The south end of Otsego Lake (at the source of the Susquehana River), looking north from Council Rock Park in Cooperstown, NY. Photographed by wikipedia username: Ted Fischer own work, 2013 [cc-3.0], accessed July, 2022.
The Cooperstown Historic District [†] encompasses approximately three-quarters of the incorporated village and three properties north of the village line. Nearly all of the district lies west of the Susquehanna River in the town of Otsego; only six structures (about 1%) are located east of the river in the town of Middlefield. Two state highways enter the historic district: New York State Route 28 enters the southwest corner of the district on Chestnut Street and turns west on Glen Avenue in leaving. State Route 80 enters from the west on Glen Avenue-, turns north ,on.Chestnut ^treet, .and turns-west on ,Lake Street before leaving the historic district. These highways account for a number of automobile related Intrusions on Chestnut Street.
Cooperstown is built in the valley between Hannah's Hill on the west and Mt. Vision on the east. The rolling land in the district changes in elevation from about 30 feet above the Susquehanna River to about 90 feet in the western part of the village. The historic district consists of approximately 566 structures including virtually all of the area settled before 1900. Of the 566 structures, 38 were built between 1786 and 1825, 111 in 1825-1860, 228 in 1860-1900, 114,in 1900-1930 and 74 since 1930. The oldest cluster of houses is located in an area bounded by Lake, River, Main, and Chestnut Streets, in the northeast corner of the district.
Incorporating the historic core of the village, the district consists of several hundred residences, 80 commercial buildings, and a number of institutional structures, including a hospital, two museums, a library, six government buildings, and a nursing home. The commercial district is located on Main Street between Fair Street and Pine Boulevard, with several buildings on Pioneer Street one block either side of Main. This commercial district exhibits a full range of 19th-century architectural styles and contains some of the finest structures in the village. To the west of the commercial district are the county government buildings, including the County Court House. Bounding the commercial district on the east are the A.C.C. Gymnasium, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Village Office Building. The remaining institutional buildings are located on the edges of the historic district: The MIB Hospital is situated at the southeast corner of the district; Woodside Hall, now a nursing home, is located at the northeast corner; and the New York State Historical Association and Fenimore House are on the northwest boundary of the district.
The residential district consists primarily of three distinct groupings of houses: 1) vernacular Greek Revival houses dating from the period 1825 to 1850; 2) Italianate houses from 1860 to 1895; and 3) early twentieth century houses. The network of streets in Cooperstown developed in two stages. The grid pattern of streets in the northeast corner of the historic district was based on a 1786 survey by William Cooper with Chestnut, Elm, and Beaver Streets leading into the village from the southwest and Lake Street from the northwest. Nearly all of the pre-1850 houses are concentrated on these streets.
The coming of the railroad in 1869 spurred further growth in the village. At this time, Leatherstocking Street, Railroad Avenue, Glen Avenue, Delaware Street, Eagle Street, and the southwestern block of Susquehanna Avenue were added, with houses being built on these streets over the next thirty years. When the Otsego County Fairgrounds were sold in 1918, Fair Street was extended from Elk to Beaver Street, thus completing street development in the historic district. Residences were subsequently built on the new section of Fair Street and the southeast side of Pioneer Street. Old School Court was added in 1939 on the former site of the Union School.
A street-by-street description of the historic district follows (as it appeared in 1980):
ATWELL ROAD is a block long street with MIB Hospital located on the south side and the hospital parking lot on the north side.
BEAVER STREET forms the southern boundary of the historic district. At No. 31^ the Tudor Revival apartment building, Bassett Hall (1927), dominates the street. Four residential intrusions are on the eastern end of the street with late 19th and early 20th century frame houses on the western end.
CHESTNUT STREET is the primary path for all traffic traveling through the village from the south, north, or west on State Routes 28 and 80. The street contains the two largest intrusions to the historic district, at the intersections with Leatherstocking and Elm Streets. It also has some of the finest residential architecture, notably Willowbrook/Cooper Inn between Lake and Main Streets, imposing Italianate houses at Nos. 63, 64, and 79, a Victorian Gothic house at No. 82, and a >Queen Anne house at No. 81.
CHURCH STREET is a two block long street containing five 19th-century residences and one residential Intrusion.
COOPER PLACE (COOPER LANE), a cul-de-sac off Chestnut street, consists of three cottages and a carriage barn.
DELAWARE STREET is a block long street containing twenty^late 19th century residential structures.
EAGLE STREET, nearly identical to Delaware Street, has twenty-three residences^ most of which were constructed in the 1880s.
ELK STREET, a block long street, has five residential structures and the imposing neoclassical racing stables (1900) at No. 7. At 1 Elk Street is the finest example of Second Empire residential architecture in the historic district.
ELM STREET is two blocks long running southwesterly from Pioneer toward Chestnut Street. The northeastern block contains two churches and several fine examples of pre-1850 Greek Revival architecture. The southwestern block displays Italianate and early 20th century houses. At 73 Elm Street is one of the best examples of Italianate architecture in the village.
FAIR STREET runs from Lake Otsego southward to Beaver Street. It is divided by Cooper Park between Main Street and Fair Street. From Elk Street northward one can find examples of well-maintained pre-1850 vernacular architecture. Greystone (1820) at 20 Fair Street is an excellent example of Federal architecture. The section of:Fair Street between Elk and Beaver Streets was opened in 1918 and contains examples of 20th-century colonial revival styles. Among the Intrusions on the street are the Lakefront Hotel (No. 10), the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library (Cooper Park), and the Episcopal Rectory (No. 69).
GLEN AVENUE is the one block long west entrance to the village. The north side of the street contains two fine examples of Queen Anne architecture (Nos. 4 and 6). The Cooper Lane Apartments (Nos. 68-74 Chestnut Street) intrude upon the south side.
HOFFMAN LANE, a block long alley connecting Lake and Main Streets, contains two commercial structures converted from 19th-century barns.
LAKE STREET runs from the Susquehanna River westward before turning northward to continue along the lake. When Lake Street leaves the village it becomes LAKE ROAD, which has four primary structures in the historic district. The street is dominated by Edgewater (1813) at the east end, the Otesaga Hotel (1909) midway, and the golf course and Fenimore House (1932) at the north end. The eastern end of the street contains four of the ten oldest buildings in the district— Baldwin House (1804) at No. 24, the Masonic Hall (1797) at No. 30, the Averell Cottage (1793) at No. 40, and the John Miller House (1802) at No. 67. Most of the houses on the lakefront are located on large lots, while the houses on the south side of Lake Street, especially those between Fair and Pioneer Streets (Photo 59), are closer together and nearer the street. Four small ranch houses (Nos. 59, 61, 63, and 65) across from the Otesaga Hotel intrude on the historic district.
LEATHERSTOCKING STREET, a block long street near the railroad commercial district, contains Greek Revival and Italianate houses built between 1860 and 1890. At No. 23 is one of the best Italianate houses in the village.
MAIN STREET contains the greatest number of structures in the historic district. It runs from east to west across the entire district and crosses the Susquehanna River to include 6 structures in the Town of Middlefield. The eastern end of the street has five of the oldest residences in the historic district: Lakelands (1802- 1804) at No. 8, the Pomeroy House (1804) at No. 11, Prentiss Cottage (1800) at No. 12, and the Worthington House (1802) at No. 13. Lakelands, the Pomeroy House, and the Prentiss-Averell townhouses at Nos. 14 and 16 are excellent examples of Federal architecture. The houses on the east bank of the Susquehanna River sit on large lots, while those between River and Fair Streets are on smaller lots near the street (Photo 97) The commercial district begins at the intersection of Fair Street and continues to Pine Boulevard, and includes many notable examples of 19th-century architecture. The Otsego County Bank (No. 19) is the village's most important public building in the Greek Revival style. The building at 88-92 Main displays one of the few cast-iron fronts remaining in upstate New York. At 75-99 Main Street is a series of six commercial buildings built in the 1870s and 1880s with a mix of Italianate, Romanesque, and classical detailing; these are intact with the exception of three storefronts. At 62 Main Street an Italianate building (1853) was rebuilt in 1892 with a polychromed Victorian Romanesque facade. At 157 Main Street a Second Empire commercial building remains. The commercial district includes two Federal style residences converted to club houses—the Nancy Williams House (1796) at No. 60 and the John Hannay House (1820) at No. 138. Beyond the commercial district on the west end of Main Street are large Queen Anne houses. Main has five major intrusions, namely, the U.S. Post Office at Nos. 28-40, the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Nos. 39-43, Nos. 47-49, Nos. 100-102, and the Otsego County Office building at No. 193.
MILL STREET runs between the Susquehanna River and the River Street-Atwell Road intersection. Its 1887 Pratt truss bridge is the southeastern gateway to the historic district.
NELSON AVENUE connects Lake and Main Streets. The street containSa fine grouping of large Victorian houses. Including Forest View at No. 41, the finest Queen Anne house in the village.
OLD SCHOOL COURT, a cul-de-sac off Susquehanna Avenue, has eight small houses and a community garage, all built in 1939.
PINE BOULEVARD, running between Main and Lake Streets, is divided by a treelined median with monuments at either end. The west side of the street consists of large, well-kept Victorian houses, some of the finest in the village. The east side has a group of modern houses which do not Impinge on the historic vista of the street because of their setback.
PIONEER STREET, running north-south through the entire historic district from Lake Otsego to Beaver Street, is residential at its ends with two blocks of commercial buildings located between Lake and Church Streets. In the commercial blocks are the Smithy (No. 55), the oldest structure in Cooperstown (1786), and at Nos. 34-36 the Federal style Tunnicliff Inn (1802). Notable residential structures Include No. 24, the Ellery Cory House (1820), and Nos. 51 and 53, the vernacular Greek Revival twin stone houses (1826). South of Church Street all structures are residential except for the Presbyterian Church (1805), the oldest religious edifice in Cooperstown. Houses on the west side of Pioneer Street date from the early 19th century; on the east side are 20th-century houses. Three residences at the north end of the street (Nos. 9, 11, 16) are Intrusions, as are five others scattered among the 19th-century houses on the southwest side of the street; the only commercial intrusion is the New York Telephone building at No. 60.
PROSPECT PLACE, a block long street connecting Nelson Avenue and Pine Boulevard, has three residential structures.
RAILROAD AVENUE runs parallel to the railroad for approximately two blocks, connecting Main Street and Glen Avenue. The street is dominated by late 19th century commercial and warehouse structures except for the two residences at the south end. The 1869 railroad depot is the focal point of the street. RIVER STREET begins at Council Rock Park and Lake Street and runs southward to Mill Street-Atwell Road, paralleling the Susquehanna River. The northern part of the street has four closely placed houses (Photo 150) while south of Main Street consists of large houses on extensive tree-dotted lots (Photo 151). The notable structures are the Second Empire Fernleigh Mansion (No. 43), the Federal style Scott House (No. 48), and the Episcopal Church, chapel and graveyard. The MIB Hospital dominates the southern end; two parking lots flank River Street near the hospital.
SUSQUEHANNA AVENUE, a two block long street running from Chestnut to Beaver Street, consists of a mixture of vernacular Greek Revival and late 19th century styles on the northern block and Italianate and early 20th century styles on the southern block. The Italianate houses between Nos. 42 and 48 are among the finest in the historic district.
WESTRIDGE ROAD, one block north of Nelson Avenue off Lake Street, has two houses in the historic district; one is a modern ranch house, the other is the McKim House (1884) cm of the finest examples of Shingle Style architecture in upstate New York. Any description of Cooperstown should contain reference to the various natural features and community amenities which contribute to the character of the historic district: Lake Otsego, the parks, the monuments, the plantings, and the general atmosphere of careful maintenance and prosperity. There are few villages in upstate New York with the combination of structural, historical, and natural resources, which Cooperstown enjoys.
The Cooperstown Historic District, comprising most of the incorporated village of Cooperstown, derives significance from a combination of elements. The varied styles and types of buildings reflect the village's long history, from the simplest frame house of the early settlement period-to the major Neo-Colonial buildings of the 1920s and '30s. Many buildings are individually noteworthy as fine examples of a particular architectural style or as the work of noted architects. Others, more modest structures executed in vernacular modes, combine to form well-preserved streetscapes.' Not only the buildings, but also the street plan, open spaces, plantings, and monuments contribute to this evocation of the village's past, surviving today with little change and few modern intrusions.
In addition to the integrity of its built environment, Cooperstown is significant for its association with notable historical events and personages. Not only has it been the site of important events—the start of the Clinton-Sullivan campaign, the invention of baseball—but it has served Americans as a model of rural life since Judge Cooper first promoted settlement there in 1786. Through the writings of James Fenimore Cooper, the natural beauty and leisurely tranquil unhurried lifestyle of the village have invited visits from-tourists since the mid-nineteenth century. Today, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Farmer's Museums continue to attract visitors. On a local level, the village has served as the governmental, cultural, and the commercial center of Otsego County, as is reflected in such notable structures as the Otsego County Courthouse and the Otsego County Bank. Finally, the historic district derives significance through its association with such prominent- figures as writer James Fenimore Cooper, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Nelson, Abner Doubleday, the inventor of baseball, and Edward Clark, the sewing machine magnate.
The village of Cooperstown stands on the site of an important Revolutionary War encampment connected with the Clinton-Sullivan campaign. In 1779, General James Clinton proceeded up the Mohawk River to Fort Plain where he turned overland for twenty miles to reach the head of Lake Otsego. After traveling down the lake to the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, the army encamped while building a dam to raise the waters of Lake Otsego. In August of 1779 the dam was broken tand the flood waters carried Clinton's army over the Susquehanna River shallows to Tioga Point where it joined with Sullivan's army to defeat the, Iroquois.';
Cooperstown lies in the Croghan patent, 100,000 acres conveyed to Colonel George Croghan in 1768 by the Indian department of the crown. Croghan defaulted on his patent in 1773 and by 1785 the rights to 30,000 acres of the land had passed to William Cooper. Cooper began settling the land in 1786 with two log structures constructed near the west bank of the river. In 1788, with only two frame buildings in the village. Cooper laid out six east-west streets and three north-south streets. This early plan is the area bounded by the present day Lake Street on the north, River Street on the east. Pioneer Street on the west, and Elk Street on the south.
In 1791 the county of Otsego was formed and Cooperstown named the county seat, with William Cooper the first judge. Also in 1791 a road was opened between Cherry Valley, then the most important town in the county, and Cooperstown. By 1801 the Great Western Turnpike had acquired this road known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike and opened it for travel. A few years later the south branch of the turnpike was opened westward to Sherburne, establishing the two most important transportation links for Cooperstown until the coming of the railroad.
The settlement of Cooperstown was gradual but steady between 1795 and 1805. By the latter year Cooperstown consisted of 75 dwellings, 34 barns, and 349 inhabitants. The number of commercial buildings was estimated at 25. Of the buildings built in the earliest period of settlement, a number have survived. The oldest house in Cooperstown is the Tyler House located at 12 Main. Others are the Averell Cottage (1793) at 40 Lake Street, the Nancy Russell House (1796) at 60 Main, the Prentiss Cottage (1800) at 14 Main, the John Miller house (1802 , the oldest brick house") at 67 Lake Street," Lakelands (1802- 1804) at 8 Main Street, Pomeroy House (1804) at 11 Main Street, and the Baldwin House (1804) at 24 Lake Street. Two non-residential structures also survive from this period: "The Smithy" at 55 Pioneer Street had its first floor built as a blacksmith shop in 1786. The old Masonic Hall at 30 Lake Street, built in 1797, is the oldest surviving Masonic Hall building in New York State.
In 1800 the Presbyterians formed a congregation and in 1805 erected the first church in Cooperstown which remains today on Pioneer Street. Although the Episcopalians erected a building for worship in 1807 (River Street) they did not organize a congregation until 1810.
William Cooper built Otsego Hall in 1799 where he moved his family of four sons and two daughters. The statue of James Fenimore Cooper in Cooper Park marks the site of this building^which burned in 1853. It was the boyhood home of James Fenimore Cooper, who lived there until he went to Albany at the age of ten to prepare for Yale. After three years at Yale and a brief time in the Navy, Cooper married Susan Augusta Delaney and returned to Cooperstown where he built a small cottage on Fenimore Farm (Golf Course) He left Cooperstovm again in 1817 to return again in 1834. At this time Cooper became embroiled in a dispute over public use of the family-owned park at Three Mile Point. When Cooper closed these grounds, bitter arguments between Cooper and the villagers, diatribes in the press, and a series of libel suits followed. The courts upheld Cooper's position, establishing the right of an Individual in a democracy to certain immunities. Three Mile Point decision clarified basic personal rights and wrote into law fundamental rights in matters of libel.
Two of Cooper's five Leatherstocking books have Otsego County as their setting. The Deerslayer (1841) depicts Lake Otsego before white civilization, when Council Rock, at the mouth of the Susquehanna, was still an Indian meeting place. The Pioneers (1823) is set in the Cooperstown of Cooper's boyhood. Although Cooper denied it, a character in the book. Judge Templeton, is clearly based on his own father. During his later stay in Cooperstown, Cooper also wrote the Chronicles of Cooperstown (1838), a short history of the early days of the community.
In the first half of the 19th century Cooperstown functioned as the commercial and marketing center for Otsego County. The agriculture of the county for the first 25 years was based on wheat and sheep, but after 1850 it diversified to include hops growing and dairy farming. The merino sheep craze and the development of scientific farming led to the establishment of the Otsego County Fair in 1817. (The fairgrounds were located until 1918 on the property bounded by Elk, River, Beaver, and Pioneer Streets. ) The wool was processed in textile mills which developed locally, utilizing readily available water power. Beginning in 1809, five wool and cotton mills were built within an eight mile radius of Cooperstown. All but one ended operations in the 1850s and 1860s.
One of the important early figures in the development of the manufacturing and commercial life in Cooperstown was William Holt Averell. Originally a lawyer, he invested in the Hope Cotton Manufacturing in Index, a small hamlet south of Cooperstown. The success of this and other investments permitted him to establish the Otsego County Bank in 1830 and construct a building (19 Main) in 1831. In 1793 Averell built and lived in the house at 40 Lake Street. Later he lived in the townhouse at 18 Main Street, before building another house on the present site of the Otesaga Hotel. President and cashier of the Otsego County Bank were Robert Campbell and Henry Scott, who built houses at 50 Lake Street (1808) and 48 River Street (1814), respectively.
In 1825, Samuel Nelson, then judge of the circuit court, married a Cooperstown woman. For a time he resided at Apple Hill, the former home of Richard Fenimore Cooper, and in 1835 built a house at 66-70 Main Street. In 1833 Nelson was promoted to the bench of the Supreme Court of the State, becoming Chief Justice in 1836. In 1845 he was appointed to the United States Supreme Court where he served until 1872 before he retired to Cooperstown. Sites associated with his life Included a commercial building at 22 Chestnut Street from a business venture in 1862,as well as his law office at the Farmers’ Museum. Another important early figure in Cooperstown was Elihu Phinney, who began a printing business and started a newspaper in 1795. The Phinney Almanac provided farmers with information on astronomical matters and planning farm work. Phinney's sons succeeded him and by 1838 the firm of H. & H. E. Phinney employed 40 workers to print eight thousand Bibles, sixty thousand books, mostly school texts, and two hundred thousand almanacs annually. Wagons carried books from the Phinney firm in Cooperstown to farms and villages throughout the state. Phinney even had floating bookstores on the Erie Canal. The Henry Phinney home, Willowbrook (Cooper Inn), remains on Chestnut Street.
Erastus Beadle^who began as a typesetter for the Phinney brothers^continued the printing and publishing tradition. Leaving Cooperstown, Beadle went to Buffalo to publish a magazine called Youths Casket, then on to New York to publish ten-cent pocket song books, joke books, biographies, and recitations. The novels published by Beadle followed a rigid pattern: virtue rewarded, sin punished, morality triumphant. As Beadle withdrew from his publishing business he spent more of his time and energy in Cooperstown. In 1882 he opened Nelson Avenue on which he erected Cherry Hall (44 Nelson) in 1886. He also built Overlook Cottage at 8 Pine Boulevard in 1888.
Cooperstown underwent several changes in the 1850-1860 period which profoundly affected the character of the village and laid the foundation for the village as it is known today. First, after a succession of unsuccessful cash crops, farmers began growing hops. Otsego County became one of the major hop-growing counties in the United States, bringing prosperity which supported the commercial development of Cooperstown. This prosperity lasted until 1910 when hops ceased to be a major cash crop despite a revival in the 1930s. Also in the 1850s the county's agriculture shifted to dairy farming. Initially, cheese was the primary marketable crop, but after rail transport became available to New York and other markets in 1869, milk production dominated. Although now shipped by truck, milk continues to be the major cash crop of the farms around Cooperstown.
The arrival of the railroad not only provided transportation for agricultural crops, but also for tourists who came to Cooperstown to stay at the resort hotels. Cooper's novels made Lake Otsego famous and many people came from New York City to enjoy the lake and mild summer climate. Cooperstown has lost many of its major hotels: the Cooper House (Chestnut and Glen), Fenimore Hotel (Chestnut and Main), the Ballard House (Main and Fair Street), and Templeton Lodge (Nelson Avenue). However, remaining from the resort hotel Industry are the Pratt Hotel (1862) 50 Pioneer Street, Fenimore Cottages (1873) at 14, 16 Chestnut Street, and the grand Otesaga Hotel (1909); only the latter continues to function in its original capacity. Today Cooperstown is supported by tourism but it is now oriented to automobiles and motels.
The commercial district as it now appears developed after a fire on April 10, 1862. which destroyed both sides of Main Street from the intersection of Pioneer Street to ^ #136 Main Street, as well as buildings on the west side of Pioneer Street. In the years immediately following 1862 the west side of Pioneer and the north side of Main Street were rebuilt. In the 1870s and 1880s the south side of Main was built. As a result the commercial district has an entire range of 19th-century commercial styles with only a few 18th-and 20th-century buildings. One notable building, and a rarity in small town commercial architecture, is the iron clad building at 88-92 Main Street. The cast-iron facade was designed for a building in New York City and cast by the Bogardus Iron Works. When the facade was rejected for the New York building, it was brought to Cooper St own.
The Clark family, whose personal Interest in the village maintained its beauty and shaped its modern Institutions, came to Cooperstown in the 1850s. Edward Clark was a lawyer who, in partnership with his father-in-law Ambrose Jordan, formerly a Cooperstown attorney, assisted I. M. Singer in patenting his inventions, including the sewing machine. Eventually, Clark became a partner and business head of I. M. Singer and Co., the source of the family's fortune. Edward's wife Caroline had been born in Cooperstown but, like other people of fashion, they came there originally as summer visitors. However, the village became increasingly important to Edward and succeeding generations and the family has had a continuing impact on the visual and historical character of Cooperstown.
In 1854, Edward Clark bought Apple Hill, and in 1869 he built the mansion Fernleigh on River Street (a part of which remains today). He invested in various local businesses, among them the Hotel Fenimore, which he built in 1873. He also brought H. J. Hardenburg, architect of the Dakotas in New York City for the Clarks, to Cooperstown to design in 1874 Fenimore Cottages (14, 16 Chestnut Street) and in 1880 the commercial block at the corner of Pioneer and Main Streets (75-79 Main Street). However, Edward Clark's four grandsons made an even stronger impact on the village.
Edward Severin Clark made the largest contribution in the three projects he designed for the community. In 1909 he built the huge Neo-Classical Otesaga Hotel, the last resort hotel to be built in Cooperstown and the only one still surviving. In memory of his father he redesigned the Alfred Corning Clark Gymnasium in 1929 under the architectural hand of Henry St. Clair Zogbaum. In 1917 he began building the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital. Like the gynasium, the building featured the use of stone and classical details. Intended as a model of a country care facility, it was opened to the public in 1922 but closed in 1925 for lack of patients. However, it was later revitalized by a group of New York City physicians headed by Dr. Henry S. F. Cooper and in 1946 it became affiliated with Columbia University as a teaching hospital. As the hospital has grown, buildings were added in 1952 and 1970; it has become one of the major economic forces in the community.
Edward S. Clark lived on Fenimore Farm north of the village in a modest frame house formerly occupied by James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Nelson. In the early 1920s he built a large neoclassical house at 47 Lake while he was designing and building a mansion on Fenimore Farm. The mansion was Fenimore House, again designed by Henry St. Clair Zogbaum and completed in 1932, a year before Clark's death. A second brother, Robert Sterling Clark, spent only his early life in Cooperstown.
While he was there he commissioned Ernest Flagg for a large neoclassical structure to house the Village Club, a library, and a museum. In 1932 it was given to the village and currently serves as the village offices, library, and art gallery.
A third brother, F. Ambrose Clark, lived outside the village, but for his 21st birthday, in 1900, he was presented the large wooden neoclassical building at the corner of Elk and Fair Streets which he maintained for his horses and carriages. After his death his collection and the racing stables became the Carriage and Harness Museum from 1964 to 1978.
The fourth brother, Stephen C. Clark, continued Edward's projects and, in an effort to revitalize the tourist trade, developed the museum for which Cooperstown is nationally known. Capitalizing on a finding by a 1907 baseball commission that Abner Doubleday Invented the game of baseball in Cooperstown between 1839-1841, Clark used his financial support to Interest the major leagues in establishing a baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown. The National Baseball Hall of Fame (39 Main) was opened in June 1939 in a building designed by Henry St. Clair Zogbaum. Additions in 1950 (44 Main) and 1977-78 (43 Main) have maintained the Neo-Colonial style of the original.
In 1939 Stephen Clark also persuaded the New York State Historical Association to move from Ticonderoga to Cooperstown. The New York State Historical Association was first housed in the village office building, but in 1944 it moved to Fenimore House. At Fenimore House, NYSHA displays one of the finest collections of folk art in the United States. It also operates the Farmers' Museum and Village Crossroads, an outdoor museum of pre-1850 rural life. The association annually holds the Seminars on American Culture, a model of American cultural education; and since 1964 has co-sponsored a graduate program in history museum training.
The major losses in the historic environment have occurred because of fires in the commercial district and because of the removal of large institutional and residential buildings, usually for maintenance reasons. Ih the commercial district the buildings have been replaced by parks and open spaces. Elsewhere, when demolition has occurred, the large structure has been replaced by a number of small, modern structures. The four major clusters of intrusions—Chestnut and Leatherstocking Streets, Chestnut and Elm Streets, Pine Boulevard and Lake Streets, and Old School Court have resulted from this process.
Cooperstown continues to be one of the leading villages in Otsego County. Its major sources of support are county government, the hospital, and tourism. The hospital continues to expand; two parking lots have been created on vacant land at the intersection of Atwell Road and River Street. Tourism, however, continues to be the greatest threat to the historic environment. The area of blight surrounding Doubleday Field is a consequence of providing parking and other services for the tourist. In the past few years fast food restaurants have appeared in historic commercial buildings; fortunately, no original storefronts have been altered.
The historic district boundaries encompass nearly all of the pre-1900 development in the village. Beyond these bound aries are modern developments and less integrity in the historic buildings. The inclusion of this large area is intended to preserve the continuity created by pas t stages of development and assist the planning process for the future. The village planning board is currently considering a long range plan for Cooperst own and intends to consider the historic environment, as delineated by this nomination, in future plans for development.
† Adapted from: Daniel D. Mayer, New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown Historic District,, nomination document, 1980, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Beaver Street • Chestnut Street • Church Street • Cooper Lane • Cooper Place • Delaware Street • Eagle Street • Elk Street • Elm Street • Fair Street • Glen Avenue • Hoffman Lane • Lake Road • Lake Street • Leatherstocking Street • Main Street • Mill Street • Nelson Avenue • Old School Court • Pine Boulevard • Pioneer Street • Prospect Place • Railroad Avenue • River Street • Susquehanna Avenue • Westridge Road