. Of these, "Robert'''s store" is typical. "The Little Building" exhibits this tendency developed to an extreme; only one story in height with a false front, it is small in scale, yet extremely formal. The facade presents three bays consisting of an arched doorway and two large arched windows.

Brick buildings add substance to the streetscape. Particularly distinctive is the post office with its ornamented cornice and elaborately decorative lintels. The structural elements of the facade have been minimized, thereby creating an expanse of glass divided by pilasters. In tone, the Rice and Eagle building is the most urban structure on the street, with wide, corbelled brick work suggestive of a cornice. Thus, the commercial portion of Main Street contains buildings of particular architectural merit, but there are also more modest structures that provide support and visual variety.

Quiet and tree lined. East Main Street, is characterized by simple two or three story frame homes, many with porches. Reflecting the modest means of their residents, most are quite simple although some have gables with richly ornamental bargeboards.

Many of the homes in Angelica were built during the period of the nineteenth century when the Greek Revival was the most popular style of building for newly settled areas in western New York. Typically, these residences are variations of common forms, with differing degrees of Greek Revival detailing. In some cases, these elements have been obscured by later modifications. However, good examples of this period do remain, such as Number 36 West Main Street, a wide and well proportioned building with an imposing hip roof. A peripteral temple form fronts this house.

The historic district also includes the Allegany County fairgrounds, which are eminently typical of this rural institution. Fronting Common Road, the fairgrounds are located in the northeast corner of the district. A race track and approximately 14 barns, sheds, and assorted frame outbuildings occupy the site. The fairgrounds moved to this location in 1865.

Many of the buildings at the site date from the early twentieth century when records indicate a flurry of building activity which included construction of a race track (1900), a barn (1905), and grandstands (1910). This later construction is substantiated by a place in the 1879 Allegany County Atlas which indicates the presence of only a track, a small grandstand and "agricultural" and "floral" halls on the fairgrounds.

Adapted from: Ellen T. McDougall, Research Assistant, New York State Parks and Recreation, Division for Historic Preservation, Angelica Park Circle Historic District, nomination document, 1976, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Main Street East • Main Street West • Park Circle • White Street