The Church Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.
Church Park Historic District is centered on the triangular area, which contains the First Presbyterian Church, the 1887 County Building, the Battle of Minisink Monument, the Wisner Memorial, the E. H. Harriman Memorial Fountain and the Civil War Memorial Monument. Along the north side of the triangle runs Main Street with several late Victorian commercial and residential buildings. Just northwest of the park is the 1841 Courthouse, which is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. East of the park, on the south side of Main Street, is a section known as "Lawyers' Row," characterized by late Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian office buildings. These buildings in turn face the Orange Inn.
The district extends eastward to the Historic Track, established 1838, a National Historic Landmark, and westward to Webster Avenue, where there are several fine Federal homes and the Town Hall, once a single-room school where Noah Webster taught. The original bluestone sidewalks remain intact throughout most of the district. Other areas of the village of Goshen have significant concentrations of early structures.
The variety of buildings scattered throughout the district define the economic and social development of Goshen from the pre-revolutionary period to the present. The Orange Inn, the 1841 Courthouse, the old and new county buildings and the "Lawyers' Row" section reflect the importance of this area as the political and judicial hub of Orange County. From the early nineteenth century to the present, buildings of diverse functions have been included within the area. Small residential as well as commercial buildings stand very near buildings which were a finishing school, a music hall, a firehouse and a livery. This diversity in combination with three churches and the Historic Track (National Historic Landmark) reflect the historic development of the village.
The majority of the buildings were constructed in the Victorian period. However, some notable exceptions are the group of well-preserved Federal homes and offices on Webster Avenue, Hill Street and "Lawyers' Row," the Greek Revival 1841 Courthouse, the Elizabethan Revival Goshen Inn and the Tudor Revival Hall of Fame of the Trotter.
See also: Village of Goshen: Beginnings
Goshen, as did many communities, underwent profound and drastic change in the mid-nineteenth century with the opening of the railroad. In September 1841, two locomotives (pulling four cars each) rolled into the village, accompanied by great celebration, on tracks that were many hundreds of yards west of the original village, this Church Park Historic District. The area which the line ran through had been little more than soggy pasture land; but in a few years time, most concerns had moved to that same pasture, leaving the original village isolated from the main stream of commercial enterprise. The are increasingly took on the role of office, government and residential center. In 1841 the present courthouse was raised, and in 1853 a new county clerk's office was started. Disastrous fires in the spring of 1841 and in 1843 razed many of the original buildings along Main Street, and the rebuilt buildings (which comprise the bulk of the buildings in the Church Park Historic District in the Main Street area), seem to have been primarily intended to be residences, with only a few businesses relocating in the area. Eventually the area became unofficially known as "Lawyers' Row."
On March 28, 1809, a special act of the New York State Legislature granted Goshen "certain powers" in response to a petition circulated by Orange County Sheriff John G. Hurtin and others seeking means of raising tax funds for local improvements.
On April 18, 1843, a "definite" or "regular incorporation" charter was granted to Goshen by the State Legislature and the first election under its provisions was held one month later, when Charles Monell was elected as resident or mayor, and continued to serve one-year terms until 1846.
Legal actions taken by the village seem to suggest its awareness of the impending growth. In 1833 a commission was appointed to decide whether the church or the village ultimately controlled the park area. The question was decided in favor of the village, suggesting perhaps the concern for future right of way to the railway depot.
A quick look at the Sidney map of 1850 and the French map of 1859 reinforces this notion of shifting emphasis and development. Both maps show a new, western village section growing far out of proportion to the original Church Park District area. Newspaper advertisements of the period are full of "removal" notices, businesses relocating to be near the railway.
By 1875, as can be seen in the county atlas of that year, the process was nearly complete. The Church Park District area remained essentially the same, but the other sections of the village were booming. The 1869 construction of the massive Presbyterian Church at a cost of $200,000 was an indication of that boom.
Through the turn of the century, with the help of the railway, dairy farming became big business. Large Victorian homes wee built throughout the new residential areas of town as testimonials to the success of their owners. In the Church Park District, activity centered on the enlargement of the old County building and the rebuilding of the brick townhouses in the "Lawyers' Row" area. Early in the twentieth century, these were joined by the construction of the Goshen Library and Historical Society and of the Hall of Fame of the Trotter.
The buildings in the Church Park Historic District still reflect the taste and prosperity as well as the purposes of their original builders and owners. The character of Goshen's nineteenth-century streetscapes, with their mixture of public, commercial, residential and religious structures, still survives.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Orange County. New York: Chapman, 1895.
Beers, F. W. County Atlas of Orange, N. Y. Chicago: Andreas, Baskin & Burr, 1875.
French, Wood & Beers. Map of Orange County. New York, 1859.
Lathrop, J. M. Atlas of Orange County. Philadelphia: . H. Mueller & Co., 1903.
Seese, Mildred Parker. Old Orange Houses. (2 vol.). Middletown: Whitlock Press, 194, 1943.
Ruttenber, E. M. and Clark, L. H. History of Orange County, New York. Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1881.
"Varieties in Architectural Practice: Some Works of Walker and Gillette," The Architectural Record. April, 1914, vol XXXV, No 4. Pages 277-355.
‡Winawer, Lili and Golbrect, Lawrence E. (ed), Church Park Historic District, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Church Street South • Green Street • Kelsey Lane • Main Street • Park Place • South Street • Webster Street