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Cold Spring Historic District

Cold Spring Village, Putnam County, NY

The Cold Spring Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]


The Cold Spring Historic District is concentrated along the long east-west axis of Main Street, a commercial street with scattered municipal, ecclesiastical and residential structures. All of Main Street from the Hudson River east to the village limits is contained within the district. Portions of residential streets intersecting Main Street are also included in the district and include the distinctive examples of the full range of styles, buildings types and construction methods spanning over a century of growth in the community.

As an eighteenth century Hudson River landing, the village was initially focused around the shoreline. The area between the river and the railroad on Market, Main and West Streets represent the earliest configuration of the village. Today this area is distinguished by nineteenth century structures, however the character of the landing is maintained.

In the early nineteenth century, with the completion of a turnpike travelling to the interior, a plan was established for the development of the village by Frederick Phillipse. The orderly arrangement of commercial structures on Main Street, the flanking residential streets, and large estate houses higher up on the hillside are indicative of this early building plan. The thorough mix of early, middle and late nineteenth century structures throughout the district document the phases of the village's growth within the established pattern of streets. Many of the buildings have had alterations made to their storefronts, window sash or siding material yet to historic character, scale and setting of the district survives substantially intact.

The commercial district of Main Street is an eight block section that stretches from the river to New York Route 9D (Morris Avenue/Chestnut Street). The construction of the railroad in the 1850's severed Main Street and traffic must detour to a bridge south of the commercial district to reach the landing. Two and three story buildings front on Main Street on narrow lots. Architecturally, it is an extremely eclectic streetscape with early nineteenth century frame buildings and later brick structures of various scales juxtaposed along its lengths. Details from the many building periods are intact: bracketed cornices, cast-iron window lintels, mansard roofs, storefronts, porches, etc.

Morris Avenue and Chestnut Street (Route 9D) intersects Main Street about midway along its length. This major intersection is distinguished by Cold Spring's most notable church, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, a hotel, and a modern gas station. Opposite the church on Chestnut Street, a group of substantial town houses suggest the prestige of the location. Impressive Second Empire homes face Morris Avenue north of the intersection. Capitalizing on the view of the river and the highlands available at higher elevations, the wealthier members of the community built on Paulding Avenue, named for one of Cold Spring's prominent families. Below these estates on Chestnut Street, Academy Street and Cherry Street is more modest middle-class housing, and a small, yet distinguished, Presbyterian Church. This character of housing, though earlier, continues east on Main from Route 9D to the village limits. A brick Methodist Church and the Philipstown Town Hall are buildings of particular architectural interest in this section of the district.

Two other residential areas adjacent to Main Street are included in the historic district. Kemble Avenue, south of Main Street, contains a significant surviving row of duplex workers' houses built for laborers at the West Point Foundry which was immediately to the south. The archeological remains of the foundry site were listed on the National Register, April 11, 1973.

North of Main Street, adjacent to the railroad tacks is a residential neighborhood reflecting the railroad's role in village life. The passenger station survives intact and re-used as a restaurant. Railroad Avenue and Stone Street contain small neat houses from the railroad era. Fair Street contains more substantial homes and a church and parsonage in exceptionally good condition. The streets not included in the district contain larger numbers of substantially altered buildings or were developed since the 1930's.

The Cold Spring Historic District contains approximately 225 structures of varying types periods and methods of construction.


The first mention of 'Cold Spring' appears in the minutes of a meeting in Philipse's Precinct in April of 1772. Philipse Precinct later became the town of Philipstown, in which Cold Spring is a village. It had been patented by a grant, to Adolph Philipse, in June 1677. Frederick Philipse, a descendent, was the first male member of the family to reside in the precinct and he laid out most of the streets, sold lots and regulated the growth of the area until it was incorporated in 1846.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, only a few houses formed a hamlet down by the shore of the Hudson. In 1815 the first road was built from Cold Spring to Patterson (Main Street - Route 301) on the east side of the county, with toll houses at various intervals. It was constructed by the Philipstown Turnpike Company. In 1816 it was rumored that a foundry was to open and the waterfront area became the nucleus of the later, important industrial community of Cold Spring which centered around the West Point Foundry. The foundry was chartered in 1818. Two years later the first gun contract was signed and great prosperity occurred in the village. Homes for foundry operators sprang up, built by the West Point Foundry on its own land.

In 1837 the decision to consolidate some foundry departments of operation at New York in Cold Spring again increased the size of the population and community. Cold Spring became a commercial and manufacturing center in the Hudson Highlands. The Gouveneur family, owners of large tracts of land, began to sell small lots in 1839. More streets were built, churches established and stores multiplied.

During the Civil War, the West Point Foundry reached its peak with the invention of the Parrott rifle gun and projectile by Robert Parker Parrott, a West Point graduate, former assistant professor of Mathematics at the Academy, and supervisor of the Foundry. Parrott used his fortune from the Parrott rifle to beautify the village and build homes for his employees. In 1868 he donated the property and contributed toward the building of the Church of St. Mary's in the Highlands.

Many of the structures within the historic district survived the fires of 1862 and 1875. Several stores and buildings on the south side of Main Street were destroyed in 1862, though most were rebuilt. It was again the south side of Main street, but above the tracks, that suffered severe damage and loss in 1875. The railroad (N.Y.C. & Hudson River Railroad) had been built during the 1850's dividing Main Street, east of Market Street. By 1868 it was determined that a town building was necessary for public meetings and the present Philipstown town hall was built at the district's eastern-most boundary. A few random properties were built between the late 19th century to the turn of the 20th century, as the community attained its present size.


Beers Maps of 1867 and 1891; Sanborn Map - 1911.

Blake, William J., Esq. History of Putnam County, New York. Baker & Scribner.

Pelletreau, William S. History of Putnam County, New York, Bicentennial edition, New York City, Publishing Center for Cultural Resources, 1975, reprint of 1886 edition.

Research file on Cold Spring, Putnam County Historical Society.

  1. Barry, Elise M., Cold Spring Historic District, nomination document from "Historic Resources of the Hudson Highlands," 1982, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Academy Street • B Street • Cherry Street • Fish Street • Fishkill Avenue • Main Street • New Street • West Street