Gardiner Place Historic District
The Gardiner Place Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. 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 Gardiner Place Historic District includes three historic public and institutional buildings on Gardiner Place in Walton, New York. Walton is an incorporated village located in southwestern Delaware County on the east branch of the Delaware River.The Gardiner Place Historic District is located one block north of the Delaware Street business district in a predominantly residential area. The boundaries of the Gardiner Place Historic District enclose approximately 1.5 acres and include the adjoining library, post office and village hall properties. The Gardiner Place Historic District includes only public and institutional properties and is surrounded by unrelated and undistinguished nineteenth and early twentieth century private residences and parking lots. Nearby is an 1832 church.
The three buildings constituting the Gardiner Place Historic District represent significant examples of public building types and architectural styles prevalent nationally during their respective dates of construction. The oldest of the three buildings is the William B. Ogden Free Library, begun on September 25, 1896 and completed on July 1, 1897. The library is constructed of locally quarried bluestone and stands one and one-half stories in height. Its asymmetrical form, massing and detailing combine characteristics of both Richardsonian Romanesque design, popularized in the 1880's by Henry Hobson Richardson, and the Chicago School, led in the 1890's by Louis Sullivan. The walls of this structure are laid up in rough-hewn random ashlar blocks with smoothly dressed horizontal courses at the water table and beneath the reading room windows. Projecting pavilions at both the east and west facades feature round-arch entrances composed of broad, smoothly dressed archivolts carried above large spring blocks. Fenestration consists of horizontal bands of casement windows in the reading room portion of the building, detailed in a highly original manner with masonry piers of alternating rough and smoothly dressed stones and a frame entablature faced in shingles. A bowed bay window projects from the north elevation. The roof of the library is hopped, covered with slate, and punctuated by diminutive shed-roofed dormers. Two tall stone chimneys rise above the roof. The interior of the building includes a reading room with original wooden columns, shelving, and a massive rusticated stone fireplace. Other spaces include a lounge and a second floor board room. There have been no major alterations to the building. Original bluestone sidewalks encircle the site on three sides with bluestone walks approaching both the east and west entrances.
The second of the historic buildings in the grouping is the Village Hall built during 1912 and 1913 and opened in February 1914. It is a large, two-story brick structure incorporating offices, public meeting rooms and a large auditorium with a balcony and a proscenium stage. Designed in a modified Neoclassical style, its five-bay Gardiner Street facade incorporates a giant order Doric portico with a second story balcony. Openings are headed by rectangular stone lintels at the first story and brick and stone jack arches at the second. The corners of the facade are articulated by wide pilasters which visually support a broad wooden entablature. The north and south elevations are six bays in length and feature large, round-arched openings in the five forward bays which unify first and second story windows and emergency exits within each bay. The sixth bay of each side projects slightly and incorporates separate first and second story windows. Brick pilasters separate each bay. The North Street elevation is simple in detailing and includes three bays with garage doors at the ground floor used by the village fire department. The roof of the structure is hipped with a relatively low pitch. It is surmounted at the center by an octagonal wooden dome. The cupola includes arched openings at each face and encloses a large bronze bell cast in 1913. A twenty-foot-high flyspace enclosure rises above the cornice line of the village hall above the stage at the east end of the building. The building occupies most of its site with paved pedestrian and vehicular surfaces occurring at the east, west and south sides of the building.
The latest of the buildings in the Gardiner Place Historic District is the Walton, New York branch of the U.S. Postal Service. Completed in 1937, the post office exemplifies a classical and somewhat simplified style of architecture typical of many of the government-sponsored building programs of the Depression era. It is constructed of brick with limestone pilasters, window surrounds, entablature, and cornice and stands a single story in height with a flat roof. The Gardiner Street facade incorporates a central entrance and window composition featuring a double leaf front doorway with pediment, multi-pane transom and sidelights, limestone pilasters and large fifteen-over-fifteen double-hung sash windows. The limestone entablature above this composition bears the name of the building in raised bronze letters. Two series of granite steps lead from the Gardiner Street sidewalk directly to the entrance. Flanking nine-over-nine double-hung windows with limestone surrounds are present at each end of the facade. The side elevations are six bays in length and include similar fenestration. The rear, or east, elevation is undistinguished and includes the loading dock and a suspended canopy. The site features original plantings (shrubbery, hedgerow, large spruce trees) and lawn areas. The interior is typical of 1930's post office designs and features a mezzanine area for use by postal inspectors.
The Gardiner Place Historic District is comprised of three architecturally significant public buildings in a location which has historically represented the center of civic life for the greater Walton region. In addition to the linkage of these buildings with the historical use of this site for public purposes and the association of the library with William B. Ogden, a major nineteenth-century industrialist and political figure, the buildings are integrally related from a physical and aesthetic standpoint. They demonstrate the similar and/or complementary use of materials, compatible scale, and similar siting, orientation and landscaping in the community's civic core through a period spanning 40 years. Individually, the buildings are distinctive examples of Richardsonian Romanesque/Chicago School architecture, Neoclassical style architecture and Depression era architectural design sponsored by the Federal Government, as well as being the work of three regionally prominent architectural offices. Together, the Gardiner Place Historic District buildings illustrate a progression of mainstream American architectural styles prevalent during each respective period of construction, i.e.1885-1900, 1900-1920 and 1930-1940. The Gardiner Place Historic District is surrounded on three sides by modest private residences and shade trees which clearly define the edges of the Gardiner Place Historic District and reinforce the distinctive character of this ensemble of historic civic buildings.
The largest part of the town of Walton lies in the southeast portion of the twenty thousand acre patent granted to William Walton by King George III in 1770. Walton was named after William Walton, Jr., a wealthy and enterprising New York City merchant, King's patentee and founder of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. In 1785 two of Walton's friends, Dr. Platt Townsend and Joshua Pine, left their Long Island homes with their families to establish Walton, New York, together with Robert North, Gabriel North and William Furman of Connecticut. In 1810, River Street, (now Delaware Street) and Gardiner Place, (named for Jetur Gardiner who came to Walton from Gardiner's Island, New York, in 1799) were the only two streets in the village. To the east of Gardiner Place lay the village commons, where villagers pastured their cows. At the north end of the commons near the site of the present library stood an early schoolhouse. By 1806, the site of the school was changed to the site of the present village hall. The site was once again shifted to approximately its original location between 1806 and 1838, where it remained until about 1894 before being moved to the business district for use as a commercial building. The school site was deeded to the Ogden Free Library for a sum of $1.00 in 1895. The remainder of the commons site remained vacant until the 1840's when Orson J. Ells established a residence and cabinet shop on the site of the present post office. By 1869, the cabinet shop was replaced by Union Hall, which served as a public meeting place prior to the construction of a village hall in 1884. The entire site was cleared between 1935 and 1936 for the construction of the post office. In 1884, the original village hall was built on the site of the present hall, where it remained until destroyed by fire in 1912.
The earliest and most architecturally significant of the Gardiner Place Historic District buildings is the William B. Ogden Free Library, completed in 1897. Designed by New York City architects Charles Morris (1869-1930) and Richard Amerman Walker (1872-1951), the library design is exceptionally sophisticated and progressive given the rural and agricultural milieu of Walton in the 1890's. It combines familiar aspects of the Richardsonian Romanesque style (e.g. asymmetrical massing, rock-faced random ashlar masonry, round-arched entrances with broad archivolts and hipped roofs) with progressive elements of the Chicago and Prairie Schools (horizontal reading room fenestration framed between banded stone piers, and reading room columns detailed with cube-like capitals suggestive of the work of Prairie School architects such as Wright). In plan and design, the library is distinctively American and shows little allegiance to the historical eclecticism which gained acceptance in American architecture after 1893. The construction of this library was made possible by a bequest from William B. Ogden (1805-1877), a famous Walton native who settled in Chicago in 1835 and later became that city's first mayor. Ogden amassed a fortune in railroading and left $100,000 upon his death for "charitable use." The sum of $20,000 was eventually set aside by the Chicago trustees of his estate for the construction and endowment of a memorial library in Walton. It seems likely that these same individuals may have been responsible for, or at least influential in, the selection of architects and the approval of a design with discernible Midwestern characteristics. The building was erected by Binghamton contractor Alexander B. Carman for a total cost of $13,500.
Fifteen years after the completion of the library, the Walton Village Hall was begun following a fire which destroyed the 1884 hall previously on this site. The new building, designed by New York architect William Towner and built by E.A. Fuller between 1912 and 1914, is a large and impressive structure built at the zenith of Walton's prosperity as a regional center of agricultural processing and trade. It represents Walton's finest example of Neoclassical architecture and illustrates a dramatic shift in popular architectural tastes when compared to the library. The village hall reflects the widespread popularity of Neoclassicism in civic and institutional architecture of the early twentieth century resulting in part from the growing influence of the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts on the American architectural community. The public buildings of this period, including Walton's village hall, are often characterized by balanced compositions and the use of historically derived orders and details which are sometimes modified to accommodate modern, twentieth-century functions. The village hall exemplifies this characteristic in its use of a Neoclassical design to house a modern auditorium and a fire station without comparable historical precedent. It is a particularly well-crafted building, with walls laid up in Flemish bond and a finely detailed wooden portico that incorporates fluted columns, triglyphs, mutule supported cornices, and cast-iron balustrades which enclose a balcony. Over the years the village hall has attained additional significance as the center of local government and regional entertainment.
The Post Office Building, dedicated on March 20, 1937, is the most recently constructed building in the Gardiner Place Historic District. Designed in a much simplified classical style typical of the Public Works Administration construction during the Depression, it represents Walton's only example of this architectural style. It is historically significant in illustrating the massive efforts of the Federal government to stimulate employment during the Great Depression while at the same time extending and upgrading public works and government services (in this example, postal facilities). Although modest in scale, this is a dignified, well-crafted building with a high degree of architectural integrity in its overall design and in its use of, and expression of, materials. The building is virtually unaltered and contributes to the historical and architectural significance of the Gardiner Place Historic District. Supervising architect is recorded as Lois A. Simon with W.G. Noll, acting architect.
Local historical archives at Ogden Free Library including Lane, Helen, The Story of Walton 1785-1975 by Many of its People, Walton, N.Y.: Walton Historical Society, 1975.