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Elbridge Village Historic District

Elbridge Village, Onondaga County, NY

The Elbridge Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. []


The Elbridge Village Historic District encompasses fifty-four residential, commercial, religious and educational properties in the village of Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York. The village is located on the western edge of Onondaga County, approximately twenty miles west of the city of Syracuse, ten miles north of Skaneateles Lake, and fifteen miles east of Auburn, Cayuga County. The east-west axis of New York State Route 5 (Main Street), once the Genesee Turnpike, intersects the village and forms the spine of the Elbridge Village Historic District. This main thoroughfare is divided into East and West Main Street by the north-south axis of North Street, County Route 105, which becomes South Street, Country Route 122, south of Main Street. The village is bounded to the west by the Skaneateles Creek, which flows from Skaneateles Lake northward to the Seneca River, and on the east by Carpenter's Brook. The Elbridge Hydraulic Industry Archaeological District, listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1982, highlights the importance of the Skaneateles Creek in the development of Elbridge throughout the nineteenth century.

The Elbridge Village Historic District, approximately sixty acres in extent, consists of properties along the north and south sides of Main Street. The Elbridge Village Historic District possesses a significant concentration of early to mid-nineteenth century buildings and related features, maintained with a largely intact streetscape with fairly uniform setbacks. Considered together, these resources form a substantial architectural catalog of Ellbridge's historic development and growth.

The Village of Elbridge evolved physically along the route of the Great Genesee Road, or Turnpike, completed during the first decade of the nineteenth century. This early New York road, which linked Utica on the Mohawk River with Geneva further west, supported the traffic of early westward migration in the New York State in the decades following the American Revolution. Surveyed as part of the vast military tract in the late eighteenth century, the village developed along the route of the turnpike, east of the Skaneateles Creek. The creek proved effective in supporting mill enterprises and local agriculture and in turn contributed to the early and continued development of the hamlet. Along with the turnpike and the creek, the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, helped bolster a significant period of regional development. Passing through the village of Jordan immediately north of Elbridge, the canal provided unlimited market opportunities for burgeoning local industrial and agricultural activity.

The boundaries of the Elbridge Village Historic District have been drawn to include a substantial portion of the village's core, centered along the historic route of the turnpike. The majority of these resources are domestic buildings of wood frame construction, dating from the middle and latter decades of the nineteenth century. Vernacular interpretations of the classically-inspired Federal and Greek Revival style recall the early canal-related development of the region and form the oldest layer of the village's surviving building stock. Particularly notable are two Federal style buildings, the Colonel John Stevens House and the former Congregational Church. Both reflect the attenuated proportions and refined detail and craftsmanship characteristic of native interpretations of the English Adam style. The influence of the Picturesque aesthetic, which gained an increasing audience from the 1840s onwards largely through the efforts of Andrew Jackson Downing, is apparent in a number of surviving Italianate style buildings built for commercial, residential and educational functions. In addition, a limited number of Gothic Revival and early Romanesque Revival examples survive, including the former Baptist Church, constructed in 1858 in the Romanesque style and attributed to the Syracuse-based architect Horatio Nelson White. Vernacular interpretations of the Queen Anne style, popularized in America during the 1880s, reflect the influence of late Victorian design and represent the last major style of domestic architecture present within the Elbridge Village Historic District. The Elbridge Elementary School, completed in 1930 in the Colonial Revival style, was the last contributing resource built within the Elbridge Village Historic District boundaries.


The Elbridge Village Historic District is significant as an architecturally distinctive central New York State village. The Elbridge Village Historic District is comprised of a significant collection of buildings that, considered together, reflect the hamlet's growth and development during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with representative examples of national styles popular during the Elbridge Village Historic District's period of significance. Examples of Federal and Greek Revival style residential buildings form the bulk of the district's resources and recall the growth of Elbridge in the years following the completion of the Genesee Turnpike and the Erie Canal. Well represented also is the Italianate style, popular in Elbridge throughout the 1860s and 1870s, the period in which the village enjoyed its greatest prosperity. Other styles similarly represented are the Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. The Elbridge Village Historic District recalls the scale, character, and linear plan of a rural village that evolved along the route of an established thoroughfare beginning in the early nineteenth century, while reflecting the architectural character of the New England communities from which many of the earliest settlers emigrated.

The early settlement of the area that later developed as the Village of Elbridge is closely related with the larger patterns that commenced in this region of New York State following the Revolution. By an act passed in 1789 by the Legislature of New York State, the Surveyor General was directed to lay out tracts of land, referred to as the military lots, to be transferred to veterans as compensation for their service during the war. Government and Army surveyors were dispatched to central New York to map out boundaries for these military townships, each measuring ten miles square and subsequently subdivided into one hundred smaller square lots. Beginning in the 1790s veterans received shares of the surveyed lands, which they either settled or sold off to speculators. The Town of Elbridge, which includes the villages of Elbridge and Jordan, is comprised of thirty seven of the one hundred tracts associated with Military District Number Five in the Camillus Township.[1] The Town of Elbridge separated from Camillus in March 1829.

Elbridge flourished as an agricultural services community in the nineteenth century, advantageously situated within the transportation corridor that included the Genesee Turnpike, the Erie Canal and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. The Genesee Road, which penetrated into the wilderness of western New York, quickly emerged as a vital link between the Hudson River and the vast, unsettled interior of the state, connecting Utica with Geneva further west.[2] In 1819, the middle section of the Erie Canal from Utica to the Seneca River was completed, followed six years later by the opening of the entire length between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. The canal passed north of Elbridge, through the village of Jordan, providing unlimited markets for Onondaga County salt, lime, gypsum, and agricultural products. Finally, with the linking of railroad systems in the early 1850s complete, Onondaga County emerged as one of the foremost dairying centers in the state, linked by fast-moving transport to distant urban markets.

The first post-Revolutionary settlements made in Elbridge occurred in 1793. Josiah Buck, a surveyor for the state of New York who laid the township of Camillus into lots in 1791, is credited as the first settler in Elbridge.[3] He arrived with his family and settled on the lot later owned by Colonel John Munro, just west of the present village, probably compensation for his services as a surveyor. A large oak log remained on the site for many years to commemorate the village and town's first post-Revolutionary settler. Captain William Stevens, who apparently had met Buck during his 1791-92 travels, arrived shortly after and settled with his family on the north side of present-day West Main Street near the west bank on the Skaneateles Creek.[4] Stevens had drawn three thousand, six hundred acres for his military services, the majority of which rested in Onondaga County, separated from Herkimer County in 1794. Stevens had emigrated from Coleraine, Massachusetts, where he was a merchant, to Elbridge in December 1793. During the Revolution he had risen to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and earlier had been a participant in the Boston Tea Party.[5] He was noted as "one of the foremost men of his day," in Bruce's centennial volume on Onondaga County, "and became prominently identified with the growth of the community."[6] Other early settlers included Robert Fulton, James Strong, James Weisner and Nicholas Mickles.

The area that evolved as the village of Elbridge was appealing to settlers due to its proximity to Skaneateles Creek, which provided a valuable source of hydraulic power and water for irrigation, and abundant deposits of clay and plaster. Early mill enterprises were situated along the banks of the Skaneateles Creek west of the village and supported the hamlet's growth. Prior to their establishment, settlers had to go to Jamesville to mill flour and meal.[7] The first of Elbridge's milling enterprises were established during the 1790s by Isaac Strong, a saw mill in 1795, followed by a grist mill in 1798.[8] The water of the creek, which flows northward out of Skaneateles Lake, drops four hundred feet in altitude before reaching Elbridge, eight miles distant. Early wood dams were erected to insure a steady supply of water even during the dryer months of the year.

Likewise significant in the village's physical development was the location of the settlement along the great central trail of the Iroquois, improved somewhat in 1791 and 1792 under the direction of General Wadsworth as a military road, and later as the Genesee Road, or Turnpike. The eleven-mile stretch of the turnpike that spanned the Camillus and Elbridge areas was tolled plank road, completed between 1807-08 under the direction of Squire Munro and his sons Nathan, John, David, and Philip. The Munro's had taken certificates of stock as compensation for their work.[9] The Munro's settled in Elbridge on lot eighty-one in 1799, and were recognized as "one of the most prominent and enterprising families in the town."[10] The Genesee route emerged as a major thoroughfare for westward emigration into the unsettled interior, and exerted a significant influence on the growth and development of the village.

The first wood frame buildings of the vernacular tradition were erected in Elbridge circa 1800 along the route of the Genesee road. A frame meeting house was constructed by the Baptist Society in 1816, probably in the traditional New England Federal vein. It was later moved from its original site on East Main Street in the 1860s for renovation as a factory building for the National Chair Factory Company. Having been outgrown by the congregation, it was sold and relocated on a tall stone foundation on Valley Drive along the creek; it was lost to fire in 1932. The first store was constructed in 1797 for Doctor John Frisbee by William Stevens, and the first frame schoolhouse erected 1801 by Levi Clark;[11] John Healy taught the first term of school. Around 1795 Moses Carpenter opened the village's second tavern, following the earlier one established by Josiah Buck. The oldest extant residential resource in the Elbridge Village Historic District is the original portion of 206 East Main Street, built circa 1800.

The hamlet increased slowly in size during the 1820s. A number of the extant resources included within the Elbridge Village Historic District date from this period and reflect the influence of the Federal style. Buildings of this type can be characterized by their self-contained rectangular mass, restrained yet refined classically-inspired detail, crisp linearity, and attenuated proportions. In New York State, the Federal style residence is often gable-ended, with a five-bay, center hall plan, although later transitional buildings often display the gable-fronted plan more commonly associated with the Greek Revival style. Inspired by the designs popularized in England by the Adam brothers and transplanted in the domestic vernacular by the influence of period builders handbooks, the Federal style refined the robust character of Georgian architecture, and featured decorative motifs borrowed from the Roman residences of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Spalato. Vernacular interpretations of the style, like those found in Elbridge, were the work of the local carpenter-builder, and could range in treatment from restrained to surprisingly elegant.

The form of the house at 201 East Main Street typifies Federal style residential architecture throughout rural New York State during the early decades of the nineteenth century. The two-story wood frame building is punctuated by five evenly spaced bays with a center hall configuration. Rectangular in shape and gable ended, it is sheathed in clapboard with thin cornerboards and plain architraves. This basic form is also employed for the Colonel John Stevens House, also built circa 1820, yet with a far more handsome treatment. The house is the same rectangular shaped two-story frame model, yet with an elaborated decorative scheme. The five-bay facade is treated with a blind arcade carried by pilasters with molded panels, and the bays themselves are sheathed in flushboard. The cornice on the gable ends features finely scaled modillions, and the entrance is enriched with engaged columns and reeded architraves with cornerblocks. Another variation on this basic form is the Dr. Titus Merriman House, built circa 1830. Although of masonry construction, the Merriman House is likewise derived from the two-story, five bay model, rectangular in shape with gable ends behind a stepped parapet. Merriman was a native of Merriden, Connecticut, who, after studying medicine in Marcellus, moved to Elbridge in 1814; a brief sketch of his life appears in Clayton's History of Onondaga County.[12] An interesting variation from these more typical examples is the Alonzo Wood House, constructed circa 1818. The building features a five-bay facade, yet it is set within a front facing gable, with plain window architraves, cornice returns, and a molded wood door surround.

Also constructed during this period as one of the finer Federal style buildings in Elbridge was the Congregational Church, completed circa 1824. Although the building lost the upper stages of its tower and spire to fire in the early twentieth century, it is nonetheless a particularly notable example displaying the proportions and ornamentation of the Federal idiom. Congregational meeting houses based largely on the ecclesiastical work of English architects James Gibbs and Sir Christopher Wren were a common site in communities founded by settlers from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The Congregational Church and Society of Camillus was formed in 1800, and represented the first religious order in the town. It was the second church organized in Onondaga County, preceded by only the First Congregational Church, established in 1796 in Pompey. Prior to the completion of the church, meetings were held in the houses of members. The parcel on which the church was erected, at the cost of three thousand, six hundred dollars, was donated by Nathan Gorham; trustees included Jacob Campbell, Hiram Mather, Levi Clark, and Jedediah Richards.[13] The church is distinguished by a modillioned cornice, louvered elliptical openings, and attenuated pilasters and colonnettes. The pointed arch Gothic windows were probably installed between 1886 and 1890, at which time the building received modifications in anticipation of its 1890 rededication. The church originally carried a five-stage neoclassical bell tower with spire, which was struck by lightning and lost in the 1930s. The builder of the church is not known.

The importance of the Skaneateles Creek to the development of local building practices and traditions should not be understated. As early as 1830, brick manufactured locally from the creek's numerous natural clay beds provided a durable alternative to hewn timber, and later balloon, framing. The earliest use of local brick in the Elbridge Village Historic District is the Federal style Merriman residence, constructed circa 1830. Local brick was later used for commercial buildings erected in the 1850s and likewise for domestic architecture built in the 1860s. Plaster was also readily available from the creek. Many of the residences constructed during the nineteenth century featured interior walls finished with plaster on wood lath, and in some instances plaster moldings and details. Local sawmills powered by the creek similarly provided an abundant supply of ready-made building materials.

Following the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, Elbridge, located close to the bustling canal hamlet of Jordan, began to experience the effects of an increasing population and the expansion of industrial enterprises powered by the creek. Prior to the establishment of the canal, Jordan, like Elbridge, was a modest sized hamlet with a limited number of industrial and mercantile interests. Jordan was quickly transformed, however, by its location at the Skaneateles Creek feeder into the canal and soon established itself as the foremost commercial center in the town. In the decades that followed, the entire region enjoyed an unprecedented period of growth, development, and prosperity. By 1836 the village of Elbridge contained two churches and over sixty dwellings, a grist mill, a saw mill, a carding and cloth dressing establishment, three taverns, and three stores.[14] The growth of a small industrial base in the village, supported in large measure by the transportation opportunities of the nearby canal, greatly impacted the hamlet's development. Numerous buildings were erected in the village during the late 1820s and 1830s to meet these new demands.

Many of the resources included in the Elbridge Village Historic District date from this period following the completion of the Erie Canal and display the influence of the Greek Revival style. The Greek Revival style gained widespread popularity nationally during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, emerging as the dominant style for all modes of native architecture. In New York State, the style moved westward with the Erie Canal and emerged as an expression of the opportunity, prosperity, and vitality brought to the state by the new waterway, and emerged as the preeminent expression of the optimism of the Jacksonian era. Sympathy for Greece in her war or independence against the Ottoman Empire, and an increasing knowledge and admiration for the architectural forms of Grecian antiquity made available for the first time in published archeological engravings, fostered a new American appreciation for classical forms.

Particularly influential in the permeation of Greek forms throughout the republic was the increasing influence of builder's guides such as those published by Minard Lafever and Asher Benjamin. Vernacular interpretations of the style, such as those found in Elbridge, are typically gable fronted with either fully-pedimented gables or partial cornice returns, traveated entrances with sidelights and transoms, and restrained, broadly executed classical detail. More distinguished examples often featured columned porticos and flushboard exteriors. Attached ells became increasingly common during the period.

The characteristic Greek Revival style residence in Elbridge is two-stories in height with the gable aligned toward the street; the facade is typically three bays wide with a side hall entrance configuration. The house at 114 East Main Street is perhaps the finest remaining house of this type within the Elbridge Village Historic District. Constructed circa 1835, the building retains some suggestion of the earlier Federal tradition, including a reeded door architrave with cornerblocks and twelve-over-twelve double-hung sash. Characteristically Greek Revival in character, however, is the gable-fronted orientation, with wide raking frieze band and partial cornice returns, and the door surround, which is comprised of a molded Greek entablature supported by Doric pilasters. The triangular louver, set within the gable field, replaced the earlier elliptically-shaped louver common to the Federal stye. Similar to this house is the residence at 215 East Main Street, built circa 1840, which displays parlor-length first story windows and a Greek Revival door surround, masked by the Italianate style porch addition.

The building at 219 East Main Street, constructed circa 1835 as an office for Doctor D.E. Roberts, is the sole temple-fronted example within the Elbridge Village Historic Districtistrict. Constructed on an extremely modest scale, it nonetheless reflects the permeation of the classical temple form into the mainstream vernacular.

The only non-residential Greek Revival style edifice in the Elbridge Village Historic District is the former Methodist Episcopal Church, constructed circa 1850 on land donated by Ezekiel Skinner. The Methodists, prior to the completion of the church, had first worshipped in nearby Jordan and later held services at the Munro Collegiate Institute. Records regarding their organization are scarce and therefore it is difficult to develop a history of their activities. Characteristic Greek Revival style features of the church, derived from the traditional New England meeting house form, include the boldly articulated frieze band and cornice returns and front-facing gable arrangement. The pointed Gothic windows on an essentially classical building are unusual, yet not entirely uncommon, to the ecclesiastical architecture of this period. A wood steeple with pointed arched openings and unadorned pinnacles no longer remains. The building remained in use by the congregation into the 1880s, when, as membership declined, the church disbanded and parishioners once again traveled to Jordan to worship. The Greek Revival period resources in Elbridge recall the prosperity enjoyed in the region around mid-century, and acknowledge an understanding of the accepted cultural currents popular in the country during the period.

By 1850 the population of the village had increased to eight hundred inhabitants, compared with one hundred in 1820,[15] with upwards of one hundred buildings. Development continued to cling to the east-west axis of the turnpike route, with a concentration of processing and manufacturing enterprises located along the banks of the Skaneateles Creek. Two roads, one on either side of the creek, led north to Jordan. Local industry had expanded to include three saw mills, a distillery, Minder's "wooden ware" factory, a woolen factory, a carriage factory, cabinet ware shops and an oil mill run by Jared Wheeler. J.S. Gowing assumed control of the Munro Grist Mill during the 1850s, renaming it Elbridge Mills. The mill had four runs and specialized in the production of high-grade flour, with a capacity of one hundred barrels a day. In addition, a large hotel, tannery, and pail factory were established. Agricultural activity increased during the third quarter of the century, as the fertile lands in the adjoining countryside were improved; by 1860, the township of Elbridge could claim over sixteen thousand acres of improved land.[16] Within the limits of the village tobacco was raised as a cash crop, a practice that continued well into the twentieth century. Located within range of the canal and later the railroad, local goods and surplus agricultural products were easily marketed.

A small commercial district developed on the west side of the village, clustered along the turnpike near its intersection with South Street. The building at 104 East Main Street was built circa 1855 by E.D. Williams in the Italianate style and remains one of the older extant commercial properties within the district. It was constructed of local brick made with clay from the Skaneateles Creek and manufactured on the south side of West Main Street. It contained a hardware store through much of its history. Also constructed during the 1850s was the "Wood Block" at 100-102 East Main street. Erected by Alonzo Wood and likewise employing local brick, the building was gutted by fire in 1890 and rebuilt, although it appears the facade remains from the original edifice. The Wood Block was among the more important commercial buildings in the village throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, housing numerous businesses. In 1874, the building was the home of the Elbridge Grange Number 220, the oldest chapter in Onondaga County. It also provided classroom space during the construction of the Elbridge Free School and Academy between 1929 and 1930. Both these buildings illustrate the restrained application of the Italianate idiom to commercial purposes and represent the growing acceptance of a style that would blossom fully following the Civil War. Characteristic stylistic references include the round-headed windows with vertical emphasis, and bracketed and corbelled cornices. Also extant from this commercial district is the Nathan Munro Tinship, built circa 1850 with local brick by A. Ridgeway, which reflects the influence of the Italianate style with its bracketed cornice.

Contemporary with the culmination of the Greek Revival in New York was the growing influence of Romanticism and the Picturesque-inspired forms popularized in the books of Andrew Jackson Downing and the work of Alexander Jackson Davis. Published style books like Downing's 1842 Cottage Residences and 1850 Architecture of Country Houses offered an alternative to the popular Greek Revival style and proposed designs inspired by rural English Gothic cottages and Italian villas, increasing the application of romantic architectural forms in the vernacular. The Squire Mason Brown House, erected circa 1847, is an interesting vernacular adaptation of the picturesque tradition inspired in America by Davis and Downing. Although the original verandah has been removed, the picturesque drop pendant and decorative bargeboard, trademarks of the picturesque Gothic style, remain. The building may have been erected in association with the Munro Academy, established in 1835 by Nathan Munro, as its form suggests an institutional purpose. The grounds surrounding the Brown house were deemed a 'model farm' by the State Farm Commission in 1850.

The Munro Academy opened in the winter of 1835-36. The first classes were held in the ballroom of Ezekiel Gardiner's tavern until the completion of a new wood frame building the following summer. Nathan Munro, the founder of the Academy, died in 1839, leaving the lot, equipment, and library, along with an endowment of twenty thousand dollars, toward the establishment and continued development of the institution.[17] In 1854, the Academy erected a new edifice, built to the designs of Minard Lafever,[18] to replace the earlier frame building erected in 1836. Commissioned by John Munro, Lafever designed a Tudor Gothic style edifice similar to the Packer Collegiate Institute he had earlier designed in Brooklyn. According to an account in Jacob Landy's biography of the architect, Lafever himself commented on the "picturesque effect" of the Munro Academy's landscaped three-acre setting and the "irregularity of the plan and outline of the structure itself."[19] The Academy building, built of brick with Indiana brownstone trim, featured a castellated tower and turrets, pointed arch Gothic windows, quatrefoils and label moldings. Later renamed the Munro Collegiate Institute, the building was razed in 1928 to make way for the new school. The Academy boasted a library of over one thousand volumes and a laboratory "supplied with excellent apparatus."[20] Course instruction included a five-year English program and a three-year Classical studies program; at the time it was "regarded in many respects as one of the best fitting schools in the country."[21]

The Romanesque Revival style also emerged during the 1840s and 1850s as the product of an increasing romanticism and nostalgia for the forms of Europe, and found widespread application for religious architecture well into the century. Introduced into native architecture by James Renwick and Richard Upjohn, the 'Norman' or 'Round Style' drew from medieval Germany and France and offered an alternative to the increasingly popular Gothic Revival. Constructed in 1858 and attributed to Horatio Nelson White (1814-1892), the Baptist Church is an excellent example of the early Romanesque Revival style. The Baptist Society formed in the village in December 1816, with Squire Munro, Nathan Munro, and Lemuel Crossman as trustees.[22] The first minister, Elder Craw, held meetings in the local schoolhouse until the first church was completed. The brick building was erected at the cost of fourteen thousand dollars, on land donated by Nathan Munro. The building features many characteristic features of the Romanesque Revival style, including asymmetrical massing, rounded arch openings, and elaborate brick corbelling. Horatio Nelson White was active as a builder and later architect in the Syracuse area beginning in the 1840s, and can be credited with the designs of many buildings in the region, including the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse, the Osego City Hall, and the Chemung County Courthouse in Elmira.

The Italianate style, popularized through the mid-century work of Downing and others, blossomed fully in the two decades following the conclusion of the Civil War when it emerged as the dominant national architectural idiom. Increasingly common during the mid- to late-1840s, the style found widespread acceptance in the mainstream, flourishing well into the 1880s. Numerous examples of the style are included within the Elbridge Village Historic District, including domestic, educational, and commercial buildings, of both masonry and wood frame construction. Already addressed were the brick commercial buildings that were constructed during the 1850s to meet the demands of an expanding village population. Other notable manifestations of the style include two substantial masonry examples of domestic design. Constructed circa 1865 was the J.Rice House, a three-bay example characteristic of the style. It features a pedimented cornice above the center bay, projecting cornice with brackets and dentil course, and a wood cupola with pilasters and bracketed cornice. The Caleb Brown House, also constructed during the decade of the 1860s, is an interesting five-ranked, center hall plan example. Embellished with a bracketed cornice and an arcaded verandah with chamfered posts, it is an interesting example that illustrates the persistence of earlier nineteenth century building practices.

More modest wood frame examples, such as the residence at 205 East Main Street, reflect the asymmetrical massing and picturesque details commonly associated with the style. The shallow hipped roof, bracketed cornice, molded window crowns, and picturesque verandah with chamfered posts are all common to the style. The former District Nine School, erected on the site of the original wood frame 1801 school built by Levi Clark, is one of only two educational properties included within the Elbridge Village Historic District. Decorative features reflecting the influence of the Italianate style include the bracketed cornice and windows with segmentally arched brick hoods.

Business enterprises continued their growth on the banks of the Skaneateles Creek in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. In the spring of 1865 the Steam Dried Straw Board Mill was established under the guidance of S.D. Paddock, Jr., just north of the village line. The company employed twelve hands and produced on average twelve to fourteen tons of board per week.[23] Joining the John T. Thomas and Sons Bedstead Manufacturing Company, established in 1859, were two chair manufacturing companies established in 1877, Eaton and Seeley and Buckman and Sons, which employed six and seven employees, respectively. Chair manufacturing, which evolved as a minor trade into a significant local industry, peaked in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Also in 1877, a marble works was established by Curtis and White on South Street, joining the earlier Elbridge Marble and Granite Works established in 1841 run by T.S. Hubbell. Both advertised ornamental cut granite and marble, primarily for funerary purposes.

Representing the culmination of Victorian building in the village of Elbridge are a number of buildings either built or embellished with Queen Anne and Eastlake-inspired modifications. Extremely popular in America throughout the 1880s and 1890s, the popularity of the Queen Anne style emerged following the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where examples of this popular English style gained a widespread audience. Picturesque rooflines, expressive details, a variety of exterior sheathings, and elaborate woodwork were all characteristic of the style. Perhaps the finest remaining example of the style within the Elbridge Village Historic District is the residence at 122 East Main Street, built circa 1890. With its broad, front-facing gable, varied exterior treatments, and lively massing, it is a noteworthy local manifestation of the style. Houses of earlier periods, like the three-bay Greek Revival style house at 111 East Main Street, were often 'Victorianized.' Modifications included the addition of imbricated shingles in the gable field and an attic window with Queen Anne sash, executed circa 1890. Transitional domestic examples, such as the residences at 120 East Main Street and 216 East Main Street, both built circa 1880, reflect Italianate style massing combined with Queen Anne and Eastlake style details.

By the turn of the century, the population of the village had leveled off, while many of the industries located along the creek had gone out of business or relocated to the larger urban Syracuse area. Among the more significant factors in the decline of Elbridge's water-powered industry was the increasing burden placed upon Skaneateles Lake by the burgeoning population of Syracuse. As an increasing amount of water was rerouted to the city from the lake, the once reliable creek became an increasingly uncertain source of hydraulic power. Transportation of goods between the village and the railroad, over two miles distant, also factored into the decline of industry. Chair manufacturing, an important local industry since the mid-nineteenth century, all but ceased. Around 1905, both the C.C. Smith and George Hunsiker chair factories ceased production; Elbridge Chair of A.E. Stacey folded soon thereafter.

In 1928, the Munro Collegiate Institute was razed to make way for a new public school. During the late 1890s, the Institute ceased to exist, the building remaining vacant for a time. In 1901, however, the trustees of the Institute and all Munro heirs signed over their rights to the property, allowing Lafever's Tudor inspired building to be reopened as the Elbridge Free School and Academy. It served the needs of local students until its demolition, brought about because of its obsolescence and lack of modern amenities. The new building was designed in Colonial Revival style, a popular idiom for educational architecture in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and incorporated portions of the old Academy building's stained glass windows into the new design.[24]

Completed in 1930, with additions in 1949 and 1953, the Elbridge Elementary School reflects the practice of standardization that had increasingly directed educational architecture reform beginning in the early twentieth century, when, for the first time, school design sought to address the proportional relationships between functional spaces. The school, designed by Charles Park of Syracuse and built by the H. Conrath Company, was historically the Elbridge Central School, the first of its kind in Onondaga County; it became the elementary school in 1965. The Committee on the Standardization of Schoolhouse Planning and Construction, established in 1917 by the National Educational Association, sought to fix standards for school planning, and attempted to establish minimum standards for lighting, space and safety, while establishing the correct ratios for functional spaces.[35] One and two-story models, with natural illumination derived from a single source, were deemed preferable. The Colonial Revival style, which gained widespread acceptance most notably in the work of the firm of McKim, Mead and White, sought to reinterpret the Georgian and Adam-inspired forms of the Colonial and 'Early Republic' periods. It was deemed particularly appropriate for educational design by providing a historically correct environment for learning.

In the decades that followed the completion of the school, relatively few alterations have altered the overall character of the Elbridge Village Historic District. Of the fifty-five properties included within the Elbridge Village Historic District, only four are modern or extensively altered. As defined, the Elbridge Village Historic District is characterized by a cohesive and architecturally distinguished collection of historic buildings significant in reflecting the development of a small central New York village in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.


  1. Joshua Clark, Onondaga; or Reminisces of Earlier and Later Times (Syracuse: Stoddard and Babcock, 1849), 2: 320.
  2. Alexander Flick, ed., Conquering the Wilderness, vol.5, History of the State of New York (Port Washington, New York: Ira Friedman, 1962), 262. Chapter entitled "The Turnpike Era," authored by Oliver Holmes.
  3. Clark, Onondaga, 320.
  4. John Horner and Jeanne Schwartz, A Stroll on Main Street, Elbridge, New York (Syracuse: Lettergraphics, 1999, 1.
  5. Dwight H. Bruce, Onondaga's Centennial: Gleanings of a Century (Boston: Boston History Publishers, 1896), 1: 687.
  6. Ibid, 686-87.
  7. W.W. Clayton, History of Onondaga County (Syracuse: D. Mason and Co., 1878), 298.
  8. Clark, Onondaga, 320.
  9. Bruce, Centennial, 689.
  10. Ibid
  11. Clark, Onondaga, 321.
  12. Clayton, Onondaga, 298.
  13. Clark, Onondaga, 322.
  14. Bruce, Centennial, 701-2
  15. Clark, Onondaga, 323.
  16. Bruce, Centennial, 701.
  17. Clark, Onondaga, 322.
  18. Jacob Landy, The Architecture of Minard Lafever (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), 213.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Clayton, Onondaga, 300.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Clark, Onondaga, 322.
  23. Clayton, Onondaga, 301.
  24. Parts of the chapel's stained glass windows were incorporated into the design on the south wall of the present school "cafetorium."
  25. Susanne Warren, "Context Study: The Schools of New York State: Development of the School as a Building Type" (1990), 202.


Bruce, Dwight. Onondaga's Centennial: Gleanings of a Century. Boston: Boston History Publishers, 1896.

Clark, Joshua. Onondaga: or Reminisces of Earlier and Later Times. Syracuse: Stoddard and Babcock, 1849.

Clayton, W.W. History of Onondaga County. Syracuse: D. Mason and Col, 1878.

Flick, Alexander. History of the State of New York, 10 vols. Port Washington, New York: Ira Friedman, 1962.

Horner, John and Jeanne Schwartz. A Stroll on Main Street. Syracuse: Lettergraphics, 1999.

Landy, Jacob. The Architecture of Minard Lafever. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.

Warren, Suzanne. "Context Study: The Schools of New York State: Development of a Building Type. 1990.

Krattinger, William E., New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Elbridge Village Historic District, nomination document, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Main Street