Gustav Levor House
The Gustav Levor House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. 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 Gustav Levor House is located at 23 Prospect Avenue in the city of Gloversville, Fulton County. The property consists of a large frame residence built on a city lot of 70 by 100 feet dimensions. Located in a residential area one block east of North Main Street, Gloversville's principal commercial street, the Levor House lot is flanked by residential properties built in the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries. The Levor House is situated on the north side of Prospect Street with its principal elevation facing south. There are no outbuildings located on the property. (A carriage house originally erected with the main house was demolished at an undetermined date.)
Built in 1892, the Gustav Levor House is an irregularly massed, 2 1/2-story, wood frame, Queen Anne style house on a cut stone foundation. The building is characterized by complex massing, including a polygonal wall bay, intersecting roofs and gables and an engaged, round corner tower with conical roof. The walls are sheathed in narrow clapboard siding. The complex roof structure of multiple planes incorporates a variety of dormer forms, including jerkinhead, hooded, shed and gabled with molded pediments. Tall, corbelled brick interior chimneys contain multiple stacks. A raised, wraparound porch extends across the principal elevation, its roof supported on paired, turned wood columns on plinths. A wide set of wood steps centered on the porch gives access to the front entrance. (A porte cochere originally located on the east side wall was removed at an undetermined date.) A rounded bay window with a low, shingled balustrade dominates the second story of the front elevation. This feature is located beneath a projecting gabled dormer supported on paired consoles. A two-story, polygonal wall bay toward the rear of the east side wall is characterized by supporting brackets, a molded frieze and a bell cast roof. Fenestration is irregular, but generally symmetrical in placement; windows are arranged singly or in bands (on the curvilinear surfaces). The window casings are highlighted by applied molded wood trim. Most windows contain 1/1, double hung, wood sash.
The interior of the Gustav Levor House retains an extremely high level of integrity in its room configuration, design elements and decorative finishes. At the first floor level, a recessed entrance vestibule with double-leaf doors and glass transom gives access to the wide center hall. The hall is paneled in a wainscot of finely grained, varnished hardwood, with a paneled ceiling sheathed in narrow, varnished beadboard. A broad landing contains a fireplace inglenook at the base of an ornate, varnished hardwood staircase rising along the east wall, highlighted by paneled wainscoting, a turned newel and balustrade. Doors on the first floor open onto rooms flanking the central space: these include front and rear parlors, a formal dining room and a kitchen. The formal rooms feature parquet floors and molded trim on door and window architraves, baseboards, mantels and crown molding. Tiled fireplace hearths set within tall wood mantels with mirrored over mantels are notable features of the formal rooms. Paneled wainscoting, elaborate door and window architraves, plaster walls and ceilings embellished with molded plaster trim are located throughout the formal rooms of the Gustav Levor House. A tripartite window lights the second-story stair landing. Doors and windows retain their original, ornate cast brass hardware (locks, hinges and pulls.)
The second floor plan consists of a central hall giving access to the master bedroom suite, three additional bedrooms and a bathroom. These rooms are finished more simply than the first-floor rooms, with plaster walls and molded trim. The third floor attic story contained a series of 6 small, simple rooms that served as living quarters for household staff.
The Gustav Levor House is a highly intact example of large scale Queen Anne style residential design and construction in the city of Gloversville. Built in 1892 as the home of a leading leather manufacturer, the Gustav Levor House manifests the distinctive form, massing and architectural embellishment characteristic of the regional Queen Anne style at the height of its popularity. The 2 1/2-story, wood frame residence exhibits a wealth of Queen Anne design and decorative elements executed with a high level of craftsmanship characteristic of Gloversville during the period of significance. The Gustav Levor House retains an exceptionally high level of overall integrity and is among the best preserved examples of its type and period in the community.
Gloversville was slow to develop as a community. The first permanent settlement, known as Kingsboro, was established shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War. The earliest settlers were Yankees from New England, some of whom were peddlers and tinsmiths. These Kingsboro Yankees loaded packhorses with tinware and a stock of "Yankee notions," trading and bartering with outlying settlers and Indians for deerskins. Leather finishing, especially the manufacture of leather mittens and gloves, was first developed as a specialty by New Englanders who arrived in the area circa 1806-1809. Rapid clearing of forests for lumber and tanbark gave rise to the derisive name of "Stump City" by 1816. From modest beginnings, the community grew rapidly after the 1830s. Incorporated as a village in 1853, Gloversville was a thriving manufacturing community of 3000 population by the eve of the Civil War. The Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad constructed in 1870 provided further impetus for industrial expansion in the local leather trade. By the time Gloversville became a city in 1890, over 80 percent of the leather gloves made in the United States were being manufactured there. Between circa 1875 and 1920, great fortunes were made by Gloversville's entrepreneurs, resulting in extensive new construction and civic philanthropy. Gustav Levor was one of Gloversville's most prosperous tanners during much of this period. Gustav Levor specialized in manufacturing shoe leather; he was first to develop a method for producing washable suede, which became a much sought after commodity among glove manufacturers. He was a founder of the City National Bank (1888) and served on its original board of directors. In 1892, Gustav Levor built his new residence at 23 Prospect Avenue, sparing no expense to create a home in keeping with his prominent status in the community.
The Gustav Levor House reflects the popular Queen Anne style in its design and decorative features. The Queen Anne style achieved widespread popularity throughout the United States during the final two decades of the nineteenth century. Inspired by English vernacular architecture of the seventeenth century, the style was characterized by eclectic and fanciful use of medieval ornament applied to picturesque, irregular massing.
Gloversville's local craftsmen produced the elaborate turnings, moldings, paneling, staircase and other architectural elements that embellished the Levor House of 1892. The picturesque juxtaposition of forms and eclectic use of materials made the Gustav Levor House a dramatic architectural landmark in the prosperous Gloversville community. The Gustav Levor House is a distinguished and highly intact example of Queen Anne inspired residential design and construction in the city of Gloversville that is notable for its exceptional integrity of design, materials and craftsmanship. The Gustav Levor House evokes the historic role played by the glove and leather industry in shaping Gloversville's past.