The Village of Greenwich Historic District [†] is historically and architecturally significant for its highly intact, cohesive collection of architecture which spans the 19th-early 20th centuries and reflects the historical growth and development of the village from a small early-19th century rural agricultural community to a prosperous milling community by the end of the century.
The district encompasses nearly the entire historic core of the village and includes fine examples of 19th-early 20th century domestic, commercial, civic and religious architecture, as well as a number of historic village greens. Distinguished examples of Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Carpenter Gothic, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style architecture are represented in the district, as are vernacular interpretations of these styles. The historic qualities of the district are complemented by the survival of hitching posts, old wells, a variety of contributing outbuildings, as well as mature plantings.
The Village of Greenwich Historic District is significant as an outstanding example of a rural/industrial village which retains its historic associations as well as its architectural and spatial characteristics which illustrate family and community life patterns in southern Washington Country from the late-18th through the early-20th centuries. It retains an unusually high degree of integrity and represents one of the largest and most intact 19th century commercial/residential districts in the North Country region of New York State.
The district features 238 buildings/features, of which only 39 are noncontributing.
The Village of Greenwich is located on both sides of the Battenkill River, a noted trout and recreation stream, which empties into the Hudson River at Clarks Mills in the Town of Greenwich. Prior to European contact, tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy known as the Horicons, travelled and fished this river. Along the western border of the township and through the village lies a portion of the Great War Trail. Armies used this trail up to and during the Revolutionary War. Colonel Baum followed it on his way to the Battle of Bennington and General Burgoyne on his way to the Battle of Saratoga. The falls in the Battenkill, which enticed settlers, descend 17 feet at Center Falls, 15 feet at Greenwich, and 40 feet at Middle Falls; Dionondahowa (The Great Falls), named by the Native Americans, drops 70 feet about one-half mile below Middle Falls.
The first Europeans in the area were Dutch who settled on the Saratoga Patent. Later, the Scotch-Irish came to the Argyle Patent. These early settlers were soon followed by Baptists and Quakers from Rhode Island, some of whom came to what is now Greenwich. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Quakers established a meeting house in a log cabin built over the Battenkill in the communityofEastonafewmilestothesouth. (In1795thelogcabinwas replaced by the present clapboard structure which is still used by area Quakers). In 1783 the Baptists established their first church in a log cediin built below the village on land obtained from General PhilipS chuyler. (In 1795 it was replaced with a church of wood on the site of the present brick church).
The building located at 1 Prospect Street is the only extant resource within the district that is associated with this early settlement period. Built in 1778, this building was originally located just outside of what came to be the village limits. It was moved to its present location circa 1800, and operated as one of a series of taverns/inns extending from East Greenwich to Lansingburg, the head of navigation at the time. It served farmers of the surrounding area as they made their way to the Champlain Canal by which they sent their produce to market.
Although scattered settlement and minor industry had occurred in and around the area of what was to become the village of Greenwich prior to the 18th century, it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the full potential of the Battenkill River for providing power for mill sites/industry was realized. In 1803, Job Whipple, a Quaker from Rhode Island, along with William Mowry, a worker from the Slater Mills in Rhode Island, established New York's first cotton mill along the banks of the Battenkill in 1804 (Grieve and Fernald). This partnership marked the advent of what was to become a thriving village first known as Whipple City, later incorporated as Union Village in 1809 and finally renamed Greenwich in 1867. William Mowry married Whipple's daughter, Lydia, and thus began the family which brought about the "Golden Age" of Greenwich, that time when the Mowry-Whipple mill reached its height of productivity. The Mowry children went on to establish other businesses and a bank within the community. Job Whipple, for whom the village was first named, answered the call of the West, leaving behind a wife and children. His sons became builders and are responsible for some of the fine carpentry found in the village (eg.. Nos. 61,63 & 78 Salem Street). Many buildings directly associated with these two important founding families and their descendants are located within the district.
By 1807 the cotton mill, which is purported to be the earliest in the country to use the double speeder weaving machines was thriving. Yarn was farmed out to housewives in the surrounding area to be woven into cloth. Saw mills and grist mills became a part of the mill complex on the Battenkill River. The first cast iron plow manufactory in the country was established in the village by Perry Miller, one of Greenwich's original settlers. Pottery shops sprang up inside and outside the village and prosperity followed. As mills producing linen thread, underwear and paper appeared, Irish, Italians, Germans and French Canadians came bringing with them cultural differences and churches of other denominations. A Dutch Reformed congregation was formed in 1807 and in 1810 built a wooden church which was replaced in 1874 by the brick church that now stands on its site at 37 Salem Street. The Methodists had a circuit rider preacher as early as 1804 and their first church stood at the site of the present Methodist parsonage at 22 Church Street. In 1805 the Union Village Library was founded and by 1814 a school district, which included the towns of Greenwich and Easton, was formed.
A number of noteworthy buildings from this initial industrialization period survive within the district, the most modest of which are located on Salem Street. The building at 66 Salem Street (across from the site of the original Job Whipple house) is one of the earliest residences within the village. Built circa 1800, this two-story five-bay frame building continues to reflect its Federal period origins through its form, fenestration and detailing. It also features a primitive but unique circular interior stairway with a domed ceiling. Another residence, similar in form, is the residence at 40-42 Salem Street built circa 1800 by Zacheus Adams, who was a wagon maker and sign painter. Parts from a group of circa 1800 houses built on Salem Street by Job Whipple's sons, and later partially destroyed by fire, have been incorporated into the present buildings at 61 and 63 Salem Street. James Whipple is credited with the construction of both residences which to this day remain remarkably intact and reflect typical modest vernacular interpretations of popular styles. The earlier of the two, at 61 Salem Street (circa 1820), embodies typical Federal- inspired characteristics. The residence at 63 Salem Street (circa 1840), while modest in size and scale, embodies distinctive Greek Revival characteristics (i.e., side hall plan with recessed front entry, pedimented front gable, entablature and corner pilasters).
The fashionable residences of the early prominent figures in the village were built primarily on Main and Church Streets. A number of these survive, largely intact, within the district. The T-shaped brick Federal residence at 73 Main Street, the most modest of this group, was built in 1812 by Charles Ingalls, the first lawyer in the village (two of his sons went on to become Supreme Court judges). In 1816 Joseph Boies, a partner of Ingalls, built the large impressive Adamesque-inspired Federal brick residence at 145 Main Street (now St. Paul's Rectory). In the same year, William Mowry built an equally impressive brick residence (now a bank) across the street at 146 Main Street. Both these high-style Federal buildings reflect the level of prosperity enjoyed by the early entrepreneurs of this newly formed village. Another distinguished building from this early period is the residence at 18 Church Street built in 1814 by Henry Holmes, who married Anna Mowry, a daughter of William and Lydia. Originally built in the Federal style, this building was remodelled circa 1840 into the unique high-style Greek Revival seen today. Mr. Holmes along with Leroy Mowry established the village's first bank in the right wing of this building (no longer extant—the one-story wings flanking the main block of the building were removed circa 1940; see Historic View No.2). This residence later became the home of Dr. Henry Gray, who moved to Greenwich in 1867 and served the community as a physician for the next fifty years; he was also the first president of the Board of Education. Another original Mowry house is located at 10 Church Street. Built circa 1838 by William and Leroy Mowry, this transitional Federal/Greek Revival residence, although expanded and somewhat modified over the years, has retained sufficient historic architectural integrity to reflect its place in history. The distinguished Federal/Greek Revival residence at 6 Church Street (circa l845) was built for William Mowry's son, William Mowry II. Distinctive features of this building are its stepped parapet gables and elaborate cornice with modillions and brackets, features it shares with the residence at 5A Washington Square built in 1825 by Simeon Crandall, a doctor, who also served as village postmaster. Soon after William Mowry's death in 1845, the Mowry children had the brick Federal/Greek Revival residence at 4 Church Street built for their mother.
By the mid-19th century the village was firmly established and residential development began radiating out from its core. The majority of the houses built were middle/working class single-family types reflecting a strong Greek Revival influence, characteristic of the period. Although most of these buildings have been, in some way, modified over the years, almost all still retain an unusually high degree of historic architectural integrity which contributes to the overall cohesiveness and ambience of this district. A number of variations of the Greek Revival style are represented within the district. Both 44 and 46 Salem Street provide examples of the typical side- hall/side-gable Greek Revival; however, 44 Salem Street (circa 1850) is the more representative of the two with its full cornice, pedimented gables, round columns in antis within the recessed front entrance, and heavy corner pilasters. 46 Salem Street (circa l830) underwent renovations during the latter part of the 19th century during which a three-story Italianate tower was added to its side-gable end in addition to other Italianate-inspired detailing. The residences at 153 Main Street (1850), 7 Cottage Street(1840), and 63 Salem Street (1840), with their fully pedimented gable fronts, represent a more elaborate variation of the Greek Revival style. Less ornate and more vernacular examples of Greek Revival residential architecture within the district can be found at 11 Cottage Street (circa 1840), 78 Salem Street (circa 1835), 17 Church Street (circa 1800/1840), 24 Church Street (1843), 154 Main Street (circa 1850), 157 Main Street (circa 1840), 158 Main Street (circa 1840). All are gable- front/side hall with Greek Revival detailing primarily focused on the door surrounds and corner pilasters. One of the most distinguished of this group is at 17 Church Street, which had its origin in an early-19th century structure built by Moses White. White, who was the first village postmaster, the village assessor (1816), president of the village for nine terms, and creator of the 1839 map of the village, had as his residence the building at 139 Main Street, but used the small cape-like structure at 17 Church Street as a store. White's son-in-law, who was a local stone mason, purchased 17 church Street and added the Greek Revival main block circa 1840, at which time the original early-19th century structure became a rear wing. The building at 24 Church Street (now a private residence) was the original parsonage for the Methodist Church next door.
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, waterpowered industries flourished on the Battenkill and the Whipple-Mowry influence remained strong. However, in 1851 the Whipple-Mowry cotton mill met its demise. The water power and mill from this once highly profitable business were purchased by Jesse Palmer who continued to operate a flax mill on the site. This seemed to mark the advent of a new wave of entrepreneurs setting up shop along the Battenkill. A native village resident, A.A. Moor, who was admitted to the bar in 1846, returned to the village and established the Battenkill Knitting Factory in Mill Hollow in 1861. This business became the Pleasant Vale Mills in 1862 and operated until 1920, employing 50 workers and producing 1,000 yards per day. Moor, whose home was at 12 Church Street (circa 1865), also established the People's Bank of Washington County in 1861 and was its president until it closed in 1873. A linen thread mill, which spun locally grown flax, was started up by William Weaver in 1868. Although this business failed, it was replaced by the Dunbarton Mills, which spun linen thread and twine until the 1940's. A men's linen underwear factory was begun in 1880 and continued its operation until 1900. The first paper mill on the Battenkill was begun by Angell and Ballou in 1863; it was soon producing a ton of wrapping paper per day. Morton Angell, one of the owners, lived at 157 Main Street, (circa 1840), pilasters.
Statistics from 1860 show the Eddy Plow Works was producing five hundred tons of machinery, the shoe factory one hundred tons, two cotton mills two hundred tons, two flax mills one hundred tons and the carriage manufactories one hundred tons. Other businesses in the community at the time were 15 stores, one plaster mill, two cotton mills, one stone cutter and two cabinet/furniture makers. Local businesses shipped their products by wagon and Champlain Canal to Troy, New York and points beyond until 1870 when the Greenwich and Johnsonville Railway was established. This railroad continued to serve the industries and people of the area until the 1930's when motor vehicles became numerous and the importance of railways began to decline. Prior to the railroad, a stagecoach company serviced the village. The stage ran from Whitehall to Troy and changed horses at the Cornell Livery Stable located at 79-1/2 Main Street (circa 1870), now a highly modified non-contributing building). In 1900 the Hudson Valley Electric Company extended its trolley service to Greenwich, providing transport to many areas outside Greenwich and bringing in visitors from the capitol district to Dionondahowa Park (an amusement park near Middle Falls).
Throughout the 19th century fire claimed many of the early commercial buildings along Main Street, the last of which occurred in (1868). When rebuilt, the buildings were primarily of brick and reflected the current trends in commercial architecture. As a result, the majority of the buildings within the commercial core reflect a later date in history than the businesses that were actually housed in them. For example, William Cozzens (whose residence was at 156 Main Street) began his long career as a hardware merchant in a building on the site of the present brick building at 89 Main Street. The original wooden building burned in the fire of 1866 and was replaced by the brick one that same year. The hardware business that he began continued in the new building until the 1970's. This building retains a high level of integrity and provides an excellent example of Italianate commercial architecture including round-arched windows, decorative window hoods and heavily bracketed, ornate cornice. The Hill Block at 108-112 Main Street was built in 1869 to replace the original wooden structure, lost to the 1868 fire. The new building was an elaborate Italianate commercial block, three-stories high with 13 bays and a number of first-floor storefronts. This was one of the most prominent commercial buildings along Main Street until a fire in 1951 resulted in the loss of its highly ornate third story. Even without the ornate third story, the building (although now more modest) still contributes to the historic ambience of the district. Another business of long-standing in the village, but housed in a later building, is the bank at 132 Main Street. Originally the Washington County Bank, which was founded in 1838 by Leroy Mowry and Henry Holmes, it was first located in a wing of Holmes' home at 18 Church Street and later relocated to a building at 132 Main Street . That building was replaced in 1866 with the present onestory gable-fronted brick building which, to this day, still houses a bank (different ownership). This building was remodeled during the early-20th century to reflect a strong Neo-Classical influence giving it an air of distinction and setting it apart from the primarily Italianate-inspired commercial architecture surrounding it.
Styles of architecture within the Greenwich Village District span a period of development from 1768 to 1934 and much of the district survives with little or no alteration. Included within the district boundary are notable examples of Colonial, Romantic Victorian and Eclectic styles. As one walks through the Greenwich Village Historic District it is not hard to imagine other times. The arrangement, landscaping and setting have been little altered. Although the buildings have changed hands many times, much of their integrity has been maintained by each owner. The use of some buildings has changed from residential to commercial but in each instance the integrity of the building has been honored. At the corner of Salem and Church Streets one should pause to view the panoramic display of valley and falls of the Battenkill, the river which adds beauty to the district and which provided so much to the development of Whipple City to Union Village to Greenwich Village over a span of nearly two hundred years.
† Adapted from: Linda M. Garofalini. Progarm Analyst, NYS Office of Parks. Rec. & Historic Preservation, 1995, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.
Academy Street • Church Street • Cottage Street • Gray Avenue • Main Street • Prospect Street • Route 29 • Salem Street