Hoosick Falls Historic District
The Hoosick Falls 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. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Hoosick Falls Historic District is located within the village of Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer County, New York. It is situated in the Hoosic River Valley, and lies on the south bank of the Hoosic River.
Contained within the compact district are approximately forty buildings which make up the center of commercial and business activity of the village of Hoosick Falls. The majority of these structures were built to accommodate commercial use on the first floor, with residential and storage facilities located on the upper levels. Interspersed among these large brick and stone commercial buildings are a few single-family, wood-frame residences.
The vast majority of the structures within the Hoosick Falls Historic District were constructed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because there have been few significant alterations to these fine buildings, the scale and density of a prosperous manufacturing community at the turn of the century has been retained.
These buildings reflect the variety of architectural styles popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Especially significant are the large Italianate and Second Empire style structures of the late nineteenth century and the Georgian Revival style buildings of the early twentieth century. A number of residential structures located within the Hoosick Falls Historic District exhibit the Eastlake and "Stick-style" design influences of the late 1800's.
The Hoosick Falls Historic District reflects the peak years of growth and productivity which the village experienced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The commercial and residential structures of the district were the focus of a successful industrial community of eastern New York at the turn of the century.
The first permanent settlers of the Hoosick Falls area were Isaac Turner and Joel Abbott. These pioneers from Connecticut came to Hoosick Falls in 1774. In 1786, a water-powered grist mill was established by Benjamin Colvin, and in 1791, the first bridge over the river at the falls was constructed.
Hoosick Falls began to prosper in the early nineteenth century. A post office was established in 1822, and the village was incorporated in 1827. The most significant factor in the village's growth through the early nineteenth century was its location along the Hoosic River, where the rushing water from the nearby falls provided an abundant source of water power. A number of industrious New England entrepreneurs came to the Hoosick Falls area and applied their knowledge of water power to various industrial enterprises. Two cotton factories, the Caledonia Cotton Factory (1823) and the Tremont Cotton Factory (1831) were the most significant operations. Besides these two large manufacturing concerns, the village of Hoosick Falls contained grist, saw, oil, carding, and cloth dressing mills, and sixty dwellings by 1836.
The village economy was further stimulated by the establishment of the prominent Walter A. Wood Mowing and Reaping Machine Manufactory. Walter A. Wood came to Hoosick Falls in 1836, obtained a patent for his mowing-machine in 1853, and began manufacturing the mower in the same year. In 1866, Wood established his manufacturing firm in the old Caledonia Factory across the falls from the village. In 1870, the Wood Company moved to spacious new quarters directly north of the river and began manufacturing self-raking reapers and self-binding harvesters in large numbers. By 1890, the Wood Company became the most celebrated manufacturer of harvesting machines in the world. Also, at the same date the firm employed over 2,000 local residents. The Wood Company continued manufacturing at Hoosick Falls into the twentieth century, but due to a number of factors including the lessening of dependence on water power and numerous fires, the operations ceased in the initial decades of the twentieth century.
The village of Hoosick Falls prospered as a result of its industrial growth in the late nineteenth century. The buildings located within the Hoosick Falls Historic District are a collection of the finest built in the commercial section of the village at the time of its peak industrial development.
A direct result of the Wood Company's industrial presence within the Hoosick Falls Historic District is the Wood Block occupying the corner of John and Main Streets. This three-story structure was the business headquarters for that manufacturing company.
The Hoosick Falls Historic District encompasses the prosperous commercial center which formed at the turn of the century and remains intact. The continuity of use and retention of historic fabric contribute to the historical significance of the district, a significance which it retains despite loss of the supporting industrial complexes which created it.
Sylvester, Nathaniel Bartlett. History of Rensselaer County, New York. Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1880.
Weise, A.J. History of the Seventeen Towns of Rensselaer County, New York. Troy, N.Y.: J.M. Francis and Tucker, 1880.
† Robert M. Powers, consultant, and Raymond W. Smith, New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Hoosick Falls Historic District,nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.